You have come for a visit.
You followed clearly articulated directions, turned off the main road and have come upon a beautiful wrought iron gate. It is a work of art, in and of itself. A herd of wild horses play across the metal, setting the stage for what lies ahead.
On either side of the gate, a long adobe wall extends for about 200 feet on the right and on the left, keeping the secrets of what lie on the other side. Two huge stones stand as sentinels declaring Isaiah 60:18b and Isaiah 60:18c, the foundation upon which the property and all it’s residents are sheltered.
You announce your arrival, and are welcomed to join us at the main home.
As you pass through the security gate and take the meandering drive toward the house, the smell of sweet grass and the gentle crunch of crushed granite beneath the wheels of your car begins to fill your mind with a sense of deep peace. On either side of the tree-lined drive, horses play and graze in their beautifully maintained pastures.
Your attention is drawn to your right, and you notice a set of small buildings. Ground hugging, all the buildings look like they grew out of the earth itself. You wonder, “Is this really a place that disabled young adults spend their days? How marvelous!”
A circular drive takes you ’round to a large-covered portico. Everywhere you look, native plants are celebrated. Wild flowers grow profusely among the artfully placed boulders. Hummingbirds and songbirds are everywhere, and the gentle fragrance of life calms your soul. Faintly, you hear the sound of bubbling water and the enticing sound of laughter.
Although the house is designed as a barrier-free home, none of the traditional “institutional look” is evident. The large front door appears to be hand-hewn with an obvious celebration of great craftsmanship, but moves easily on its massive hinges.
Zach, our oldest son, comes to the door to greet you in his “really cool” wheelchair. As he invites you in, you notice that his wheelchair has controls that you have never seen before. He manipulates a switch, and the massive front door slowly closes.
As you turn to look around this very gracious home, you are struck with how peaceful it is. It is a sanctuary. Fresh flowers adorn every room. Large windows celebrate the magnificent views. The air smells fresh and invigorating. The stone floors feel cool and inviting under your feet. You slip off your shoes and leave them at the front door - invitation accepted.
The sound of bubbling water and voices given to merriment is louder here, but not intrusive. You feel like this is a place where you could find yourself.
Zach speaks to you, and you are brought back from your reverie, as he begins to escort you on a tour of this simple, charming home and extended living quarters.
When you entered the house, you found yourself in a large foyer. As you look straight ahead, your eyes are led graciously into a large, comfortable, sitting area. As you look to your left, you see a wide hallway, situated at about a 35-degree angle to the large square you are standing in, which leads to several rooms. It is from that direction that you hear the voices of young people laughing and sharing together. You find yourself captivated by the sound.
As you look to the right, another 35-degree angle takes you down a short hallway to a large dining room, kitchen and family room. You look ahead, and you see a large central courtyard with a pool, outdoor kitchen and entertaining area.
Finally you see the source of the sound of bubbling water. A pond filled with brightly colored fish appears to spill into the pool. Upon closer examination of course, you will find that it is just an artful illusion.
A burst of laughter draws your attention again to your left, and Zach brings you into the living quarters of several wonderful young men and women. What at first appeared to be bedrooms, you now realize are unique living suites, each tailored to the special needs and gifts of its occupant. Zach proudly introduces you to each young person in the common area, and then takes you to see his personal living space.
All of Zach’s medical supplies and equipment are neatly stored out of sight in a built-in wall of cabinets. He even has a “parking station” for his power wheelchair. He shows you where he sleeps, and the small, private kitchen and sitting area which are part of his personal space. His nurses can be there, available for his needs, without disturbing the rest of the household. Zach has a tremendous sense of independence and purpose, and it shows.
You see that we have all worked hard to give the various residents living or visiting here a sense of autonomy, while providing for the development of friendships, in spite of the many challenges each young person faces.
You marvel at the hope and purpose that Zach demonstrates. He shares with you how he believes God is working in his life and his body, bringing restoration and wholeness.
Zach begins to tell you about the foundation he has started to provide support for families suffering with D.M.D. (Duchenne muscular dystrophy), the Love, Zach Foundation. He shares with you the sadness he feels that so many families’ emotional needs are not met, and how often the family is torn apart because of this disease, and yet, how the promise of the Kingdom of God can bring the Message of Hope into these fractured lives.
Just then, I come around the corner, and greet you warmly. I have been on the phone making connections with other like-minded individuals seeking to make a difference in the lives of these special young adults.
One of the goals we share with you is our desire to provide a place of respite for families and care givers. A place where they can vacation while their young adult enjoys activities geared toward their unique needs and abilities, with the opportunity for fun and the developing of friendships.
