Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I'm not ready for this . . .

Yesterday we were back to Tuesday morning Bible study.  I really missed it since I had to leave to meet Monroe the last time we met and last week we didn't meet due to the holiday.  Each week I come away feeling refilled and refueled and I really needed it yesterday.

But of course, just let satan get wind of that refilling and he isn't happy and tries to hit me doublely hard!  I felt as though I were in a battle all day long.

When I left Bible study it was raining and within minutes it changed over to snow -- a heavy snow -- one that made that 40 minute trip quite trecherous!  The closer I got to home the harder it snowed and thankfully it didn't last all day.  The tree in the picture below is in my front yard and no --- I am not ready for this kind of weather!!!!

Monty was also less than thrilled with this surprise weather.  He had been working outside all day, sewer and water lines, and was soaked when he got home.  Trying to keep his stitched finger dry was an impossibility and even though he had coveralls on -- the zippers are broken and he was still cold and wet!  Thanks to our neighbor Shelley's more than generous heart I was able to go to Walmart today and get him a new pair with the label that says "water proof."  He'll be the one to put that to the test!  Bless you, Shelley, for seeing a need and blessing him!  You're the best!

Today the sun is shining and that snow is trying to melt.  Tonight Monty will get the stitches removed and we are still praying that the rebuilding of that finger will hold.  It's turned all sorts of colors and I'm just not sure yet and anxious to hear what the doctors think.

I got a great surprise email too!  Seems Jack, from New Jersey, who brought Louis and spent a week rebuilding the subfloors on Michael's trailer -- has been keeping up with the blog and has a skilled friend who wants to come and install the kitchen cabinets for us when we are ready!!!!  This is such an amazing blessing because this entire kitchen is custom designed for Michael and his wheel chair.  We know God always brings just who we need right when we need them and knowing this ahead of time allows us to breathe a sigh of thanksgiving and praise!  Not to mention how awesome it will be to see Jack again!

I am still waiting to hear from Monroe (with the Amish) about their upcoming trip here to rebuild Don's home.  I talked with him Monday morning and he was headed to Joplin, MO to see how his crew is doing in the rebuilding of a tornado damaged home there.  He will let me know as soon as he knows.

Also -- I got word today that we will have the ability (financially) to either put Don up in a hotel room or possible bring in a camper trailer and place it in his yard while the rebuilding is taking place!  The local county treasurer will make certain he has one or the other so a great big thanks to them for stepping an and helping out by going above and beyond!

Things are all moving forward and I'm doing my best to keep up.  I thank all of you for your prayers.  Times have been rather difficult for us lately -- financially -- and it looks like it's going to be necessary for me to find a job after the first of the year!  "Ends" just aren't meeting even with Monty working almost 6 days a week!  Please hold me up in special prayer about this decision.  It's not an easy one and with jobs as scarce as they are . . .  I need your prayers!  In many ways!!!!

Until next time . . . blessings and love to all.                                Susan and Monty

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanks John

Every Saturday is a work day at Michael's and even though this was a holiday weekend one faithful volunteer came out to help -- John.

John has been involved quite a few Saturdays and usually Monty picks him up and gives him a ride.  With Monty's finger still healing he decided it was best for him to not go and take the chance of further injury.  That was fine with John - he drove himself and was such a big help to Michael - especially since he was the only volunteer!

The first task at hand was to put plastic over the new back windows.  They still need the trim pieces at the top (you can see the area above the window) and that is where water wants to come in.  With rain in the forecast it was necessary to do a make-shift fix for the time being.   With the exterior of this trailer being metal - duct tape will not stick.  But we got busy tossing ideas around and came up with a solution that was indeed put to the test last night and will be for the next few days according to the weather man.  Let's pray it works.

Next came the task of continuing the ceiling insulation.  You can see by the picture that quite alot has already been done and that Michael will be both toasty warm in the winter and nice and cool in the summer.  Insulation is not something "joyful" to work in - but John finds joy in everything he does and came dressed for the job - long sleeves.

Michael is always right there lending a helping hand and most of the time trying to get the job done himself but let's face it -- doing ceiling insulation from a wheelchair?  And yet he had already found a way!

It's not completely done but with a few more volunteers and a few more hours we can call it buttoned up and ready for ceiling sheetrock!  That is a day Michael (and all of us) have really been looking forward to!

Michael also put a request out over the internet for the wire we will need to connect to the permanent power pole outside for the final electrical work.  The wire normally retails for nearly $4.00 per foot.  He received an answer from someone who has a brand new roll, more than enough for what we need, and is selling it for $1.00 per foot!  Thank you Lord - for that miraculous answer to prayers! 

In my morning Bible studies the other day I read this: "The basic motivation of life is that we please God more than people and thus serve people through God's love."

Each time someone volunteers to help Michael (or anyone else in need) they love God more than people and show that love by serving those people in need.

Think about that and take a quick look around you -- I guarantee you can show God's love in ways you never imagined.   We just need to take our blinders off and really look . . .

Until next time . . . it's always the season to serve people through God's love!          Susan and Monty

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sharpshooter --- thankfully!

While babysitting for my grandchildren on Sunday afternoon I saw a wonderful magazine filled with recipes on my daughter's table.  Since she only wanted one of them she gave me the whole book!  I had my eye on a special cake that looked like something great to make to take to my parent's house for Thanksgiving dinner.  Remember --- my mother is the queen of pie baking so I don't go there -- but I could be safe with a cake!  This picture is the before -- all three layers ready to go into the oven.
Ta - Da!  The final product.  It actually looked like the picture in the magazine and let me tell you -- it was delicious!!!!  It was a carrot cake with coconut and oranges in the batter with a creme center that was cream cheese and orange marmalade with chocolate ganache on the top!!!  Alot of work but more that worth it!

It was a great Thanksgiving day.  My brother from Florida made it home and we were all surprised that his daughter, my niece, also made the trip from Florida!  Seems my other niece and my daughter both knew she was coming but proved that they are very able to keep a secret!  It was great to see both of them and I only wish we had more time together.

