My family and I have been serving the last 6 years with an organization called Lighthouse Family Fetreat.
LFR serves children with cancer and their families at a seaside retreat to help them to laugh, restore family relationships and ultimately find hope in God.
One of the reasons this happens is because of families that give up a week of their year to serve and volunteer.
When I’m there serving, for me it has become a very real picture of what I believe Heaven will look like!
People being the church, showing unconditional love, serving, eating, playing & laughing together.
I’m honored to serve in the host role, leading worship, leading morning and night devotions and helping creat the atmosphere for the week… which for me means being as big a goof ball as possible to help kids laugh and see their faces light up! I started out in children’s ministry when I was 18 and so I’m right at home singing and dancing and just having a blast with the families.
We celebrate the life God has given us, and thank Him for every GOOD thing.
We sing and dance and play nearly the entire day… napping a good bit after lunch.
We do our best to help mom and dad re-connect.
We give our all to help that sibling that’s been lost in the shadows to rediscover their dreams again!
There’s no room for rockstar attitudes AND the last and least are FIRST in line!
Being a dad has it’s humbling moments. There’s something about holding a dirty diaper that just doesn’t ring “rock star!”
I guess I’m constantly reminded of how quickly things can get “messy.”
Honestly, I feel a bit in over my head with our season of life.
Work, travel, home, our ever-increasingly busy schedule with the kids… did I mention we’re pregnant?!
With all of this, I can’t imagine if one of them had cancer.
The pain and fear I’d be experiencing on top of everything else.
The overwhelming amount of help my family would immediately need.
At some point, we all will walk through difficult times and sooner or later will need help.
However, we were never meant to go through it alone and in these times of life, when I jump into the “mess” with someone, I realize I’m as much in line with His will as I’ll ever be.
Just read the first few verses of most of Paul’s letters, they are all filled with love and encouragement to lift each other up, pray for each other and to not give up!
My daughter said it best recently, as we were once again bringing luggage up and down the stairs after serving at Lighthouse, she said, “these times are hard dad, but it’s sure worth it.”
I laughed because of how cute this was to me and how she believed we are all in this together and she’s doing her part.
And.. she’s right… the real joy and satisfaction in life isn’t a life void of hardship,
it’s found in giving our lives away, and in the end it will be worth it.
So I wrote this song “I Will Stand By You” inspired by my experiences there.
I had just gotten back from a retreat and wanted to capture, in a fun way, what the heart is of Lighthouse.
It’s a song about the self-sacrificing love on display at LFR day after day that is changing lives.
The chorus in some ways is kind of the mission statement of the volunteers at Lighthouse.
Families reaching out a hand to other families they’ve just met, carrying their burdens and helping them know they aren’t alone… altogether being the love of Jesus, not just singing about it.
“I will walk with you through desert lands, I will lift you from the sinking sand
When you have no strength, just hold my hand,
I will stand, I will stand by you”
It’s of course easier said then done.
I met a 9 yr old girl name Niki Reyes over a year ago, and I won’t ever forget her.
She glowed. Like seemed to actually glow. Her joy was so outwardly it made her face radiate.
She spoke of God and her faith in Jesus in a way that made Him so real.
I hear me say, I believe in Jesus and trust in Jesus… God is REAL.
But the way Niki talked about her was different and with a confidence that was infectious.
I remember serving her strawberries at breakfast and her telling me how she saw angels and talked to God in her hospital room recently. I said “Wow, that’s awesome, what did you talk about!?”
She said, “The angels don’t say much, but God told me the blood I needed would be enough.”
The week ended and shortly after I discovered Niki was much sicker then I realized.
Doctors wanted her on hospice care as they had done all they could for her, but her family didn’t want to give up yet.
We always pray and hope for healing and miracles, but also know that He sometimes ultimately heals them and takes them home.
We made a youtube video for Niki to encourage her and kept praying for her, but in March of this past year,
I got the phone call that our beautiful little flower Niki, had gone home to be with Jesus.
(This is me with Niki in the middle and her sister)
We were heartbroken.
Niki gave us a gift we weren’t expecting, of a deeper faith in Jesus and a vision of what the joy of the Lord really looks like.
I’ll never forget Niki Reyes.
I’ll be honest, in the areas of life like this, I want to run.
I want to hide from the broken things in this world and live in a reality that is less painful.
But instead of running from the heartbrake that comes with serving children with cancer…
Our resolve continues to grow stronger, by the grace of God, to run towards these families.
To help them laugh again.
Help them dream again.
And to help them find hope in God.
(helping a dad reconnect with his daughter by giving them a special date night and private evening together)
(Common Grounds for the parents to reconnect and share their story)
(volunteers offering a spa afternoon for the moms)
We remember, that it won’t be like this forever.
This is not the end of the story.
In the end cancer… and death… does not win.
Jesus has the final say.
He alone stands victorious over all that is broken in this world.
It’s the reason we can sing and dance and play and laugh and dream… even when we don’t understand…
because we know He carry’s our hope and our eternity is secure!!!
My prayer is this song will be an encouragement to us, and a motivation towards helping others discover what being the “hands and feet” of Jesus is really all about.
For more info on LFR visit: www.LighthouseFamilyRetreat.org
*They are currently accepting family partners applications as well as donations to help make the retreats possible
To hear the song visit iTunes or click the link: “I Will Stand By You”
*If you would like a FREE chord chart – message me on here, or on my FB page and I’ll email you one.
Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefor encourage each other and build each other up”
Matthew 25 (whenever you did it to them, you did it to me)
Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as unto the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
“I Will Stand By You”
Everybody gets week
When our broken hearts send us to our knees
And everyone of us grieves
And needs a helping hand back up on our feet
To just believe
I will walk with you through desert lands
I will lift you from the sinking sand
When you have no strength, just hold my hand
I will stand, I will stand by you
I will stand, I will stand by you
When it’s hard to just breathe
From doing all you can just to make ends meet
When you’re lost in life’s give and take, yep
I will be there to help you find your way
Yeah, we’ll find our way
We were meant to walk this
Broken world together
In the days of pain and
In the stormy weather
knowing this is not how
It will be forever
I’ll stand by you