One of the blessings of our new home is my study. The house still feels new even though we have been living here for just about a year now. Mom and Dad just moved to PA after living in the same place for 48 years. I laugh when I think about the difference between their 48 years in New Baltimore and the nomadic lifestyle Nancy and I have lived. Spending time in my study was good. I caught up on some reading. I organized some projects for the future. My afternoon nap was very good. I awoke with renewed energy. After spending some time reviewing my blog I thought it might be time for some updates…
Back in early September I included a few words about our driveway in my Where’s Waldo post. I had been feeling more like myself and had taken time to paint lines on the driveway to make it easier to know where to park. When mom and dad first moved to PA they lived with us for three or four weeks. There were four vehicles in our driveway on a regular basis. My brother, Kevin, stopped in for a visit and then all the parking spots were gone! The lines may seem a little OCD to some but they sure came in handy when the house was full.
Last Friday one of the nurses (Nancy) who comes in to see me most visits to the oncologist stopped by my room. “So, what is this I hear about a tattoo?” Nurse Nancy’s voice was not supportive or encouraging. “I heard that YOU were thinking of getting a tattoo and I thought they must have the wrong person…what is going on with you right now?” I laughed and blamed the whole idea on Andrea. I told nurse Nancy that Dr. Saroha had approved this process and I was monitoring my numbers until everything was correct and then I was off to get me some ink! After a few minutes she relaxed and seemed okay with the idea.
I have appreciated Andrea’s encouragement during this whole adventure. I was confident about the one tattoo. A few weeks ago Andrea suggested I should get a second. I loved her idea. Very simple and yet it would communicate for those who were ready to hear. Her suggestion…
I love it. A visual reminder of that great worship song. If I can get my Nancy to allow me the freedom to get some ink I am seriously thinking about getting the two tattoos.
Wood ShopWhen I lived in North Carolina I had a wood shop that I enjoyed. It was a quiet place to where I was able to escape some of the realities of life and be still for awhile. Over the six years we lived there I slowly perfected my shop into something I was very happy with. When we moved to PA I knew I was going to miss it. Everything in my shop got boxed up and was among the first things moved to PA. Our first (and temporary) home did not have any space worthy of setting up a shop. I resigned myself to letting everything set in storage.
Last December we moved into our new home. It had a garage which was going to make the perfect shop. There was work to do inside the house and then some work to do inside the garage before I could start unpacking my tools. As I was finally ready to begin work on my shop I ended up in the hospital with my Cancer diagnosis.
In order for the shop to work well I needed to build a wall to section off part of the garage. Under normal circumstances this would not be a big deal. These days this small wall might as well be the Great Wall of China. No chance I was going to get it done myself. I would walk into our garage and look at the space. I knew what I wanted to do. I knew how to do it. I even had all the tools needed to complete the project. I simply lacked the energy to turn vision into reality. There were other things more important to me.
There was a season where I contemplated putting all my shop tools up for sale. I have a small fortune invested in some of them. I could use the money for other things. We could go on a great vacation together if I sold them all. In some of my darker moments I did not believe I would ever have the opportunity to use them again.
Enter American Baptist Men. There is this group of men from different churches who go around looking for construction projects they can do as acts of service. They come alongside those who need help and use the skills they have to make improvements to churches, camps, homes, anywhere they can be of help. I am friends with one of the men in the group. We had gone together to look at a project in another church. One day I asked, “Do you think you guys would ever be interested in building a wall in my garage?” I explained the project in greater detail and within a few days they had agreed and I was on the calendar for sometime in October.
Friday morning all the supplies for my wall arrived from Lowes. They were delivered. In years past I would never have paid the $75 to get the stuff delivered. If it took three trips it would have taken three trips…I would have moved everything myself. These days it would have taken three weeks. 🙂 Standing there watching the guy use the forklift to unload everything needed for my wall in one trip was comforting. There are different ways to get things done in my weakened state. As he used the forklift to place everything gently into my garage I thought of all the times my back ached after insisting on moving stuff like this myself.
As I have walked into my garage the last few days I have seen progress and hope. Sure the supplies are still sitting in a pile on the floor. Come Monday they will be transformed into a wall that is the first step towards me getting my shop set up. This has been a long time in coming. We are moving forward because I have asked for help. I have let others do for me what I used to do for myself.
Allowing Others the Gift of Service
The strange thing is that as these men come to build my wall on Monday morning they will be receiving as much as they give. They do this kind of work (service) because it is fulfilling. It is an opportunity to use the gifts God has given them to give back to the world around them. There is something transformational and deeply spiritual that takes place as we give out of what we have been given. When I insist on doing everything on my own. When I declare that I do not need any help. I am robbing people of the opportunity to use their gifts of service.
As parents we work to serve our kids in every way possible. Our goal is to have them succeed. We do everything we can to set them on a path towards maturity and wholeness. One day something shifts. In the midst of our serving them they want to serve us. Maybe they want to make breakfast. Perhaps they want to help clean or do laundry. Whatever it is their goal is to come alongside and work to help the family. The truth is that having them “help” means the task will take twice as long. Once complete it most likely will not be done the way you envisioned. It may be faster, more convenient and efficient to tell them you will “take care of it yourself.” If we speak in such a way we hinder their serve…we block their desire to help and give of themselves to others. As parents we must be celebrating and cultivating an attitude of service within our children.
My sense is that I will not be the only person who struggles with this. We have been trained to be self-reliant, self-dependent people. Strength is good. Weakness is bad. The truth is that in my weakness I provide someone else the opportunity to be strong, to use their gifts to serve and grow as an individual.
May we constantly be looking for places to serve…and opportunities to be still and let others practice their service. This is how true community grows and becomes a life affirming and transforming place.
God is Good All the Time…All the Time God is Good