August 2014 Posts

Two are Better Than One


Have you ever heard, two are better than one? What we do alone is multiplied when the hands of many contribute their time, talents and resources. In fact, we see this ever day here at the Mission. You donate money or time to the Mission and the work of changing lives in the name of Christ is multiplied: more men, women and families can be reached and served.

This week one of our new locations was prayed over and celebrated because larger families who are part of the Mission’s transitional program will have more room. This four-plex property in the North Park Hill neighborhood wasn’t just the work of Denver Rescue Mission. There were many hands involved like, HomeAid Colorado, Wonderland Homes, McStain Neighborhoods and so many others who contributed time, talent and resources. This building is truly a home to families and is a testament of many working together for one purpose.


Councilman Albus Brooks is the City Council District 8 Representative for the City and County of Denver.

Councilman Albus Brooks is the City Council District 8 Representative for the City and County of Denver.


Melissa and her family live in one of the units. Her family of seven have more room to spend time together in this larger unit.

Melissa and her family live in one of the units. Her family of seven have more room to spend time together in this larger unit.

HomeAid Colorado facilitated a diaper donation drive for the Mission.

HomeAid Colorado facilitated a diaper donation drive for the Mission.

A nice playground set was added to the family unit.

A nice playground set was added to the family unit.


Thank you to all who made this happen.

Thank you to all who made this happen.

A Prayer for Peace


July 24th is my birthday and this year it was one to remember!  I was stuck in Tel Aviv, Israel due to the no-fly restriction by all the USA airlines. My wife and I, along with our tour group of another 21 people from our church, were visiting the Holy Land.

After 48 hours the no-fly restriction was lifted and we left on the first flight out on United Airlines on the 26th at 11:55 p.m. United brought in three additional planes to lift the rest of its stranded travelers out the next morning at 6 a.m.

While I was stranded in Israel, I experienced my first air raid. It lasted about five minutes, AFTER Israel missiles intercepted and struck down the rocket fired from Gaza. Captured on someone’s video, it looked like two jet streams followed by explosions as the missiles intercepted the rocket. During the air raid we were instructed to stand next to the elevator. Apparently the elevator shaft is the strongest part of a building (if your building is ever hit by rocket fire!).

After this brief interlude, life returned to normal around us. The Israel people went back to shopping, walking on the beach, eating in restaurants, and my wife and I returned to the pool at our hotel – a beautiful pool with a view of the Mediterranean Sea – waiting to see if we could get a flight out of the country.

It seems unbelievable to me that the Israelis live this way: Going about the business of life much like their American friends only to seek shelter as a war rages on in the southern part of their country – a country not much bigger than New Jersey.

So, I spent by birthday, by a pool, next to the Mediterranean Sea, hoping to leave a country where war rages on, and thankful to God for His many blessings not the least of which is that I am an American. I understand now what it means to pray for the peace of Israel. A peace that I am praying for, but that may only come with the return of Jesus. This is a hard life for those born in this country, Jew, Palestinian, Christian, and all of the others. We need to join in prayer for the peace that only Christ can bring!

Dead Sea Scrolls

Dead Sea Scrolls



Jeru 2




The Tomb

The Tomb

Conversations About Anything // Maxine Duvall

This series was inspired by the book Anything written by Jennie Allen. Please follow me as I struggle with life’s difficult questions and walk down the path to find my “anything”!

Maxine is a part-time chef at Fort Collins Rescue Mission. She came to us after working for a decade at the Larimer County Jail as Kitchen Supervisor. She loved her job there, but was looking to slow down a little…

But slowing down doesn’t really seem like something Maxine is capable of. At 65 years old, she has seven kids, 15 grandkids, and seven great-grandkids. She is unassuming, quiet and humble. I’ve chatted with her here and there, but I heard pieces of her story from others. Adoption, working in a prison and before that, working for the Salvation Army…I needed to interview her.

I finally got my chance last week!


RG: Have you ever prayed a prayer like “anything”?
MD: I’m sure I have. I pray quirky little prayers all the time.

RG: Tell me about your kids.
MD: Which ones?

RG: All of them!
MD: Well, I always wanted 10 kids. Now I say Thank God I didn’t have that many. But my children are the joys of my life. I’m really close to all of them and I don’t know what I would do without them. My husband had four children when we got married when I was 18. The girls were 7, 6, 5, and 3 years old when we got married.

RG: 18 and 4 kids?! That’s crazy. Did you have any more?
MD: At first, I couldn’t get pregnant. We did everything imaginable. We were married five years when I finally got pregnant. With a boy. It was so exciting. But I was sick almost the entire 9 months. It was so worth it. I had Bobby James in 1972. We tried for more children after Bobby, but I couldn’t get pregnant. Bobby is so special. He was the only boy but it didn’t spoil him. He always wanted to please everyone.

RG: So five kids total?
MD: Six, well, now seven.

