One of the most rewarding, exciting, and often times entertaining aspects of the adventure we are on has been the response we've gotten from people when they find out we're having quints. From family and good friends to casual acquaintances and complete strangers, the reactions are as varied as the life experiences that foster them and they always provide Casey and I with something to talk about at the end of the day.
The one reaction that has taken some getting used to, but is the most rewarding of all is the reaction of those who immediately roll up their sleeves and go to work and that is what this blog is really about. There is a small group of folks who mobilized and started the planning process the instant they heard the news. As Casey and I were dealing with the initial tidal wave of emotions and trying to make just a tiny bit of sense of it all, they were meeting, strategizing, appointing tasks, praying, rallying volunteers, praying some more, and loving on us every step of the way. As things have progressed, other sleeve-roller-uppers have jumped in the ring with the initial group and have truly become our everyday heroes and angels.
Once the initial shock wears off, the obligatory "wows!" and "oh my gods!!" have been exclaimed, and the inevitable question has been asked, "Have you seen that show, 'John and Kate Plus Eight'?," a person's heart really shines through and that's when you get to the good stuff. We get a lot of pep talks, "you know, God only gives a person what he can handle." We get a lot of compliments, "if anyone can handle this, it's you two." And truthfully we get a lot of dumbfounded, blank stares. The best part of it all is that you never know what you're going to get from the person, even if it's a good friend or family member! All of these little reactions and everyday encounters have been incredibly uplifting and have served our hearts well!
Do you know what it feels like to have a friend call to tell you that several folks got together the night before to plan your life and to organize a team to meet all of your current and future needs? Have you ever been cc'd on 30 or 40 emails that go around in a day between all of the people involved in putting together a care calendar for you to ensure that meals and other basic necessities are provided for you? Have you ever been the focus of an organized, focused contribution campaign? Have you ever had complete strangers cook a meal for you? Have you ever had people from across the nation send you baby clothes? Have you ever been told that you are the subject of a prayer meeting that reaches across the globe?
Well, Casey and I can answer "yes" to all of the above and let me just tell you that it is an amazing and amazingly humbling experience. Though I don't know if we'll ever get used to this sort of treatment, it has helped to realize that we actually have a responsibility to allow these folks to help out. The need is absolutely there, but even when it's been there in the past, human nature tells us to kindly pass on these offers and get through it on our own. The enormity of this situation has forced us to accept the help and at the same time has forced us to learn that denying the offer of help is denying God's ability to work in your life.
Sadly, I've done very little volunteer work in my life, but the few times I have I learned about a little known twist of reality that I wish everyone could experience for themselves. Our God designed our hearts in such a way that the volunteer, the giver, the one bringing help to the needy is equally if not more blessed than the one receiving the love. It's the craziest thing - it turns out that the old saying that it's better to give than receive is true!
I know they won't necessarily like this, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention some of these everyday heroes and angels by name so here goes: Dean and Emily Yeck - the driving force, publicists, contributions coordinators, moral supporters, reality checkers, whip crackers, baby namers, calorie coaches, and the list goes on...; Rick Landwehr - best webmaster in the universe; Wendi Landwehr - project manager extraordinaire who has helped organize the effort, has also cooked a lot of meals and helped out with Eliot and has provided lots of reality laughter along the way; Mark and Payton Merriman - gooooood cookin' and lots of love for Eliot; Dusten and Tricia Harrison - more gooooood cookin', principal agents of Salon Jones, and chauffer to the stars (the stars being Casey and the quints, of course!), Laurie Garrant - moral supporter, good laugh giver, and food calendar organizer.
I could go on for days listing all of the other folks who have chipped in to bring us meals, take care of Eliot, donate clothes and other stuff, do our dishes, bring Casey vanilla decaf lattes and gossip magazines, and on and on and on! And every ounce of effort by these folks has been done with a smile...you can literally feel the love pouring out of them!! I don't know how we'll ever repay a fraction of the attention we have received, but please know that we would not be where we are today without all of the helping hands and shining hearts of our everyday heroes and angels to carry us through. For this we are eternally grateful!!!!