Today we were invited to a different kind of Black Friday -- one where we could do more shooting and try and qualify for our Rifleman badge.  I love going out and target shooting!  I never dreamed I would but it's the one and only thing in my entire life that I have found I can do and completely block out everything else going on in my head!  For those of you who know me well -- or read this blog at all -- you know I am a "wordy" person and all those words are always banging around in my brain, rain or shine, asleep or awake!  But shooting is the one thing I have discovered that takes all my focus and attention and nothing else at all is in my mind!  It's so great!  So today we headed back out to shoot more AQTs (Army Qualification Tests) and see how we could do.
These are the targets.  We are placed 82 feet from the target.  The first bell shape is 4 inches in height and we must shoot 10 shots from the standing position and have 2 minutes to do so.
The next 2 targets are 3 inches tall and we must shoot 5 shots in each.  We get ourselves set up while sitting, then we must stand and wait for the command and then sit back down in our positions and load and shoot.  We have 50 seconds to complete all the shots.  We have to load 2 bullets in one cartridge and 8 in another so it means we have to also change cartridges in that 50 seconds.
The 3rd line is shot from the prone (lying down) position.  We once again get set in the prone position, stand and wait for the command, then get into the prone position and shoot 3 shots in the first and middle target and 4 shots in the far right target.  We have 60 seconds to do that.  This one also requires that we have a cartridge with 2 bullets and another with 8 - changing cartridges once again.
The bottom line targets are only 1 inch high and are all done from the prone position also.  This time we start and stay in that position.  We also have 5 minutes to shoot 2 shots in the first 2 targets and 3 shots into the next 2. We get to use one cartridge with 10 bullets so there is no changing them out while shooting.  Each score in this line counts for double points.
My results?
On my first sheet I didn't even score enough to qualify.  The second one I made Marksman. The third I made Sharpshooter and on my fourth (and final) one I scored 189, which is still Sharpshooter and only 21 points from making Rifleman!!!!  I am happy!  I am very happy!!!!

Monty got the change to do some skeet shooting after targets (he didn't do targets with his injured finger but wanted to try the skeets.  He won one round and in doing so hurt his finger so he stepped out (that was his 4th round) and it was time to head home.  He really enjoyed doing this and hopes to be able to do more of it once he's healed.

These are all the men lined up for the skeet shooting.  Monty is the one on the far right.

Yesterday was a great Thanksgiving day and today was a great day after.  We hope you had an enjoyable holiday and didn't get too carried away with the shopping!

Tomorrow we return for another work day at Michael's.  I will be calling him immediately after this blog and checking in to see how much more ceiling insulation needs to be installed.  We are edging closer and closer to hanging sheetrock -- which means we will be closing it in and moving towards it really looking like a home!  We might be creeping along at a snail's pace but we are moving forward!!!!

Until next time . . . blessings to all.                              Susan and Monty

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blessed Thanksgiving to all

Today my house smells like bacon from breakfast this morning and now chocolate chip oatmeal cookies!  It's that time of year!  I love it!

This past Sunday Pastor Dave had a great message on thankfulness and if I had to name what I am most thankful for this year it would be --- we are home for another Thanksgiving!!!! 

Today my brother arrives from Florida!  My other two brothers live near my parents already.  We are only an hour away.

My son is about an hour away and my two daughters are right here in town.  That means my grandchildren are also right here in town. 

All of those are priceless blessings and we appreciate them even more than we did 6 years ago.  We know what it's like to NOT be with them during holidays and to be able to enjoy being with them for the second year in a row --- thank you Lord!

It is our prayer that you take a minute (or longer) and really think about ALL the things we have to be thankful for.

My 6 year old grandson's kindergarten teacher asked them to tell what they are thankful for.  His response?  "Hot girls!"   :)  You just have to laugh -- and pray for his parents -- he's only 6?????

We are thankful for all of you who continue to support us, to pray for us, to bless us, to love us and to understand the call God has placed on our lives! 

Our Thanksgiving wish is for God to return the blessings to you a hundred fold!!!!!!

Until next time . . . Happy Thanksgiving to You!                          Susan and Monty

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Heating and Air . . . INSTALLED!!

My apologies for not having pictures of today's progress at Michael's.  I just could not get there today.

But . . . Michael informed me that his brand new heating and air unit are installed!!  He has no idea just how warm and cool his new home will be!  In his current living conditions he must heat with wood.  This means he has to wheel himself outside to get the wood, then get it stacked on his front porch area, then roll from inside the house to the porch, load the wood on his lap, manuever back inside and load the woodstove!  And then when he and I were talking the other day he was telling me how the wind blows through around the windows so much that the curtains are swaying back and forth!  So this heating and air unit is a blessing he's yet to fully experience! 

Many, many thanks to Schel for making this possible -- and for doing the installation!

Michael also told me he had some helpers today!  Praise God!  They worked very hard to get the ceiling insulation put up to prepare for the ceiling sheetrock to begin.  If you read a couple of days ago Michael was doing this alone -- using a broom -- because there was no one to help him!  Volunteers are far more priceless than they can imagine!

Since Monty had to stop the installation of the door yesterday and make a mad dash to the ER for his finger -- he had to finish it today.  He doesn't get paid until the job is done so . . . I went with him to try and help.  We did get it done and he also found out that even though it's just one finger, it affects your entire body!  The pain was tremendous by the time we got home.  He will be taking all of next week off to allow this injury to graft itself back to his hand and heal properly.  After working today, he didn't argue with me!!!

With this next week being Thanksgiving week he won't miss that much work.  And he needs to catch up with some rest anyway.

Once again, many thanks to all who helped Michael today.  And many thanks to all of you who have expressed your concern over Monty right now!

Tomorrow is Sunday -- the perfect day to thank and praise God for all His blessings!

Until next time . . . our God is an awesome God!                           Susan and Monty

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Fabulous Frat Boys to the Rescue

27 fraternity brothers looking for a service project.  That's the phone call I got earlier this week and today was the day they got their service project.

We met at Sam's Club parking lot so we could have a mini orientation and do as much carpooling as possible.  None of the guys had ever done anything like this so we talked alot about respect for the homeowners and the situations they find themselves in.  We talked about safety and listening to what the homeowner (and me) direct them in doing.