RG: Puzzled look.
MD: We adopted my niece in 1979. She was five when we got her. Her parents had been absent for most of her life. I picked her up from the airport when she moved to Arizona to live with us. She asked what she should call me. I told her she could call us aunt and uncle or whatever she wanted. She said she wanted to call us Mommy and Daddy and she never called us anything different. She just fit in with us. She became the little sister. If anyone is spoiled, it’s her. She’s the baby of the family. She didn’t just have Bob (Maxine’s husband) wrapped around her finger, she had him wrapped around her whole arm.

RG: So, by 25, you had six children?
MD: Yep.

RG: So where does the seventh come into the picture?
MD: My husband  was always opening our door to people. We worked at a camp in Estes Park and Bob met him there. He brought him home one night and he just stayed. He was 17, just graduated from high school. His family lives in Alaska, so we adopted him like he was ours. To this day, when he has a problem, he calls me. We just went out to Pennsylvania for his wedding.

RG: It sounds like it’s not just your husband that opens his heart to people. You do it, too. Why?
MD: I was raised in the Salvation Army. It’s a giving environment. Because you grow up watching people give, it rubs off on you. You do it because of the Lord, but it becomes a part of you. My mom always had people in the house and took care of others.

RG: Tell me more about Bob.
MD: My husband was not a Christian when we got married. He knew who the Lord was, but he didn’t walk His walk. God made our marriage good. He was always a good man, but he glowed when he became a Christian. Four years after we were married, he started going to church with me. The Lord became his Savior. Then he was hooked.

RG: How did he pass away?
MD: I took him to the hospital on New Years Eve, 1999. We thought he was having a heart attack, but they discovered he had bone cancer. He only lived 10 more days.

RG: I’m so sorry.
MD: He was an incredible man. I’m jealous of him, that he got to go. This world is not my home. When he passed away, I had to turn to God in a completely different way. I never thought I would have to walk these years by myself. But I don’t. God carries me. He has never dropped me.

RG: So after that you came to Fort Collins Rescue Mission?
MD: I just couldn’t stay in Estes. It was too lonely and out of the way. After three more years, I came back to Fort Collins. I got a job at the Larimer County Jail. I was a Kitchen Supervisor. I told men what to do. It was the perfect job for a woman because she could tell 18 men what to do all day long and they had to do it. I worked there for 10 years and I really loved it.

RG: So why did you come to the Mission?
MD: It was time to slow down. And I love this job. I love to hug people. I couldn’t even make contact with people at the jail. It just wasn’t allowed. I can talk to the people here. I can pray with them, hug them. I pray for these guys every day. I prayed for the inmates too, but it’s just not the same. It’s more personal here.

RG: It feels like your life came full circle. You spent your younger years helping people, and now you’re doing it again. Why?
MD: I’ve always wanted to do things for everyone else. Even when I didn’t work, I still did things for other people. I was always the person who watched everyone’s kids in the neighborhood. We had an open-door policy.


RG: So if you had advice for my generation, what would it be?
MD: Take the time to watch. God has already done everything and been everywhere. I think that this generation, who sees so much and has access to information, it’s harder for you to believe in a God. We don’t see him every day. We can’t feel him walking beside us and hear him talking to us. If we don’t have communication with our spouse, we lose each other. It’s the same thing with God. You have to talk to him constantly, pray to Him constantly. We need to communicate with Him and read His book. He shows us how to trust, grow and love.

RG: When you got married to a man with four kids at age 18, did you ever think your life would…?
MD: [Maxine cuts in…] Oh no, no, no. I was just taking it one day at a time. But I learned since then that God ordained this life for me. I would give up anything for the Lord.


Willpower Is Not Enough

Sometimes there are Psalms that jump off the page and into my heart. “Why so downcast, oh my soul. Why so disquieted within me?” is one of those brutally real verses that needs no interpretation, especially for those who have experienced the suffering of addiction.  I know that feeling of: something is wrong, why can’t I get it right? Why are my desires and actions a mystery to even myself?

In Saint Augustine’s words: “Who can untie this extremely twisted and tangled knot? It is a foul affair. I have no wish to give attention to it.”

I agree.

I am reading a book about how the decisions we make are often influenced by outside factors without our realizing. We think we are in complete control of our choices and actions, but psychologists and scientists have studied us and they have a different story.

Dr. Kahnemen writes of several examples:

Pro golfers putt more accurately, no matter how far away, when going for par than for a birdie. They are more concerned about getting the horrible “bogey” score than the situation where missing a putt will result in the decent score of par. Everyone performs this way, Tiger Woods included.

In a poll that asked about life satisfaction, the psychologists asked one group first, “How satisfied are you with your life?” and then asked, “How many dates have you been on in the last month.” They found that the number of dates and life satisfaction were almost totally unrelated. Then they asked another group first, “How many dates have you been on in the last month?” and then asked, “How satisfied are you with your life?” What do you think changed? There suddenly was a huge correlation between the number of dates and satisfaction.

