A Lesson on Prayer: Not a sign of weakness

“Brenda I don’t think we are going to be able to come to David’s Refuge this weekend. I have tried everyone I know to cover a hole in our childcare.”

It was a cry of desperation. Everything was set except for a four hour hole. It looked hopeless. Brenda said, “We will pray for you.”

So we stopped what we were doing and we prayed in the kitchen. We prayed specifically for one thing: “Father, please have someone call Debbie out of the blue and ask her specifically is there anything I can do to help you.” Thirty minutes later we get a phone call from Debbie. She said, “You will never guess what happened! A friend of mine called me about something unrelated to our upcoming weekend and at the end of our discussion she asked, ‘Is there anything I can do to help you?’” Luck? Fate? Answered prayer? I am a believer in the power of prayer.

So what can we learn from this story? Here are a few lessons I learned:

  1. Prayer is not a sign of weakness. Prayer is a conscious choice of admitting we can’t do it alone. It is an act of vulnerability that connects us to God and others. It puts us in a position of strength, not weakness. One of the greatest and damaging lies we can believe is that we can do it on our own. Prayer dispels that lie and frees us to lean on someone else when it seems unbearable or impossible.
  2. Don’t be afraid to let others know of your need. When you share a need with someone else they can join you in praying with you and for you. I have discovered that often when I am in the midst of a trial it is difficult to pray. Sharing your need allows someone else to pray for you and your need. They get to storm the gates of heaven on your behalf. If you are too tired or broken or your faith has been stretched too thin let someone else pray for you.
  3. Learn to be a gracious receiver! God most often answers prayer through other people. When someone offers you support or help accept it. It is a gift, it is an answer to your prayers. Don’t be like the guy in this story:     A man is sitting on his porch as flood waters rise. A woman floats by in a boat, asking if the man needs help. “No, thank you,” says the man, “I’m trusting in the Lord.” The waters rise higher, sending the man upstairs. A raft full of people floats by his second story window. “Get in,” they say, “there’s plenty of room.” “No thanks,” says the man, “I’m trusting in the Lord.” The flood waters keep rising, pushing the man up to the roof. A helicopter swoops in, lowering its ladder for the man. “Thanks anyway,” shouts the man, “I’m trusting in the Lord.” Finally, the man is swept away in the torrent and drowns. At the gates of Heaven, the man asks God, “Why didn’t you save me?” “What do you mean?” replies God, “I sent two boats and a helicopter.”
  4. Don’t ever stop believing in the impossible. Prayer is a step of faith that acknowledges that miracles are still possible.

If you have wondered how you can pray for families who have children with special needs the following acrostic will help you.

S: Strength
P: Patience and Peace
E: Energy!
C: Courage (to face what we have to face, and make the hard decisions)
I:  Intimate friends (who will come along beside us, and help us along our journey; also friends for our children)
A: Ability (teaching skills for the parents and increased accomplishments for our children)
L: Love (of course! from parents towards sometimes difficult children, and from classmates towards our children, and that our children would also learn to love)

If there is anything we can pray for you please let us know.


Our Hosts: Comfort Experts

hostFred and Ellie’s twenty nine year old son died suddenly of a heart attack.  Fred started one the first special needs programs in the school where he was the principle.  Eric and Daidra were blessed with twins.  One of their boys has Cerebral Palsy.  Margot leads Capernaum, a Young Life outreach to students with special needs.  She lives with her brother who has developmental disabilities.  Gail is a music therapist and her husband Steve cares for and supports adults with traumatic brain injury through music and art.  Dave and Karen are retired and looking for something they can do together.  Through their many years of marriage they have loved and served individuals with special needs.

What do Fred and Ellie and Eric and Daidra and Margot and Gail and Steve and Dave and Karen all have in common?  They are all Hosts for David’s Refuge.  They are the very backbone of our outreach.  They listen, share, serve, encourage, eat, laugh, and cry with our guests.  They drive our mission.  They Care for the Caregiver.  They are David’s Refuge!

The following is a summary of the job description for a Host at David’s Refuge:

A Host works in conjunction with the B&B or Inn Keeper to ensure that the mission of David’s Refuge is carried out.  A host is unobtrusively available to meet the needs of our guests.  Through acts of service, listening, and a willingness to share their own story guests are reminded that they are not alone, what they do matters, and that they are loved by God.

