Why We Do What We Do

Why We Do What We Do…

We are rolling into Kentucky this morning, watching LiveStream, and listening to our Pastor preach his first sermon. So perfectly penned for us as we ask ourselves, especially today, “why DO we DO what we DO?” Why am I here, really? Why do teams of people ever agree to mission, whether it at home, in another state, another country? What exactly are we trying to do? What call are we answering?

I personally and truly believe we are called and anointed to spread the love that Jesus shares with each of us. We prepare our hearts daily for any moment presented to us by our Lord to share the good news we have through and because of him. Specifically this week, 39 servants are looking for ways to reach out and share the glory and good we’ve found in our Savior. We feel it. We know it. We want others to know it…it’s WHY we do what we do!

Find a way today to answer the call Jesus has placed on your life. He’s called; are you listening?

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Bowling and Bonding

An Outback dinner and night of bowling binds us together just a little tighter. After waiting a minute or two, 38 of us found ourselves breaking bread with old friends and some brand new ones. Funny how laughter over a blooming onion can break the ice for new friendships.

FINALLY, FINALLY – after dinner we gather around to hear our teams for the week. For previous ASP teams, you know how exciting this is. Some may worry over this but every single year, God has empowered Jimmy and Barbara to put together just the right people to work together to spread God’s love. Maybe there was a year or two that I fretted a little but quickly have learned, it’s always exactly as it should be. Jimmy and Barbara no doubt spend time praying over these teams and listening for God’s word. You simply can’t go wrong when allowing our good Lord to lead.

Ok – so, about the time we arrived at our little Red Roof yesterday, I received a text from long-time ASP team favorite family. Our beloved Fox family, for the first time, in many, many years isn’t here with us. My sweet, Margot, set my mind spinning back over the last seven years and all of the fun and love that’s been shared with so many giving hearts. So, to you:

Jim Bain – I’ll be wary and extra careful if I have to get under a house, looking for creatures that growl and those that fly. Moreso, I’ll be double-checking a leader that leads me to a place with growling and flying creatures…and then LAUGHS uncontrollably as I try to escape!

Greg, Margot, Abby, and Maggie – it’s terribly strange without at least one Fox here. Greg, in my seven years here, I think we shared a team for four years. You were on my first team and I’ll never, ever, in my life forget what God taught me in that week. Abby and Maggie…it’s terribly odd to think one of you won’t be crawling into your mom’s bunk at the center. Both of you over the last seven years, at some point during the week, always come visit us, as your mom is generally my next door bunk mate. Love to each of you Fox’s! I miss you already!

To bunk buddies that don’t know when to go to bed: Margot Fox, Laurie Sturdivant, Alice Parmer, Debbie Bain, Wendy Pritchard…I still don’t know where some of those emojis came from. I’ll have to share a late night text with Barbara, Catie, Penny, and Heather and hope they find as much enjoyment.

My special “distubavant” boys, Sam & Scott, and Matthew…your absence is already obvious. You’ve set a standard and created memories the younger kids are already re-telling and hoping to live into.

And to Mickey Sewell, Greg Blackmon, Robin Newberry, Ryley Scales, and so many, many more – your contribution to the memory bank lives on. I can’t listen to Wagon Wheel or Dirt Road without thinking about two silly high school girls living life to the fullest. Mickey, you’ve been a great leader and will be missed. Mr. Greg Blackmon, as my first group leader on ASP and in many other areas of my life, I miss you and your wise words.

Finally, our fearless leader Jimmy isn’t with us this year. I think we’re about 22 hours into this experience and you are missed and yet what you’ve created with Barbara is alive and strong. We’re committed to continuing what you’ve taught us. As we sang “Sanctuary” last night, I could hear your voice. We never know when our last trip will be but I don’t think I can end my tenure until you’re back on this mission with us!

Love to all! Time to head to the Waffle House!

Another Blessed Week Just Ahead

Seven months, it’s been seven months since I pulled up my blog to jot down a few thoughts. Interesting…

It’s ASP (Appalachia Service Project) time!

As the tools are counted and packed, clothes boxes (really large boxes) are barely able to close, excitement mounts. It happens every year. We know the day is coming; somedays we even dread it and yet, here we are again. In all the unknowns about our mission, one thing beyond all else is certain, God has already prepared the way. Isn’t this always true?

Thirty eight (or 39, the number keeps changing) willing and giving souls will find a seat on a comfy church van and drive about eight hours to spend the week with people we don’t know, doing work we are less than skilled to do, and loving each other and strangers more than we would here at home. We take with us a church family and community that chose to pray and offer financial support – we all go on this journey together.

