A Different Kind of HARD

 outside w chair



We came because we agreed to be teen group leaders for Joni& Friends Family Camp. Families affected by disabilities came for retreat and respite from their unique lives. The connection was life changing.


During the month prior we wrestled to prepare meaningful curriculum, but truthfully, the task seemed impossible with the diverse nature of our group. Over and over we found ourselves saying, “It’s too hard – it can’t be done”. We wanted to throw in the towel and admit defeat.


However – after meeting Lori, Barbara, Haley & Brian, along with many others, our definition of hard completely changed.





Hard is knowing your husband who is blind and limb-less would literally die if you didn’t feed him. Hard is dressing a son with cerebral palsy who’s 6ft tall. Hard is realizing you’ll never dance at your daughter’s wedding because her particular disability will probably prohibit marriage. Hard is explaining to healthy young siblings why people stare at their brother all the time. That’s hard.


No – planning activities for one week out of a year was not hard, it was an honor.


Our week was filled with contradiction and challenged perspectives. Many preconceived ideas were obliterated the first evening we welcomed families to camp and into our hearts. It was apparent we had much to learn.



 worship camp style


Want to know what hard really looked like last week?


Our STM’s, meaning short term missionaries who served one-on-one from sunup to sundown – AND who paid $400 to do it; taught us about hard. We had several STM’s in our group who spent 10+ hrs a day with someone who couldn’t talk to them. While their friends were engaged in activities – they sat silently beside their camp friend stroking a back or keeping a discreet distance. They were challenged to find ways to enter into their camper’s world discovering keys to unlock connection and develop relationship.


Ask any teen if that’s hard. Better yet, ask the parent of the silent teen what it’s like the other 51 weeks of the year.


friends for life 


Other STM’s ran after their camper with ADHD or autism all day long, clocking between 5-13 miles per day. They chased, laughed, collected banana slugs and loved. Some never finished one meal sitting down all week because their camp friend chose to eat on the run. I wonder what dinner time looks like the other 51 weeks of the year in the homes of these active teens.


Last week was a short pause from the hard reality families affected by disabilities face every day.



My husband and I won’t be using the term HARD so flippantly anymore.


I only hope I can be as gracious as the STM’s were when small hiccups occur in my day. I hope I can treat people with differences with the same respect and kindness I saw the STM’s and parents give.




Hard for me, will be accepting the challenge to model what I saw.


true love


“Then Jesus said, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Luke 14:12-24





4 replies on “A Different Kind of HARD”

  1. This sentence pierced my heart: “Their desire to talk, play, relate – was set aside while all their focus remained on someone who gave them no feedback.”
    Thank you for the perspective on ‘hard’.

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