Thursday, May 3, 2012

Heard during a trip to the grocery store...

"Hey, what's the name of that place back there that we passed a little while ago? It didn't have a sign. I don't know what it looks like. I didn't see it when we passed it, but I know it's back there. I remember it from when I lived in Texas. My dad passed it then. I didn't know the name of it then, either."

Monday, April 16, 2012

From the mouths of Ranchers...

Our Ranchers are wonderful people who are allowed to have their say and are encouraged to do so. In the process, they say some of the most remarkable things--meaningful, hysterically funny, poignant, revealing.
It would be a sad thing to be unable to share the things our Ranchers talk about simply because some may view the sharing as politically incorrect. We love our Ranchers and take great pleasure and pride in sharing their points of view, their observations and their ideas.
Therefore, in the interest of knowing our people better, we will be sharing some quotes on a semi-regular basis. You will laugh, you will cry and you will know us better than ever before. If you've become part of our "family", you will share in the sense of enjoyment and pride as you read.
Overheard in the House of Four Wise Men...
"I'm not crying....It's just my eyes...I AM a boy, you know."
"The doctor told me to keep my arms. He said it would help."
Overheard in the TCR office:
"I'll always talk to you, even when I'm mad at you. That's what friends do."
More to come, so stay tuned.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rivers in the Desert...

After months of dry weather and burn warnings, we're finally seeing some mysterious droplets fall from the sky. I'm told they're called rain. Honestly, we're all so happy to see signs of summer coupled with some moisture that there's no complaining about the cold and wind.

The Ranch has felt dry of late. We've been finding our feet after a time of change and the atmosphere has been much like walking through a desert to the promised land on the other side. Staff members are learning and relearning their duties, duties and responsibilities are being reorganized, and leadership among house parents is emerging. We're nearing the end of our trek and we are beginning to see signs of Eden approaching---just in time for more change.

It's always been somewhat of a frustration to me that God doesn't reveal more of the future to us, but in the last three months, I've come to thank Him every day for keeping me on a "need to know" basis. That has been a mercy and a lesson in trusting Him.

God has shown Himself to be utterly faithful in watering where water is needed and in cutting back dead wood in the interest of future growth. What an incredible God we serve!

And so, today's rain holds particular significance for Triangle Cross Ranch. I believe that each dry step through our desert of change has brought us to this day of hope and freshness. I believe we're on our way to a new future, even though that future is still hidden in the clouds that are watering our staleness right now. A sense of expectation is here today because we know that clarity comes when the clouds part.

This is my prayer for you today. May your clouds part and allow the Father to bring freshness, clarity and new growth. Because you've aligned yourself with Triangle Cross Ranch, our futures are entangled. Let's move on together to a brighter and better day!

Come on out and visit us anytime. We're always glad to see you!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Is "Free" Really Free?

What is compassion? How do we, as members of the greater community, show our regard for people with an obvious disability without making them feel different? How do we include them when their resources are limited? These are questions that most people will have to deal with, at one time or another, as adults with developmental disabilities appear at events and social gatherings.

Our Ranchers are part of their community. They volunteer, they attend local events, they work at local businesses, and they spend their money at local establishments. Most people are appreciative of our Ranchers' ability to function as members of society and of the guidance that our staff gives them in dealing with members of the public. We try very hard to help our Ranchers find a way to make their disability a secondary issue.

However, there is a faction of the community that feels it's necessary to give gifts to our Ranchers simply because of their disability. This group of people is kind hearted and I believe their actions are meant to be a blessing to people whom they see as less fortunate. However, they are, in essence, creating a microcosm of a welfare society. We go to a local festival, a farmer's market, or a church event and our Ranchers come home loaded down with water bottles, hats, scarves, lanyards, pencils, pens, note pads, and trinkets. While they are temporarily thrilled with this outpouring of material kindness, the reality is that it feeds the desire for more "free stuff" and teaches the wrong lessons to people who desperately need to learn to place value on people, character, and relationships rather than material things.

The first result is the creation of people who walk around with their hand out everywhere they go. It fosters a lack of social skills, promotes a misunderstanding of the value of their fellow man, cultivates a disregard for a strong work ethic, and squashes the development of personal generosity. The disabled person comes to believe that the people who are their friends are those who give them "free stuff" in the form of gifts with no real or lasting value. This is dangerous at best, putting the disabled person in peril of being easily taken advantage of.

The second result is that it undermines the efforts of Triangle Cross Ranch to integrate our Ranchers into the community as respected memebers. To be respected, a person needs to have at least an elementary understanding of personal responsibilitiy. Care givers work very hard at teaching this to their charges who have limited understanding. How quickly their efforts are negated by well-intentioned but short sighted people who feel better personally because they gave something to a "poor disabled person." The Rancher obsesses about the next opportunity to get a freebie, to go shopping on someone else's money, and to get more and more stuff to fill the hole that should be filled with self respect, a sense of accomplishment and real relationships.

The third result is a bedroom stuffed with things that do not qualify as resources (no matter how well-intentioned the giver) and lay unused and forgotten as the next opportunity of "free" is pursued. Ranchers have enough trouble managing their essentials without adding volumes of nonessentials to the mix. It creates confusion and frustration along with other associated behavior problems. Obsession, bad temper, angry outbursts, isolation, panic attacks and a host of other issues become the order of the day in their attempts to manage their many useless treasures. The price paid for "free stuff", by staff and Ranchers alike, is great.

Here's the bottom line on kindness to people with disabilities:

God cares about the spiritual formation of each and every person, including the disabled. He is working actively to mold them into His image. All the while, we, as kind-hearted as we think we are being, work against His goals of forming Christ in each person.

Our Ranchers don't need more "stuff." They need to be included as friends who stand on equal footing with other members of the community. Include them in your activities, talk to them without condescending or exaggerated tones, adjust conversations so they can participate, take them in as part of your group, but don't give them anything for free. I don't know about you, but I don't give "free stuff" to all of my friends every time I see them, and the ones who expect it aren't my friends for long. Why would we treat people with disabilities any different? Why would we foster resentment when we could form healthy relationships?

Our Ranchers don't have the real resources to pay for their own living expenses, don't have the skills to produce these resources and don't understand the need for this. Their families pick up the slack or the Rancher does without. These expenses include safe housing, 24-hour staffing, transportation, high quality food, toiletries and all of the basic necessities of living a healthy life style. It's a great irony that adults with developmental disabilities overflow with things they don't need, and yet, so many live in povery or depend on family members to provide the necessities. Trinkets and "free stuff" cannot provide medical services, housing, or loving care, which all come at a high cost. The greatest kindness is to help a person in a real way on a long term and consistent basis. This requires a thoughtful approach and a sacrifice on the part of the giver--both of which will help create the image of Christ in the giver.

So how do we show kindness to people with disabilties? Stop giving them "free stuff." Include them as equal members and donate towards their real needs. If you're going to give, give of yourself in a real way. God has given the free gift of salvation to each of us. That's enough "free" for a lifetime! He asks us to give of our substance and of ourselves to those who need grace and mercy. Keep your "free stuff" for someone else who can bear the cost having it.