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Boxes, Windows and death by Rats (well, in my heart…)

Saturday.  Our big service project with Both Hands.  Little boys sleeping at grandparents’ house.  Maria, Andrew and I arrived at Annie’s house just before 9, we wanted to be early.

She has snacks and drinks for us.



“Even if you’re just able to clean the windows, and clear out these boxes, I’d be so happy…” Annie told us, we nodded, “Yeah, whatever you want!” Maria grinning too, nodding.



Just then our friends Joe and Jessica arrived, we indulged in some donuts, then the rest of the team got there and we broke up into teams, putting gloves on, hitting the boxes and windows hard.







I know what you’re thinking, who’s that fun young gal who is much too young to have 3.5 children.IMG_0023 IMG_0026

Maria and Julian discussing the topography and weather of their respective countries of birth.  “Hot,” and “Cold,” in summary.

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Just before 10am, we had finished both projects, and told Annie.  “Oh wow,” she said, “Ok, well…I guess, if you guys want, and have time, you could…”

“YES!!  That’s why we are here!”

SO, we cleaned out the chicken coop, drilled together some nesting boxes for the hens, re-did, fertilized and planted garden boxes, cleaned out the garage, cleaned up, picked avocados, hauled away 85 million tons of dump material, made friends with family of rats, hung Christmas decor—and seriously, literally had the best day ever.  It was pretty amazing, we were all on a joy-productivity-high on life.  There is major power in numbers, what we did in three hours would have taken one, or just Andrew and I, a year.

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Annie let us haul this junk away that had been sitting here since before they moved in, which is why we are all buff and ripped now.


Sam’s special Christmas decor that is heavy plywood, going up for the first time in a long time.



Sam and Julian.


Cleaning off his wheelchair that had been sitting for a long time.  More mentally difficult than anything else.





Here’s a shot of three projects at once; chicken coop, assembly line junk pile removal and garden beds.

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Nesting boxes that will hold hay!  Cozy chicken bums.

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Glamour shots



The front entrance and grand parlor of a family of rats.  I actually think I was about to give myself a heart attacked when they jumped into the trees and ran down the wires.  Jessica, Anna and I almost jumped in the pool to save ourselves.  Spiders, snakes, I’m fine, rats?  I can’t even….But, the demo must go on.


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We forgot to take a before shot, but imagine a 6 inch lining of saw dust and piles of boxes you couldn’t see over.


My camera doesn’t do that well with far away shots, but here is an idea:







Before:  (There are rows and rows of brick, rock, wood, tiles, cement pieces, etc under each piece of metal.)




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I don’t have a window before and after, but imagine thinking the glass is missing, like clean, pure air on everyone window all over the house–job well done.


Some of the couples were inspired by Annie’s chicken coop and took some of the left over junk to make coops of their own.  Spreading goodness, compassion and greening up the world all in one morning.

A family drove up at 12:30 after we posted the rest of the junk to craigslist.  They had a trailer and said they would take it all, even the cardboard boxes we had taped up, saving Annie money, and it seemed like it was really going to help that family too.

After we left, we felt so filled up, we really were able to get so much done.  We picked up our boys, who fell promptly asleep and we enjoyed our afternoon.  Andrew and I felt so refocused, “Why don’t we do this more often, we used to–before kids….”

But it was so good for Maria, too.  She learned, and talked and felt the weight of goodness that her hands were doing, the power in her ability to make good changes for other people.  That same day I found this article, which talks about the importance of prioritizing and creating opportunities to help others for your children, it was icing on the cake to ensure we were serving others like this more often, it’s just too good.


Our beautiful hostess, the Organizer, and the Lovely Fundraiser who with me made an idea and video to help us fundraise this project here.  These are some special, powerful ladies.



Thank you to everyone who came and gave up their Saturday morning to work on Annie’s house, you amazed us with your determination and joy!  What an honor to work alongside you.


Thank you to Annie for opening your home to us so we could ransack it and patch it up.

Thank you to Jessica for be the most amazing organizer to make it all possible!

Thank you to everyone who donated to our project, I wish you could see the house that you sponsored, the joy in everyone’s hearts.  Thank you for helping us bring our little girl home for good.  And…guess what!  We had last minute donations and we officially reached our matching grant!!  Can you believe it!?

And thank you to the family of rats for being willing to find a new residency and not killing me.

And thank you to Maria for your generosity and kindness to work hard, but also read hard for your sister.

And thank you to the Both Hands team, what a genius model for people to follow that impact so many!  We are all better for it.

And you, yes YOU!!  Thank you for reading, and caring and journeying with us.

To a world with more tangible love and less excuses, at least from us!



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  • teresa November 24, 2014, 6:24 pm

    You were blessed with a wonderful team of workers on Saturday. Love that working together you were all able to accomplish so much. Your post & pictures tell the story beautifully. Such precious encouragement for Annie & Julian. And deep satisfaction within for all who were able to serve. Praise the Lord that you were able to reach you matching grant goal! Steps closer to bringing your precious daughter home.

  • Kate November 24, 2014, 8:12 pm

    I love this concept so much! What a blessing for this family and for your family! I can’t wait to hear more updates as you get closer you bringing your littlest home. Praying for you guys!

  • Crystal November 24, 2014, 10:44 pm

    So much good news in one post! Yay!

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