This part of the story is difficult to write about. I want to pick the right words to bring you into the story and feel….really feel the graces and blessings that went on that weekend in January.
I walked into the house at 2:00pm on Thursday. I was SO excited about the weekend and couldn’t WAIT to arrive. The first thing on the agenda is to pack up everything that looks like it could fit into a washing machine. Altogether, I think there were about 40 bags to fill. Step 2 was to put everything that wasn’t heavy furniture into tubs. Step 3, take out the furniture and put it where my post-it-note said. Each post-it-note said “Basement”, “CK” (for Christ the King…Fr. Lockwood graciously volunteered his garage for storage) or “Dump” (which meant that it needs to go on the dumping trailer). Step 4 was to prepare the walls for painting the next day.
Ok, those were MY plans. Here is what really happened. My first volunteer, Siobhan & her daughter Lucy, arrives and begins packing up. This is very impressive given the fact that Siobhan is about 13 months pregnant with baby #10. The graces are already coming! I don’t know how she was able to help me for as long as she did but she persevered and even took home about 10 bags of laundry to do on Friday and Saturday.
The next thing I remember is blinking and having a packed house full of people packing and working diligently for hours. Mike Cucar arrived to scope out the bathroom with the intention of just putting new tile on the floor. He decided that having a whole new shower, floor board, sink, vanity, lights and plumbing would be a good idea too. Ok? I’ll take it!!
As everyone is packing and packing and carrying objects from place to place, I walked into the dining room only to see a kitchen floor being ripped out! My jaw dropped. What the heck? We only have 2 more days!!! After an hour or so, Roy calls me into the kitchen so I can listen to Paul Hermes with his bright idea….”We can tear out all of these cabinets and sink & get them new ones. No big deal. It’s easy.” WHAT??!! Easy?! Again….2 days people!! 2 days!! No one seemed to care.
At this point, I started to really see all the puzzle pieces coming together. A friend of mine had offered to donate her refrigerator and kitchen sink. What a coincidence! Or was it? A group of Facebook friends got together & donated money to buy a small kitchen island. One of my Theology of the Body students offered to get a group together to sand and paint the upper remaining kitchen cabinets at my house. Out of the kindness of my heart, I surprised them with a kitchen table and chairs to sand and glossJ They were more than happy to oblige.
There are several incidents that can only be described as miraculous. They might be better understood when put in a list:
· We were never absent a tool and they were never misplaced
· Every time people came to the house with donations, it was just what we were looking for
· No one argued about how things were to be done
· There was a job for everyone that was perfect for them. No one was bored
· I didn’t yell at my husband or son at all. Seriously.
· Ginette & Laura used a power too with a “criss-cross thingy on the end”…aka….a phillips head drill bit
· The money envelope was always full
· Every time a tool was needed, somehow, it was always right there. If I was asked where the putty knife was, it was like the sky opened up and heaven shined down on the perfect putty knife.
· Everyone wanted to be there and no one wanted to leave.
· A family came that didn’t know the Connors or anyone else there. They just stood in the yard and said they wanted to be a part of this.
· No one bumped into the wet paint….except John Harrison. He grabbed a wet hand rail but that was funny
· My kids never called me
· It never felt too crowded even when we had 50 people pacing around
· Food & water appeared out of no where
· When we were running low on water, someone brought more without knowing we needed it
· People were cancelling plans to stay longer or come back the next day
· I was NEVER overwhelmed or anxious or impatient
· The same super pregnant woman stayed on her feet for hours on end on Sunday to put the house back together.
· The weather was warm every day and only rained a little after the night was over.
· A husband and wife team came, scoped out what was missing and bought it. They bought every room new light fixtures, new light switches and outlets throughout the house.
· We didn’t kill the sensitive Chameleon
· There were more jobs done than there were people there
· A kitchen and bathroom were built in 3 days
Here is my attempted list at what was really done and I’m quite certain that the list is much longer. No one was out to point and say “Look what I did!!” The people were humble. These were not the friends that appear out of the woodwork if the Connor’s would have won the lottery. These are real & true stewards of God. It wasn’t just the experience, it was the people. We are all so blessed to have been with each other.
God’s To-Do List….
