2018: Sow and Reap

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” ~ Galatians 6:9

Since I was young, the books that are my favorite to read are biographies, stories of people who have attained a level of worldly success or have impacted humanity somehow. When I was young, I read these books to learn how a person was inspired to or driven to attain a goal, create a life changing invention or discover a scientific breakthrough. As I have grown older, I read these books with very different eyes and intention.

At this point in my life, what I find even more fascinating now, is how these people pushed through inevitable adversity to reach their aspirations. I read for the grit, determination and persevering qualities within this people, looking for something to learn from them to incorporate within me. People who listened to and stayed true to the inner voice within them that screamed louder than the noise of the circumstances, or the voices of others, around them.

I wonder how many people are aware that Steve Jobs resigned or was “fired” from Apple in 1985 when his Board did not embrace the vision that he saw for the company. He was hired back at Apple in 1997, after what he called one of the most creative periods in his life. Thomas Edison, when asked about all of his “failures” on his way to perfecting the light bulb answered, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. “Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty and persistence”, is a quote attributed to General Colin Powell.

Inspiration is not limited to real-world players, alone. “It ain’t about how hard ya hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That is how winning is done!”, Rocky Balboa from the 2006 movie of the same name.

Why the ruminations about stick-to-itiveness and tenacity? Because after four years of leading The One Roof, I see 2018 in part or whole, as a year to take stock and re-center this novel ministry. Even after four years, it is still a beautiful work in progress. Much has been accomplished and learned, but it is time to pull back a bit to properly review and refine for a robust, sustainable future. A future that can equip churches better and in turn, better bless the community we serve.

This process, of course, involves intentional and continual prayer. I am confident that the Lord’s hand is in this reset and I am eager to see what comes of this new season. I’m expectant of a refining process that will deepen the processes and integrity of what we have in place. I believe that this “breather” period will spark creativity within the ministry on more than one front.

Though The One Roof may not host a 2018 Symposium and Roundtable this year which were so successful the past three years, I am encouraging churches to contact us for disability ministry establishment and consultation. Coming alongside churches to start or better serve those impacted by disability and their families is what we have been called to and that will not stop.

As the Galatians verse notes at the beginning of this article, it takes tenacity to see a blessing to harvest. It has, and still is, a great and fruitful sowing season for The One Roof. Our full harvest, though, has yet to be realized. God still has much in store.

We’re not done, we’re just digging in deeper than ever. Stay tuned……

A “Mic Drop” Event!

Wikipedia defines a “mic drop” as:

The gesture of intentionally dropping one’s microphone at the end of a performance or speech to signal triumph. Figuratively, it is an expression of triumph for a successful event and indicates a boastful attitude toward one’s own performance.

The “Disability and Your Church” Symposium, held on Saturday, September 30th, an event jointly presented by The One Roof Initiative and Idlewild Baptist Church, was a “mic drop” event, but all glory goes to God!

The numbers speak for themselves: over 150 guests, at least 30 churches represented, 26 speakers, 10 different breakout topics and one incredible keynote speaker!

Guests traveled from Tennessee, Georgia and all over Florida to learn from experts and each other. We were encouraged by the number of pastors who attended to catch a vision for their congregations!

Emily Colson was a powerful and inspiring keynote speaker! She shared her story of being a Mom to her son, Max, who lives with autism, her faith journey in and through the world of disability, and her potent encouragement to the Church, that the body of Christ is not complete unless all are welcome. Our fantastic guest speakers filled the day facilitating breakout sessions on such topics as Communication Strategies, Behavior Support, Sensory Processing, Family Matters, Mental Health, Community Resources and more, as well as a specific track for pastors.

The feedback from our guests was enthusiastic…“I loved the choices, the networking and the Portico Chorus,” “Emily Colson is amazing!” “Great sessions,” “So much to choose from,” “Amazing conference!”

The success of this event, the expressed need of guests in attendance, and more continue to affirm the need for our churches to be aware and be equipped to confidently and properly welcome and include those impacted by disability.

The 2017 Disability and Your Church Symposium is behind us, but we, as a corporate Church, are charged to keep moving forward working to make our houses of worship inclusive of all. As evidenced by the passion and dedication of those who attended our event, the Body of Christ is stepping up to the plate, working to welcome all into a supportive community of believers. In action and word, we must share the help and Hope of Christ.

