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Family of The Month - Part V

Updated: Mar 26

Can’t Work on Sundays - time to rebuild.

Laurie and I met Mike when we moved to the Lake of the Ozarks in October 1998.

The one and only time Mike ran a Handyman for Hire ad in the local newspaper, the owner of the house we were renting hired Mike to do some repair work. That’s how we met. I told Laurie after he left that day I really liked Mike and wanted to get to know him better.

We had moved to the lake to start a pressure washing business, so our paths crossed throughout the year and at the monthly Better Business Bureau Meet and Greets. We had dinner at each other’s homes over the next few years and got to know them fairly well.

Mike’s dad was a builder which is how he learned the trade. His father always told him “If the sun is shining and you aren’t working to support his family, you're not doing your job.” I used to joke that if the sun didn’t come up early enough, Mike brought lights. If it set too early, Mike brought lights. He worked 7 days a week by himself.

Mike built high-end spec-homes singlehandedly. He was making good money, lived in a big house on the lake, had lots of “toys” and collectables. He was living the good life. But he was also beginning to question just what the good life was supposed to look and feel like. He was making a lot of money but wasn’t happy anymore.

One day he finished a concrete pour earlier than expected. His wife had mentioned that their son was going to need some new shoes for the start of the new school year. Mike thought he’d surprise her and picked up some shoes on his way home. He was so proud of himself - until she opened the box. She look at him and sighed, “Oh, Mike, he hasn’t worn shoes this size for two years.” Mike realized his son was growing up without him.

On May 4, 2003, our house was leveled by an F-4 tornado. It even took our trees. You can read about that here The day after the tornado Mike came out to survey the damage while some friends took me into town to sign up for assistance at the Red Cross Emergency Station. As Laurie & Mike walked the property, he told her he would rebuild our house when we were ready. Looking around he said, “You must be devastated, you’ve lost EVERYTHING!” Laurie replied, “It’s just stuff. It can be replaced.” He was a little surprised at her lack of concern over everything we lost. Mike told us later that when he got home, he told his wife “Those people must be crazy, they just lost everything, and they don’t care!” He was beginning to wonder a bit about our sanity.

Mike started rebuilding the house in July. The insurance company told us as long as we didn’t change the square footage of the house, we could do whatever we wanted within the footprint of the foundation. We asked Mike to put it back just the way it had been inside before the tornado but we wanted a longer porch and would he add a couple of dormers. You can see the result below. We told him I would help him with the house, but we didn’t want him to work on it on Sundays. We said we hoped he would spend that time with his family. We also invited him to church. He took that to heart and showed up the very next Sunday. He was influenced, he said, by how we acted throughout the 6 months it took to rebuild the house and the long discussions we had during that time. Mike finished our house, and we move in the day before Thanksgiving. What a gift that was. We had so much to be thankful for.

Four months later Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” was released. Our church bought a block of tickets to hand out, so we asked Mike and his wife to attend the movie with us. Afterwards, they asked if we would come to their house to talk. That evening they asked us a lot of questions, and we again explained what we believed, why we believed it, and what an amazing thing it was how God used Mike in our lives.

Sometime later Mike sold his big house on the lake and downsized. They started attending church regularly. And in 2008 Mike got baptized in the Lake.

Was it worth it to go through a tornado, and see our friend become a brother in Christ??? You bet! The tornado was going to happen anyway, but how God used the aftermath to accomplish His purpose is an amazing story! Perhaps the most amazing God story to come out of the tornado.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

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