It’s Time to Fill Your Tank: Marriage

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The voice on the telephone line was obviously stressed.

“I’m sorry but we are going to have to cancel our reservation this weekend at David’s Refuge.”

After a painful few moments of silence the tears began to flow.  Rory just listened as the woman poured out the brokenness of their marriage.  She then said,

“I wished we would have come six months ago.”

It sounded as if it were over.  No hope.  Too late.  “If only we would have…..”

gaugeTheir gas tank was dry.  After caring for their children, after holding down jobs, after running from one doctor to the next, after one more fight, after wrestling with the fear of the future and the unknown, their relationship sputtered and stalled.  Intimacy was a fading memory.  Laughter a rare intruder.  Communication dissolved into short staccato burst of who will pick up the dry cleaning or buy bread at the store.

Sadly many couples simply give up when they get to this point.  Many divorce.  Some live as roommates.   Others rip each other apart, only deepening the open wounds they already have from living in a broken world.  Hope is lost.

Yet is hope really lost?  I don’t think it is or has to be.  Let me ask you a question.  If a friend told you they ran out of gas on the highway and decided to abandon their car for good what would you say to them?   You would tell them they are crazy.  Yes, it may have to be towed, yes they may have to do a little maintenance to get it started, but all it really needed was a gallon of gas.  I wonder how many marriages have ended when all they needed was a gallon of gas?

The woman who had to cancel knew six months ago their marriage needed help.  The gauge on their relational dashboard was dangerously low.  But like many of us she ignored the warning signs, thinking they could keep going without checking the oil and filling their gas tank.  Excuses were made, time not made, and lies believed.

As you look at the gauges on your relational dashboard what are they telling you?  Is it time for a tune up?  Are you running on fumes and simply need to pause long enough to fill your tank?  Don’t ignore the signs or that clunking sound.  Be proactive!  Don’t wait until you have to say, “I wished we would have come six months ago.”  Care for yourselves and for each other.  Ask for help.  All you may need is a gallon of gas.

PS:  The woman who called went to get some counseling with her husband, took some time to refill their gas tanks, and have signed up again to come to David’s Refuge.  🙂

Respite For The Weary Traveler: The Sherwood Inn

sherwood inn

The founders of The Sherwood Inn had one goal when they welcomed a guest.  They wanted to provide “respite for the weary traveler.”  Built as a stagecoach stop in 1807, the Sherwood Inn has been a favorite resting place for travelers and locals for over two centuries.    Located in beautiful Skaneateles, NY, which is known as the “Eastern Gateway to the Finger Lakes” guest can unplug from the daily cares of life, be pampered, enjoy excellent food, and find respite.

It almost sounds like a commercial for David’s Refuge, and in fact it is!  The Sherwood Inn has partnered with us  in offering “respite for the weary traveler”.  There isn’t a single parent of a special needs child or child fighting a fatal disease that doesn’t doesn’t fit the description of being a weary traveler.  This past weekend we hosted three couples at Hobbit Hollow, a beautiful Bed and Breakfast that the Sherwood Inn manages.  Hobbit Hollow 003We were treated like royalty.  Jean, the Inn Keeper greeted us, helped us carry our bags, kept a fire burning in the fireplace, served us appetizers, cooked us breakfast, and made our dinner reservations.  No one wanted to go home.

Almost a year ago Brenda and I were having lunch at the Sherwood after serving three families in our home.  We were exhausted and weary.  As we sat out on the porch having our lunch we gazed out at the lake.  All of a sudden Brenda yelled out, “David’s Refuge at the Sherwood Inn.”  A new vision of how to grow David’s Refuge without having to build or buy new buildings, without us having to cook, clean, change beds was born.

We met with Dennis Dunden, the Director of Marketing and Nancy Ranieri, Hotel Operations, and a new friendship and partnership was formed.    They loved our mission and wanted to help.  Financially we would have never been able to afford sending our guests to Hobbit Hollow.  Dennis and Nancy worked with us and made it possible for David’s Refuge at Hobbit Hollow to become a reality.

While we were there a local TV station, Channel 9 did a story on David’s Refuge.  If you haven’t see it you can watch it here: David’s Refuge at Hobbit Hollow.  Our guests left knowing they were not alone, that what they do everyday as a caregiver matters, and that God loves them.  They came as a weary travelers, and they left refreshed and ready to love and lead their families.  Thank you Sherwood Inn! 


You Gotta Kick the “Shouldof” out of Should Have

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My good friend and pastor Doug Bullock once said, “You gotta kick the “shouldof” out of should have!”  Living under the burden of “should have” sucks the life from you.  I should have shopped earlier.  I should have invited my neighbors over for a Christmas party.  I should have baked cookies.  I should have sent Christmas cards.  I should have started wrapping presents earlier.   The “shouldof” list grabs a hold of your heart and it squeezes until it it hard to breath.

Have you discovered that the should have list grows exponentially every day it gets closer to Christmas.  Sadly the longer your “shouldof” list is the more you feel depressed, overwhelmed, and robbed of joy.  The only solution I know to resolve this horrible burden is to Kick the “shouldof” out of Should Have!  Who says you have to bake cookies?  Buy them!  Who says you need to wrap your presents?  Put them in a bag and stuff tissue paper on top of them!  Who says you have to send Christmas cards?  They are only going to be thrown into a basket and then then tossed into the recycle bin!   To often we create or build these unrealistic goals and expectations that are impossible to accomplish.  No wonder you go to bed exhausted and overwhelmed.  As a parent of a special needs child you plate is already overflowing.

Maybe this year you can evaluate the traditions that are creating stress in your life.  This may be the year to let go of the unrealistic goal of perfection and to make plans for traditions that are both realistic and enjoyable. Follow the KISS princile: “Keep it Simple Silly”.

What’s on your “shouldof” list?  Be bold and share it.  Maybe we can help you find some creative ways to kick the “shouldof” out of your should have list and allow you to de-stress this holiday season!

Merry Christmas


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!