Last night after Glen got home, he called me, saying, "I'm can't believe I'm getting ready to tell you this but...." The front flower bed had been completely re-landscaped---shrubs and bushes pulled, flowers and plants put in, plastic down and mulch (or pebbles--can't tell from the pics), too. The gutters were fixed, the trees cut back so that no branches were on the roof. The back yard held more surprises: powerwashed deck, new swingset for the girls and new double seat swing for adults, overgrowth on the other side of the fence by the creek completely cleared, bushes pruned.
Our team of lanscaping angels included 16 people from our church who just wanted to do something special for us. The choir collected money, and a professional landscraper from church gave materials at cost (and they think a lot more than that).
We are so overwhelmed. There is no way that we can ever pay it back (we are NOT landscapers), but we've determined that whenever we have the chance we will "Pay it forward." So many times, I'm guilty of telling someone to let me know what I can do rather than jumping in and helping where I see a need. Lesson learned--no one likes to ask for help, but appreciates it beyond words when something gets done.
For those of you who don't know me, you may think that I'd get upset at someone coming and doing a major project like that without my ok or imput. NEVER FEAR! We've been trying to figure out what in the world we should do with our yard. Every year we say that this is the year, but we never do it because we don't know where to start or what to do with it. This year our major project was getting new carpet in the house, so we'd decided that next year, we'd just call in a professional to spruce it up. I hated the bushes. I didn't enjoy sitting out with the girls while they were playing because I didn't like looking at all my shortcomings. What a wonderful gift. Janet (my pastor's wife) knew all this from a conversation we had once when she dropped off her little girl to play, and boy, did she take it and run with it! She had originally planned to just bring Pastor over to work on it together, but in the end the ideas kept coming and more and more people got involved. One new guy from church enjoys community projects and wanted to be involved--and he was a God-send. His job in college was to put together swingsets, etc, when people bought them from the store he worked in. Rather than taking him all day, like the reviews for the swingset suggested it might take (though the end result was worth it, according to consumers), it took him an hour and a half by himself.
What a witness to the community, too. We've struggled with building relationships with our neighbors. We've taken cookies, tried to be as friendly as possible, but people have their own lives that were established before we moved in, and it's been hard to build any bridges. Alot of the neighbors stood out and watched the action. The neighbor across the street kept remarking about the pastor mowing the yard--"You're sure he's the pastor? A pastor mowing someone's yard???" He ended up having another guy from our church work on his carburator, and in the end, he was invited to church. None of these neighbors knew that there were problems with our precious baby, so I'm interested to see if they show any interest again when we get home.
Other people have taken so much time out to take care of our kids--we've gotten so many offers! Our SS class is bringing meals when we come home from the hospital. Lisa Bryant brought a video camera, and the class pitched in with money towards that! (I'm telling you what, we're spoiled rotten!) And though this landscaping project doesn't seem like it's connected to Maddy's birth, it is...probably more than they even knew. We've been trying to slowly get our house ready for resale. We've outgrown it, especially now that wheelchairs will be an issue. We are hoping to find something more suitable starting in a couple years from now. Landscaping was one thing that we knew would make a difference, and was on our list. Isn't that amazing, that they pinpointed something that, though it may seem like something that's not an absolute necessity (more of a fun gift), it's somthing that will help us on our journey with Maddy.
Special thanks to the choir for passing the hat for money, to Janet Leeder for brainstorming and getting other people invovled. And to all the landscaping heroes: Mark Miller (professional landscaper), Jed and Alyssa, Pat and Jim Hiatt, Danny Bryant, Jeff Reed, Andy Carpenter, Joyce Ayers, David Blachly, Pastor Leeder, Tori and Barry Brantly, James (?) and Kevin Cox. Wow...thanks so much for your time and expertise, your sweat and hard work! We love you and we feel so loved and cared for.