Fueled by the Holy Spirit, Disability and Your Church 2017 was a wonderful and memorable “mic drop” day.  Boom!

Be blessed,

Sally DePalma and Deana Troyer

Make sure to visit The One Roof Facebook page for great event photos!

Also visit the following links for Disability and Your Church 2017 Highlights!

 “Disability and Your Church”, September 30th, 2017: What’s on Your Calendar?

Before you read any further, get your pen and paper day planner out; open your Google calendar; grab a loose Post It note or, if needed, use your hand and note this date and place, Saturday, September 30th, Idlewild Baptist Church, Lutz, Florida.  Go ahead, I’ll wait……… Oh, and don’t forget to add 8:30am-3pm.  Don’t rush. I’m having a sip of my morning tea…….

Got it? I hope so, as you DO NOT want to miss the Third Annual Disability and Your Church Symposium 2017 hosted by The One Roof Initiative and Idlewild Baptist Church! This year’s event will be the biggest and best yet with many new ideas incorporated…. multiple, informative breakout sessions, an exclusive Pastor Track and a keynote speaker, Emily Colson, author of “Dancing with Max”.

The smash successes of our two previous events have given us the confidence and inspiration to expand our offerings within this event.The intent of the Symposium remains the same, to inform, equip and inspire those on the front line of disability ministries. From the novice to the veteran, there is something for everyone and all will leave with practical and relevant information that can be implemented the next day at their home churches.

Breakout sessions include popular standards, Communication, as well as Positive Behavior Support, but the palette deepens with “Family Matters”, ministering to the family behind the individual; “Mental Health and the Church”, discussing how our churches can start to come around those impacted by this prevalent aspect of the human condition; “Beyond Sunday”, which features presenters who are doing disability ministry in novel ways, as well as “Ministry to Adults” and “Resources”, which provides a “10,000 ft view” of relevant organizations and resources in our area to point families to who are seeking services and connection. An important source that many find as inspiring as our speakers are the great networking opportunities with likeminded peers, so bring your business cards if you have them!

This year, we are making a concerted effort to invite the Senior Pastors and leaderships of area churches. It is a fact that if our church leaderships do not fully understand the need, the breadth of the mission field (in Hillsborough County alone, it is conservatively estimated that 150,000 children and adults are impacted by disability) and the special attention that a disability ministry needs to be sustainable within a church, they most likely will dissolve. The result is that easily dozens, if not hundreds, of people from within and outside a church will not be served or blessed.

Pastor Ken Whitten of Idlewild Baptist will spearhead a robust list of experienced speakers for the two session Pastor Track the morning of the Symposium. He, along with other church leadership representatives, a social worker who has facilitated faith based parent support groups, a parent and others, will discuss the importance of disability ministries within our churches, the deep practical and spiritual needs in this community, the multi-faceted blessing they are to the culture of our individual churches, as well as the practicalities of welcoming those impacted by disability. There will be ample time allowed for questions and answers. This track is intended solely for pastors, priests and those on church leaderships.  View the Pastor to Pastor video.

As part of our intention to reach church leaderships, we have specifically requested Emily Colson to speak.  Emily speaks in churches and organizations nationwide, and has appeared on numerous media outlets including Focus on the Family, the Huckabee Show, and Hallmark’s Home & Family. In her book Dancing with Max, Emily and her father, Chuck Colson, shared the struggle and beauty of life with Max, Emily’s adult son with autism. Emily is passionate about The Church being aware and open to fully welcoming individuals with disabilities and their families. She agrees that this novel realm of ministry will not flourish if those making the decisions at our churches do not understand the need and potential of adaptive ministry. Emily  is eager to share her passion, faith and experiences with our Tampa Bay audience.

We are so excited about this year’s Symposium and how God will, and is, working in Tampa Bay and beyond! The fee for this full, fun (there will be surprises!) and informative day, which includes lunch, is only $25!!

Share this info with your Senior Pastors and Priests, church leaderships, staff members and anyone who you believe will be blessed by this chock-full day of information, networking and memorable experiences!!

Don’t miss out and register today!!!

Time: 8:30 am to 3:00 pm
Location: Idlewild Baptist Church, 18333 Exciting Idlewild Blvd., Lutz, FL 33548

Cost: $30 (lunch is included)

**Advance registration of $25 is available for a limited time.**

Save The Date for Disability & Your Church!

