Remember when I was preparing myself to receive an outpouring of love…boy howdy, did that love come! My dear friends, Tasha and Bob and their ten children, organized a whole army of other dear friends who swept into our home and yard and transformed it. They scrubbed and washed and organized and repaired. It was like one of those Extreme Home Makeover shows without the fancy sponsorships, television crew, and team of professionals.
In the space of eight short hours, they hung my bathroom door, fixed my dining table, fixed my beloved green table, repaired the back door, fixed the garage door, hung a rain gutter, and prepared the roof for a snow stop (Who knew there was such a thing! We just might be able to get in and out of our front door this year without having snow blocking the doorway!) They fixed the gaping hole in the deck, secured the deck banister so no one (especially me!) will plummet to their death, and repaired the deck stairs. They scrubbed out the fridge and freezer, cleaned out the pantry, washed every single canning jar and replaced them back on the top of the kitchen cupboards, cleaned out the inches of dust from said cupboard tops, and removed the ridiculous waste-spacing lights that people use when they put greenery up there instead of canning jars. Piles and piles of garbage were hauled off, trees trimmed, leaves raked, lawn mowed, and flower beds cleaned out. Our three bathrooms were DEEP cleaned – oh, my goodness, I had no idea they could even be that clean. Our messy school room was completely organized from top to bottom. The chandeliers were cleaned strand by strand, all the bookshelves dusted, and windows washed.
On top of all of this, they filled up our freezer with freezer meals, meats, and other goodies, our root cellar with potatoes, and our refrigerator with deliciousness. So. Much. Love.
I wish I had before pictures so you could see what a huge impact they made.
The newly repaired and pressure-washed deck. Isn’t it beautiful!
Dustin and Troy fixing the deck stairs. These two were energizer bunnies, going from project to project faster than I could think of more broken things.
Marie cleaning the lights. None of us are tall enough to get to those lights even when we stand on the table, so they are completely neglected and covered in dust most of the time.
One of my little math students cleaning out our scripture-holding bookcase, she did an excellent job – it has NEVER shined like it did when she was done with it!
Look how they transformed the yard! I’m not sure who worked outside since I never made it out there, but I think it was Kimberly, Dwayne, Cosette, Adam, and an army of youth.
Bob, the jolly man behind this whole project. I love him so, so much. He teased me all day and got me to the point I could look at him with a smile on my face instead of tears running down my cheeks.
Tasha will hate this picture of her, but it is just too picture-perfect of Bob’s antics to not post it. They were the brains behind this whole undertaking.
Madi washing hundreds of jars.
Keri and Dustin removing the ridiculous cabinet lights.
The lovely Vanessa cleaned out my kitchen cupboards which were stuffed with who knows what!
Jennifer tackled my disgusting bathroom…oh my goodness, the sparkles she created!
Liz may die that I put her hiney on the interwebs, but look at that pantry! Look at those cleaned out shelves. I kid-you not, those shelves have been a death trap for months. Every time we open the doors, there was a risk of being attacked on the head by falling jars, pasta, raisins, or herbs. Always hoped for herbs.
Near the end of our clean-up day, Liz took Annesley to a fundraiser for another friend of ours…a little baby with cancer. She brought her home all decked-out and happy as a clam. Way to multi-task Liz, fundraising carnivals AND pantry renovation AND growing a baby all at the same time! She also left us with a roast in the crock-pot that we thoroughly enjoyed late that night. I’ve never had a roast taste that good…it was amazing.
Three of my favorite boys laughing their heads off while they scrub the dirt off their arms from working outside.
Even the little ones worked. Thank you Mr. Levi!
Sometimes the little ones played.
And sometimes they ate.
Jenn washing windows, I can’t even imagine the muck she faced on this task…I fight mold in this house constantly…and I haven’t been fightly valiantly for quite some time! She faced it head-on and eradicated all the yucky black spots that build up around the windows and transformed the glass into clearness.
Since I spent much of the day crying, there is not a single good picture of me. My face is red and splotchy and I look like a beached whale in my chair. Jess kept me company wrapped up in my quilt…and I cried and tried to smile and laugh with my friends.
At one point, Kat brought our her completely addicting apple dip and I was able to stop crying long enough to get a few pieces out of Jessica’s hands before she snarfed it all down.
Keziah and Courtney stopped working long enough to paint their faces. They are SO silly…and SO fun.
And even though her face is painted, this is one of the few pictures I have of Keziah (in her WHOLE life!) where she is not making a crazy face, so I have to share it for posterity.
We didn’t get any pictures of Becky and Jennifer (the third Jennifer that was there that day…and my Jen, of the Jen, Kat, and Jessica gang) cleaning out my despicable fridge and freezer. Or of Amanda cleaning the upstairs bathroom that hasn’t been deep-cleaned since I broke my foot cleaning the ceiling last summer. Or Paula and Bonnie who washed laundry. Or any of the work done downstairs. Or Amy labeling all my canning jars. Or any of so many things. I basically laid in my chair and cried and sent my camera out on picture taking tours with various youth when my brain would turn on and remember I wanted to document the awesomeness.
