Thanks isn’t Enough

I know that I’m “late to the show” in thanking everyone who participated with TLC in handing out hundreds of baskets for Thanksgiving. Many have read the “Tribune Star’s” version of what transpired leading up to Tuesday’s events. However, it’s impossible for anyone that wasn’t in the “war zone” with us to describe the dedication, hard work, miracles, and Christ-like attitude that transpired through this last minute effort. This is my version of the “grace zone.”

Thanks to the Ninja shopping efforts of my magnificent wife (she hasn’t met a coupon challenge she couldn’t defy) we were able to fill 300 bags of blessings on a 150 person order, Sunday morning. I would like to thank a lot of people that kicked off 3 days of hustle and heart-felt service.

First, to the TLC congregation that embraced the idea of “serving on Sunday.” Instead of hearing a message, you became the message. Instead of preaching on the good Samaritan, you became the good Samaritan! You all are awesome sauce. I want to thank the church council that when I approached them with the idea – they were crazy enough to see Jesus in the idea. To the parents, thanks for not staying home. Instead, you showed your children that serving others is better “caught” than “taught.” I honor you for that. Thank you. I also want to thank our TLC body for not only serving, but starting an avalanche of giving on Sunday that became contagious over the next 3 days. Once again, you people are amazing.

Secondly, I want to thank our church for embracing the body of Christ. A special thanks goes out to Salt of the Earth Worship Centre for joining us on Sunday. It is always invigorating to serve with other tribes in our community. We were also blessed to partner with members of the body of Christ that were a blessing in the days to come. Thank You. To Maryland Community church and Vince McFarland who showed up at Walmart to purchase 100 more Turkeys to assist us down the homestretch. Your gifts made a resounding impact on the volunteers and families in need. Insert a Jesus “high-five” here.

Next, I would like to thank our last minute shopping team that made Monday night’s prep work possible. John and Roxie Simmons, Jerry and Mary Sue Morris, Brenda Long, and Robin Myers and Graham who relentlessly cleared the shelves of our local grocers – thanks for making Monday night possible. A special thank you to Walmart who gave us the best deal possible, every…time…we called.

To our Tuesday team of gladiators, thank you for being patient, persistent, and a unified team with the purpose of serving those in need. I know that there were many times that you had to smile, bite your tongue, and to serve the ungrateful to find the gems that were desperate for help.  To our registration team, you patiently asked each person to sign a sheet for a “raincheck” for their Turkeys without knowing we would receive any. That’s faith in action. Thanks to Elmer Pollard and Andrew Vincent who endured the cold and executed our parking strategy flawlessly. You were definitely champions that few noticed. Thanks to the “gatekeeper” we know as John Brant. Nobody will sneak in on his watch. 

A huge thanks goes out to our telephone champions that called hundreds of clients back to inform them of the good news – “your Turkey has arrived!” Thanks Maria Forsythe, Olivia Goulding and her team, Robin Myers, Sue Lytle, Roxie Simmons and Sheryl Minks for every call.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the extra efforts of many people. John and Roxie Simmons (Jxsyn, Reaghan, and Lotte), thanks for being such an intricate part of this operation. Your countless hours of service shined through during our mission. God has yet to reveal the great deeds he will do through your life but this was a great appetizer. Thanks to Jerry and Mary Sue Morris that endorsed the project from the very beginning with countless hours of service. We are blessed to have you as a part of our family and it’s a great joy serving along side of you. To Dale and Jeanie Lynch, thank you for looking for the “holes to fill” during the whole process. It’s such a blessing to find people that love to serve behind the scenes and enjoy every moment of it. Thank you. 

One of the blessings that was unexpected for me, personally, was meeting new people in the body of Christ. Jeanie Lynch’s son, Tony Farley, was one of those people. I would like to publicly thank Tony Farley for sacrificing his vacation with his family to serve hundreds of people with compassion and generosity. Your dedication to the mission inspires me to be a better giver and steward with what God has given me. Thank you for giving your organizational skills, your heart, and your resources when compassion’s voice was calling. The effects of your gifts created a memorial before God. I pray that we can do this again…with less stress.

Time constraints do not permit me to list everyone that had a part. Please forgive me. Special shout out to: the Tuckers, the Deevers, the Fleshers, the Douglas, the John’s, Jill McCormick, Ron Horndasch and many many more families that contributed from TLC and surrounding churches. Thanks to Gary Secrest who helped manage the countless boxes that were unpacked from the Turkeys and to my own Dad that volunteered his time from Indy. I still can’t believe he had the nerve to show up without Bismarck donuts. Pfft.

I think by now, everyone should understand that I’m proud of the body of Christ. To the community who randomly brought Turkeys by The Life Center – You ARE Awesome!  To my friends, Marvin Adams, and Tom Simmons that had people on standby to deliver Turkeys – IOU. To John Simmons and Wayne Burton that delivered several Turkeys at night to families that had no money or gas to pick them up. Next year, let’s call it: “Turkeys, who deliver Turkeys!” Rick and Brenda Conley, your example in our Food Pantry helped form the process of this ministry. Thank you for helping those behind the scenes with food when we our supply was gone. You are amazing.

To close this “thank you” letter up, I believe this story will sum up the “why” behind the mission:

In the closing hours (6:00pm) of Tuesday’s event a couple was found in the parking lot of TLC. They weren’t in the normal mode of transportation. James (last name hidden) had been pushing his sweetheart around in a shopping cart most of the afternoon from the old Glidden Furniture store. This is where they were notified that the pickup location would be. The couple was honoring their time slot of a 6pm pickup all day. The rest of the story is stated best by Graham Myers, who graciously sought out the couple to take them home. Here it in Graham’s own words from social media:

“I am thankful that I met James because he made me appreciate a lot in life. He is mentally and physically handicapped and he told me part of his story while I was driving him home. He showed up to get a Thanksgiving basket at the church this evening around 6. He was pushing a shopping cart that had his also handicapped sweetheart in it…he had been pushing it all day, because he was worried about her falling even though he walked with a very awkward and pronounced limp. His son is a Marine in California and he is so proud because his son is living his dream of becoming a Marine. James and his bride were high school sweethearts and had their son at the young age of 15. They gave him up so that he could be adopted many, many years ago. This couple had the privilege of meeting their son for the first time, just a few years ago. Their son, now with children of his own is living out his dream. James couldn’t be prouder of a son that he gave up. God has given this man a second chance to connect with his son and he couldn’t be more appreciative and proud of him. There was a lot more to his story, but I (Graham) am so thankful that I crossed paths with someone that has a rough life, but all he could talk about was his sweetheart and his son that he is proud of. It really brings life back into perspective.”

So I say to you, TLC family, the body of Christ, and all of those that championed the cause on the front-lines. Let’s do it again. Let’s make this the normal way of life to find the James’ of the world. To make a difference. To impact the hurting. To show what Jesus would do if He was here, because He is.

 

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