I'm not who I was.
As of a week ago, the Rev & I have been married for an entire decade. Yes-sir-ee, the big 10.
What did we do on our anniversary, you may ask? We spent the weekend on a mission trip with some awesome students from our church and from another church in town. The church that we traveled to has gone through a lot of changes in the past several decades. They used to run around 1200 in their prime. The neighborhood has changed a lot over the years… folks have gotten older or passed on. Much of the property in the area is now rental property, and many of the families in the area exist in poverty. (The church runs around 120 now). Over the past year their newest pastor has really been trying to find ways to reach out to the community. We hosted a back-t0-school block party: bouncy houses, snow cones, popcorn, hot-dogs (lots of free food), many games and some live entertainment. The church had collected stocked backpacks to give away after the musical presentation of the gospel that evening… they thought they may need 30 packs so they collected 50 just in case. We also supplied some adult prizes: restaurant, store & gas gift cards.
Around 200 or so people came to the block party. Most of them walked there. Now, it was made perfectly clear that anyone was welcome to leave the block party at their leisure and return in the evening for the musical. Most people, however, opted to stay. Why? For the chance to get a backpack. That means many families who have never set foot in church, many with small children like Cheeks who get very antsy and loud at the mere thought of having to sit still, hung around. For HOURS. Some people were there from 2:00 clear until 8:00 in the evening… the last few hours involving sitting still. But these folks stayed. Sure it was a little messy and noisy and crowded, but they stayed. They watched and listened to our students do an amazing job presenting the gospel via the musical The Question. And at the end, they waited for their tickets to be called. Both the parents’ and the kids’ faces were BEAMING.
I mentioned we had 50 backpacks to give away. Well, as it turns out, we needed over 70. So for the kids whose ticket numbers were not called, we invited the parents to come up afterward so that we could gather their information and get a backpack to them in the next few days. One particular family that came up to give their information had won the adult prize of a gas gift card. They shared that they had always provided their school supplies for their children, but the husband had recently lost his job. They have really been struggling and had literally just run out of gas. They were so grateful.
I have to admit, if I were the mom taking my kids to a block party, I wouldn’t have waited around while I wrestled my toddler for the simple prize of school supplies. What an immense pain that would be. The cost of my sanity would not have been worth the cost of the backpack. I’d have places to go and things to do, and sitting for hours wrestling a toddler would not have been on the agenda. But it was worth it to these families. The motivator was NEED.
Last weekend was a good reminder that we don’t naturally drift toward holiness. We naturally drift toward being spoiled & selfish and feeling entitled. Now, we aren’t wealthy people by any stretch of the means when it comes to first-world credentials. Our budget is tight. There have been many occasions where God has just had to provide when we couldn’t (and he has). While we “need” to remodel our kitchen to accommodate our middle-class standard of living & to strengthen our home investment, there are people right under our noses whose basic needs are far greater. They need food. And school supplies. And clothes. They need to hear that Jesus loves them and desires a relationship with them. They need hope. We don’t have to hop a plane to a 3rd-world country to find people who need hope. How will you play a part in their hopefulness? If you have hope, pay it forward.
Changing gears, we are immensely grateful for how our “first world” needs are being met. All of the kitchen work (besides the electrical rewiring) has been compliments of volunteer labor: the church just being the church and helping out because they see that help would be useful. (As well as thanks to parents helping their beloved children *wink*). First there was the demolition. Then there was the re-plumbing, the laying of sub-floor and the hired re-wiring. Let’s not forget the endless sweeping of dust. There have also been those who have thought. “Hey, they don’t have a working kitchen. Perhaps it’s difficult for them to cook” and have provided us with meals. We are VERY humbled. Nobody has to do any of this. We didn’t go asking. It’s just that when they became aware of a need, the church rose up. Like I said, the church being the church. Some people have mentioned that they don’t know how I’ve gone a month and a half kitchen-less thus far. Quite honestly: beggars can’t be choosers. The Rev can’t just take weeks off of work to get it done. I’m pretty incapable of the brunt-work. So it just gets done when it gets done. When we began the project, looking at the calendar it didn’t make sense. But quite honestly, with our calendar, there is never a time that a project would make sense. So we just begun the best we knew how and trusted that things would work out. Thanks to all of you who have helped it progress more quickly than it would have otherwise.
Our most recent help has been a crew of some fabulous retired folks. They did an excellent job on the drywall. I am exceedingly put to shame when I see their skill and stamina. Whatever we don’t get done with mudding this week, they plan on coming back to help with next week. I really hope they don’t need to, but realistically: the Rev and I are slow. Here’s how the kitchen looks now!
It already looks way better than the old kitchen, even as just drywall! Thanks to the Rev and his dad, some mud is up. Perhaps I will break out the sanding black at nap time.
Here is Cheeks enjoying the spoils of generosity:
Or, perhaps I won’t. Maybe I will try to nap. At my last (and I do mean LAST) appointment with the sleep doc, I was told that we are out of options. I have responded paradoxically to every treatment thus far. So the best I can do is to try to nap when I feel like I need to. As you well know, I have an almost 2 year old and a 6 year old. I’m rarely successful at naps on an “as needed” basis.
I have also been referred to a neurologist per that whole twitching video… apparently the sleep doc didn’t see it as simple cataplexy and quite honestly he seemed much more concerned than I feel like he needs to be. But, off to the neurologist I will go…