Idlewild Baptist Church Special Needs Ministry & The One Roof Initiative are bringing together speakers, trainers and ministry leaders to equip church staff and volunteers to reach, teach and serve individuals with disabilities and developmental delays.

Disability & Your Church Symposium:
Date:  Saturday, September 30, 2017
Time:  8:30 am to 3:00 pm
Location:  Idlewild Baptist Church, 18333 Exciting Idlewild Blvd., Lutz, FL 33548
Register online here!

Stay tuned for additional details, including our Keynote Speaker, Presenters and more! 



What comes to mind as you see the word “refresh”? Maybe it brings up a vision of sitting in a coffee house…without an open laptop. Do you see yourself hiking in the woods? Perhaps “refresh” allows you to consider second chances….a time to clear the slate in a relationship or within  yourself. Maybe an opportunity to build healthy habits.

“Refresh” has an aspect of hope associated with it. That is what I feel as I think about The One Roof as we move into 2017.

Newly granted with our non-profit status and a Board of Directors now in place, we are poised to have our most productive year yet. I feel as if this ministry has been refreshed to pursue the next plateau of our journey. God has been faithful and I absolutely sense that the best is yet to come.

The One Roof has an ambitious vision which I am firmly committed to, but that can only be realized after a strong foundation has been laid. 2017 will be the year of that intentional and durable foundation-building.

There are three aspects of the ministry that need to be “iron clad” before we concertedly pursue the broader goals that I believe that the Lord wants us eventually to attain. Those are a fully developed curriculum and sustainable protocol to train and equip churches; the establishment of a strong, working Board and resource raising, both financial and people.

The training and equipping of churches will always be our foremost priority…. we are a “Sunday ministry” first. Coming alongside churches to confidently and successfully open their doors to children and adults living with disabilities and their families is why this ministry started. To offer the hope of Christ and a welcome within a supportive community of faith is our bedrock mission. It is through this door that I see potential for true, organic change within our congregations to rethink what it means to be a valuable human being….in God’s eyes, our own eyes and in the eyes of the communities which lie outside of our church walls.

Our training protocol has been drafted and refined over this past year as we have visited churches around our area. We have a  foundation per our protocol going into this new year better than ever before and are ready for a steady increase in interest from and engagement with our Tampa Bay churches.

The establishment of a robust Board of Directors was essential this year for The One Roof. The demands of forging a new and novel ministry/business on many fronts was outstripping my personal capacity. I could no longer properly keep up with my necessary and ever growing administrative responsibilities as well as be intimately involved in the development of innovative programming. To my small and dedicated team, my inability to keep up was a log jam to them and work was stymied.

The Board, that the Lord has afforded The One Roof, is rich with people who are gifted in administration, project management, event planning, disability ministry and more. The intellectual and “hands on” capital that this team provides will make for smarter and more effective execution of our mission and vision. This is a working Board that I am proud of (and grateful for!).

Effective Boards are ministries within themselves. There is management involved, legal obligations, financial matters, and tasks that are devised and executed. An excellent non-profit cannot exist without an excellent Board. This new entity needs skilled tending to and there is much to be learned about that. This coming year will see investment into research and developing the strongest Board possible.  The One Roof website features who is part of this committed team (click here).

No body/entity can survive without a “life blood”. For non-profits, that life blood is the invaluable and necessary resources of people and funding. The Board is currently reviewing and discussing practical and sustainable resource raising and development protocols. If The One Roof is to be best prepared now and ready for its future, this piece of our foundation is critical.

I have been asked many times about the residential vision that The One Roof has. That vision remains and until the Lord says otherwise, I am committed to it. That vision is huge and we have other ambitious goals in mind, as well. I have no doubt that God can deliver on all that we have on our heart, but He does ask us that we use this faith in combination with earthly wisdom and practicalities.

The One Roof has come far over the past three years and we are at a watershed moment. We see what is on the horizon and are readying for that, both in seeking the Lord’s continual guidance and in being practically prepared. The three objectives that we have for 2017 is the pouring of the concrete for the fantastic house that is to be built on top. Let’s start pouring!!

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:24-25

Grateful Heart

Appreciation. Thankfulness. Gratefulness. There are several words that can describe an attitude of recognizing the blessings in one’s life.

Though this is a mindset that each of us should practice daily, Thanksgiving is the one day that we take pause, collectively, to acknowledge what makes life valuable and richer and from Whom it comes from.


