As some of you already know, I recently published an eBook, Sharp Sticks: Essays of Embarrassment and Reflections on Redemption. I knew I wanted to give a portion of the proceeds of this book to a ministry or charity. I prayed about giving to another organization, but I just kept feeling led back to Jill’s House. Will and I prayed about how much to give, and decided that half of the author proceeds should go to Jill’s House. I contacted Jill’s House in the beginning of December, and have felt great confirmation in this decision through a series of interesting and unlikely events (one of which was running into Jill’s mom, Brenda Solomon, at Chick-Ooh-Lay just a couple weeks after initially contacting Jill’s House).
However, nothing could have convinced me that I’d made the right choice like visiting Jill’s House last Thursday. I was expecting it to be beautiful. I was expecting it to be wonderfully and thoughtfully designed. After all, I’ve seen pictures and I’ve watched the video of it being it built. But my grandiose expectations fell pitifully short. Jill’s House provides a fantastic opportunity for parents to get a reprieve from caring for their special needs children, but when you visit the facility, it conveys a spirit that is all about loving the kids. I visited the art room, stocked with inspiring supplies, and the music room, full of instruments with plenty of room to dance. There are themed sensory rooms with things to touch and marvel at. Children love the bubbling cylinders, neon lights, disco balls, and soft, life-size blocks with which to build forts. There is a swimming pool built with special needs in mind, and the water sparkles with all of the natural light streaming in from an abundance of windows.
The decor of Jill’s House is inviting, looking much like a resort. Many of the interior walls are painted with thematic murals — tropical scenes in the pool area, space and wilderness scenes in the common areas near the bedrooms. The playground is almost entirely shaded and is accessible and fun for children in wheelchairs and also children who can run and swing from monkey bars.
If you know me, you probably know that it is a rare occasion for me to cry, but it was a serious battle for me not to cry happy tears while touring Jill’s House. It was overwhelming. I just kept thinking about how much it must mean to the families served by this incredible facility. Think of all the parents (many of them undoubtedly single parents) reaching a point of utter exhaustion caring for their special needs child, and then having the opportunity to bring them to Jill’s House. What a blessing for the parents and for the child!
I am thrilled that every time someone buys Sharp Sticks a few dollars will go to this fantastic and much needed ministry. By the way, you do not need a Kindle to read an eBook on Amazon. Amazon provides free software for every kind of computer and device imaginable. Click Here for Free Kindle Reading Apps.
But what does Jill’s House have to do with theology? Actually, a lot. After all, it is not the mandate of our culture that motivates people to love and care for children with special needs — our increasingly godless culture equates worth with tangible contribution. Instead, it is the God of the Bible who instructs us to love everyone with the eyes of Christ. It is His truth that we are all made in His image, worthy of respect and dignity and love. God is never about outward appearances or tangible contributions. He is always and only about grace (Romans 3:24, 2 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 2:8, Titus 2:11).
Likewise, Jill’s House is a place of grace and love, of rest and fun, a place where children are honored and respected and cherished regardless of ability or appearance. A kingdom mindset — a theology in action — that is all too rare.