We will miss so many former team members that aren’t with us this year. Life happens and seasons change. To those that can’t go, all that you’ve done before has helped prepare the way. We know you will be with us in prayer and spirit.

Hazard, Kentucky… Cordia School in Lotts Creek – we’re coming!

A little pleasure reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazard,_Kentucky

Happy Birthday Bess!

It’s your birthday our Bess! And, it’s a big birthday – 16 years old today! It’s so cliche to say, “It’s hard to believe your already 16,” but truly it doesn’t seem possible. Sixteen years ago this morning around 9am, you made your debut into this world and made it a brighter, more special place to live.

We are so incredibly proud of the young lady you’ve become. Your future is promising because of your inner strength, talent, drive, and passion. Turning sixteen is a pivotal birthday as you’ll take the next step toward independence. Car keys symbolize so much more than a means to start an engine. You’ll drive out of the driveway and take on the world. I pray you are ready, my girl. I pray God will cover you in a security hug of safety, love, and protection. Have a happy, happy birthday and know you are loved beyond measure!

Leaving the Nest

As it always seems, we’ve taken the days together for granted. The sleepy morning hugs (and grunts), time curled up on the couch, quiet time just sitting, finding you asleep most anywhere, long talks, dinner prep and new recipes, silly laughter, your never ending helpful spirit, hearing your shower each morning, listening for “Mom, I’m home” as you come in at night, watching you pray in church, seeing you hold your Bible in your hands, the very essence of you…changes drastically in a mere 24 hours. The day you’ve waited for and counted off the calendar arrives all too quickly for me tomorrow morning. We will pack the trailer with “you”. Your treasured belongings and other junk will leave here never to fully return. Being the second child to leave our warm little nest, I know you’ll be home, sometimes for long periods, but as it should be, it will never be the same. We have worked your entire lifetime for this lift-off. It terrifies me that I must help push you out in to this world, a place full of unknowns and people we don’t know. Thankfully, we have the assurance that even when dad and I can’t be there with you, our precious Lord will walk every step of every day alongside you.

I’ve tried to think of prophetic words to offer that will ring as a special way to close this chapter and turn the page to the next adventure. The words don’t come…very simply, I don’t want this chapter to close yet. You have been my little shadow since you arrived in January, 1997. Your orbit has never been far from home so it’s difficult to think about these next few weeks as we all adjust to your absence.

You, however, are going to know and live the excitement of all you’ve dreamed college would be. There aren’t many periods in my life I’d choose to go back to but college is certainly one! Oh the things you will learn in your classes and outside those walls. Your very circle of life is about to explode with new friends, adventures, quandaries to ponder, late nights, early mornings, problems to tackle, household adjustments…truly a remarkable time of growth is to come.

My precious girl, no matter where you are in this world, you are and will always be my heart. There is no distance nor time that will change our ever entangled spirits. You have been my sunshine and I’m excited to watch you fly high as you leave me tomorrow. Know that your place in our little nest will always be here for you to land in when needed. We love you sunshine baby.

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Mom

Tuesday

Tuesday

There are days on ASP that reinforce why we come, why we serve. Of course there are also days that make us scratch our sweaty heads and ask, “what was I thinking”. Today was simply a day of good. Simply satisfying…simply hot…simply pleasant…simply fulfilling – you get the picture. It was a good, good day! Our team arrived on site in a timely fashion and went straight to work. Our wheelchair ramp and flooring job is well underway. We actually finished laying the laminate flooring in the bedroom and we’ve been given permission to finish the baseboards tomorrow while the guys tackle more of the wheelchair ramp.

Our special home-owner is already becoming a friend. As best as he is able, he stays right beside us all throughout the day. We’ve tried to encourage him to get off his broken hip and badly injured leg, he still stays. He’s so thankful and appreciative for the work we are doing. It must be hard for him. He was in construction for 30+ years and knows how to do everything we’re attempting. Mr. Floyd is lending a hand hauling heavy concrete blocks with his lawn mower and even let one of our team members drive his tractor. Mr. Floyd is genuinely a nice gentleman. I hope he feels cared for and a little less alone this week. I don’t think he has any family within a 3 state distance so if we can offer extra love and care, it’s our mission to do just that!

Some tidbits from our home away from home:

-the library air-conditioning did turn on Sunday night (Monday morning) around 3am.

-we did freeze (but survived)

-our guys moved from the basketball court to classrooms due to a basketball camp going on this week.