Our Hosts are concierges!  They look for every way to make our guests time away the most fulfilling.  They anticipate our guests needs.  They are available but unobtrusive.  They are comfort experts.

Why are they experts?  Because they have walked the same journey our parents are currently on.  Some of our hosts may not have had their own special needs children but for years they have journeyed with those who have.  They have wrestled with loneliness, anger at God, loss of perspective.  It is not a theoretical understanding but a practical, rubber meeting the road understanding of what it takes to love and raise a child with special needs or struggling with a fatal disease.  They are willing to share their own story and their own struggles in the hopes that it will help someone else on the same journey.  They are willing to sit and listen without judgment.  Just by being there they pour life and hope into a parent who is struggling and broken.

Our ability to grow and serve more families rests on our ability to find great hosts, people who have been shaped and molded by their own life experiences in the world of disability, illness, and special needs.  Through their own personal struggle and through their willingness to share that struggle our hosts help restore, refresh, and pour life into our parents.  Just as they were comforted by someone, they now give that comfort away.

I love how this truth is stated in the Bible in a translation know as the Message:

He (God) comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.    1 Corinthians 1:4

Who could you come alongside today?  Who do you know that needs to be reminded that they are not alone, that what they do matters, and that God loves them?   Be a Comfort Expert!

Laughter: Medicine for the Soul [Part II]


David’s Smile

The healing benefits and power of laughter is not a new idea.  Almost 3,000 years ago Solomon, the King of Israel, wrote the following words in the book of Proverbs:

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.  Proverbs 17:22

A good laugh, a joke, a little humor is like medicine.  It heals, refreshes, and restores us.  Without it we dry up.  Our spirits are crushed.  We lose hope.

I like this quote from an unknown author, found in an editorial in the New York Tribune:

A good, real, unrestrained, hearty laugh is a sort of glorified internal massage performed rapidly and automatically.  It manipulates and revitalizes corners and unexplored crannies of the system that are unresponsive to most other exercise methods.

I don’t know about you but I could use a little massaging of those unexplored, tired crannies of my soul.  The question is, how do you find joy or laughter when the corners of your life are bone dry and about to crumble?  What do you do do when there doesn’t seem anything to laugh at?

In my last blog I encouraged you to learn how to laugh at yourself.  Today I want to make two more suggestions.

1) Prime the laughter well

When I was growing up our well would sometimes go dry.  In order to get the water flowing again my dad would have to prime the pump.  Laughter is the same way.  One great way to do that is to play games together.  Turn your phones off, shut the TV off, close your computer down, stop sending tweets, don’t check your Facebook or count how many people have read your blog, and pull out a game and play it.

Laughter and play are closely related.  Play brings you together.  It develops community and a shared experience.  When we play together we create the possibility of a mini vacation where we can escape the to do list and just be silly for a few minutes. Here are two great games that are great well primers.

quelfQuelf: One of the most stupid games I have ever played but absolutely hilarious


Apples to Apples: A great game any age can play togetherapplestoapples


2) Share something funny with someone else.

May father used to say that cutting and chopping wood warms you twice.  Once when you are cutting and splitting it, and again when you burn it.  Laughter is the same way.  When you are willing to share a silly story about yourself or something that happened to you, you laugh twice.  Once when it happens, and then when you share it.  In fact I find the more I share my stories the more I laugh.  There are stories my kids ask me to share over and over again.  And no matter how many times I share them we laugh as if it were the first time.

One of our favorites is about David finding himself in the house of someone he didn’t know.  David was at a Young Life event and the leaders called to tell us they would bring David home.  After pulling into the driveway they helped David out of the car and into the house.  Once they got him in the door they said goodbye and started driving down the road.  About ten houses down the passenger in the car said, “Oh crap, that’s David’s house!”  I’m not so sure if I spelled crap right.  They went back to the house and found David still standing in the doorway, not moving.  I’m not sure if it was the pit bull growling at him or simply the fact he knew he wasn’t in the right house.  We didn’t hear this story until David’s’ funeral.

So what is something funny you could share with all of us?  Help us to massage and revitalize the corners and unexplored crannies of our souls, and in so doing get a massage yourself.