Several years ago my husband and I were treated to a week’s stay at Wind River Ranch in Estes Park, Colorado just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. Wind River Ranch is a Christian hospitality ministry. The week we visited was a week when the ranch rolled out the red carpet for a limited number of missionaries who needed respite care. We were a few of the lucky ones whose applications were accepted.
Upon arrival at the ranch, we were assigned our own private cabin with majestic views. We were fed three incredible meals each day. And if the amenities, views, and luxury dining weren’t enough to restore the weary soul, we were offered guidance by professional counselors, encouragement by staff, horseback riding, hiking, etc. Seriously, the list went on.
But a week at the ranch wasn’t intended to just entertain us or keep us busy. Quite the opposite. We were encouraged to slow down. To just “be”. They were very intentional and did an amazing job on delivering thoughtful and unique touches that made our visit…personal. We didn’t anticipate that the staff would know who we were, much less pray for us and write us notes as they refreshed our cabin daily.
This visit to Wind River Ranch was divinely timed at a season in my life when not only did I need a respite break from burnout, but also at a time when seeds of the vision of The Power Plant had already been planted. Thoughts of it was already churning in my head and heart.
With that said, I recall having a conversation one day when we chose to go hiking with one of the Wind River Ranch ministry leaders on a trail at the tip top of a peak. I was fumbling through the idea of this new adventure, The Power Plant, that at the time didn’t even have a name. But as we talked, I remember being in agreement with him that there just weren’t enough hospitality ministries out there. Of all the pastors, missionaries, and ministry leaders who endlessly and tirelessly give of themselves….who in return takes care of them??? It was a thought that resonated with me for quite some time. And in time, the question really became, “Who cares for the caregivers?”
As we wrapped up the week and shared our last group meal at the ranch, they told us a story. There was only one other week during the year when the ranch absorbed all costs and rolled out the red carpet for a group of deserving individuals, and that was a week set aside for wounded warriors.
As the story began, they shared what wounded warrior week typically looked like, and described not only the battered bodies that stayed at the ranch, but more so the wounded hearts within.
That story…would also resonate with me.
It went like this…
One warrior was staying at the ranch, and just as the staff had done with us missionaries, they greeted him by name during the week and asked him personally how his stay at the ranch was. He had limbs missing and honestly, no doubt even bigger scars than those. He was hardened by his life experiences, and for whatever reason, he responded sharply to the staff person that his stay would be better if he had a bowl of yellow M&Ms sitting beside his bed.
Maybe in his mind it was the impossible, or maybe sarcasm had simply become a way of life for him. I don’t know. But can you guess what the ranch staff did? That’s right. They drove into town and bought as many bags of M&Ms as they could and hand picked out every single yellow M&M to accommodate his unsuspecting wish.
We were told that through that single act of kindness and him finding a bowl of yellow M&Ms beside his bed, a hard heart had been softened. A tough man…broken. And it was through their hospitality that he realized someone truly saw him. Someone cared. Their act of kindness gave the platform needed for him to actually hear and receive the most important message of all…Jesus loves you, He sees you, and He does care.
I reflect on that story, because yesterday was the long-awaited ribbon cutting ceremony for The Power Plant’s guest house. Yes, it took about 13 months to get it renovated and ready to open, but just as God was preparing that warrior’s heart while ranch staff purposely picked out every yellow M&M, I know God has been using this time to prepare hearts of caregivers and other women in need. Women that simply need to be seen. To be encouraged. And to know that they matter.
I’ve been challenged over the past 13 months for making the renovation more complicated than it needed to be by adding details and touches to the guest house that I didn’t have to. Yes, I could have slapped a new coat of paint on the walls and called it “done” months ago, but part of the gift The Power Plant is giving to these women is the message, “You’re worth it.”
You see, the guest house is a bowl of yellow M&Ms. And it’s through this act of kindness and attention to detail where a platform will be set, and someone will finally be able to receive a long-awaited message and find freedom from the weight that they carry.
I represent the Savior I serve…the same One who saw me and proved to me that I’m worth it by the scars on His hands…and as long as I am privileged to serve Him, I feel I have the responsibility to represent Him well. To serve with excellence.
A new chapter in this journey has begun.
A bowl of yellow M&Ms has been purposely prepared. Let’s eagerly anticipate the harvest of what He’s been working on in the wait!
Thank you for sharing this journey with me.
*To Rob and the staff at Wind River Ranch…thank you for inspiring me to continue forward with His work in hospitality and respite care. Job well done good and faithful servants!