They were all dressed for the weather, rather cool yet sunny, and before long one of their vehicles had sweatshirts piled on the hood as they learned that working causes one to work up a sweat, especially when one works as hard as they were.
Some of them worked on removing the damaged portions of Don's back deck.  With a little bracing here and there it will be as sturdy as it was before the tornado.
Others started working on some of the hanging tree limbs -- there are soooo many on his property and we need heavy equipment to remove about 5 very large trees before starting any rebuilding.  The guys did a great job in removing the ones they could.

A whole bunch of the guys headed inside.  These tackled the removal of flooring, ceiling insulation remnants and firring strips and then learned how to demo walls.  They learned quickly to shovel the trash out the window and the guys outside took wheelbarrow loads to the dumpster.  Teamwork!
Just how many frat brothers can you pack into one room?  Alot!
The outside team, wheelbarrow loaded and using brute force by carrying it overhead!  Who needs a gym?  These workouts are free.
Removing the ceilings from the second bedroom, insulation falling from overhead causes one to pull up the hoodie on your sweatshirt.
Four of the guys went to Billy's house to remove the foam tiles that used to be on his ceiling.  Everything else has been done except putting in this new dining room ceiling and residing one end of his house.  This work was tedious work since each and every staple had to be removed, by hand, and before doing anything they had to remove the dining room furniture.
He's just having way too much fun!!!!
The end result?  A 30 yard dumpster overflowing -- and they didn't even get to the garage!  What a great job guys!!!!  Wish we would've known about you all months ago when all the debris was everywhere!!
And then . . . very late in the work day . . . my phone rang.  All I heard Monty say was that he had cut his finger and was on the way to the emergency room.  He had been installing entry doors at 2 homes and even though he had just called me about an hour ago -- this was one of "those" phone calls that you know isn't good.
I had to bid a very quick farewell and thank you to the frat boys and headed to the hospital.  They had just got him in the room and oh my -- the blood was everywhere!  Ever since his heart attack in 2004 he takes a baby aspirin daily and today we learned they are working -- the blood flowed so much that even trying to get him cleaned up proved to be next to impossible!
We did get into a room where we discovered that he nearly cut the end of his finger off.  He had been using a box cutter style knife and had just put in a new blade!  While cutting the shims off the door frame -- in a split second -- the knife slipped and bam!!!!
They xrayed to make sure the bone was okay and it was.  But they had to rebuild the end of his finger before they could stitch it up.  It took over 45 minutes to put in 7 stitches and he was "done" with this day -- in a big way!  We will need to watch it very closely over the next few days to make sure the rebuilding "takes" and everything heals as it should.  The stitches have to stay in atleast 10 days!  And he needs to go back and finish the door installation tomorrow!  Guess who will be going to help!!!!  And no box cutter style knives will be allowed!

Please pray for miraculous healing and that the pain will subside alot during the night!

Tomorrow is the weekly work day at Michael's where the heating and air conditioning system will be going in and the ceiling insulation will hopefully be completed.  And guess what -- no box cutter knives will be allowed!!!

Until next time . . . many thanks to all the Sigma Alpha Epsilon men who came out to love on "neighbors" they didn't know!  You changed lives today -- and I bet yours is one of them.

Blessings to all.                                         Susan and Monty

Thursday, November 17, 2011

All Systems GO!!!

Yep -- the decision has been made!

We are going to rebuild Don's house!!!!

The morning had me sitting behind the contractor's desk at Lowes with 2 men who were trying their bes to get estimates done for me.  One was all the materials for the house, the other for the garage.  Of course, one can never get every single piece of material but we got as close as possible.  The house estimate was pretty complete but the one for the garage didn't have anything for the reworking of the foundation, running the water and sewer lines and reworking the back added on room.  Even without all that -- the estimate for the house was substantially lower.  That was the first good news.

The second?  When the Monroe County Building Commissioner paid a visit to Don's.  He hadn't seen it and agreed that he not only wanted to, he needed to.  The smile on his face as he got out of his truck spoke volumes to me.  We once again walked all around the house, checking the foundation, checking the roof and everything else.  When we went inside he was as surprised as I was -- nearly all the damage is confined to the roof.  Yes, it looks horrendous and if you've never worked on disaster damaged homes it might be overwhelming.  But the commissioner looked at nearly every detail and agreed with the plans we had in our mind.  He isn't able to "recommend" we rebuild the house or turn the garage into a house but he can tell us his thoughts.

I liked his thoughts.  He liked what he saw.  He also agreed to work with us in obtaining the building permit and anything else we might need along the way.

We were all smiles as he pulled out of the driveway.

Next was to make the phone call to Jane of Catholic Charities.  She's been covered up since Tuesday morning with the tornado that struck Paoli and was once again on the road there.  She was happy with the input from the commissioner and we agreed that we will rebuild the house.

Next phone call?  To Monroe, the Amish team leader.  I was happy to give him the green light to organize his team and let me know when they would be here and if they would need housing.  If he gets the team from Rockville, Illinois they will most likely drive back and forth since it's only an hour away.  If they come from any farther they will need housing.  I assured him we have a church lined up that will be happy to house them.  I also let him know that he and his wife are more than welcome to stay here with us.  Time will tell.

So tomorrow we welcome a very large group of volunteers, mostly students, from here at Indiana University.  They will have their work cut out for them.  We will be removing all damaged materials and furniture from Don's house, cleaning up the yard area, finishing the gut out of the damaged rooms and doing our best to have everything ready for the rebuilding to start.  It's a big job but there may be upwards of 35 volunteers so alot will be happening all over the place and it will all be good and working forward!  Go team!

