This post is not and updated about Sandlot or all that we are trying to do - it is about how God works and puts us in places we need to be to OPEN OUR EYES and really SEE . I am blessed that he does this with my family on a weekly basis but sometimes HE really makes me stop on a dime and WAKE UP .
I often tell people this is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life but it is the most rewarding .
We are guided to families all the time to " WALK BESIDE THEM " in their path and to do what we can to be that VILLAGE we always talk about . So far we are working with close to 10 families and it is incredible . So while doing this we create events and activities to spend time with as many as we can along with our Sandlot Nation . Everything we do has been based on growing these families faith and relationships from dinners here , basketball games , sponsoring other kids for basketball this season , tutoring. mentoring / counseling , taking out in the woods , working on other folks projects .
I am sitting here now listening to Christmas music with the family trying to get our house back in order and The Lord just slammed my heart . When he does this I have to share .
We have adopted a young lady who lives in Nashville who is a freshman at Piedmont College . Her and her family were introduced to us by part of our family who moved to Tenn a couple of years ago and we are so blessed to have them in our lives . Hannah has finished her semester and after talking with her mom we offered to meet them half way yesterday in Knoxville to switch out and they would take her home . Rather than just driving out and turning around I wanted to take the family and anyone else who wanted to go to show them about giving and being the hands and feet of God .
I have a wonderful family who I consider dear friends and also a mentor in Don and Denise Hall and their children Eric and Stacy and kids . Their are always certian folks who come in your life that really make an impact not only by their words but their deep devotion and faith towards others . Don and Denise have spent countless hours and years volunteering for Samaritans Purse and I saw on Facebook that Don was in Gatlinburg , Tenn . assisting the fire disaster that burned so many homes and businesses .
I called Don and asked him if we could come down and bring a group to see the operation and also allow not only my kids but another kid to experience what God wants them to learn by bringing them. We made it to his operations HQ around 1:20 pm yesterday and even before we got there noticed the devastation on what fire can do - hit this building and not this one , jump one ridge and completely turn the next one into ashes . The HQ is set up in a Baptist Church parking lot and in the back of tis lot you can see the main sanctuary but in front of the church was concrete sections that used to be walls of the youth house , burned chairs still arranged in a semi circle 5 deep facing the front of what use to be a classroom. There were two young men in work outfits, masks and gloves gently removing things and separating burnt metal in one pile , ashes in another among other piles . There was a wheel barrow with a 2x2 wooden frame with a type of chicken wire in the bottom - this is used for sifting ash piles . I didnt think much about it but then it hit me shortly after while Don was showing us around .
On one of the 3 to four foot column of burnt concrete blocks was a burnt outline of a cross . Don asked me to look at it and then explained that when he asked the pastor of the church what used to hang on that wall the pastor told him he knew what the upright part was but the arms or the cross were not there . For most Im sure there would be chills but for me it was another realization of God being there .
I know I wanted the kids we took to see and experience this but yesterday was also as much for me and it just hit about 30 minutes ago and ill tell u why in a bit .
While watching these volunteers going through the remains of this building I asked Don wouldn't it be easier to take a bobcat and use the fork to grab what you can and shake it out to separate the large stuff and then pile it up or put it in dumpsters ? Would nt it be more efficient ?
Don stopped faced me and said " We are not about efficiency !!! " we are about the hands and feet of God !! - I knew he was serious and at that moment was hoping I didnt offend him with my question and Don being Don very calmly and with so much heart explained their purpose of they are they to save what they can and to be able to minister to the family and people effected by what has just happened to them .
He then told me a story about one family. Don is a volunteer coordinator and also asses each house or project to line up volunteers , counselors, pastors and equipment then sets the job in place .
This story is not exact but it is as close as i can remember what he said from my memory .
A father and son were away from their house doing something and the wife and two daughters were at home . The wife called the husband in fear saying they were trapped between two fired closing in on the house . Nothing was able to be done and the father and son would not get to the house . The wife and two daughters passed away in their home . When the pastors , crews and Don were able to get into the house the father and son were there . The crews started gently sifting through the ashes and in one of the 2x2 sifting boxes was a coffee mug handle with the words " I Love You Mommy !"
This was part of a mug her daughters had given her. The husband held it so tight .
These volunteers had gone into a place and saved the handle of a coffee mug. Something this father will treasure for the rest of his life and also his sons.
Driving has always been a time of peace and reflection for me and when we left the church parking lot we drove through Gatlinburg and headed towards Cherokee and Maggie Valley to go through the mountains to head home. We stopped at small pull overs to take a look at the mountains and views and it was all right before sunset . We saw signs of the fires for probably 30 miles along with the other sign of Gods beauty in the icicles hanging from the rocks by the road and the rolling hills for miles and miles when were on top . I thought about what we had just experienced but it didnt really hit me until just a little bit before I starting writing this blog . My thoughts coming home were of the families who had been effected , the families we have been involved with, those we have not even met yet , the schedule of the next coupe of weeks and even the upcoming season in spring and all we still need to do . Other thoughts were of Christmas and how we were going to take care of our family and families this season , bills and all the other stuff we allow into our heads .
This morning I woke up knowing it was time to get the house back in order , so much stuff to do around here cause it backs up so easy with how much we do outside the home . It got the better of me this morning and my stress level was elevated in trying to find things that should be where they should be but were not to do what was needed to be done. This also causes other things to snowball and once the snowball got big enough and I wanted to snap I heard the Christmas music over the tv that Shelby had turned on and I immediately had to go outside and just cry. Yep - it hit that hard . I am upset cause the rooms arent clean, some of the laundry isnt put up and tired of always having the house a mess and we need to do even more to keep up and BANG - like a bullet to the heart the emotions broke through the exit wound and I cried .
Not 18 hours before I had heard of a man who stood on the yard of what used to be his house with his son by his hand and he was holding a coffee mug handle . This same man who would give everything he owned to be able to tell his daughter to clean her room , to have his wife turn on the tv to Christmas music, to do anything of the things that I did when I woke up this morning. A man, who while I am worried about things for this season for my kids would give anything to see his girls and son in a Christmas play in one of the classrooms of the youth house that no longer sat there with his wife sitting beside him holding her hand .
This Christmas will be what it should be - celebrating the birth of our Jesus Christ and the blessings and sacrifice of his life for me and my family . It will be about my family and making sure each of them and all of you know that they and yall are loved .
We have two weeks until Christmas , please make sure you spend time with those you love and let your family and friends know how blessed you are for them . Hug them, hold them , celebrate this season by getting together with them and cherishing that time .
So from My Family to Yours - Merry Christmas and We Love yall,
Coach Mike, Shelby, Michaela and Jordan