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Archive for June, 2011

 

“One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” Pr. 11:24

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have recieved their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your father who sees you will reward you.” Mat. 6:2-4

“…Help the weak…It is more blessed to give than to recieve.” Acts 20:35

“Each has received a gift, use it to serve one another.” 1Peter 4:10

“Whoever would be great among you must be your servant and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mat. 20:26

“Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work. ” Mother Teresa
 
“The value of a man resides in what he gives, not what he is capable of recieving.” Albert Einstien
 
“Don’t say that you want to give, but go ahead and give! You’ll never catch up with a mere hope.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Joplin

One sleeping and the other just a nod away from it, with my precious babies in my arms, I nudged open the door to my house last night. It was familiar, of course. The air still held the slightest bit of cinnamon fragrance from my candle on the desk. The counters were still clean as I had left them. The dogs, giddy, because we were finally home. A few minutes later the babies were tucked in their beds. Their little bodies seemed grateful to be home as they stretched out in sleep, cuddling their blankets. We were all travel worn and tired from a busy weekend. It didn’t take long to prepare for bed and I was almost excited as I pulled the sheets back to lay on them. They were still a little crisp from when I had washed them just before leaving. As I lay down my toes did an involuntary stretch as my body relaxed and my head sank into my fluffy pillow. How wonderful to be home and in my own bed, I thought…you know the feeling.

                Last night’s return home marked the end of a weekend-long trip to Joplin, MO. Our purpose for going there was to help how we could, bring a truckload of donations and visit with family. The family was well and all survived the storm. The donations were given by the wonderful people in our church and were distributed in the best way we knew how. We decided to try and help through a national organization called Samaritan’s Purse. We struggled as we sat through a long training session on our first morning there. We hadn’t seen the devastation yet, but could hardly stand waiting to go out and lend our backs and hands. It took several hours for the briefing and formation of teams. Finally, we were ready to go and we plugged the address of a home that we would work at into our GPS. The ball was rolling. We drove down Rangeline, the road that cuts through the heart of Joplin. We passed business after business as we drove and then we saw it. The Path.  Instantly there was total devastation. Walmart, Home Depot, Pizza Hut, Burger King, were mangled piles of debris. Everywhere were cars that had been tossed around and looked like they had been through a demolition derby. We followed our GPS and turned onto another main road that led us deeper into the damage. As far as we could see there was total annihilation. Hundreds and hundreds of homes that had nothing left but the foundations, or small portions of inner rooms. All around, piled multiple feet high, was tangled debris, remnants of things that had made this a community. Using just our eyes, there was virtually no separating actual human possession from the tree branches, metal, car parts, concrete, glass, dirt, everything that was twisted into giant heaps. As we drove I stared, took pictures, prayed and exclaimed. I took at least a hundred pictures during our time in Joplin. I have not decided to share them yet. They cannot accurately convey the devastation there. Furthermore, I do not want to glorify the city’s sadness in anyway. Their loss is not our tourist attraction. Block after city block was ripped away. The high school was gone and in the distance the hospital was ripped apart. Everywhere, there was the smell of something dead.

                The first home we worked at was mostly still standing. The roof was only half there. There were no windows and half the wall of the top floor was gone. You could see into it like a dollhouse. The homeowner was there and he was grateful for our help to the point of tears. He did not have insurance on the house and the help of volunteers IS his only hope. We worked for hours clearing and sorting the massive amount of debris from his yard and home. I did not feel like I was working. I only felt grateful to have the chance to help in some small way in the middle of all the horror.

As it got later in the day I went back to be with Anna and Dean. The guys headed out to another job and worked all afternoon.

Sunday morning we went to another destroyed home in the area. This one was much worse. There was not a wall standing. The ONLY thing left of this structure that had been someone’s precious home, was the foundation. The homeowner was there, he was an elderly man who told us that the only thing he wanted to recover from the debris of his home was a footlocker that contained some things important to him. The rest, he said to throw away. A niece of the man arrived also and asked us to save things that we could find…she was desperate for anything tangible. The man and his wife survived the tornado by going into a tiny hole in the floor of their bedroom. They could not have survived the complete destruction of their home if they had not. I was desperate to find that box. I prayed constantly as I worked and searched. I felt God’s presence as I said The Lord’s Prayer under my breath for hours. Their story broke my heart. They had not only lost a home, but also a family member in the tornado, a niece. I couldn’t conquer my tears. Everything was so ripped apart and shredded that it was extremely rare to find any item intact. There were only pieces of things. I was almost ecstatic when I found a torn apart photo album and an old framed picture that turned out to be a photo of the elderly woman’s mother. Again, I was moved to tears as vehicle after vehicle drove by offering us food, drink, sunscreen, anything that they could aid us as we, in turn, helped the homeowners. We never found the box, but we closed our time by coming together to pray with the family and present them with a Bible. The Lord moved through our circle, a ring of flesh giving praise to our Father; we were completely surrounded by loss as our hearts were touched, I hope the couple was comforted.

Being grateful for my home and glad to be there are beautiful things. The safety and comfort of my family are even more precious. I am blessed beyond measure. I have been given more than I could ever account for. As I ponder this I’ve glanced back and counted where I used the possessive forms of the words, “I,”, “theirs,” and “we,” about twenty times in the short paragraph at beginning of my ramble. All of these things are not really mine. They are graciously bestowed on me to care for and love by the one who created and enables them. It says in Ecclesiastes that, “All is vanity…a chasing after the wind.” There is nothing permanent beneath the sun and what we temporarily possess can vanish instantly, our homes, our families…gone. This does not mean that we should not be joyful in what we are given, we should, and we should Live. Each. Moment. As. The. Last…“Giving thanks in all things.”

 

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