Upon arriving home I got a phone call from Michael -- who was in his trailer working all by himself -- putting up ceiling insulation!!!!  I had to ask him how in the world he was doing that?  Remember that he's in a wheelchair!!!  He laughed when he told me he was using a broom to hold it up and get it to stay behind the trusses.  He later sent me a picture of the progress he'd made and I was amazed!  The old saying "necessity is the mother of invention" definitely applies here!  The sad part -- that he was doing this alone!  Where are the volunteers to help him?  Why does he have to wait till Saturdays to get any help -- and even then they just aren't showing up!  It is a little more than frustrating for me -- but ten times as much for Michael.  By working only one day a week we feel as though we are moving at a snail's pace -- a crippled snail at that!  We have put out request after request but so far they just aren't showing up.  Any ideas???? 

So at the end of the day -- a good day -- a day of moving forward in a big way with Don -- a day of Michael moving forward on his own -- I thank God for His direction -- for His provision and for His constant love for all of us!

Be sure and stay tuned for pics of tomorrow's work! 

To God be the glory!!!!!  

Until next time . . .                    Susan and Monty

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Go to the authorities . . .

The ceiling in Don's family room -- complete with a hole that not only allows the sun to shine it -- so does the wind and rain and cold weather, bringing down more insulation and ceiling each time.  What a mess!

I think the $64,000 question at this point is:  is the house structurally sound enough to invest in rebuilding or do we remodel the detached 2 car garage into a house?

Seems each contractor that comes to take a look has a different opinion. 

Today I had an appointment scheduled with the building commissioner to see if some of my questions and concerns could be resolved.  Monroe was sitting with his material list to rebuild the house and he needed to know whether to continue with it or not.  Don has applied for his grant from the state and with the weather getting colder each day we have no time to waste.

The commissioner was a big help as we discussed each option and difficulty and then had to toss in the fact of lack of funding.  It was rather like playing ping pong, back and forth and back and forth.

At the end of our meeting I asked the commissioner if he would come and take a look at the house and garage.  He said he hadn't seen them himself and although he cannot make the final decision due to liability issues, he can take a look and . . .

So tomorrow we will meet at Don's and once again get another opinion. 

Monroe got his material listing to me so first thing in the morning I will head to both Lowes and Menards to speak with the folks at the contractors desk where they can take the materials and put dollars to them.  Atleast then I will have a better idea of what the rebuilding of the house would cost.

Of course, there are always "hidden" things that can pop up when you start opening up walls and ceilings and floors so you can never get an exact estimate.  But we can get a rough idea and at the same time compare the costs between the stores.  Bottom dollar always wins!

Please keep Don in your prayers as this has been a very difficult time for him and although his spirits are high and he is being as flexible as anyone could be under these circumstances, we need to get started and get this gentleman back into a real home!

Also please pray for direction -- for us all to have divine wisdom in making this decision.  Our goal is to bring Don home again and in doing so -- bring glory and honor and thanksgiving to our awesome God who continually tells us that with Him nothing is impossible!

And while you are praying, please remember the 25 families in the city of Paoli (about an hour south of us) that were struck by a tornado on Monday night!

Until next time . . . "facing an impossibility give us the opportunity to trust God."  Susan and Monty

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Which way do we go?

For days and days on end we have been trying to decide whether or not Don's home can be rebuilt.  It was hit by the tornado back in late May and as you can see -- the tarps are long gone along with the entire back of the home.  The alternative plan has been to turn his detached 2 car garage into a home.

Some have said it cannot be rebuilt, a few in fact.  Yesterday I brought in our local expert -- Rob.  He took a good look around, climbed on top, looked below and said he thought it could be rebuilt.  He gave his suggestions and his opinions and I forwarded those on to Jane at Catholic Charities.  She has been handling all these cases and is turning over the ones still needing work to us.  She and I spent a few more hours talking about which direction do we go?

Late afternoon had both she and I at the local long term recovery meeting, or a form of such.  Every state has an organization called VOAD -- Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster.  They literally wrote the manual for disaster response and relief.  A new organization is springing up all over called COAD; Community Organizations Active in Disaster.  There has been a local COAD here in Monroe County since January of this year . . . but they have no experience in disasters.  They met yesterday and invited Jane and I to come and shed some light on things since we both have over 6 years of "boots on the ground" experience.  It was a good meeting, alot was said and alot was learned and hopefully I will be getting some volunteer connections from those in attendance.

This morning I headed out for my weekly Bible study and had no more than landed in my seat when my phone rang.  Normally I would not answer but I had made a call to Monroe, our expert Amish contractor and volunteer team leader who led teams for us in Texas for over 2 months.  He lives in Illinois near the Indiana border and is actually working on a project about an hour from here.  I asked him to come and give us his opinion on Don's home.  He was able to arrive earlier than he had anticipated so I left Bible study and headed back home.  He arrived about noon and after a quick bite we were off to Don's where we spent hours looking at every single area of the house.  It was also his opinion that the house could be rebuilt and he was headed home to finish up the materials list and start gathering his volunteers. 

After meeting with Monroe I had yet another meeting with a local pastor to see about housing prospective volunteers at their church and to try and raise funding and volunteers for both this project and Michael's.  It was a good meeting and he was able to give me some good connections to follow up with.

Before I could even get home Jane had called me saying that yet another contractor (I think this was the 5th or 6th one) had visited Don's this afternoon and it was his opinion that the home cannot be rebuilt.  He had a list of 3 main reasons why not and so the final decision was to not rebuild the home and to turn the garage into a home.

I had to get ahold of Monroe and stop his plans for the house and ask about building the garage into a home.  He and I once again spent alot of time discussing this and that.  He will still see about gathering his team but with a different direction in mind.  He will be waiting for me to get final information from the building department commissioner tomorrow afternoon.

I was also able to schedule a volunteer team of students coming from here at IU for a work day this Friday.  They will be going to Don's to do major cleanup work.  The leader tells me there could be 35 to 45 people so we should really be able to make a difference there.  They will also be traveling down the road to remove the damaged ceiling in Billy's home to prepare for a new ceiling to be installed.  I'm excited for these volunteers and know both Don and Billy will be blessed by their help.

By the time all the phone calls were made and notes were written and emails with details printed out it was past dinner time!  Monty came dragging in soaking wet as he had been working on water pumps all day which required him to keep his arms in armpit high water -- and it was cloudy and rather cool today so this wasn't a fun job!  A quick bite and it's blog time.

