Telling Cooper's Story

For those of you who don't know me, I teach a class every Wednesday at Renewal Ranch, a residential home for drug addicts/alcoholics who want to have their lives restored through Jesus Christ our Savior. 

Today I drove the forty-five minutes from my house to the Ranch. It was a privilege to spend that time alone with God in prayer. 

Prayer for all the things, the ministries, the people I am so burdened for. 

I prayed earnestly for the class today that God would meet with us. 

Yesterday He led me away from the book I had been teaching to read the guys a children's book entitled I'm In Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor--a story celebrating life in the desert. 

I wanted them to realize that God wants us to come to Him as little children--all the love, faith, confidence in Him that a child would have in responsible earthly parents.  And that He wants them to be carefree and enjoy each day to the fullest.  He wants us to cast all of care upon Him.

We discussed how the book was almost like a psalm and read several chapters from the psalms.

Afterwards, I gave them an assignment--to get away from everyone--just be alone with God and write a psalm. I gave them a few prompts if they needed them but most did not use them.

Cooper giving his testimony at a recent church service.

Cooper's Psalm

I cried out to the Lord in my anguish.

I was broken and hurt, barely clinging onto life.

Every ounce of my soul yearned for peace and comfort.

All day and night I was filled with hopelessness.

But even in the depths of my despair,

My God, who is full of mercy and grace,

reached down and gave me his comforting touch.

My scared and calloused heart is being softened by His Spirit each day.

Even when the world is beating me up and I want to give up

I know that He is with me.

My days of hopelessness are gone 

and are replaced with joy and gladness in Him.

So I will praise the Lord because He is worthy to be praised.


I wish you could hear the whole of Cooper's testimony.  It is an amazing one.

He has been at the Ranch for about six months and has been elevated 
to a place of leadership in the bunkhouse.

Here are the prompts I gave them:

And he shall be like........

For the Lord.........

Remember how........

Surely I will...........

Turn your..........

Even when I am.........

Since the days...........

Your righteousness..........

For you have been...........

Let heaven and earth.........

Surely God will..........

Praise be to............

Because your love is.........

My soul finds.........

I felt that I should write while they were writing so here is the psalm I wrote using a few of the prompts.  

The day is Wednesday--my day to teach at the Ranch--O joyous and glorious day! 
Surely I will come to Renewal Ranch every chance I get 
for it is here that my soul rejoices! 
Even when I am down and out and my soul is sorrowful, 
it is here that my heart is rejuvenated-- 
Since the days of my youth, I have desired to work in a ministry such as this.  Now God has made my dreams come true-- 
Surely God will restore all the men of Renewal Ranch and make of them mighty men of God. 
Because your love is hovering over this campus I will lift up my voice, I will lift up my hands, I will lift shouts of praise to you, O God almighty!

© all photographs and text property of Dianne Hogue unless otherwise noted
photos by Josh Kear

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