Shoppers will routinely buy more of an item (their example was canned soup) if there is a sign that says “limit 12 per customer.”

We buy foods that say 90% fat free, yet would we buy the same food with a different framing of the facts – 10% fat? Kahneman and his colleagues say no.

Often our decisions are the product of our environment rather than our rational choice. Many of our actions are influenced by factors below our consciousness. To struggle with addiction is to become aware of that part of your mind which has nothing to do with your “reasoning,” but influences your actions nonetheless. This explains how we can think through every reason not to get drunk or high and find ourselves going out and doing it anyway. There is a part of your mind that you don’t control.

Have you ever felt a part of yourself fervently willing against something not good for you – “This is a waste!  It will destroy you!  You’ll regret it!” and a part that screams to do it – “I want it!  Do it!  Who cares!”. Or the opposite, think of a time when you told yourself you’d change, but find, time and again, that willpower isn’t enough. You fail to exercise/meet new people/read more/be patient, and stay the same, resolution after resolution, year after year.

So if we can’t control what we decide, if we have the honesty to admit that we make some horrible choices and part of our mind cannot be trusted, here are some remedies:

1) Bind Yourself to a Committed Community.

For the Mission, this is easy – stay one whole year and a month at Harvest Farm. If you’re like every other human who sometimes makes poor decisions, one thing you can do is lock yourself away from access to your vice.

If you have a healthy respect for this ravaging part of your mind that can turn on you, then you commit to a community that limits your exposure to your demons and you stick with it despite its flaws or imperfections.

2) To combat the part of your mind that talks when you’re not aware, start talking to yourself.

If a shopper sees the sign that says “Limit 12 per customer” and then just says, “Well I only came in for two, you stupid sign – stop trying to manipulate me.” I think it is likely that they will just get two cans of soup. Just the other day I spoke with a guy here at Harvest Farm who is struggling with quitting smoking. He says that whenever he passes smokers, smells smoke, sees people lighting up, or watches that bright orange flare on the end of an enticing cigarette he says to himself: “Oh, that’s gross. Can you imagine all that tar and ash going into my body? That is a disgusting habit.”  No matter how bad he feels he really, really wants that smoke. We might as well be telling ourselves what our true desires are, that other part of our mind will be talking anyway.

3) Finally, get quiet enough to hear that voice that is constantly talking to you, but you never really “hear.”

If you spend time in focused silence and reflection – praying, writing, being alone with your thoughts – you can start to bring the awareness up to the point of being aware of that elusive part of your mind that the Psalmist speaks of, “Why so downcast, oh my soul? Why so disquieted within me?”

Stick to a good, healthy community that limits your exposure to the bad stuff. Talk to yourself, remind yourself of what you really want rather than let your urges monopolize the conversation in your head. Get quiet enough, in the pace of life and in set apart moments, to hear the voice of the Lord. In the world of recovery, in the experience of behavior change, it is precisely what you don’t know that will hurt you.

Blog scripture

Rachel’s Lens // A Goodbye of Sorts


Well, the time has come. And it came a lot sooner than I thought it would.

A couple months ago, I started a very tiny, very unofficial business. Some families I knew wanted portraits taken and I wanted to do it legally, so I bought an LLC, got some tax ID numbers, and threw some of my photos online. And then a weird thing happened when more people asked for photos. And then I was all of a sudden waking up really early to work on photos and then going to bed really late trying to make my site look cooler.

And then this other thing happened where I stopped seeing my husband and I stopped cooking and I stopped exercising. My relationships were suffering and for what? Work.

Both my small company and my day job became a list of tasks to accomplish rather than something I truly loved. I resented both of them. My husband said something revolutionary one night: “You know, you could just pick one.”

So I did, after weeks of stubbornly telling him I was capable of doing both. But deep down, I knew if I stayed at the Mission, the side job wouldn’t go away. I would still have to work really hard at managing it and I would have to be very protective of my time. I hate that. I have always seen my time as something I can give as a gift to others. And lately? I’ve resented serving people and giving my time to them. I can’t tell you how much I want to get back to a place where I can give that gift again, and willingly.


Today is my last day at Denver Rescue Mission. Cheesily enough, I’m tearing up a little as a write this. I have absolutely loved my time at the Mission. I could have never foreseen the personal and spiritual growth I experienced here. I am forever indebted to this place for teaching me about myself, about friendship, about being an adult, about selfless service, and about God’s love for us humans.

Thank you, all of you, who took the time to read this little piece of the internet each Friday. I hope and pray you will continue to serve the Mission and support the amazing work being done here.

Thank you, to the Mission, for the life lessons. Thank you for launching me into (hopefully) a career of writing for others.

Rachel at her going away party. She will be missed.

Rachel at her going away party. She will be missed.