Folks, let me give it to you straight:

God is good.

So very, very good.

I am a wallower.  If things are crappy, I am naturally drawn to just sinking in up to my pits in the crap and the muck and the ick and just wallowing.  It’s not fun or pleasant, but there it is.  The flip side of that coin is that I can revel in the good like nobody’s business.  The trip home included numerous hours of blissful smiling on my part, blessed out of my mind at the amount of love poured over us while we were in CA.  People wanted to be with us, spend time with us, actually LIKED us and we ATE. IT. UP.

It was a pipeline of grace, straight from God.  I could almost hear his voice saying, “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it!  People like you!  Chin up, kiddo!”  So California folks with all of your sunshine and warmth and generosity – thank you for the love.

And then.  THEN –

We came home and there were actual cheers in the Suburban as the yard and house came into view.  The grass wasn’t a jungle!  The place looked welcoming! I brought in the first load and my whole soul smiled at the the cleanliness and orderliness of the living room and dining room.  Things smelled clean.  I came in a short time later and found Jac shaking his head.  “Those crazy kids.  Those crazy kids!”  I couldn’t tell which kids he meant until he demanded that I look at the kitchen floor.

The kitchen floor that never, ever looked clean.  The kitchen floor that had bubbled up because of water damage and then cracked and split, leaving a crater in the smack-dab center.  The kitchen floor that was peeling and stained and all around gross. THAT kitchen floor was gone and in it’s place was a brand-stinking shiny new one.

I couldn’t speak.  I laughed. The kids whooped.  I cried.  The kids scattered.

“They cleaned our rooms!”  “She fixed the screen!  It’s black now!” “Mom!  Come look at the toilet!”  “They. Sorted. Our. Legos.  All of them!”  “You should see our closet.  Your should see your closet!”

It was true.  For 24 hours we found joyful surprises.  The laundry room was clean.  Our curtains were washed.  I could eat out of the fridge – eat out of it! The pantry had been organized, the downstairs bathroom sterilized, counters cleared, shower scrubbed. (“Look at how shiny the faucet is!”)  The floors were slick under our feet and the sheets on the beds were crisp and clean.  The office, admittedly a disaster, was not just tidied but filed and organized and clean. The back yard was mowed and the branches piled high since November, were gone.

People, they bathed the dog.

We were blessed but that is an understatement.  There aren’t words to express the gift that this was.  The enemy lurked outside, peering in through the clean windows and hinted at my failure and the embarrassment of these friends having seen the worst of our crap.  But the blessing and the love was so big and so loud that it shut out that nagging, insecure voice and let me just revel.  And revel I did.

Randy – for organizing Operation Daniel Clean Up, I owe you some beer, peach cobbler and hours of youth office sprucing.  Thank you for everything, most especially loving us in spite of our hoarding tendencies.  Sorry about the asbestos . . . Rachel – 10,000 hugs for the W.O.R.K. you did.  My mom keeps shaking her head and saying, “That was a JOB!”  I love ya, sister.  Always have, always will.  Thank you for everything, most especially for loving Monday so well that she’s been depressed since our return.  Wilhelmi fam – I love that you guys operate on an all for one, one for all code.  Thank you for the many, many hours you spent here.  And to Jackie, Jeremy, Kyle, Elisa, Stacy, Bridget, and the others of Cor Jesu who helped – you guys are amazing.  We love you.  Thank you for loving us!

It took an army.  They were slightly bigger than this.  And with mops and hammers as weapons.