I have been involved in and spearheaded lots of save-the-world projects. It is something I LOVE TO DO. And I have witnessed the power of people working together to raise money, put on events, spread love, and bless lives. I have been on the receiving end of lots and lots of kindness and generosity. So none of this is shockingly new to me. But I have never felt the power of community to transform hearts the way I felt it this day. This great outpouring of service done with such a beautiful spirit of love has changed me in a way I cannot describe. Throughout September my spirit was full of grief unspeakable. At times I wanted to shut myself off from the world. I could not bear to talk with people, which if you know me at all, you know talking with people is my life-blood. This day filled me with a deep hope…a hope that goodness will always triumph, that ordinary people can do and DO do extraordinary things, that my little family is known to God, and that while my garden of vegetables is hopelessly flawed, my garden of friends is overflowing with a most bounteous harvest.
At the end of the day, I laid in bed and sobbed. Deep, convulsing sobs. I poured out my heart to God in gratitude for this great kindness. Then I wrote a thank you letter to my friends…and many of them blessed me again by writing back.
To my Dear, Dear Friends,
Oh my goodness, our hearts are full of gratitude at the enormous outpouring of love and service you have blessed us with. As I have sat in my living room in the early morning hours these past few days, I have been overcome with feelings of deep, deep joy – joy in the work that has been done to take care of our home, joy in the relief this has given my dear overworked husband, joy, most of all, in our relationships with so many wonderful families. Thank you for teaching us the power of community. Thank you for showing us the impact a group of people committed to doing good can have. Thank you for taking us into your hearts and truly loving our little family.
To EVERY SINGLE person who came and helped and to those of you who sent your love, but were unable to attend, thank you. Thank you. Thank you. There are not sufficient words to express the feelings of my heart. Please know that you did far more than clean and fix a home. You helped repair a broken soul and infuse our entire family with hope.
To Kat and Jess – thank you for helping me get through the day. I couldn’t have done it without you. Truly. I needed to look in your eyes and see that I was safe…over and over and over.
To the Lamoreaux Family – Thank you for being willing to pray for our family and listen to the answers God sent you about what we needed. Thank you for insisting this project go forward even when I threw a fit and vetoed it. Thank you for having hearts full of joyful service.
Thank you for Being The Good In The World – you have taught me, once again, to Believe There is Good in the World…so much!
And as if their service wasn’t enough, they filled up my soul with love notes!
We want to say thank you so much for letting us come. You have touched all of our lives in such a deep way. Without you there would not be such a strong community willing to join together to do such amazing service.
I know it was probably so hard to let us come. In fact, when I got home that night and saw the whirlwind that we had left our own home in that morning, I thought “I would DIE if everyone came here!”. But I want to honestly say that I was impressed with your home considering the amazingly difficult health challenges you have had for so long.
Sure, there were some cleaning and repairs that needed to be done, but nothing out of the ordinary needs of a home. I straightened books on bookshelves and admired the great literature you have in your home. I picked up toys and my heart warmed as I observed the wholesome games and toys that you have thoughtfully chosen for your children’s development. We sorted through dress ups and I thought of the times I’ve come to your home and seen your children dressed up and enjoying their imaginative play. I vacuumed up some popcorn and thought of the times I’ve been with you enjoying popcorn and lots of laughter and happiness. I thought of how much time Courtney has spent with Keziah in your home and all the crazy fun memories they have. I remembered passover dinners, and classes and other great times you’ve orchestrated. And even without all the huge projects going on, you have a way of loving those around you, finding what their talents and strengths are, and lifting all of us.
We love you and appreciate the day we got to spend serving your family!
Today was amazing! None of it would have happened if you hadn’t spent the last 16-ish years building an amazing community of wholehearted compassionate powerful people. I am eternally grateful to be part of this community and to call you Friend. Bob-Tasha Lamoreaux thank you for organizing this! I keep spontaneously bursting into tears. My heart is so full.
We love, love, love you and your family Tracy! Thank you for impacting our lives and the lives of our children…and for allowing us to give back a little to you.
You are so sweet. It was our pleasure. Could not think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Honestly! You’re such an amazing family.
An amazing group of people that all love you, Tracy because you make a difference in the lives of others. What a great way to give back. You guys are all awesome! Wish I could have helped out too because you have made a difference in my life as well as my children’s lives.
Thanks for being so Christlike to us! Thanks for setting the example you do, and for allowing us to try to return a little of your service! You and your hubby deserve this and so much more! We love you! So many people love you!!!
I cried reading about all of the good that has been returned to you this last week. I cried because I couldn’t be there personally (but I sent Madison and Alex). How I wanted to be there to DO something in return for all that your family has done for us. I love the comments that Tasha made and I feel the EXACT same way. All the deep joy you felt is because in a way, you do so much for everyone else. You are just getting what you deserve: JOY in boundless amounts :) I am so glad that Richard was able to get some extra hands to help fix up your home because I know he works so hard for your family. What a blessing to have so many that love all of you and put their love to work. That is true wealth, the love of family and friends.
I love you, and thank you for all the times you spent driving my Madison with you to the traditional Conference trips, etc. You are a light and an example to me and my family that only gets brighter.
It has now been several weeks since this day of love and the feeling of being wrapped up in God’s arms is still with me. I am in the midst of trying to heal a pretty bad injury to my inguinal ligament and feel pretty discouraged by the condition of my physical body, but the light that filled my soul on this day of awesomeness has stayed with me and raised my spirits more than I can adequately describe.
p.s. That post title? Yes, it is from Wicked…because I knew you (all of the YOUS), I have been changed for good. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.