Life Moves Fast

Yep, the title of this blog certainly describes our lives right now. It seems like just yesterday we moved to Memphis. Come to think of it, it was only January!! Since then we’ve had job changes, made new friends, explored the city and purchased a new home!

So in just about 6 months our lives have pretty much never stopped moving. I accepted the job in early January, in three weeks time I was down here beginning my work.

In May, Scott accepted a job at International Paper here in Memphis. So he made the transition back into the office. He’d previously been working from home for 18+ months. It is taking a bit of getting used to for both us. Him having a regular commute to work. Me not having someone home all the time. Yes, he worked while he was home, but it was very convenient to have him home. I also saw him a lot more.

But his job is going great! And he is enjoying being back in the office.

My job is going well, though it’s been busy and hasn’t seemed to slow down much at all! I’ve been a traveling machine. Started with the NCAA tournament, then the White House and finally Moore, Oklahoma after the tornado tore through. You can read about those experience in previous blogs.

It’s been an absolute blessing to be back in a station and job that I have a renewed passion for again! Seriously, I feel like God has put me exactly where I’m supposed to be right now. Though I wonder what he has in store for Scott and I in the future, for the first time in a long time I TRUST that I’m in the right place, for the right reasons. Excited to see what doors are opened and where God calls me next.

We’ve also gotten involved in the Catholic Young Adult ministry here in Memphis. It’s been a great way to connect with fellow Catholics and I think it’s strengthened our faith together!

Not to bury the lead here but WE BOUGHT A CONDO. And move into our first home in a week. That’s super stressful but exciting. Closing and preparing to move again is a lot of work BUT we are exciting to call a place HOME and known that we’ll be there for awhile. It’s right off South Main Street in the arts district of downtown Memphis. A lot going on and a lot of walkable attractions. We also feel like we can expand in the condo. Yes, we can start our family. But not for awhile. Just nice to know we have a place. 🙂

So there’s a quick Lauren and Scott update…life is moving fast. It’s crazy but it’s a fun adventure. And we’re not doing it alone.

Here’s to more of life! And more updates about our adventures in Memphis and beyond.

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Ray: A Man, A Dog, A Walker, A Home

Sometimes you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into…but when you’re already in…you know it’s worth it.

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This afternoon I got into Sarah Petschonek’s car, with the intention to help furnish an apartment for a homeless man. I didn’t know much about what I was getting into. In fact, I said yes because my friend, Katie Foster, needed a few volunteers to help move furniture. I said yes because I had the day off and I have a bit of a passion for helping the homeless. But I honestly didn’t know that helping with this project would have such an impact on me.

Sarah and I drove into south Memphis, with really no idea what we were getting in to. We met Katie and Alicia at an apartment complex. The one bedroom apartment was empty and waiting to be filled with furniture and love. We helped a man from the Salvation Army unload a kitchen table, chairs, a dresser and a box spring and mattress set. It was really just the beginning of a transformation from apartment into home.

Symbolically, we all sat at the kitchen table, planning out our day. Checking off items on a list, wondering how we would stretch $500 to fill the entire apartment. After a few minutes of discussion we ventured out to Habitat’s Restore. On our way there we passed a man walking across the street. He had a walker and a dog. I remembered him well because I had never seen this kind of walker and his dog was really cute.

At the time I thought I’d never see him again.

We arrived at ReStore with the mission to find a couch. After a few hours we found a couch, entertainment center and several household items. Thankfully there was a Goodwill down the way. In under $200 we found a fair amount of items to cross off our list.

Before I knew it, it was after 2:15. We had a lot of work left to do. So we divided. Sarah and I stopped to pick up lunch for everyone and Alicia and Katie went to Big Lots. We met back at the apartment shortly after 3:30. Then the real work began. We unpacked, loaded, decorated, furnished, made the bed, installed and moved everything around the apartment. Once empty, it was now taking shape into a home, for a man we had yet to meet.

Just before 5:00 he came through the door, Ray was his name. Ray paused looked around and said “thank you, god bless you.” Water filled his eyes, tears ran down his cheeks. Without even taking a look at the details he was happy to be home. We would later learn the long gray bearded man was a war veteran. Worn hands and all, he’d been living under a bridge nearby. In fact, he woke up their this morning. His walker stayed with him but so did his dog. Whitey they named him, first as a joke but it stuck. Whitey had been by his side for four years now. Four years, at least, he’d been living under that bridge.

By the way, Ray was the same man we’d passed on our way to ReStore. The man I’d seen once before. Passed by without think I might be furnishing his future home. He was the same man many of us have passed. Many of us have ridden under his bridge. We’ve probably seen him before but never noticed that he too was a person.

Today I saw a person, a person who has been through so much, yet put so much in perspective for me.

Tonight Ray has a home. A simple couch we picked out for him. A bed that was donated. New sheets he probably hasn’t felt for years. Air conditioning, a fridge full of food and a locked door. He has a living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. A place to call home. Something many of us take for-granted everyday. I can’t imagine what was going through his mind when he turned that knob and walked through the door. I can’t imagine what he’s thinking tonight. Quite frankly, I can’t imagine what life was like for him before tonight.

But I haven’t stopped thinking about him since I left his apartment this evening. I’ve told almost everyone about him since. And I wonder what he’s doing tonight. I wonder what he’ll do tomorrow. And the days to come. I worry about him. And I pray that he will get back on his feet again. That he will feel at home and take pride in his new space.

This morning he woke up under a bridge, with nothing but the clothes on his back, a green backpack, his walker and his dog.

Tonight he goes to bed with so much more. And he doesn’t even know it, but he did so much more for me today, then I will ever do for him.

NOTE: All of this was made possible thanks to the Community Alliance for the Homeless in Memphis. It’s a part of the nationwide program, 100,000 Homes. Both work to fight homelessness. Both are HUGE reasons why people like Ray get a chance to have a home and get back on their feet.

STAY TUNED: there will be a short documentary on this day. It may tell the story better than any words I have written. But I needed and wanted to get my thoughts out tonight. Because I can’t stop thinking about the xpereince I had today.