I want to thank both Rob and Monroe for taking the time from their busy schedules and come to share their expertise in this difficult decision.  I value their thoughts, their experience and their hearts of service so very much.  For Monroe to make the trip was such a blessing to all of us.  I haven't seen him since Texas and have missed him and his teams of workers.  Don has also been so appreciative of all those who have taken time to try and help him get back home -- wherever that might be!

It just goes to show that there are people out there who care, who will go the extra mile for someone else -- for a complete stranger -- because they have the gift of a servant heart and know that when the Bible says to "love your neighbor" it doesn't just mean the folks next door!

God once again filled my heart with joy today.  The joy of seeing Monroe.  The joy of having Rob as our friend, our brother.  The joy of having a pastor of another church understand what we do and to try and help us out.  The joy of having another pastor care enough to pray over me even when I couldn't stay for Bible study.  The joy of seeing the smile on Don's face -- just because he felt cared for.  The joy of knowing that not only did God place this calling on my life -- He has and always will give me what I need to fulfill that calling!

Yes, I am very tired in the physical sense.  In my heart and soul I am revived!

What an awesome God I serve!!!

Until next time . . . we're blessed to be a blessing.  Jump in . . . the water's fine!
Susan and Monty

Saturday, November 12, 2011

One Man . . .

This day started off in a way I have been dreading -- our neighbors moved away!  For 16 years they have lived across the street from us -- I don't know life without them being there!  When I first bought our house I was newly divorced with 3 children and not a clue about what to do to survive.  We had lived in an apartment for a few months and I did not want to stay there.  My children had always lived in a house and when I went looking on a Sunday afternoon I found this one.  It was in my price range and the neighborhood seemed perfect.

The first time I met Tony and Evie I knew they were special.  My front deck was rather nasty as you could see underneath and I shared with them that one of my first projects was going to be to add boards to make sides.  When I got home the next day -- the project was done.  All I needed to do was to paint them!  I was shocked and thrilled and from day one we have been the best of friends.

Today they brought in the rental truck and along with their 3 kids and 3 kids in law they packed up and headed to their new home in Greenwood.  They want to be closer to their grandchildren and although we know it's the best thing for them --- I am being totally selfish in saying I cried and cried this morning in trying to wish them well and "see you later."

Lord, please bless them and keep them --- for us!

After bidding them farewell Monty was off to try and accomplish 3 jobs in 1 day.  This time he took John as a helper and they did get one of them complete.  The other 2 will come next week.  The main one was to seal the roof of a mobile home and they had to wait for the temps to reach high enough to get it done.  The sun was bright and the winds blowing so the job got done and John learned that coating a roof is sort of like painting with glue!

I headed south to Michael's.  Saturdays are always work days and today the new entry doors were on Rob's truck and ready to be installed --- thanks to the Vineyard church!!!!  How awesome!!!  I made a stop at Lowes to pick up ceiling insulation and because of a special sale I was able to purchase a much higher grade than we expected.  The salesmen laughed when I told them I could get all 32 rolls in the back of my truck -- until they saw me pack them in!  They had no idea they were dealing with the queen of packing a truck bed!  I even got a couple of 2 x 6's in there!

When I arrived at Michael's there was only one volunteer there for work day!  Rob -- one man!!  But oh that man!  Rob is a dear friend of ours who came to Texas to work with us and really has a heart for this kind of work.  He is a contractor and I really believe he can build anything!  He works at a constant speed -- non stop.  He doesn't get rattled, he doesn't get angry, he doesn't get frustrated, he just works and smiles and shares life with Michael --- basically a perfect example of Jesus' love!  He had the front door installed -- one wide enough for Michael to move in and out of with ease and when he pulled out the gold colored door handle and bolt lock --- his smile shown like gold!  He loved the idea of a handle instead of a door knob and was so excited when it was all put together!  You can see below.  Look closely at the one picture and see his smile through the door window!

One person CAN make a BIG difference --- and most people just don't realize that!  They think and feel like they can't do anything, they don't know how, they are just one and that's not enough -- all sorts of thoughts that are nothing but lies from satan!  Rob shows that one person, just one - who has the heart to serve, who knows that our mission field is sometimes right outside our own back door, who works all week long and yet comes out on Saturdays to help and serve and be the hands and feet of Jesus!

This world would be such an amazing place if more people were half that dedicated and committed to God!

Rob -- we thank you and we love you!

I have to show you the before and after pictures of the front door --- amazing!!!

Be sure and stay tuned for more astonishing changes and miracles!  Every Saturday WILL be a work day and we would love it if you would come out and join us, join in the laughter, join in the work, learn something new, show us something new and let the love of Jesus wrap around you while you be a blessing!  It WILL change your life!!!

Until next time . . . praise the Lord in your house of worship tomorrow!!!     Susan and Monty

Friday, November 11, 2011

Leaves . . . and more leaves . . .

Today was one of those days that I can get lost in.  Early this morning I headed outside to try and do something with the "depth" of leaves that had accumulated in our yard.  With an extremely large pin oak tree and an equally large maple tree the leaves were amazing.

A very dear friend of mine knows how much I enjoy working outside so he gave me an electric blower.  I have learned to love that thing.  I got ahold of it and started in our yard.  It took quite a long time but it now looks really good -- atleast you can see the grass now.

From there I headed across the street to our neighbor lady and she had even more in her yard than we did.  She backs up to the woods and so . . . She now also looks good. 

And then there was one more neighbor and it also looks alot better.

In between I was answering phone calls and talking with our Amish buddy, Monroe, about Don's house - the one hit by the tornado and the one I showed you pics of a few days ago.  Monroe and his team worked with us over 2 months in Texas and I know what kind of miraculous work they are capable of.  The exact kind of work we need with Don.  Monroe is checking his schedule and will hopefully make it over here early next week -- before I have my meeting with the building commissioner.

Our dear friend Rob, who has been the lead carpenter on Michael's, is also going to take a look at Don's sometime on Monday and give me his opinion.  He not only is a fabulous carpenter, he has a heart for this kind of work and I trust his ideas and thoughts more than anyone else.

