My God Has Supplied All My Needs

Until last week, I thought Paul's claim in Philippians 4:18-19 applied only to him. Last Sunday, I learned it applied to me, too.I have received full payment, and more.
I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent,
a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
And my God will supply every need of yours
according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:18–19

For too many years, I have kept a safe distance of approximately 2,000 years between myself and Paul’s words in Philippians 4:18–19. Well, sure, I thought after reading Paul’s ringing endorsement of God’s faithfulness, those words applied to Paul. In the first century. In the early days of the church. To migrant missionaries and fragile congregations filled with frail believers.

That’s what I told myself. But what I believed deep down and refused to admit was this: while God supplied the needs of early Christians, their fledgling churches, and the itinerant missionaries who served them according to his riches and for his glory, his provision didn’t apply to me. Because in modern day America, God gives faithful believers good jobs, infuses them with a strong work ethic, and expects to meet their own needs.

I was okay with that line of thinking. It worked for me. Until about a year ago when God plunked two mission opportunities in my path: a trip to Latvia to minister to special needs moms, and joining the planning committee for a free special needs family camp at Hidden Acres. The Latvia trip would cost about $1,500. The camp needed $15,000 for family scholarships and 100 volunteers, as well as $50,000 worth of concrete for sidewalks and $4,000 for a pool lift.

No matter how hard my family and every member of the camp planning committee worked, the tasks were impossible. And yet, over the past few months, God has supplied everything needed.

  • $1,608 dollars for the Latvia trip thanks to our Connection Group’s fundraiser and the amazing generosity of our church family.
  • A $25,000 donation that somehow stretched until all $50,000 worth of concrete was poured at Hidden Acres.
  • The entire cost of the pool lift covered by one donor.
  • $10,800 raised for scholarships already and 6 weeks left for God to move hearts to supply the rest.
  • 30 completed volunteer applications and promises from dozens of people that theirs will be in by the May 15 deadline.

I now read Philippians 4 differently. I know it applies not only to Paul and the early church, but also to me and to you. To our church and to all God’s churches in this day and age. God is waiting to prove to us what he proved to Paul over 2,000 years ago. He fulfills his promise to supply all our needs when we step out in faith to do what is impossible for us to do in our own power. Only then will we learn that what was true for Paul is true for us also. We can do all things through God who strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13)

Wanted: Special Needs Family Camp Volunteers

card back_edited-1Snowstorms. Ground blizzards. Below zero temperatures. They’ve been the constant companions of Iowans for several weeks now. The bad weather makes me long for spring and look forward to summer.

But I’m looking forward to summer for another very good reason, too. Central Iowa’s very first Wonderfully Made Family Camp will debut at Hidden Acres Christian Center June 10–12, 2016. I’m part of a non-denominational planning committee that’s been meeting since October. We’re trying to make the camp a reality for kids with special needs who aren’t able to attend other summer camps, for their parents who need respite and pampering, and for the siblings whose needs are often put on the back burner.

Fareway (a regional grocery chain) has already committed to providing much of the food. A local businessman has given $25,000 for sidewalks so the camp will be wheelchair accessible. $3,000 of the $15,000 in donations has been raised so 35 families and the 1-on-1 volunteers who will accompany the kids to all daytime activities. Most importantly, though our advertising campaign has barely begun, 15 families have already registered for the camp. Obviously, the need for the camp is real.

Now do you see why I’m looking forward to summer? To tell you the truth, I’m also shaking in my boots because we were expecting–perhaps naively–only 1 child with special needs family. But many of the families have multiple kids with special needs. One family has 5. That’s right, 5. So we need more 1-on-1 volunteers than expected.

Which is what today’s post is all about–recruiting volunteers. Volunteers to accompany kids with special needs during the daytime hours. Volunteers to help the regular volunteers at the swimming pool, rock wall, horse barns, and elsewhere. All volunteers must be at least 16 years old, and they must go through background check and sexual offender screening. Volunteers with special needs or medical training (teachers, teacher associates, nurses, EMTs, doctors, therapists, etc.) are especially needed.

If you’re interested in volunteering, donating, or registering your family to attend camp, visit the Hidden Acres website. You can download forms there, too. Or leave a comment below, and I will get back to you as soon as I can to answer your questions.

Yes, It Is Still a Beautiful Hill

Five years ago, Fred showed me how beautiful the very steep hill along my daily walking route was. In my eyes, it still is.This post was a favorite of mine when it first appeared here on the Gravel Road in 2010, and it’s still one of my favorites on this Fantastic Friday. When you read it, I hope that you agree.

It’s a Beautiful Hill, Isn’t It?

The other morning, I was nearing the end of my walk, trudging up a steep hill in the park . Not wimpy steep. This hill is truly steep. And long. Very long.

A tall jogger approached from behind, huffing and puffing and gaining rapidly – so I moved to the side of the path. His arms pumping, he barely lifted his feet off the ground as he wheezed past. Still, he flashed a broad grin and gasped, “It’s a beautiful hill, isn’t it?”

I nodded at his long, lean, retreating back and thought of the young adolescent boy I’d seen a while earlier in the morning on this very same hill. I was on my way down the hill, and he was wobbling along on his bike, heading to the middle school.

We go to the same church, and I’ve watched him with interest over the years. Diagnosed with high functioning autism some years back, life hasn’t been easy for him. Social cues often escape him. Impulsivity is his enemy. Subtlety, irony and tact are lost on him. But thanks to supportive parents who love him unconditionally and realistically, he’s learning to cope.