It has been a blessed 2016 for The One Roof. We have trained or are in the process of training eight churches to start or enhance disability ministry. Our “Disability and Your Church” Symposium in April had nearly 100 guests representing 30 churches. August’s “Adaptive Ministry Roundtable” was a great success with 60 representatives from nearly 25 area churches sharing ideas and learning from each other.

These were wonderful accomplishments, to God be the glory, but I believe that 2017 will be even stronger. I believe that He has much planned for this ministry as we prepare to collaborate with more churches to offer the help and hope of Christ to those impacted by disability.

To that point, I am excited to announce that The One Roof Initiative has just been granted 501c3 non-profit status! This will allow us to pursue granting and to start to build a business and fiscal portfolio that will be necessary as we endeavor to execute our expansive vision in the years ahead.

Expansive visions need to start with a strong foundation. We have had solid equipping and programming this year to build on, but to take this ministry to next step in its growth and beyond, a formal Board has been formed.  The One Roof Board has already been meeting and working hard to better execute the mission that the Lord has tasked us with.

God’s timing is perfect (and purposeful) and I’m convinced that our non-profit status being approved in only eight weeks is for us to be prepared to go in to a  new year stronger than ever before.

Giving Tuesday is this coming Tuesday, November 29th. Would you consider investing into The One Roof to offer help and hope to those impacted by disability? We have made equipping 24 churches our goal this coming year. It is unknown the numbers of people that will blessed in our Tampa Bay area through this effort.

We do not want finances to be a barrier to a church so we offer our services at no charge to them. It takes $600 to equip a church, can you help? Whether you can sponsor an entire church’s training or contribute towards it, EVERY gift we receive is valued and will help extend the hope of Christ to an often hidden, but large population.

God is at work and we need YOU to be part of the building momentum! After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, will you prayerfully consider how you are being called to be part of Giving Tuesday?

I’m grateful for you. Happy and blessed Thanksgiving.

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy”, Psalm 126:3

Techies and Affairs of the Heart

I am sitting in a tea house taking a break, catching up on work and preparing to man a table representing disability ministries for Day 2 of the Dynamic Communities’ Summit16 Convention taking place in Tampa. What an incredible experience Day 1 was. I’m still processing it!

The multi-ability Portico Chorus, with over 30 members, helped kick off this four day software conference, funded primarily by Microsoft, by singing two songs to the audience of 7000 people from all over the world. A standing ovation (and a few tears) capped the first song, “Why We Sing”. The crowd was then invited to clap along to the “can’t help but move in your seat” gospel song, I’ll Fly Away”! Our singers felt like rock stars as applause lasted the entire time it took for them to leave the stage. Wow.
allen-guy-oct-11-2    allen-guy-oct-11-4

Our “Fun and Games” table attracted people to come relax for a few minutes and have a good time! Guests had fun playing a giant Jenga or Connect 4 with individuals with disabilities. Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots is a total hit! Lots of laughs all nights! There were meaningful conversations about the impact of disability on people’s lives, but the hope in efforts, such as ours, to make a difference. We met people from the UK, Calgary, Houston, Chicago, LA, Detroit and more. Who knows who we’ll meet today?
sally-oct-13-1    allen-guy-oct-11-8

This incredible opportunity to be at Summit16 became available when Andy Hafer, Founder and CEO of Dynamic Communities, approached four ministries close to his heart, The One Roof, The Portico Chorus, iMatter Special Needs Ministry of Palma Ceia United Methodist Church in Tampa and YoungLife Capernaum to be the featured charities at this annual conference. We are grateful to Andy and Dynamic Communities for this unique and powerful platform to shine a light on an aspect of life that does not always get such respect.

It is interesting to experience the fun and authentic interfacing of some of the best technical minds in the world with those who many would discount as not having anything much of value to offer. God is at work and we are excited to see how He uses the connections that we make this week to impact lives (maybe over an intense game of “Operation”!)

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” ~1 Corinthians 1:27

Feed Your Spirit

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

This month we are going to talk about the importance of feeding our spirit.  We are made up of body (outer), soul (mind, will, and emotions), and spirit (where Spirit of God resides).  Having a full spirit leaks healthiness into our soul and body producing wholeness and alignment.  When we bring our fears, worries, and burdens to Jesus we find rest and rest is often the healing ointment we’re in need of!