It is my hope that after these two gentlemen look at Don's we can come to a decision as to what direction we will head.

I am also excited as the article in our local newspaper asking for volunteers has spurred some emails and a couple of them are interested in helping at Michael's on Saturdays until we have a direction for them here.  One is a carpenter and I hope to get him into another home next week, depending on his schedule.

Last night we were blessed to be able to attend the Campus Life banquet and someone asked me a question sort of caught me off guard but is typical of my life here at home.  They asked what we have been doing and when we told them about Michael's project and Monty working full time and on his own during and sometimes 7 days a week -- they looked at me and asked, "what do you do all week?"  My first thought -- they obviously don't read the blog -- and my second thought was "sometimes it's tiring trying to explain to someone what I actually do!"  I truly do think I am an alien here on earth!     :)

So tomorrow I return to Michael's and see how many volunteers show up.  I know Rob will be there as he has the new exterior doors and will be doing the reframing job to install them both.  And Schel will be there as he's bringing the new heating and air system.  I will be stopping to purchase all the ceiling insulation early in the morning and hopefully we have plenty of help to get all the projects completed!  The weather is supposed to be sunshine and in the low 60s so --- perfect!

Once again I just want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who do read the blog and do understand what we do and why we do it!  We appreciate your love, your prayers and your support more than you know!

Until next time . . . blessings one and all.                                Susan and Monty

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pie Baking 101

I was the one who needed a break -- a day away from anything that was anything -- and yesterday was that day.

Cheryl and family -- you've seen their pics from the entertainment at the festival a couple of weeks ago and from their visits at our home and theirs -- are wonderful when it comes to cooking!  Both Emily and Haley have a real talent and when they saw the pies my mother made to auction off at the festival they decided they needed a class in pie baking.

Yesterday was that day!  They set it up with my mother and of course, I had to be there --- not to participate -- just to watch and enjoy the fun!  And fun it was! 

Mom and Emily working on the apples for the apple crumb topped pie.

Learning the "art" of the pie crust.  It was just like they do on TV.  They made one -- and it has to chill in the refrigerator for awhile but Mom already had a chilled one ready to go so no waiting!
Making those special designs around the edge had Haley's undivided attention!

Next came the real art of meringue.  You have to understand that seeing one of my mother's pies always brings about shock and awe to the viewer -- especially the first time!  Her meringue usually stands a good 3 plus inches on top of the pie!  So getting it just right is something special and you can see from the pic below that the girls are truly concentrating!

And the final results?  Graduation with an A+ !!!!  They had 2 chocolate cream pies and an apple crumb topped one!  And enough "secret" ingredients to have more fun at home!

It was a great day spent with family and friends.  Much thanks to my aunt for lunch -- we need to spend more lunches like that!  And to Cheryl, Emily, Haley and Mom -- thanks for a day that was filled with laughter and love!

Today --- a home visit to tornado damage, calls to possible volunteers and a boat load of thanks and praise to God for all His goodness.

Until next time . . . blessings to all.                            Susan and Monty

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Better put your shoes on . . .

If you have sensitive toes or get offended easily you just might want to put your shoes on before reading any further -- or just not continue reading -- the choice is yours.  But I warn you . . . I am on my soapbox and ready to "vent" somewhat?

My entire afternoon has been spent seeing the results of what happens when a community is not prepared for a disaster and then due to not being prepared or educated or experienced -- people don't "slip" through the cracks of the system -- the system drops them on their already injured heads and does nothing!

I would like to introduce you to Don --- this is how he is currently living -- these were taken today!

Shocking?  Yes, to say the least.   The real shocker --- the tornados that hit Don's house struck here on May 25th of this year!  Why do I remember so well?  That was the night of my birthday AND this home is less than 2 miles from ours!

And Don IS living in this home just as it is!  Why?  Because he has nowhere else to go.  He was working at the time of the tornado but has since lost that job and is unemployed.  He has no money because he survives on unemployment.  He has no place else to go -- no place!

He "crashed" through the cracks of the system because the system let him crash!

FEMA did not respond to these tornados.  And before you go and get all upset and start blaming the government -- stop -- they did not respond because the proper information was not relayed to them!  The failure was in the local system.  They did not know how to respond due to lack of education and therefore the results speak for themselves. FEMA does not respond unless they are called and given enough information to come in and set up shop.  If they don't get the information . . . you do the math!

So now we are 6 months later and we have been asked to come along side and take over the case -- along with more than are not finished! 

I received a call from Catholic Charities a couple of weeks ago -- I had originally called them here locally to ask if any funding for Michael's rebuild might be available.  I was told that there are no funds for anything non disaster related.  And then only a few days later I received a call from Jane who's based out of Indianapolis but is responsible for any and all disasters from there to the Kentucky border.  She has been trying to bring in volunteers to help those folks hurt by the tornados.  She has been struggling and struggling and heard about us and what we have dedicated our lives to doing and called asking for help.  The "you are an answer to prayer" was sincere as finding anyone who has experience is nearly impossible!  We set an appointment to meet today and she took me to Don -- the priority homeowner. 

My heart sank as we pulled into his driveway!  This is right outside our back door -- in the middle of a stretch where the tornados went through -- the stretch that was so blocked up with traffic of folks driving by and ooohhing and aaahhing at the damage -- everyone knows where it is! 

So why is he still not getting help?  Why, after 6 months has absolutely nothing been done?  No volunteers and no funds!  Sound familiar?  Sure does to me!

Because FEMA wasn't given the proper information and did not come in that also means that SBA, Small Business Administration didn't come in right away either.  They are known for sort of "riding the back seat" with FEMA and offer extremely low interest rates to those who need loans.  When SBA did get here Don was quick to apply.  He was turned down -- because he is unemployed and so has no way to repay a loan, no matter how low the interest rate is!  Strike two!

So now we have yet more paper work to complete.  The state of Indiana has funding available -- a maximum of $5,000 to rebuild!  Now once again take a good look at those pictures and tell me $5,000 is enough?!

No way!!!  Especially when the house is not structurally sound and must be torn down!  After we get Don out, of course!