As his bike swerved up the sidewalk, I stepped into the grass to give him more room. Then, I greeted him, the same way I always do on the mornings when our paths cross.. “Good morning, Fred!”

Most days, Fred’s response is a brief nod with eyes averted, nothing more. But this time was different. Fred braked, put a foot on the ground to balance himself and looked my way. “What’s your name again?” he asked.

“Jolene,” I replied. “Jolene Philo.”

Fred looked me straight in the eye and smiled. “Good morning, Jolene.” Then he swung his other leg over the bike and pedaled up his truly steep, very long hill.

I watched him tackle the steep incline he faces every day of his life. It is a beautiful hill he’s climbing, I thought as he reached the crest. A beautiful hill indeed.

Different Dream Vlog Series: Call In the Forces

Call In the Forces

Thanks for visiting along my dusty gravel road today. If you could use a few minutes to relax, a few minutes in which someone else does all the thinking, you’ve come to the right place. You’ve landed smack dab in the middle of the Different Dream vlog series for parents of kids with special needs. Every Friday, I read a devotion from  A Different Dream for My Child: Meditations for Parents of Critically or Chronically Ill Children.

Today’s devo is found in the diagnosis section of the book. The title is Call in the Forces, which Jeff and Carolyn did after their toddler daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. But you don’t have to read about it. You get to sit back, close your eyes and listen while I read it aloud for you. Are you ready?

The video portion of this vlog post is located at DifferentDream.com. Thanks for clicking over to it!

Photo Credit: Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Different Dream Vlog Series: Introduction

Different Dream #5 Final

These days, I’m knee deep in writing the rough draft of a contracted book about PTSD in children. As you might guess, writing a book really takes a lot of time! To free up more of the precious commodity, Down the Gravel Road and my other blog, DifferentDream.com, will be cross-posting on Fridays and Mondays.

Different Dream launched a new Friday vlog feature today. Each week,  I’m reading a devo from A Different Dream for My Child, a book for parents of kids with special needs. You’re invited to click on over to Different Dream to get the whole scoop. Or pass the link along to parents you know are raising a child with special needs. And come back next Friday to find the link a new vlog entry. Thanks!

Top 10 Reasons to Join Different Dream’s Online Book Study

Different Dream Online Book Study

This week’s top ten list may appear to have escaped from DifferentDream.com or be lost on our little gravel road. In truth, I’m so excited about the upcoming online study of my first book, A Different Dream for My Child, that my enthusiasm is bigger than what one blog can contain. So, bear with these top ten reasons to join the study. And if you aren’t part of a special needs family, pass the information onto someone who is and who needs encouragement on the journey. Thanks!

10.  Discovery House Publishers (DHP) is offering a 30% discount. Go to www.dhp.org (USA) and www.dhponline.ca (Canada) and enter the promotional code DDJP. (Psst–the 30% discount is also good on my second book, Different Dream Parenting. But only at DHP. Not at Amazon.)

9.   It’s fun to see the book’s Amazon rank rise…thanks to diehard Amazon ordering fans who pass up DHP’s discount.

8.   The study results in more sales which keeps this author from starving for her art.

7.   The study is an excellent winter pick-me-up. Think of it as a drug-free means of stamping out post-holiday depression.

6.   The study is an excellent way to wile away your time until daylight hours increase enough to be noticeable.

5.   A Different Dream for My Child chapters are very short, so you’ll have plenty of time to read them and still tune into Downton Abbey, Season 3.

4.   The study begins during January, which is EA/TEF Awareness Month. A Different Dream for My Child will make readers more aware of this life-threatening birth anomaly because it tells the story of our son’s struggle with EA/TEF. And the stories of 15 other families whose kids had/have a variety of special needs.

3.   www.MommiesofMiracles.com is generously hosting the study. Without them and their technological expertise, this would not be happening.

2.   You can participate the study any time of day or night. In your jammies. Without needing to hire a babysitter.

1.   Parenting kids with special needs can be a very isolating experience. This online book story is a way to end the isolation for you and for other parents who need encouragement and a sense of community.

2011 Readers’ Choice Awards Finalist

This weekend was a quiet one.

No snowstorms.
No wild animals foraging in the flowerbeds.
No win at the Academy Awards for me again this year.

Since I wasn’t nominated, the loss wasn’t a terrible blow. Not nearly as tough as losing the race against Chuck Cram for class president in fifth grade. Of course I knew that was a lost cause. Our class had more boys than girls, and fifth graders crossing party lines to vote their conscience was about as likely to happen then as in the today’s House and Senate chambers. It’s taken a while to get over the loss, but I’m doing better every day.

My chances for winning the 2011 Readers’ Choice Awards at about.com aren’t too likely either. A Different Dream for My Child: Meditations for Parents of Critically or Chronically Ill Children is in third place out of five nominees, and the two top vote getters both have almost 2000 more votes than Different Dream.

Because Different Dream is a faith-based book, it’s readership is limited. So being part of a general market contest is a fantastic opportunity to spread the word to a wider audience.  To be honest my goal isn’t to win the contest. My goal is getting the book into the hands of more hurting, confused parents.

The more votes Different Dream gets by March 8, the more it will be noticed. The more it gets noticed, the better. So if you think of it, go to about.com and vote for A Different Dream for My Child once a day through March 8.

I thank you.
My publisher thanks you.
And somewhere, some parent of a child with special needs will thank you.
So much for my acceptance speech!