Jesus was at our house today . . . and we missed it!!! And I’m so amped just hearing about His visit, just seeing His gifts, that I can’t sleep. So here goes. I hope I do this justice.
Our close friends knew we were headed to Chicago to visit the cancer center on Monday, returning Tuesday night, and they knew my wife, Diane, dearly wanted to take care of the annual landscaping around the house — weeding, planting annuals, mulching, herb garden. The usual. So a couple of our friends approached me to make some arrangements on the sly, as a surprise to Diane, to do those landscaping chores during our absence.
Now, those combined tasks are actually quite gargantuan. If memory serves, it takes in the neighborhood of 12 to 15 yards of mulch to do the trick. And that’s the easy part, because the spring weeds are thick and overgrown.
For the past week, every time we’d drive away from the house together Diane would lament the landscaping, and every time we’d drive back up . . . well, same thing. She also looked at her bulbs and herbs everyday for the past week, and each day she would move to plant them, but I would distract her with some lame request to set it aside for the time being — knowing the cavalry was coming soon!
Monday afternoon finally arrived and we left for Chicago. I knew, of course, that folks (and lots of mulch!) were coming over to prepare Diane’s huge surprise, and I can’t even count the number of times I almost blew it by saying something like “I wonder how far along they are,” “I wonder if they’ve wrapped up yet,” “I’ll bet they’re finished”, “can you believe it”, etc. But miraculously, I kept my big mouth shut!
As we were driving up our street tonight, around 11 p.m., we pulled around the bend and there our house sat, lit up for the first time with new spotlights. In our absence, 70 of our brothers and sisters in Christ, from young kids to grandparents, had come over to our house Monday and Tuesday to do, well, pretty much everything that needed to be done — inside and out! (As my daughter Mallory put it, “they did everything-that-you-worry-about-doing, and then everything-you-would-have-worried-about-doing after you did those things, and then everything you would have worried about doing after that.” Well put!) How they even knew what our “wish list” was, I do not know!
It’s dark outside, but here’s a sampling of what was done: Weeded and mulched our yard, back and front; planted an overwhelming number of flowers; cleaned our front porch and set up two huge decorative flower pots with flowers; trimmed back shrubs and pachysandra; mounted a hose wheel w/ a new hose; filled and hung a birdfeeder; installed sidewalk accent lighting; replaced formal lighting on the outside of house on either side of our front door; refurbished the lightpole/lighting by our driveway; powerwashed our deck; scoured our grill; painted our deck; repaired painted the wooden deck benches and tables; repaired a step leading off of the deck; prepared and set up new planters on the deck and by our garage; with respect to the enclosed portion of our deck, they scrubbed and cleaned the floor and the wooden framing, and then repainted everything (floor, framing, ceiling), replaced the corroded ceiling fan and the decorative door which had fallen into disrepair, cleaned the furniture and purchased new cushions for the wicker seating, arranged the furniture, installed a new table top water fountain, and decorated with new ferns and flowers; cleaned gutter and roof debris; repaired and painted the lattice-work surrounding the base of our deck; cleaned (inside) the first and second floors of our house, including first floor windows; oiled our kitchen cabinets and other wooden furniture; cleaned and organized our kitchen pantry and our walk-in pantry room; did all our laundry; thoroughly cleaned our garage; and thoroughly cleaned out our large shed. (The whole event was photographed every step of the way, and a DVD is being prepared for us to enjoy!!!) With the exception of the birdfeeder and decorative flower pots on the front porch, which we already had, everything mentioned above was purchased and provided free of charge to us, and topped off with multiple cards expressing love and prayers for us. And, all of the above was bathed in prayer, and followed by prayer. Indeed, the group signed up for slots in a 24/7 prayer vigil for us, meaning we will have at least one person covering us in prayer throughout our trial.
My mom and my daughters — near breathless with excitement(!!) — told us all about it, and how everyone worked with such joy and enthusiasm and love. Think of it. Men taking off work to sweat for our “to-do” list. Children pulling weeds, sweeping, cleaning. Grandparents painting and hauling. Women scrubbing and planting. Everyone pitching in with everything, with whole-hearted abandon. Not for themselves, but for us. My mom tells of one girl in her teens who kept coming up to her and saying, “thank you, thank you so much for letting me be here to help, for letting me be a part of this!” (!!!)
What can we possibly say? There are no words! How could we ever thank you enough? There are just no words to convey our hearts, our love, our thanks. How loved we feel. How loved we feel. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you! What you did for us — the breadth, the width, the height, the depth — it is overwhelming . . . so overwhelming.
As my mom said, “This is Jesus! This is the Body of Christ in action! This is what it looks like!!” Amen and amen!! The Body of Christ came to our house while we were in Chicago, and loved on us. Jesus loved on us, for He lives in His children, and He works — loves — in and through them. And His love-in-action, it is beautiful! (For more of our Lord’s love-in-action, please read the “Thanksgiving” page!)
As I wrote on the Background page, “I trust that [God] will reveal more and more of how beautiful He is – and how utterly, lovingly invested He is in us — as our days move forward. That is what this blog is about.” Well, those 70 friends and family, brothers and sisters in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, lived out His heart, His beauty, yesterday and today at our house. Lived out, with their hands and feet, their muscle and sinew, their heart and spirit, how utterly, lovingly invested He is. May all the world see in wonder, and glorify His name!
Oh, precious Jesus. You came to our house while we were in Chicago, and we missed it. But, oh, how Your fragrance lingers. We lift up our faces even now, and feel Your love showering down upon us from heaven. Abba Father, rain down Your heart upon those who have given so dearly to us, fill them ever so deeply we pray, even as they sleep . . .