As we take you through the rest of the house, we share with you some of the innovative things we have done to provide a barrier-free environment for the many young adults under our care and oversight. We are passionate about creating a place where giftedness is revealed and encouraged, - the Kingdom of God on earth - a bit of Eden.
This is a place where everyone is made to feel a part of something grand - of something bigger than themselves - a place where God’s dreams are sought, not just our small ones.
We bring you into the kitchen/family room for refreshment and we begin our visit together, in earnest.
As you glance around the room, you see a small pizza oven in one corner, a large commercial stove and refrigerator, and a baking and prep area that has two levels - one area specifically designed to be wheelchair accessible. The room is large and spacious, with plenty of space for the maneuvering of wheelchairs and walkers.
Overstuffed furniture invites you to linger in the family room. Good books are tossed here and there, and you see that this is a “family” that loves God, values insight, and desires to make a difference in the lives of those they touch. A lot of good conversation and fun are had in this place.
You linger late into the afternoon, and are invited to go with us to greet the horses as they are being fed.
It is only now that you notice a trail that you are told can take you around a good portion of the property. The crushed granite path has a natural look and feel, yet allows freedom of movement for those in wheelchairs or walkers. There are many “destination” points along the trail, suited to any mood or the need for solitude.
We share with you the wonderful time the young people had when we took them “camping” on the property to see the small herd of wild horses that have been rescued and live here, and how they enjoyed catching fish from the nearby lake. We also share with you how wonderful it is to see God’s workmanship in each of their lives. We are privileged to play a small part in providing the environment for God’s work to be made manifest in their hearts and lives.
As we head back to the house for a light supper and a glass of wine, the property manager arrives to give a report of the day’s activities. It is his responsibility to look after the many animals who have found a home here, as well as the staff required to maintain the property. He and his family live on-site and get to enjoy the many amenities this property provides.
The evening is getting chilly, but we are able to stay comfortable by the outdoor fireplace, laughing and talking about things that matter most to all of us.
The air is crisp. The fire is warm. We are with people who matter, as we share with you our vision for this property and the people placed within our care.
Diagnosed with Duchene muscular dystrophy, Zach turned 30 years old February 1, 2016 and is looking forward to a long life filled with beauty, love and great friendships.
This is a property where young adults with physical disabilities and critical care needs come to live and play, with the provision of 24/7 skilled nursing care and the following amenities:
• Private living suites tailored to the individual needs of each person, designed to help foster independence and individuality.
• Each apartment is equipped with WiFi, a personal shower/bathing area, a small kitchenette, washer and dryer, large windows, a comfortable sitting area designed for private time with family, personal care-givers, or friends.
• The common area provides a rich environment for developing friendships, playing games, watching movies together, Bible study and worship, or just “hanging out.” There is also plenty of room to host special guests who have come to visit, share, pray, teach, and instruct on Kingdom living.
• A small prayer room is directly connected to the 24/7 IHOP Prayer Room in Kansas City by a large flat-screen TV. Regular times of group worship, prayer and intercession are open and encouraged to all who live and visit here.
• A specialized Bible study and discussion program is available with the use of DVD’s, special guest speakers, and interactive studies. Participation is greatly valued, but not compulsory, to enhance the understanding of loving well and the building of faith while practicing the reality, authority, and fullness of the Kingdom of God here on earth.
• A small library is also available for solitude, contemplation and meditation on days of in-climate weather. The attached atrium brings the outdoors inside, and features a small pond that is connected to the larger outdoor pond through a channel that allows navigation and visitation by the fish.
• A heated pool for physical therapy and recreation encourages stiff and sore muscles to continue responding toward healthfulness.
• Physical therapists and massage therapists arrive weekly to encourage balance, movement and a maximization of physical potential. Carefully supervised stretching exercises are required as part of the privilege of living here. This is not only a place of sanctuary, but of healing and recovery.
• We are fully staffed with the skilled nurses and support personnel necessary to care for the 24/7 special needs of each resident and guest.
• Therapeutic horseback riding sessions are encouraged for all that are physically able, to encourage balance, independence, and a sense of accomplishment.
• Spiritual and emotional counseling is available at all times for both the residents living here, their families, guests, and the on-site staff. We are all encouraged to live from the inside out - asking ourselves, “What does the Kingdom of God look like, feel like, and taste like, in this situation.” Our desire is to see each other and our lives as God sees it, and to hold each other accountable to that glory.
• Camping trips on the property, are regularly scheduled for additional enrichment. A special underground power grid allows even the most challenged person to be part of an experience they would not normally be able to participate in. Specially made tents are outfitted with all the supplies and special equipment requirements of these young people.
