If you've never heard of SERVOLUTION, you should check out the website to see what it's all about.
Our church has teamed up with Healing Place Church among hundreds of other churches who really have a desire to reach our city, our country, our nation through Serving Others!
There's something magical that happens when you push the pause button on your crazy hectic life to focus on someone else and their world. Some of you have read past posts where I talk about my family. I shared the following story with Pastor Dino on the Servolution site and wanted to share it with you also!
I truly believe God rewards every single person involved in Servolution, both volunteers and the communities they touch. Volunteers walk away with internal satisfaction of helping someone else with no strings attached, and those they reach walk away feeling a little more hopeful about the world they live in.
I felt God would open the eyes of my heart to truly see and feel how my awesome church would impact our city, but I never conceived it would bring such a miracle to me personally.
I'm a grown-up. I'm a wife. I'm a mom. I'm college educated. I grew up in the same church my whole life with an extremely close and fully intact family of parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, who made it a point to have Sunday dinner together. Every Sunday. All of us.
My ex-Marine Corp dad spent most of my life being truthful about his childhood of living in an abusive home, turning to drugs as a teenager, and subsequently praying for God to heal him. God answered that 19 year old kid's prayer on a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean headed for the Vietnam War. Because of that encounter, I lived a life with continuous drilling about how bad drugs and alcohol were.
My parents along with my brothers, grew a very successful business, took multiple trips around the world and spoiled my 2 sweet babies. Understanding that brief history about my family, makes the pain and devastation I've felt over the events of the last 5 years that much harder to comprehend.
Following my dad's back surgery when my daughter was an infant, both my parents slowly became addicted to prescription drugs. The hid it well for years. Maybe because even they didn't understand the power and disguise of how addiction sneaks upon you so easily. Their 5 year secret came rushing out when my dad had a heart attack one day in early 2004 from trying cocaine for the first time just day before.
My mom begged me not to be upset with her as she later confessed she had prayed on the way to the hospital for God to do something bad to her. She knew my dad would gain a new awakening and strength as he did some 31 years before and not leave the hospital until God had healed him. She became stricken with fear at the thought of not being able to quit on her own while living on the "outside" with no health insurance (because they had lost their business at this point) while knowing my dad could seek help at the Veteran's Hospital. Making matters worse, they had secretly been living with no electricity for 2 weeks.
To get to the point and make this long story a bit shorter, they both went into rehab in 2 different hospitals on either side of the city and stayed for over a month each. A month after leaving the hospital, my mother relapsed and died in my grandparents bathroom.
I was 27. I didn't grow up in world of first hand drug knowledge. I was naive like that. I had exactly 4 months to process everything that had just happened. The possibility of death never once entered my mind. The possibility that my mothers' death might throw my father into a deeper, guilt-ridden, twisted relationship with the very drug that killed the only woman he had known since meeting at a mini-golf haven at the ages of 14 and 17, was inconceivable to my broken heart.
My world changed that day. I didn't just lose my mom. I was 27, but losing a parent made me instantly feel like I was 9 years old again. I felt lost in the world. I felt alone. I felt I had lost my whole family. Instead of bringing us closer, it shamed us. My 2 younger brothers knew my dad instantly turned back to drugs because the depression and guilt would have killed him within a week. Even though I was the oldest, I was the only girl. They sheltered many things from me. The grew hatred for my dad. My baby brother who was 21, turned away from God completely. My other brother who was 25, turned to alcohol and distanced himself from our family and from reality. Over the next 4 years I had very little contact with my dad and my brothers. My dad went into rehab 3 more times before a judge finally ordered a mandatory 1 year program that finally seemed to get through to him.
He was in the home stretch of his recovery last year when our 7 Days of Servolution began. It had been months and months since we had spoken. I missed him terribly. The Life Church had a huge weekend of serving planned. My emotions were on a roller coaster the whole day as I prayed that God would help me keep my emotions in check while passing out water and care packages downtown to the homeless with my now 11 and 7 year old big kids who had no idea the true reality of where their Poppy had been since their NaNa died.
They didn't know their clean cut ruggedly handsome grandfather had possibly been homeless or sleeping in drug infested abandoned houses at some of his lowest points. They didn't know how terrified I was the whole night I would turn a corner with bottle in hand only to see my sweet daddy's face.
Our leader, Johnny, knew nothing of my family history. He had no idea that I watched him that night with tears and admiration as he sat for what seemed an hour in the park with someone who was materially a world apart his own life. But for that moment, while they chatted about nothing and everything, they were equal. I couldn't hear what they talked about. It didn't matter. I looked at the man with dirty clothes and a hole in his left sneaker sitting next to Johnny. For that moment he wasn't thinking about the growls in his stomach or where he would lay his head for the evening. They were just two friends sitting in the park together enjoying the night air and the good conversation. I smiled, thanked God and instantly felt peace the whole night.
While the kids and I were walking back to the car and my son was excitedly going over and over the number of bottled waters he had given out, my phone rang. I instantly recognized the familiar words that once made the little girl in me, feel so secure and protected. "Hi Sweetie, This Is Your Daddy." At that moment I was no longer a 32 year wife and mom. I was that 9 year old girl again.
I explained what the kids and I were doing and what we planned to do the next day of Servolution. He went on to explain that he had become friends with a woman whose parents attended the same church as me. They had invited their daughter to the exact same community center we would be at. He was calling to say he was excited about seeing us but wanted to let me know so I wouldn't be shocked or upset.
I can't explain my emotions as I watched my dad pick up trash in the neighborhood. I was overwhelmed with peace as he took my son by the hand and crossed the busy street. In that moment God showed me the dad He had given me so many years before. We didn't become instant BFF's. We both have a lot of healing and growing yet. I understand now that God uses so many avenues to open new doors, new eyes, new hearts.
Every single person we help through Servolution has a family somewhere that probably thinks about them, prays for them, misses them, loves them. Everytime we put on our red shirts, we are welding broken bridges with little metal pieces of hope. I'm at peace now with my dad and our new life. That opens me up to be able to give 100% of myself to every person I meet on my journey.
My dad and I don't talk or see each other everyday or every month. But we made an agreement to think about each other everyday at 5pm. So now, everyday (almost never at 5 o'clock) I receive a text. And everyday it says the same thing: "Hey Sweetie, You Know It's 5:00 Somewhere And I'm Thinking About You and Love You" That lets me know he's alive, coherent, and still has the same phone. And that's enough for me!
Thank You Pastor Dino. Thank You Pastor John. Thank You Johnny.
THANK YOU GOD!!!