How many of you can remember passing the time in a doctor’s office by reading an old copy of Highlights for Children magazine? One of my favorite pages was the spot the difference section. It helped take my mind off the 22 inch needle I knew the nurse was going to stick in my tiny little arm once she called my name. I would search and search until I could find every difference believing if I found all 24 differences before I heard the words, “Warren it’s your turn,” I wouldn’t have to get the shot. Sadly, it never really worked out like that.
So let’s play a David’s Refuge Spot the Difference game. The following is what we tell every parent whom we have the privilege to love and support. We call them our values. I am going to write it out twice. See if you can find the difference:
David’s Refuge allows parents and other caregivers much needed time to rest, reflect, and recharge from the stress of full time care giving. We want them to know three things: that they are not alone, what they do matters, and that God loves them.
David’s Refuge allows parents and other caregivers much needed time to rest, reflect, and recharge from the stress of full time care giving. We want them to know three things: that they are not alone, what they do matters, and that God and their community loves them.
So how did you do? What is the difference? It’s three words. We have added the words “and their community” to our final value. We now say “and that God and their community loves them.” Yes, we are saying something different, but in many ways it is still the same. Let me explain why.
When Brenda and I started David’s Refuge, we wanted people to believe there is a God who loves them. We remember doubting this when we first got David’s diagnosis and later as we watched him struggle with loss after loss. Thankfully, our faith and the love and support of our friends, family, and church encouraged us to reexamine and once again believe in God’s incredible and matchless love for David and for us. That belief enabled us to press on, one day at a time. God was there to comfort us when we felt discouraged, to strengthen us when we felt weak, to encourage us when we had lost hope, to come alongside us when we felt alone, to give us wisdom when we lacked it, and to love us when we felt unlovable or undeserving of love.
But do you know what I discovered? When I felt discouraged, God most often used a friend to comfort me. He showed up in a phone call, a letter, or a hug from my brother. Some days I would wake up exhausted and think, “How am I going to make it to the end of this day?” God would show up disguised as someone from my church and ask what they could do to help. Many days we felt isolated and alone. We watched David’s friends struggle to know how to interact with him and we knew David felt alone. But then God would show up in the form of David Wallace asking if David wanted to go for a ride on a tandem bike ride and get some ice cream at SnoTop. Yes, God does like ice cream!
Do you see the pattern? Very often God uses others to show us and remind us that we are loved by him. When we say that God and your community loves you, we are really saying the same thing. So if you are one of our volunteers, or a financial partner, or a host, or a staff member, or anyone who has helped us live our our mission by caring for the caregiver, thank you for allowing God to use you to remind our parents they are loved by Him.