"A DYKE WITH A SERVANT'S HEART!"
We have received your letter and Mr. ****** would LOVE to participate in your “Chop My Locks Incentive” He is currently out of town until next week, but would like for you to call the office and set up a time to meet with him next week to pick up a check. We are both humbled and excited to be chosen to be a part of this Rebecca. Thank You SO much for choosing our business as one to be included in such an AMAZING event.”
To COMPLETELY understand everything in ALL its entirety, just as we usually do, WE HAVE to go back. This time we have to go WAY back. Specifically to the days that are NOW known as The Artic Outbreak Days when Google’d.
To others, like my family and I, it is known as a time that changed, shaped, molded, and paved the entire way for each of us as we know it today. It is a time that we don’t like to dwell on, one that is never far from our minds, and yet something we will all NEVER ever forget.
January 20th, 1994 – It was -36 below with a windchill of -60; and for those of you reading this that remember that very year, the BITTER cold from that night still aches in all of our bones. Some of you reading this remember that very date like it was yesterday, likely because you were First Responders on scene to what was left of our family home in the middle of the night, that night.
For the rest of you that weren’t there, I will paint you a picture – I would have been 13 at the time. So once my homework was done, Good Ol’ 99.5 would have been turned on. I remember specifically jammin’ out to Mariah Carey’s “Hero” since it had just topped the charts around Christmas time the year before. You can ask my Momma,’ she spent MANY nights ANNOYED listening to me hit high notes that probably sounded more like a goat bellering than it did sweet serenading coming from that front bedroom of the old farmhouse.
Back then we didn’t have fancy Iphones so I was listening to my good Ol’ Peach Boombox I had gotten for Christmas just a month earlier.
Momma’ hollered at Jason and I that it was almost bed time and to get washed up. I was sad because my GRAND performance was ending, it meant my arena of thousands would soon be vacating! None the less I got ready for bed, and drifted off to sleep not long after crawling under my covers.
I can’t tell you how long I had been asleep when I woke to Momma’ screaming for Jason. It wasn’t the kind of yelling you hear when she was calling you for breakfast or to get ready for school. Something was wrong. I sat straight up in my bed. I could hear Zeus, our German Shepard, barking like crazy. Something was DEFINITELY wrong!
I jumped from my bed and ran to the hallway just as Jason made it to the bottom of the stairs. Momma’ said, “The house is on fire, Jason get to the Ojala’s and get help, the phone won’t work.” Jason was holding his English book because he had been studying before he fell asleep, he never had time to set it down in the chaos.
Momma’ grabbed onto to me and we followed Jason into the front room, as Jason opened the screen door and ran out the oxygen caused the room to engulf in flames. I screamed as flames shot over our heads, “MOMMA!” She turned her body to shield mine in just enough time for the flames to pass over top of us both. Seconds later she screamed, “RUN JASON! RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN!”
Our ONLY way out of that house was now engulfed in flames.
Momma’ grabbed my wrist and pulled me through the kitchen. She got down low and said, “Whatever you do Becky Dawn, don’t you DARE let go of me! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” I said, “Yes Momma.” She pulled me into the hallway, past the bathroom, past my bedroom, into the living room. She turned and put her hand on my shoulders and said, “I HAVE to open this door, it is our ONLY way out of here. Stand here and DO NOT MOVE REBECCA!”
(Now if you remember our old farmhouse you know that, that old front door on the house was NEVER opened and that it was LOCKED with an old skeleton key on the inside, and that the old screen door on the outside was locked with a padlock on the outside. On a normal day, no one was getting in, and no one was certainly ever getting out! For those of you that aren't aware Jason went out the door shown by the van, and the door in the story above is at the front of the house. It had to remain locked at all times or our dog Zeus would get out and chase after the neighbors dog.)
She was fiddling with the door when I remembered that I had a game the next day. My cheerleading uniform was laid out in my room, and it was JUST right inside that door. I could GET it and get back before she knew I was gone. I turned to go inside my room and it was at that instant that I realized how black it was in the house, and I could hear the ROAR of the fire, the crackle of things burning, smell the smoke, and just as I reached the basket with my cheerleading uniform I realized I couldn’t breath anymore. I started to panic just as a hand grabbed me by the back of the head, even in the darkness Momma’ had found me.
She drug me out of the room and BACK into the living room. She was screaming at this point, “GOD YOU HAVE TO HELP ME! I CAN’T DO THIS ALONE! I NEED YOU! PLEASE! I NEED YOU NOW MORE THAN EVER! OPEN THIS DOOR!” Suddenly my Momma’ grabbed ahold of that old farmhouse door that was locked with a skeleton key and yanked it off the hinges and sent it flying across the living room like a piece of cardboard. Then I watched her kick the screen door, and shoulder check the thing right off the hinges. She pulled me close as we exited out the door. I turned back in time to see the flames chase us right out of the house.