So where does he go and what do we do?  He has a detached garage that is about 22' by 28' that we hope to transform into a home for him.  The first problem?  Other than lack of funding and lack of volunteers?  The roof of the garage is damaged, the foundation doesn't meet building codes for a dwelling, the foundation isn't insulated, the concrete floors would need jackhammered to allow for plumbing, the electric isn't strong enough for a home . . . how much longer do you need me to go on?

Have our work cut out for us?  You bet!  Impossible?  No way!  You see, I happen to believe the scripture that says "with God, nothing is impossible."  I've seen His miracles and I believe He is still in the business of performing miracles!

But . . . if the church isn't the building --- it's the people --- where is the church?  It's preached from the pulpits all the time, the word "servant" is quite common, the Bible tells us that faith without works is dead . . . yet . . . where is the church at a time like this?

Yes, I know full well that the economy is tough right now (when hasn't it been?) and prices of everything continue to go up and up --- we are missionaries --- remember ---which means we survive on donations and with 83% of missionaries coming off their fields of service due to lack of funding -- we are praying that doesn't happen to us but . . . where is the church?

Helping Don doesn't take scheduling a trip, finding a place to stay, raising money for food, being away from your family for a few nights ---- he is right out our back door!

And if we -- as the church -- have been "commanded" by God to "love your neighbor as yourself" then what kind of love is this!!?? 

Like I said, I am on my soapbox -- the same one I've been on for 6 years now.  God gave me a heart for helping others -- some might say to a fault -- and God also gave me the gift of words and speech!  He gives us gifts to use and it took Monty to tell me that I need to use these gifts!

If I don't speak for Don, and the thousands of other people we have helped over the past 6 years -- then I am not fulfilling the calling God has placed on my life.

I take that calling seriously!  That calling gives me life and hopefully hope to those in such desperate need to see the love of Jesus for them through someone else!  I am not special.  I am no different than you or your neighbor.  I am just one woman who knows that God has called me to reach out and help others. 

Is there a moral to this blog?  That is between you and God. 

I just felt the need to tell the story in full truth, to show you the pictures -- the reality --and hopefully not step on too many toes in the process.

Until next time . . . please pray for another miracle!                    Susan and Monty

Sunday, November 06, 2011

25 Years!!!!!!! Let's celebrate!!

First of all --- wishing a very happy birthday to the dad -- Terry!  I can't imagine what a celebration all 10 kids and Cheryl must have planned for this evening!  We love you all and can't wait to see you again!

Psalm 127: 1 says, "Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it."  The theme of this morning's message at church --- hold that thought as yesterday's progress at Michael's is shown in pictures.

Zac is helping Schel with cleaning all the duct work underneath the trailer in preparation for the installation of the new heating and air system which should be here and ready for install next Saturday.

Cody gets some of the tough work -- scraping the old, dried up glue that held in the old windows.  This trailer is a 1989 so that glue has been there for awhile! 

Schel and Zac cleaning and repairing and preparing.  Schel is a heating and air technician so he's "the man" when it comes to that project!

Zac and John are working on putting the vapor barrier underneath the trailer and as you can see - this end doesn't have much working room underneath so it took some reaching and stretching and dedication!
Michael's new handicapped accessible shower for his bathroom.  It's industrial size, 60 inches across and 37 inches deep!  The grab bars are molded into the walls along with the soap dish and the faucet is a hand held with the mounting located just above the water turn on -- within reach of someone sitting down!  And this was donated!!!!  Isn't God awesome!

Next Satuday will be new door installation, both front and back, thanks to our Vineyard church and their most blessed donation!  We will also be starting the install of the heating and air unit and insulating the ceilings before hanging the sheetrock up there.  The more the insulation the better for both winter and summer -- and Michael!  So if you have some spare time next Saturday make sure and come on out and enjoy the fellowship that goes along with the work!

Which now brings me to the scripture at the beginning of this blog.

This morning we celebrated our own Pastor Dave and Lisa being here and pastoring Vineyard church for 25 years!!!  (And they aren't as old as me!) 

It was an incredible morning.  We joined service with another local church here, another Pastor Dave at Genesis church.  Both Daves are close friends and not only did Genesis open it's doors to all us Vineyard folks and bless and honor Dave and Lisa, they had a huge pitch in luncheon following and we all left overflowing with even more love and respect for this amazing couple who have dedicated their lives to serving God, but also to leading us lost sheep in the direction of heaven!  We all look forward to the next 25 years! 

Pastor Dave of Genesis gave us a message that -- for me -- had a double meaning.  One of those times where I knew it was God speaking to me.

When we think of a house or a home we hope and want it to be atleast 4 things:
1.  a place of peace
2.  a place of safety and protection
3.  a  place of correction (maybe not tops on our list -- but necessary)
4.  a place of commitment
As Pastor Dave (of Genesis) talked about these points I couldn't help hear God speaking to me about the homes we have rebuilt in the past, Michael's that we are rebuilding right now and all those homes damaged from this springs tornadoes right here in our own city that are being turned over to us to rebuild/repair.

Those 4 things always have been, and always will be, priorities with us.  I heard God telling me that this is why we are home here for another winter.  This is what He wants us to be doing -- only this time right here -- where local folks can help local folks -- where God can show us the value of a home that is peaceful and safe and how important correction and commitment are in that home.  God reaffirmed to me that THIS is what He has called us to do -- for others to see -- for others to experience -- for others to be a blessing -- for others to be blessed -- for others to see His hands at work and His heart for both the homeowners and the workers!

What an awesome God we serve -- the same God that Dave and Lisa have dedicated their lives to for the past 25 years and for the rest of their lives!  All of us who are blessed to be a part of Vineyard Community Church -- who call it home -- know that it's a place of peace, safety, protection, correction and commitment --- that's why it's HOME!!!!

To Dave and Lisa -- thank you doesn't begin to express our appreciation, our friendship nor our love.  Just know you are priceless to the both of us - and to so many others!  It's an honor to know you and a bigger honor to know you are our friends -- our family!!!!

