Thirty-two miles from Salina, Kansas, where I live, is a small town named Chapman. It’s claim to fame up until now has been that it is the hometown of astronaut Joe Engle. Then, on June 11, 2008, it was hit by a tornado, damaging or destroying 80% of the town. This week, the Extreme Home Makeover crew arrived on the scene to surprise one more family and come alongside a community that clearly needs a pick-me-up.
Before I go much further you need to know that I am a HUGE Home Makeover Fan. It is the only show that I specifically set time aside for. I usually cry but am always blessed by the stories of the families and the actions not only of the tv show, but of the community as a whole as well. So, when I heard that the show was coming to Chapman, I was all over it! I called a phone number numerous times that I had been given to be a volunteer but never heard back. Now I hear they have more volunteers than they even need. Though disappointed at first, it certainly didn’t mean I couldn’t venture into town and be a part of the incredible process. I went on the website and found the entire construction schedule and planned my life accordingly (not really, but close). So yesterday, I took a half a day off just to go to Chapman. I knew they were framing the house and thought it would be great to get pictures. Though I plan to go on the day they bring the family home, I do not know how close I will be able to get or what I will be able to see at that time.
As I left work, I felt a little guilty and a bit crazy. Who does this? In the midst of much to do at work however, I was convinced that a few hours in Chapman would fill my cup. To me, it was worth the sacrifice. Even so, I had no idea. What struck me more than anything was the extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary. An ordinary town ravaged by a tornado and a national tv show and film crew coming to help(extraordinary) . A tree with no branches (ordinary)but an American flag flying from its side (extraordinary). A bright white tent with a sign outside saying VIP/MEDIA CHECK IN (extraordinary) right beside Grandma and Grandpa sitting in lawn chairs in their driveway (ordinary) watching the new house emerge across the street (extraordinary). A grain elevator (ordinary) with a brightly colored banner painted on the side proclaiming that Chapman is the home of Joe Engle (extraordinary). The extraordinary in the midst of the ordinary. As I walked through the town, I was so touched by all that I saw.
It seemed that volunteers with their trademark blue t-shirts were everywhere. I even saw Page in her traditional bright pink jacket, hard hat and tool belt. There was much more going on than just the building of the house for one family. That’s about the time that the inspiration struck.
I thought about my own life, and the lives of those I know and love. Certainly there are extraordinary things that happen in our own lives, but they do not come clothed in blue shirts and white hard hats. They do not warrant national media coverage. If they did, perhaps we would be quicker to recognize them. They are extraordinary circumstances in the midst of our ordinary routines. We recognize the ones like weddings and babies. Other times, however, they may be much like the tree that I saw ravaged by the storm, but proudly flying the American flag. Simple lives, or complicated lives… broken or wounded hearts or bodies, all doing the best that we can…most wanting to remain optimistic, patriotic or at the very least, grateful.
Though miles from perfect our family (ordinary) has each taken the time to write down something we’re thankful for each day (extraordinary). When asked to make out Christmas wish lists (ordinary) our girls (ages 16 and almost 20) proclaimed that they have everything they need (extraordinary). All four of us have jobs (ordinary) in this economy (extraordinary). A trip to Chapman reminds us that the homes we live in (ordinary) are indeed extraordinary and that the neighbors that we wave to each day (ordinary) really will be there for us when we need them (extraordinary).
So what does your life look like? I encourage you to take a few minutes away from your routine and look around. You’ll begin to see blue shirts and white hard hats (ordinary AND extraordinary) everywhere. Hopefully, like me, you’ll return to your obligations refreshed and even more thankful for all that you have. Now that’s what I call a makeover!
Appreciating it All With You,