Zeus was still barking, I screamed his name, “Zeus! Momma’, Zeus! We can’t leave him!” Momma’ ran to the door and called him, Zeus came and when Momma’ grabbed him by the collar to pull him out he nipped her hand and sank back into the burning house. He was trained to protect his home, and like a Captain going down with its ship, he was NOT leaving! We didn't have time to stand there and argue, the flames were getting bigger and hotter, and the wind chill was going to freeze us to death if we stood there any longer.
By this time cars started stopping along the roadway, neighbors started showing up, volunteer firefighters started arriving, and you could hear the ambulance coming in the distance. It wasn’t until then that I even noticed my Momma’ had done ALL of this without ever putting shoes on her feet.
The coldest day of the entire year and she was wearing next to nothing.
There are no words for what came next.
The State Police had to track down my Dad on the road to let him know our house had caught fire. He had no idea what he was coming home to. It was the very first time in all of my life I had seen my Dad cry, and the moment I realized without a doubt just how much he truly LOVED my Momma’, brother and I. Listening to him describe breaking the treeline on M-28 headed for the homestead only to find two chimneys standing is enough to put a lump in my throat even to this day.
The hospital mistreated my Mother and she almost lost both of her feet due to the frost-bite she ended up getting from that night. She would endure MONTHS of physical therapy, having to keep her feet wrapped, learning to walk again, and the pain….goodness the pain. She had a home nurse that many of you knew personally named Bonnie. Bonnie would come and change her bandages and they formed such an amazing friendship out of what was such a tragic event. Watching the two of them together always gave me hope because if they could find light in even the darkest of places, it meant there was hope for EVERYONE.
We stayed with my Grandparents in the very beginning, and when we first went back to the house to survey the damage it was horrifying. There was NOTHING left. TWO chimneys and a pile of rubble. Our family had literally the clothes on our backs, and one another. At that precise moment standing there watching my Dad sift through the rubble, it was all we needed. It didn’t make it any easier, but we were ALL ALIVE, and ALL accounted for and that was worth EVERYTHING.
It didn’t take long for our tiny community to come together and start silently rounding up supplies. In the days after the fire, Grandpa and Grandma took us shopping for clothes for school so that we didn’t have to worry about missing any more than we needed to. Suddenly cars, trucks, and trailers started arriving pretty constantly with donations that filled my Grandparents Utility Room.
Everything from Pots & Pans, Clothes, Tables, Chairs, Couches, Silverware, ANYTHING you could POSSIBLY dream of for a house was suddenly sitting in their Utility Room and spilling into their entryway. The donations came, and KEPT coming. My cheerleading squad took up a donation of their own and at one practice handed me an envelope full of money to buy new things for my room, clothes, or whatever I might want or need to replace.
Local churches brought lunch, dinners, pies, cookies, and baked goods like you would not believe. Families dropped off Gift Cards, Money, Boxes full of brand new things to get a home started, and things just kept coming for weeks on end. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before in my entire life.
No one asked, we didn’t have Facebook then, so it was not like someone could put it on Social Media for all the world to see and ask for help.
There was no texting then, heck we still had land lines back then, so it was word of mouth type stuff back in those days.
Our entire family got to where we are today because of the love, kindness and generosity of countless others in this community. I would not be where I am today without that continued love and support. I made a VOW to myself, to God, to my family, and to my community that no matter what I would ALWAYS give back with a grateful and gracious heart when given the opportunity to. EVERY. SINGLE. CHANCE. I. WAS. GIVEN.
At 13 everything I owned, including our family pets, were gone in an instant and all that I had left was my family. I learned at a VERY young age what was important to me, and it was not materialistic things. When you come that close to losing your life, you don’t soon forget the importance of such a thing. You honestly never forget, it humbles you to the core. Not many people in this life are given second chances like we were that night.
Which brings us back to the letter at the beginning of this blog:
A few years back someone near and dear to me found out she had cancer. I had recently come out of a VERY messy divorce, and as much as I wanted to help her financially I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to do that without a miracle. So I got creative. I started thinking, and I came up with an idea to have local businesses donate money towards the “Chop My Locks Incentive.” At the time I had NO IDEA if it would even be successful, let alone if it would even work.
I was selective with my choices, starting mailing letters, said a few prayers and waited.
Suddenly businesses started calling me back! They were EXCITED to donate towards the cause, and even thought it was a FUN idea that I was willing to “SELL MY HAIR” to raise money for my dear friend battling cancer. I was so excited! I couldn’t believe it was working! Almost every business was on board! 9 out of 10 businesses and I had one more to go!!!
So I set up a time to meet with the owner of the last business, when I walked into his office he explained to me that his mother, and his wife had both had cancer. That he was not only PROUD of what I was doing, he was excited to be a part of it, and was happy that I had contacted him to be involved. He asked how much I had already raised, I told him the donations were up to a $1,000 and I was over the moon about that already!
