I just told Elijah what I planned to title this post and he said, “Oh mom, please no. That is so lame.”
This is how I know it is the right thing to do.
A great coming together of our community has happened since giving you a friendly little PSA on natural disaster. In a way that didn’t surprise me one bit, the people of our area have generously responded with a tremendous amount of material and monetary donations. Eight of our men cleared their schedules, left Sunday after church, drove 14 hours through the night and as I write are helping a precious woman empty the salvageable contents from her home before it is demolished.
Mark, Brent, Sam, Craig, Greg, Luke, Garry, Brandon
A little history on these guys because I love people and I equally love telling their stories.
Mark’s family are church members but did not become so until after the storms. Their home was destroyed which seems impossible because they lived a good 15 miles away from us. The destruction just seemed to never end. Their devastating loss was our gain – they purchased a home right down the road from us so now we are neighbors. Mark and Kim have three delightful children the oldest of whom is Chloe. She is a prolific thinker, reader, and writer. A beautiful soul. You just wait, you will hear her name one day from someone other than me. These five have come to mean so much to our congregation and more specifically our family. God has truly moved in their midst and we watch in anticipation on what good things He has in store for them.
Brent also belongs to our church with his wife and children and just also happens to be our high school football coach. Y’all know I’m a little nutty for football especially so now that my oldest Sawyer is entering his Senior year. We are one blessed school to have a godly man leading our sons and teaching them about things way more important than sports. He is a dear friend to Luke and he suffers me when I call him aside to tell him what plays I think he should run on Friday nights. I am his Leigh Ann Touhey minus the fact I have no idea what I’m talking about or a gigantic linebacker sleeping on my way-less-than $10,000 sofa.
Sambo is my 13 year-old baby boy. All of my kids have unique gifts and Sam’s is outside, physical, manual, back-breaking, sweaty labor. He loves to work and help his dad whether it be mowing grass or clearing a debris field. We knew this was the perfect trip for him so I packed my little darling child a suitcase and a treat bag filled with snacks and coloring books and sent him along. I miss him already.
Craig is a church member who also lost his home in the April 27th tornadoes. Craig was our neighbor and a Red Cross Volunteer and on the night of our storms was gratefully not at home because he was called out for the earlier tornado to our west. His house was wiped off the foundation and we didn’t know until the next morning whether he was dead or alive. Horrifying. We are so sad he bought a home rather than rebuilding and moved from our ‘hood but not our hearts. We like him so much we forgive him for being a cheese-head from Wisconsin.
Garry is a newly appointed deacon and again, another God Show. A decad-ish ago, you would have met a man who was not a Christian and whose marriage was in shambles. Today, he deaks. His wife Deb leads our women’s ministry and has a profound impact on the young girls of our church. Beside Garry is his son, Brandon. He is working all week with the men and will be returning home laaaate Friday night only to leave for Air Force basic training in San Antonio eaaaarrrly Saturday morning. He is one of our favorite sons and we are so proud of his commitment to God and country.
I skipped Greg on purpose. Greg isn’t a church member but a life-long friend from Georgia who traveled over to join Luke and Company. Luke and I have been best friends with Greg and Kelly since before we all married. There isn’t enough room for all the back story I could share here – that would need it’s on post entitled, “How to Lose Your Ministry in Five Minutes”. Let’s just say God still loves miracles and just as Luke preached Sunday morning, whereas once those were done through different means today the power of the gospel is authenticated through changed lives. And they are changed. Greg and Kelly have endured the unimaginable – the loss of their precious son Cody to childhood cancer but they have persevered in the face of what would have put lesser people under. Oh how I love them and count myself esteemed among women to have friends like these.
And then there is Luke. What more can I say? He’s a highway and hedges man. He loves the pulpit but he loves the people on the other side of it better. He has no time or patience for bureaucracy that always wants to rear its head in disasters like these. His motto is, “stop talking about it and do it.” When I think back on 1998 when God sent us to Clarksdale, Mississippi as a gap assignment between college and seminary it made no sense at the time when our “plans” fell through and we ended up at home. What is crystal clear now is that God used that time to teach Luke the art of coordinating ministry teams for such a time as this. The rear view mirror is one of the places I love to gaze most when things aren’t looking so focused through the windshield.
Which is probably why you don’t want to be near me on the road.
Speaking of the road, will you continue to pray for these guys as they minister so many miles away? For safety, for endurance, and for God to lead them on straight paths to precisely the appointed people He would have them serve.
For those of you who would still like to give, our ministry center is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30-2:30 through June 8th when we will send another trailer of supplies. You can find a list of needed items HERE Thank you for all you’ve done thus far an will continue to do for Jesus’ sake.