-food has been good but the high school and college guys say serving size is enough to feed a Kindergarten child – lots of bartering and begging.

-culture night tonight was entertaining as we had a husband and wife come play true Appalachian music for us.

-ice cream runs every night are marathon in length due to the team number (49) but we’re happy to be together either at the ice cream shop or here at the center.

-showers…hmmm….we are showering outside in hand-made plastic covered showers. We have been blessed with lukewarm water and ample plastic this year. Having enough plastic is important. Great wind gusts and not enough plastic make modesty impossible (as we found out last year).

-staff here is both friendly and efficient. Our supplies have come as needed and the staff have been awesome with the kids as well as our adults – not an easy balance.

Wednesday looms in front of us so it’s time for bed. The “lights out” patrol are very serious about their duties and have already left me in the dark.

Feeling blessed and thankful tonight for our entire community and church as well as this team of God’s servants here. It makes my heart skip a beat to hear these children share and pray and to be excited to go out and get after it again tomorrow. I am certain there IS good in this world – our children are proof positive!

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Sunday – Fun Day!

It’s been a great day in so many ways. God has been shining brightly since we left Alexander City and today was exceptionally super sonic. Around 6am opening the curtain in the hotel room, the sunrise was stunning – enough to make you smile with anticipation for the day. God never disappoints and neither do outdoor worship services (at least in my experience). We made an impromptu visit to Knoxville First United Methodist Church worship service on the Tennessee River. The breeze was perfect, just enough to rustle the trees and cool us off. The birds were singing beautiful, perfect pitch praises. In fact, the pastor stopped to note the melody. From our seats in a perfectly situated pavilion, the river flowed in the distance with green hills as the backdrop. Sound perfectly picturesque? It was. Adults and youth alike were in awe.

We were back to tradition for breakfast with stops at Waffle House, Dunkin Donuts, and some braved Taco Bell (for breakfast??). The team at Waffle House is so engaging and remembers us from year to year. This year, in fact, we were reminded of last year’s silly picture out in front of their building. Apparently, we promised to send them a copy of the picture and never did! They actually remembered! Of course, when 40+ people come in on a Sunday morning each June, all dressed the same, for 10+ years…we’re a sight to behold. Rest assured, we have righted our oversight and sent the team picture from last year as well as the one from this year. What a fun group! Go visit a Waffle House – great folks!

Time to turn in for the night. We are settled in the center. I’d like to add that we are in the Taj Mahal compared to last year. This elementary school is quite nice and the showers have lukewarm water – woo hoo!! Currently, the girls are sleeping in the library where the air conditioning doesn’t turn on until midnight on Sunday evenings. Through sweat and minor frustrations, we have been promised that the air automatically turns on and will freeze us before morning. We welcome this plight! The boys are all in the gym nice and cool. That’s all I will say about that!

Thank you for the support and prayers. Please continue to cover us. We go out tomorrow morning with the intention to “Become”. The theme for ASP this year is to “become” more like Christ. From 1 John 2:6, “Whoever claims to believe in Him, must walk as Jesus did.” It’s a pretty tall order for Christians…we certainly claim to believe in our Lord; how certain are we that we walk as He did?

…and the Red Roof stands tall

For all concerned parties…we have arrived! It’s 6pm (Eastern time – or fast time as David Hand likes to refer to it) and we have been on the road since around 9am. Suffice it to say that large bladders are not with us on this trip. We have stopped just short of 800 times. Kidding, just four times between home and Knoxville but why not, we aren’t on a schedule today.

Tradition does not disappoint as the Red Roof is still here and is just as welcoming and accommodating as ever. We’re making a quick stop and then heading to dinner – all 49 of us. Won’t Outback be glad to see us?

ASP – 2015 Begins

Good intentions of writing more often have fallen short as life tends to take precedence. I think often of posts and memories I want to preserve via this blog but never make it to the actual “post page”…sometimes because I can’t remember the password. Oh well…

It’s ASP time again and this trip stirs my heart and soul every year. We will load up this morning and head to Newport, Tennessee. I’ve not been to an ASP center in TN, only KY, not that where we are would matter once we get there. We’re excited and have been praying for our future families for the week and this ASP team. Last year, I wrote a post about how much could change by this year, and it has. Graduations, jobs, and family will change the face of our Alexander City ASP team but our hearts go with the same intention – to touch lives and show someone the love of Christ.

Time to pack last minute items and figure out how to get this extra coffee pot on a van without too much grief from Jimmy or Chad.😉