It had far exceeded any expectations I had ever had for the entire thing.
We continued to chat and when I went to leave his office he handed me a check and shook my hand and said, “You do great things for people Rebecca, I hope you realize how much people really appreciate all you do. You are the CHANGE that people should wish to seek in this world. Thank You for that.” I just stood there a tad shocked, still shaking his hand, smiling, and literally muttered, “Great.”
Yes, I know, I am still just as awkward to this day!
Anyhow, it wasn’t until I got to the bank later on to cash all the checks that I even realized that he had MATCHED the REST of the donations. He had written a check for $1,000! It meant that my entire donation would total $2,000! I couldn’t believe it…..Sometimes looking back I STILL can’t, but nothing felt GREATER than dropping off that envelope of cash that day, or mailing out Thank You cards with a picture of my newly chopped locks to all the businesses for their generous donations.
Recently I won an award. Not just ANY award, THEE award. The one that EVERY SINGLE person should hope to strive towards winning in their lifetime. Never in my lifetime would I have EVER thought such a thing could even happen to me. The person that helped make that possible was my son, my middle little. It shows me that as a parent I am doing something right. That my efforts as a volunteer, a person, as a HUMAN shine through brightly enough that my own children take notice and that means something. Actually that means EVERYTHING.
I’ve never once ever pulled on bunker gear, held a fundraiser, volunteered my time, money or efforts with the intention of someone saying, “LOOK at HER!” “Give that woman a hand!” “She deserves an award!” Anyone that does such things isn’t doing any of those things for the right reasons to begin with. Having a servant’s heart means to not only put other’s needs ahead of our own, but to serve with the right motivation.
Long ago I made the vow to serve the people around me any way that I could. I can proudly say that I do that any chance that I am given. As I look back through the lists of donations, letters from businesses, pictures from events, I can smile knowing that one day God and I will have an AMAZING conversation about those very moments.
I won’t ever stand before him and talk about the moments missed, the times I wished I had, or the things I had hoped to have done differently. I AM going to stand in front of him and speak OPENLY about the TIME that he gave to me and how I used EVERY moment PRECISELY how he intended for me to use it.
When I “Chopped My Locks” people said some hateful things. “I liked you better with long hair.” “She looks like a Dkye!” “You did this to draw attention to yourself.” “Grow up and get a normal haircut!” “How could you do that to yourself?” “ACT YOUR AGE!” Some thought it had something to do with the "divorce" and then others claimed I was having a "Mid-Life Crisis". Whatever the case was that each of them came up with, no one bothered to ask WHY I had cut my hair, but that certainly didn't stop them from talking about it. It was definitely the topic of discussion for QUITE awhile.
I smile now as I look back and think about the comments and I can even giggle looking at the pictures of me with my spiked hair. Long, short, in between, it doesn’t matter, it is JUST hair. It is much longer now. I can actually get it all into a pony tail again, but should there come a day when someone I love needed their financial burdens subsided I wouldn’t hesitate to run the “Chop My Locks Incentive” all over again.
I suppose my point is a very simple one folks. If you don’t know, don’t judge. If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you can’t say anything nice at all, keep it to yourself. There is enough evil and heartache in the world without one more person contributing to it. Instead try and shift your focus for once. Just for once maybe try the positive outlook. The non-judgmental one. The one where the light and love of the Lord shines through to make you into the person you are meant to be, not the person you pretend to be to the rest of the world.
My point is that it is all about shifting your focus, doing things with a gracious heart, and expecting nothing in return. As the boys and I packed up cribs, clothes, toddler beds, and other things to take to the Diane Peppler Shelter later this coming week, Morgan asked me, "Mom, what kind of babies will sleep in these beds now?" I smiled and said, "The ones that God intends to have sleep in them Morgan." "It is such a nice thing we are doing for those babies Mom." he said.
Now if my 5 year old can understand the point and purpose of giving without the expectation of ever receiving anything in return, I truly hope and pray that more people learn the value in that very thing! I will never stop teaching my Littles the VALUE in that very lesson, and I can only hope that they take the most from that very lesson with them throughout their lives.
From delivering Care Packages on Christmas Day to The Hospice House to delivering cribs, clothes, and other goods to woman and children in need, no matter the deed, big or small I pray they learn the MOST valuable lesson in it all. That it is ALWAYS feels better to give than it does to receive. Helping others with the purest of intentions will ALWAYS fill your heart in ways that ONLY such a gracious deed can.
So no matter what anyone says, does, or even how they feel about me or my hair or haircut, I just want to say this:
At the end of the day I will proudly own the label - The Dyke with the Servants Heart, and I will continue to pray for those that say such things. It is unfortunate that people even judge before asking questions, or that they feel the need to judge others in general. The world would be such a better place if people were more mindful of their own lives instead of worrying about others.
I hope each of you have an absolutely amazing week!
Much Love To Each Of You!