To Pastor Dave of Genesis -- thank you and your congregation for your hospitality, your love and your message this morning!  You also keep doing what you are doing and know God will bless you for it!

Until next time . . . what is your house like?                               Susan and Monty

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Narrowing the direction

I took this picture of the red maple tree in our front yard a couple of days ago and it's a good thing as today the rains came and the leaves are falling faster than the rain drops!  And I just blew leaves from our landscaping and mowed and mowed 5 more yards yesterday!  Today . . . you can't tell I did a thing!  But I enjoyed the warm weather yesterday and loved seeing the beauty of God in the ever changing creation all around us!

Today I have spent most all day either on the computer or on the phone.  With the fundraising festival raising enough funds to cover the cost of the new windows and heating and air system for Micheal's, this Saturday's work day will be a big one!  Rob will be bringing both the new exterior doors (thanks to the generous hearts of Vineyard church) so changes will be happening, ones that are alot more visible and that lead us closer and closer to putting in walls!  Thank you Lord!

I also spent some time talking with Jane of Indianapolis's Catholic Charities about the upcoming projects of rebuilding/repairing the 20 plus homes here at home!  How exciting this is for us!  Doing what God called us to do -- right here at home!  She and I will be meeting next week and I will then have files on each homeowner and know a bit more about which direction we are going when.  

The plea for volunteers has already been put out there but I will continue to "harp" on it!  Today was a boost for me when Monroe called me.  Monroe led teams Amish volunteers for 2 months in Texas.  We had the pleasure of getting to know him, his heart and his desire to work with us again on a project.  He just lives across the state line in Illinois and is also excited about the possibility of coming over here, a short drive, to help those who are now looking at winter weather knocking on their doors --- if they have doors to knock on!

God has blessed us with both Michael's project and now these upcoming ones!  The joy has welled up in my heart, my joy runs even deeper and my faith is stronger than ever!

A couple of months ago this question was asked in Bible study, "how do you know what your calling is?"  My response was/is, "what is the thing that when you do it -- it brings you life?"  THAT is your calling!  When you are operating in your calling you are alive, you are energetic, you are powerful, you are joyful, it's visible to the naked eye of others, they want a piece of "it", and even though you may not have the resources, the time and/or the ability --- you know God has called you to "it" and you will let nothing stop you!  You will let nothing stand in your way!  Your faith will be tested and will stand the test and will come out stronger than before the testing!

Scripture tells us that "with God, nothing is impossible."  We all know that verse -- but -- do we really know that verse!!!???  Do we just speak the words in one sentence and then speak all our doubts in the next?  Do we stand on that, stand firm, unmovable, unshakable, resolute, determined?

I choose to believe, to stand tough, to let satan know Who is the ultimate boss and then pray my actions do the same!!!

Until next time . . . bless someone else today!  You'll be glad you did!  And so will they!
Susan and Monty

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

A New Chapter Unfolding . . .

Samuel gave it his all when it came to cleaning up trees and limbs and logs from Michael's back yard on Saturday.  And look at that smile --- he knows he's really working for Jesus!!!! 

I need to give you an update on a story I haven't even told you yet.  Working backwards . . . she came through the double surgery just fine and is on the mend, black eyes and all. 

Now moving forward . . . the morning of the festival Sus's mother in law, Evelyn, was helping with serving breakfast to all the workers.  It was a really cool morning and inside Michael's trailer was actually colder than it was outside so Evelyn and the ladies decided to come outside and sit in the sun.  As Evelyn was coming down the temporary ramp she caught her foot and went crashing to the ground -- face first!  The end result was a broken nose and a broken wrist!  When we visited her in the hospital Sunday evening she was more than ready for the surgery.  They did a double surgery and it only lasted an hour.  The damage to both areas was less than they anticipated so she is doing much better and would appreciate your prayers for a speedy recovery!

Yesterday was mowing day for me, 5 down and 5 to go.  Weather should be perfect to finish them tomorrow.  The leaves are falling faster than they can be mulched.  I love this time of year!  I've waited all summer to mow and not sweat profusely!

Today was Bible study where I learned even more donations came in for the purchase of the new windows for Michael's trailer!  How awesome!  Tomorrow I will go and pay for them and schedule the delivery so they can be installed at this Saturday's work day, along with the new entry doors and possibly the heating and air unit!  A really big work day on the horizon!!!!!

And this afternoon . . . I had a meeting that has opened a BIG door into IGO Disaster Relief.  Seems I am going to be taking over the rebuilding of over 20 homes right here that suffered damage from the tornados that hit here on May 25.  I remember the date as that was my birthday and we spent most all of that night in the hospital parking garage and found out that multiple tornados had hit a block behind us!

There were many homes damaged that night and the rebuilding has been more than slow.  They are struggling to get a recovery committee put together and even though some funding is available there is no coordination and so nothing is getting done.  In some places there is still debris to clean up! 

And so . . . God called . . . and here we are.  I met with some folks today and will be meeting with the recovery group in a few days.  The list of names was turned over to me today.  They are trying to see if files have been created with the needed paperwork and if so - get them to me.  If not . . . we do what we do and start with step one and schedule a home visit.  I was excited to learn that the women I met with are on board to be of help in any way possible!

Monty and I are very excited about this opportunity!  We are able to do what God called us to do and do it right here at home!  And most of the homes are less than 2 miles from our house!!!!! 

As I was talking with the women today I could feel God giving me the direction I had been praying about.  I have been asking Him why we are here for another winter and what would He have us do?  Today He let me know and as He did I could feel the life stir inside me.  This IS what we do and this IS what He called us to do --- and this time I really like the location!

So . . . we are going to need volunteers --- once again!  And now you have a choice --- we are coming around the bend with Michael's and before long will be able to see the end approaching.  And we will be starting new projects with much work needed so all skills will be needed!   Please keep this new calling in your prayers and consider coming to be a blessing!  You won't regret it!

I just love how God has all the plans already in place and all He asks us to do is be obedient!

Here we are Lord, use us and send us . . . even if it is just down the road!

Until next time . . . 29 days and the hurricane season for 2011 ends!  Praise the Lord!
Susan and Monty