Feeding Our Spirit Requires Caring For Ourselves Before Others 

If you’ve ever been on a plane you’ve heard the flight attendant say, “Place the oxygen mask on yourself first before helping small children or others who may need your assistance”.  What good are we for others if we’re dead?  Many people are walking, talking, and breathing, but they are dead on the inside.  They’re just going through the motions and existing.  A person who is filled up on the inside is able to care for others out of an overflow versus trying to squeeze something out thats not even there which leads to burn out, exhaustion, and frustration.

Melanie DeLeon’s son, Taylor, is 21 and has Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy.  She cares for herself by taking naps as well as rewriting parts of the Bible.  This is a practical method that could help others, “I’ll modify a prayer or Psalm to fit my situations.  I’ve also rewritten the book of Romans as if it’s a letter directly to me.  Being able to rewrite something that is centuries old, and have it fit my today situations has helped me realize God really does have all the answers.”

Feeding Our Spirit Makes Us Stronger

Marsha Wooley’s son, Issac, is 26 and has Cerebral Palsy caused by a Cerebral Hemorrhage he had at birth due to his prematurity.  Read her testimony below of the strength she found by feeding her spirit through worship music.

“For me the hardest part of raising Isaac was not knowing what he would be. What the future would look like for him. One night as I was rocking him in his nursery I was listening to Michael Card’s “Wordless One’s” and there is a line that said “When He made you He was thinking of me too”.  Suddenly the war that had been raging inside of me stopped and I REALIZED that Isaac was in God’s hands & I was in God’s hands and the future was in God’s hands and I could trust Him with all of it.”

Feeding Our Spirit Is Continuous 

Often when we “crash and burn” hindsight is 20/20.  We can look back and see where we became too busy, over committed ourselves, didn’t stick to boundaries, stopped eating well and exercising producing a hamster on a hamster wheel unable to stop or get off.  Feeding our spirit is not a once a week or when we feel like it action step.  It must become a part of our everyday life.  When it does, not only will we be refreshed, but our children and those around us will be too!  Marsha’s story is a testimony of this:

“I have to maintain that closeness to the Father and what is so amazing 26 years later is Isaac has that closeness with the Father. He may seem awkward to others although when you talk to him you see his beauty. In his room where he feels free I hear him worshipping and praising God just like I do. He has a close relationship with the Lord and often when I am down he encourages me!!!”

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:29, 30

Dictionary.com & The One Roof Initiative’s New Board of Directors!

When I write an essay, article or a blog, such as this, I always have a thesaurus at my fingertips (actually, my fingertips clicking on a PC mouse). A thesaurus is important to me for I usually don’t want to repeat a word within what I write, so I look up like- meaning words. It helps to make for a better structured article.

What I also like is seeing the different words that reflect the meaning of the word I had originally chosen. These synonyms can add richness, dimension and clarity to my thoughts. This is what I experienced in writing this blog about The One Roof Initiative’s new Board of Directors.

As The One Roof moves closer to gaining our own non-profit status within the next few months, the establishment of a formal Board of Directors is not only legally mandated, but is essential to the growth and integrity of the ministry.

The One Roof has been growing. We are currently in different phases of training and equipping coaching with seven churches from around the Tampa Bay area. The small group of us that have been managing the ministry for three years have reached a critical mass point of capacity. A working, engaged Board is now necessary to see us through the next phase of growth.

I had wanted to use the word “build” or “building” in the title of this article to spin off the catchy concepts that you can use with the word “roof”. When I went to the thesaurus, these are some of the synonyms that I found…augment; amplify; enhance; strengthen.

Each of these words characterize perfectly what The One Roof Board of Directors will add to the mission and execution of our ministry. These are committed people who have been involved with disability ministries or the community or bring their own personal life experiences of having a family member impacted by special needs.

Each Director has walked alongside me with The One Roof for at least one year and a few even up to ten years when we started as a single program in a local church in 2006. They have seen God work mightily within this ministry and are dedicated to be part of His efforts to impact the spiritual, practical and emotional needs of the community we have been called to serve.

In future blogs, you will be introduced to each member and I will better update you on the exciting happenings of the ministry!

The One Roof has an expansive vision and ambitious plans, but we have a God for whom nothing is impossible! With our new Board of Directors, it’s as if the earthly cavalry (also see: brigade, battalion, troops) has arrived! Buckle up and stay tuned!!

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26