For those of you who have not yet heard our news … between Thanksgiving and Christmas WE MOVED! After 8.5 years in the LAX area of Los Angeles, God led us to purchase a home just 6 miles east in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Many of you have heard me say over the years, “Even if we could afford to buy a home in LA, why would we?! It’s too expensive!” And we have indeed had an amazing 3-bedroom, 2-bath home to live in and bring our babies home to. In our previous home we had 4 people come to live with our family in our spare bedroom for at least 6 months, and over a year in the case of our oldest son Carlton (who moved into his own apartment just a week before Lucy was born). Over the years we have hosted hundreds of friends “for church” once a week. We eat dinner together, we sing, we pray, we talk about Jesus, C.S. Lewis books, philosophers, atheism and world religions, we watch YouTube videos and take unauthorized selfies on each other’s phones, we laugh and cry and pray for one another, kids run all over the house and the yard and it’s messy and beautiful and life and relationships happen … it is our family’s calling. We do this very same thing at coffee shops, restaurants, and at local parks with people of all backgrounds and ages and we have come to loosely know it as “Organic Church” or … “people following Jesus and/or people who want to be around that gathering together to eat and figure it out together.”
So, back to “Even if we could afford to buy a home in LA, why would we?!” In May of 2014 our friend Steve, whom we got to know though one of our organic churches at a local park, very suddenly found himself homeless when his best friend and roommate died unexpectedly. Steve turns 69 on Feb. 8 and has some serious health issues. It was several months before we realized how dire his situation was — John discovered that he’d been sleeping in a sleeping bag under a bush in Westchester Park, and that year Steve had to be rushed to the hospital with life-threatening infections related to his poor prostate health. We were able to find him temporary housing. He has had another episode of illness and this last time – this fall – he almost didn’t survive. He has never lived alone and needs, well, a family!
Despite his health challenges and socially awkward personality, Steve’s favorite activities include 3-4 mile walks, talking about the historical books he reads at the library, and fellowship with his church family. John and I talked up and down and inside out how we could bring Steve into our family in the home we were living in with our three children — and the roadblock always became that the property would need to be significantly altered to accommodate him (even though he doesn’t need or demand much and has never asked us for anything!). Since we did not own the home we lived in, building a tiny house in the backyard or converting the garage into an an apartment were just not possible.
And so we began to seriously evaluate our finances. We began to plan. We began to dream. We began looking in earnest for a home that would be safe and comfortable for our three young children and also provide an independent living space for Steve. If you’ve ever watched the HGTV show Flip or Flop you can guess that in Southern California a home that fits that list exists, but at a hefty price. We knew a fixer upper in a new neighborhood was in our future. And we set out to find the worst house in the best neighborhood possible and this summer WE SUCCEEDED! Wait, what?
The story of how we found this house and came to buy it despite the fact that it was not even for sale is a story for another day. The original condition of this home (which was atrocious!) is a story another day. The story for today, however, is that this home built on the side of a hill, has a family home upstairs and a separate apartment downstairs – a room with a fireplace, a kitchenette, and a bathroom. Just enough space for an old man with no belongings aside from a bed, a car, and a few changes of clothes.
The first phase of bringing our family to this new house was to completely gut and renovate it on the inside with the help of our amazing contractor and his team, who understood our mission for this home and did everything within his power to make it functional, safe, and beautiful on a small budget. Now that we are moved in and sorta settled in, it’s time for us to begin phase two … renovating Steve’s apartment so that we can move him in too!
Many of our close friends and family know what we are doing and why, and have known what we were up to for quite a while. As word has gotten out, people have asked … what do you need? How can we help? What can we do for Steve? As we finally turn this corner to providing safe, permanent housing for our friend we felt led to open up to our community about what we are doing. The Gathering of Men, a ministry that has partnered with us over the years through John’s dad, has made Steve one of their special ministries and set up a giving webpage where tax-deductible donations can be made to go directly toward providing Steve a home, a project we estimate will cost around $5,000. We have already completed most of the electrical rewiring and some demolition. We need to finish the plumbing, refinish the floors and kitchenette, redo the drywall and insulation, and paint in a 650-ish square foot space. If you feel led to contribute toward Steve’s new home (where he will live rent-free as long as he chooses to stay!), you will do more than help give him a roof over his head. Having a permanent address gives Steve access to the public health services he has long needed, and the safety and security of having a family who cares for him nearby — something he has so desperately needed for so long. It is our hope to move him in on or before his birthday on Feb. 8.
Thank you for reading and for your prayers and encouragement to us over the years! We are constantly blown away by all God does in our lives and how he has led us here. We are so excited to share this with you and see where God takes it!
Click here to view updates on our fundraising total.