· Put everything that can fit into a washing machine in bags to be taken home by 4 families that not only wash them but fold, sort and come back to put them all away & stay for hours to help with other chores
· Remove all vent covers and vacuum them out
· Redo the entire bathroom & make it more beautiful than any other bathroom you’ve ever stepped into
· Sort all of Patricks CD’s into a tub
· Put all bookshelves in the basement and bring new matching bookshelves into the house
· Put a beautiful wreath on the front door
· Put a vase of beautiful flowers on the end table
· Put an extender thing on the gutter to make the water flow further away from the house
· Bring in a smaller and space saving entertainment center
· New couch & love seat
· New area rug
· Remove carpet in every room in the house
· New therapeutic King size mattress for the parents
· New box springs
· Electric blanket
· New sheets & comforter for every family member
· Trundle bed for Ciara & Ella
· New dressers and cubbies for the kids
· Paint every room on the upper floor
· Paint all the trim and window frames in the house
· Paint the closets
· Paint both bathrooms
· Spend countless hours on making the bathroom vanity more beautiful than anything you can find in the store
· Move refrigerator to the garage which will now be their back-up refrigerator
· Trim down or remove every bush in the front and back yard
· Turn a slab of wood into a functioning and working back door
· Paint the front door (twice)
· Paint the back door
· Take the hanging hooks from the living room and mount them in the closet
· Organize the winter hats and gloves
· Match all the shoes and pitch the one’s with no matches
· Put up new curtains and rods on every window
· Take down and pitch all the blinds (they harbor lead!)
· Paint the walls that lead to the basement
· Find and fix every leak in the bathrooms & kitchen
· Fix the wire that Roy accidently sawed throughJ
· Tear out the kitchen floor
· Put down a new tile floor in the kitchen
· Take all the cabinet doors down to be sanded and painted
· Put in a new refrigerator
· Take all the garage refrigerator shelves home to be soaked, cleaned and returned
· Build the new dressers for boys and girls
· Sand, gloss and replace all the handles on the parents dresser
· Area rugs for the kids rooms
· Runner rug for the hallway
· Test the smoke detectors
· Clean out the dryer vent system
· Clean out the back yard & pitch the broken toys
· Take off the basement door and paint it with chalkboard paint
· Fix hole by the back door
· Sort all the books by categories in moving boxes
· Clean the house numbers
· Scrub all the hardwood floors
· Put in new kitchen cabinets and sink
· Take down all of the dishes from the top of the cabinets and have the neighbor clean them
· Scrub the hell out of the bathtub
· Door discs in every room to cover the holes from the door knobs
· Make a small play area for the kids downstairs
· Bring in a 2nd island in the kitchen for the microwave and more storage
· Hang up Ciara’s toy thing from the ceiling
· Scrape off all the old and new paint from the windows
· Pull bunk beds apart
· Put all of Nolan’s collection stuff together
· Make 5 shadow boxes with the kids art work in each one
· Make a sewing machine area for Jill downstairs
· Bring everything back from Christ the King
· Make Liam a loft bed and a new place for his nook
· 3 new mattresses for the kids
· Under the bed storage units for everyone
· New screen door
· Clean off sidewalk and steps
· Vacuum basement stairs
· Make a chore list organizer for Jill & the kids to help keep up with cleaning
· Get a new high tech stove/oven combo
· Clean out Patricks car
· Fix door handle and other odds & ends in Patricks car
· Organize the medicine/linen closet with little baskets and labeled containers
· Pull out carpet tracks in all the bedrooms and hallway
· Replace every light switch and electrical sockets
· Replace all light switch and electrical socket covers
· Find every light or electrical socket that doesn’t work and fix it
· Replace every bulb that is out
· Make 3 trips to the dump
· Put away all the clothes that fit into the dresser and leave the rest in marked bags for Jill to go through later
· Clean the piano & scrub clean the bench
· Clean, sand, gloss and polyurethane up the kitchen table and all the chairs
· New knob on the bathroom vanity
· New door knob & lock on the front door
· Power wash out the gutters
· Rake all the leaves around the house
· Give Patrick about 20 Lighthouse CD’s to listen to.
· Organize the basement & label every container
· Clean the TV
· Take out the old oven and make it into a food storage/pantry
· Throw out 5 old appliances that didn’t work (3 dryers, 1 refrigerator & 1 dishwasher)
· Scrub clean the inside of the garage refrigerator
· Replace the items that had to be thrown away….(kitty litter box, hairbrushes, etc)
· 4 new trash cans for the bedrooms
· 3 new laundry bins
This list isn’t meant for you just to read through. It is to bring you into the story of what God’s plan was. I was thanked quite a bit for putting this together but did I really put this together? NO! I can’t take credit for anything! This was a work of God and whatever favors Nolan asked for from Him. This was a group of people who spiritually have their arms wide open for God to work through them. Everything good that was accomplished was from God.