My husband's new job is awesome in the fact that the owner challenges his employees to GIVE BACK. He even starts off the challenge with giving his employees money to give to others. If you ask me, there isn't many employers doing this these days. Especially in the hands on type of way this one does.
My husband shared with me a story from a fellow employee sharing his story of himself and his wife, Jen, on their journey to give back. I wanted to share this with you to show you how being aware of others around you can truly open your eyes to the hurt and struggles others are experiencing.
Going into the Christmas season, Jen and I had a plan and knew what we were going to do with the Giving Challenge cash and our personal donations.
Throughout the year, along with our in-laws, we had been helping a mother who is battling cancer, and her three children. They live in a “house” with roaches scurrying across their dirt floors, and little more than state assistance to get them by. Every time the mom is able to get a job, they lose their state aid, which barely makes it worthwhile. The plan was to help them as much as we could. That was the plan. I like plans. Then, on 11/21 at the company meeting, the match was rolled out. Jackpot! I worked out an “arrangement” with Scott (he's the owner) for the match so the family could be helped even more. Again, I like plans…
...and then the following Monday rolled around.
Soon after I arrived at the office, I got a call. It was Jen.
“The van won’t start.”
Ugh. The symptoms she described sounded a lot like the time the battery in our last minivan ended up having a dead cell and we were left stranded late at night in a Terre Haute McDonalds with two five year olds and a newborn. That vehicle was 5-1/2 years old. This one was 5-1/2 months old.
“Keep trying, and let me know if I need to come home to take the boys to school,” I said. Click.
About 30 minutes later, she called back.
“I managed to get it started, but something definitely doesn’t seem right.”
“Well, you should probably take it to Penske and have them check it out.”
“Ugh. I might try going to the new dealership up on 37. It’s closer, and I really don’t like going to Penske.”
We had always gone to Penske – since about 2003, I believe.
Fast-forward to that afternoon. At 1:45 PM, I started getting frantic texts from Jen. She was in the kids’ section of the waiting area at the new dealership.
Jen: I’m sitting at Honda and almost in tears. I’m sitting with a mom and her three kids. The husband has a brain tumor, they’re upside down on their trade-in, and can’t afford the used 2007 minivan they’re looking at.
Jen: They have 5, 4, 1, and are pregnant and due in March with number 4
Jen: I am so sad that I can’t just write them a check
Me: Would 500 make difference?
Jen: I don’t know. It sounds like thousands :( I’m going to ask if they could use our crib
Me: Could they use the changing table too?
Jen: I’m going to ask. And I’m going to ask about the money too
Jen: There’s a reason why we are here with them
Jen: Do you have the 500 cash?
Me: It’s at home. I can go get it.
Jen: Let me talk first. He is medically retired from military […] I’ll let you know.
Jen: He has gone two years longer than expected but is having seizures again
Jen: He can’t reason and is losing inhibitions. Tumor too close to stuff to operate
[Way too much time goes by]
Jen: Please go get the 500!!! :)
Jen: Or stop by bank!!!
Me: What made up your mind?
Jen: THEY did!!! Please hurry!!
While the husband had gone to negotiate with the salesperson, his wife felt the need to open up to Jen, and Jen quickly found out the strength and faith of this family.
The husband was deployed with the Army in 2009 when he suffered a seizure. They discovered a brain tumor in his frontal lobe the size of a fist. They discharged him, and he had partial removal of the tumor, radiation, and chemo. The weekend before coming to the dealership (this is almost 4 years later), he had his first seizure since surgery and, as a result, had to give up driving.
Knowing that they were needing a larger vehicle with their 4th child on the way, they were at the dealership to trade both their cars for a used minivan.
He came back into the room to explain to his wife that they were upside down on both their cars and couldn’t get the van without paying more money than anticipated. With his tumor where it is, his ability to verbalize this information was compromised. He was very frustrated, and they were both near tears. They prayed about the situation. Neither one of them wanted to go against God’s path for them.
Jen was touched by their faith and commitment to each other and to Christ, despite their unfathomable circumstances, and felt the Spirit move her to help this family. She texted me, and I was able to drive over and meet Meagan, Jeremy, and their kids. We gave them the Giving Challenge $500, some additional money I pulled from our safe, and baby furniture that his wife mentioned they needed.
We could tell that they didn’t want to accept our help but humbly did with deep gratitude. We didn’t know it until afterwards, but $500 was the exact amount they needed to buy the van. And the rest was to be used for medical bills and other expenses for their diabetic and autistic child. Jeremy’s tumor is now inoperable, as it’s too close to a major artery. It’s only a matter of time before he meets the Lord, but this isn’t stopping this family from following the call of becoming pastors and moving toward being missionaries.
We stopped by their house this past weekend to drop off the baby furniture, and learned that Jeremy had been experiencing partial seizures over the last few days. In spite of all of this, their faith remains amazing and inspiring, and has touched us in a way we could never have understood had we not been led to meet them personally.
And our minivan? There was nothing wrong - everything checked out fine. And that baby furniture? Just the night before, we had decided it was time to get rid of our crib and changing table, and to list it on the Facebook selling site the next day (that Monday).
What started out as a normal day full of activities was turned into a day completely planned by God. And His plan was way better than ours!
In the end, with the Giving Challenge cash, our contributions, and the match, two families were helped. We have been blessed in this experience this year.
It’s amazing what the Lord does for those who seek to do His will!