March 11, 2008

Extreme Makeover Meets the Real World

Each week on ABC’s hit show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, a family that’s struggling with overwhelming circumstances is selected to receive a brand new home that will help them overcome their troubles. It’s not just a renovation of the old home, but a brand new, state-of-the-art, beyond-your-wildest-dreams house!

As soon as the family is whisked off to a wonderful vacation spot, hundreds of volunteers arrive on the scene to begin a week of hard work. Construction professionals and good-hearted individuals work side by side to build, wire, roof, paint, decorate, landscape and more. I’m sure the excitement at the build site is electric. Plus, there is the added thrill of “Hollywood” as the show’s cameras roll. Local news crews descend on the scene. Police officers control the throngs of spectators who gather to gawk. At the end of the week, amid thousands of cheering people, the family shouts those famous words, “Bus driver, move that bus!” and a magnificent mini-mansion is revealed.

This past year, a family in our community received an unbelievable new home compliments of the hit show. The excitement was everywhere. Even my kids came home abuzz with tales of who knew the recipient family, whose dad was a police officer at the site and even (gasp!) who had actually met Ty Pennington!

Eventually life went back to normal in this otherwise quiet neighborhood.

Almost exactly one year later and literally right around the corner from this Extreme Makeover was another home—another family—and another overwhelming need. But this time there was no fanfare.

My friend, a single mother, had to sell her relative’s house after his recent passing. The home was badly rundown and the open house was scheduled in just two weeks. A call for help was sent out to her church family and soon dozens of volunteers—armed with toolboxes, yard tools and paint brushes—arrived to help. They hammered, sawed, spackled, painted, de-cluttered, repaired, decorated, vacuumed, dusted, raked, weeded, mulched and more! And when it was all done, it was glorious.

How do I know? Because I was there.

Being one of the last ones on the scene, I marveled at all that had been accomplished in such a short time. The house sparkled. I was filled with admiration for those who had selflessly given their time and joined together to do what seemed overwhelming, if not impossible. It was just as the Master Carpenter said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35)

As I worked outside, the Extreme Makeover house loomed in the distance as a startling counterpoint. Sure it’s spectacular, but it’s fantasy—a wood, shingle and glass lottery ticket. Our house was an example of an extreme home makeover—in the real world. This is what it looks like when we “love one another.” No cameras, no celebrities, no front page stories, no cheering crowds. Just love in the form of hard work, a helping hand and even a shoulder to cry on.

I know that our group of volunteers is special, but not unusual. Every day church families everywhere join together to do this very thing. We don’t do it for fame or recognition. We do it because that’s what the Bible tells us to do: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” (Galatians 6:10)

As I drove away that day, the newly-planted “For Sale” sign stood as a silent testimony to all that happened here and the fact that we, indeed, are better together.


Debbie said...

This is a beautiful example of the body of Christ rising to the occasion for the sake of a brother or sister in need. The most valuable gift we have to give in this world is our time. I pray God blesses all these people for giving their time and efforts to those in need. The rewards will not be recognized by Hollywood but by our Lord and Savior eternally. “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth”. 1 John 3:18. Thanks for sharing this Kelli may we all have more opportunities to serve and use our gifts that God has given us!

Love, Deb

danregan said...

Perfect example of not only WHAT we should be doing as part of our "walk," but also HOW we should do it. Not for us, but for Him. Our glory comes later.


Katherine said...

That's absolutely awesome! And soooo true! Just another example of storing the things we do on earth for treasure in heaven when we are not doing things to be seen and praised by man.

Excellent post Kelli!


Susie Merchant said...

This was truly a powerful example of God's blessings on both the family and the volunteers. It would have been an extreme hardship on the family and taken many months to accomplish what this group did in 14 short days. In addition to the dedicated hard work Kelli mentioned, they also ran errands and provided materials, meals, childcare, and plenty of prayers. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to be part of this uplifting effort by all.

Thanks for sharing this, Kelli.

Anonymous said...

You have a gift for writing and said it better than I ever could have. I am truly grateful to have been a part of this makeover and was also lucky enough to have marveled at the "before and after." The transformation was nothing short of amazing and spectacular. It is so much better to give than to receive and what a great message to share with family, friends and the world. Thanks for telling the story.
Allison Bressler