• All pathways are well lit and easily navigated by wheelchairs, walkers or canes. The young people are encouraged to help feed the many varieties of animals living here, whether it is the chickens, milk-goat, dogs, cats or horses. Passivity is discouraged while boldness of effort is celebrated.
• Throughout the property, accessible garden areas of flowers, herbs and home-grown fruits and vegetables stimulate the senses, while providing the enrichment of growing our own food, and connecting each person to the seasons of life.
• The cooking staff is especially pleased to have fresh, home-grown fruits and vegetables available for meal preparations. Participation in group mealtimes is highly encouraged to facilitate a sense of family and comradery among the residents, while discouraging isolation. Visiting friends and family are always welcome to join the mealtimes and all other activities.
• Along with the vegetable garden, some of the property is used to grow alfalfa and grass hay to help offset feed costs.
• A garden railway (G-Scale LGB) system, located near the fish pond, brings additional enjoyment to all who visit, live and work at this special place.
• The outlying areas of the property have a few well-equipped guest houses for visiting family members, and special guests. The stresses of care-giving for the families are replaced with the opportunity to see their young people beyond their disability.
• A fire-pit and circular seating area is designed for nights of fun under the stars. Beautiful solar lights along the paths give just enough light to navigate the walkway without adding additional light pollution, to better appreciate the night skies.
• Solar power is used appropriately, to both augment power usage and provide for an emergency back-up power system.
• Heating and cooling of all the buildings is provided through a radiant heating and cooling system where appropriate
• The Living Machine® wastewater reuse
technology wetland system minimizes water and energy consumption (see attached brochure).
• An on-site, animal/livestock clinic provides necessary care for the many animals who have been rescued and live here.
• Two wheelchair accessible vans are always on standby in case of a medical emergency and for regular doctor visits.
In summary, this is a self-sustaining property with all the amenities required for good medical care, physical therapy, and the meeting of spiritual, social and emotional needs, all in a home environment, yet with a resort like flavor. A place where God’s beauty is visually reflected all around us through a well maintained and landscaped property. The God who heals, restores, brings peace, joy and love, is made manifest in our lives daily in our interaction with each other and nature.
And so, we dream on . . .
There are three people who inspired the story you just read; Nancy Turner, Nicole Turner, and my oldest son, Zachary Newman. God has used these three to set my heart ablaze with possibilities. I guess you could call each of them “God Dreamers.” They have inspired me and provoked me to reach for something greater than my current circumstances. Nancy, Nicole, Zachary - you have been my heroes!
The concept of “Eden’s Wellspring” began with a poignant phone call from Nancy Turner, Nicole’s mother. Our family had met theirs in Lakeland, Florida during the revival and healing meetings that were taking place there in 2008. Nicole had spina bifida since birth, and was wheelchair bound.
The Turner’s are from Yukon Territory, Canada, and we are from Arizona, USA. I believe this was one of those “chance," God arranged encounters.
A few years ago, Nancy was visiting friends in Southern California. This family has a son in similar circumstances as our son Zach, who is diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, is wheelchair bound, and attached to life supporting equipment. All three young adults felt isolated and alone.
Since they were all legally considered adults at age 18, these boys and Nicole, were essentially “aged out” or abandoned by government and secular systems. And unfortunately, the faith-based community has few services available for disabled young adults.
As Nancy and I caught up by phone, she began to ruminate about how wonderful it would be if we could just purchase a hotel and turn it into a place where these young, disabled adults could live, interact with each other, study the Bible together, pray for each other, and generally “hang out” together.
That night I couldn’t sleep. It was as if she expressed the deep cry of my heart, and all the bits and pieces of my dreams over the years came to an explosive climax. I could not stop writing. The story you have read “possessed” me. When there wasn’t any more “write” left in me, the time of overcoming fear, insufficiency, self-doubt, and inadequacy began.
But the truth is this; if this is God’s dream, He will fulfill it, and grow us up in the process. All any of us can do, is seeking the dreaming of God, ask for His guidance and clarity, and do what we see to do. He will accomplish the rest. And, besides, can we out dream God?
So this project is dedicated to Zachary and Nicole, who have totally inspired me by their faith and tenacity in refusing to let go of the dream God has placed in their hearts, and to the mothers and fathers and care givers everywhere who contend for their children.
If you are moved by what you have read, we invite you to partner with us to bring a bit of Eden into the lives of young people like these two.
~ Sandra Newman
"Gone to be with Jesus...dancing and singing with all my heart in my new body!”