Archive for November, 2013

A time to give thanks!

happy thanksgivingTomorrow is Thanksgiving!  My son is wrapping a turkey with bacon and then slowly roasting it with apple wood chips in his Weber grill!  Excuse me as I wipe the drool off my keyboard.  I can’t wait to sit down at their table and enjoy a meal shared with my family and friends.  I love Thanksgiving.  I love that it causes me to pause and recollect the things I am grateful for.   Here are a few things I would like to give thanks for:

  1. Yams!  Please see  https://caregiversrefuge.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/a-lesson-from-yams/  
  2. Brenda: My wife, co-founder, better half, and best friend
  3. Every parent who has stayed at David’s Refuge: I am in awe of your dedication and love for your children
  4. David: Your story lives on and the impact of your life is still growing
  5. Social media: I have met new friends like 99 Ballons, Snappin’ Ministries, Jolene Philo, and 2014 Accessibility Summit
  6. Volunteers: You have licked, stamped, mailed, cooked, served, encouraged, and poured life into our parents
  7. Donors: Your sacrificial financial gifts are a reflection of your compassion
  8. Bed and Breakfasts and Inns who believe in David’s Refuge: You offer David’s Refuge the canvas that we then paint on to create the magic and beauty of living out our mission
  9. Foundations: Thank you Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation and Key Bank Foundation for your sacrificial giving
  10. My two sons, Chris and Dan.  They have found soul mates and best friends who love them and love God.
  11. YOU!

I could go on and on.  I would love to hear what you are thankful for!  If you have been a guest at David’s Refuge what are you thankful for as you think about your time as our guest?  If you have supported us as a volunteer or donor, what causes you to stop and give thanks?  If you are one of our faithful board members what are you thankful for as you think of David’s Refuge?  If you have been following us on Twitter or Facebook what are you thankful for?  Please take a few minutes and leave a comment.  May God bless you as you gather tomorrow with friends and family to give thanks.


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David's Refuge at Mary's Meadowflowers

After weeks of anticipation our guests finally arrive at their Bed and Breakfast or Inn.  They are greeted by the Inn Keeper and shown to their room.  As they enter the room they see the fresh flowers, the gift basket, the wine, slippers, and robe.  Our goal is to overwhelm them with extravagance so that they would feel extravagantly loved.  They are encouraged to settle in and then are invited to come and meet their host from David’s Refuge.  Often guests begin to share a little of their story during this first meeting.  The host gives them a folder with their schedule for the weekend, their dinner gift card, their massage gift card, and reminds them that the weekend is all about them.  We explain that we run a non-program program and encourage them to simply unplug and relax.  We want them to leave their time as our guests knowing they are not alone, that what they do in caring for their child is the most important thing in the world, and that God loves them.  The host then leaves them to enjoy an evening together.  Often the guests will go out to dinner that night and then come home to enjoy a quiet uninterrupted night of sleep.  

The next morning the host returns to have breakfast with the guests.  Often there are two guest couples and the host couple.  Each guest tells a little more of their story and begin to realize that they are not alone as parents of a child with special needs.  Laughter, tears, and more laughter often make up a part of our time together.  The host simply facilitates this time, sharing their own story as well.  Often the conversation continues until the massage therapist shows up for their first appointment.  Often two therapist will come and offer a couples massage.  The rest of the day is open for each guest to determine how they want to spend it.  Some keep busy all day with activities and others curl up with a book or a movie or return to bed for a long nap.  The host is available to meet or hang out with the couples want to.  We explain that we are unobtrusively available 24/7 while they are our guests.

The next morning the host returns and once again enjoys breakfast with the two couples.  Adventures from the day before are shared, sharing goes a little bit deeper, and parents are encouraged to find creative ways to continue caring for themselves as individuals and as a couple.  Each guest is asked to sign the guest book and hugs and good-byes are shared. As one of our guests wrote in the guest book,

You have rejuvenated us and we will head home today to not only take better care of Hugo and Grace but also to take better care of each other.

We have about 50 open spots for 2014 still open!  What is stopping you from signing up right now?


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“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.


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ripplesI love how David’s life story continues to ripple, touching and blessing and healing families.  I want to thank Jolene for giving me an opportunity to share our story about David’s Refuge.  Make sure you check out her website at:


or you can follow her on Twitter at @jolenephilo.

Here is the third and final guest blog!


Thanks for reading and please take a minute and share a reflection or thought from the past three blogs.  May God bless you and somehow show you today his extravagant love.


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tombstone 2

“Are you serious? David is dead. For thirteen years Batten Disease robbed him of every ability he had and we are singing that all is well?”

Read today’s post to see why we can say, “It is well with my soul!


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guest bloggerI am beginning to love the possibilities and power of social media.  Several months ago my friend, Kathy Schreiber, told me I should check out @jolenephilo on Twitter.  According to her Twitter page Jolene is a:

wife, mom, teacher, special needs advocate, author, blogger, national speaker, & Downton Abbey fan from Iowa

Jolene is a gifted and popular writer and blogger whose heart beats for parents and families of children with special needs.  So I decided to start following her.  A few days later she started following me at @Davidsrefuge.  In fact,   I think Jolene was one of the first persons to retweet me.   If you are not on Twitter you will not understand how exciting it is to have someone retweet you!  About a week later Jolene sent me a direct message on my Twitter account asking if we could find a time to talk more about David’s Refuge.  We had a wonderful conversation about our journey caring for David and starting David’s Refuge.  We discovered that we share a common faith as Christians and a common passion to serve and care for families touched by disability.  She then asked if I would consider being a guest blogger for her blog, A Different Dream for my Child.  If you think being retweeted is exciting, I can’t even begin to tell you what it felt like to be asked to share our experiences on Jolene’s blog.

I was given the opportunity to share our story through a three part series.  I am excited about these three blogs because they share our journey from a faith perspective.  It is impossible to talk about David and even the reason we started David’s Refuge without talking about our faith in God.  I will be re-posting these from Jolene’s site for the next three days.

You can read the post by going to: 


I hope you enjoy reading it and I would love to hear how your faith has helped you when the journey you are traveling  has gotten rough.


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