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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Start the Month with This Thought

What I love about Bill By Julie Fewerda

When we moved into our new neighborhood, I immediately noticed the yard at the beginning of the street. The house was fine but that yard! It looked just like a giant junkyard...or a little city dump all its own. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to drop off my trash there every week or to offer a bulldozer. To be honest, I was embarrassed to have anyone I knew drive by that house on their way to my house. So...I told them to go the "back way." I didn't want them to think that I lived in a house on a street next to a junkyard.

As the months went by, and I hurried by the house on my daily prayer walks, I noticed that something was happening with "the yard." I wasn't sure what yet, but the guy who lived at the demolition site was outside working on his junk piles.

Bout time he cleans it up! I thought to myself. Even though I wanted to avoid him, I decided the "Christian" thing to do would be to say something nice to him. At least I could say hello as I went by. After all, I was out on a prayer walk....trying to be spiritual. Would God even hear me if I ignored my strange neighbor? It's not like I would have to associate with him or anything, just be sorta nice.

I know far too many people who have no passion—no dedication to anything in particular. They are sort of just going through each day, not really committed to anything that will change the world around them."Hello." I stopped one morning to watch him weed around his "flower bed"-the one located between a strangely organized pile of old Christmas trees and a "collection" of plastic five gallon buckets.

"Hi." The guy looked up from what he was doing.

"I'm Julie-your neighbor down...down the street." The one with nothing in the yard, I wanted to add.

"I'm Bill." He went back to working.

Hmph! So much for trying to be friendly! He was basically telling me to get lost. Here I was, lowering my standards to talk to him, and he didn't even appreciate it! Not only was Bill messy, he was rude and ungrateful too!

As the months passed, I was getting frustrated. There didn't seem to be much improvement over at Bill's place, if any. I admit there was a lot to do, so it could take awhile to actually see results, but time had passed-I was getting closer to a walker and dentures every day. At this rate I wouldn't be able to get out by the time Bill finished his yard. But still Bill was out there evenings and weekends, working in his yard, and I was getting tired of waiting to see results. After all the sacrifices I had made to live on the same street, I don't think I was asking too much.

And then one spring day, I finally saw something change! Coming down the road from an empty lot on our street, I saw Bill carrying one of his many five gallon buckets. He was headed straight for his yard. I'm a curious person by nature, and I did want to know what this mystery man was up to, so I slowed down my pace and watched, exchanging a polite hello as he walked by. Peeking into his bucket, I noticed it was full of sand and pebbles. Hmm? Now I was really curious. Well...okay, nosy might have been a little more accurate. I had to know what Bill was going to do with that bucket full of dirt.

At the risk of Bill figuring out that I was checking up on him, I waited a few minutes and then turned around so that I could walk by his house again. What I saw when I got there was profoundly inspiring. Bill was taking little scoops of the dirt and pebbles, and arranging them on his driveway! Huh?? (most effectively voiced in your best Scooby Doo impersonation).

It was then that I began to look around his yard and I noticed something I had never seen before. The old Christmas trees stockpiled from the last five years? They were lined up in a neat row. The old rusty car radiators? They formed a circle. The car doors-all the windows down, were laying on their sides facing the same direction. Everywhere I looked, the same thing. Piles and piles of junk and debris-all arranged and organized into artistic expressions of creativity. This wasn't a trash heap! This was a masterpiece!! I finally saw. I finally understood. Bill had lovingly and carefully placed each random piece of "decoration" by hand in his yard. It must have taken years!

After that, a sort of pride came over me...pride that I had the chance to know someone as unique and dedicated as Bill. I felt honored and a bit ashamed of the judgments I had made earlier. In a split second Bill's yard was suddenly very beautiful to me. You see, I know far too many people who have no passion-no dedication to anything in particular. They are sort of just going through each day, not really committed to anything that will change the world around them.

But not Bill. Bill has something that many of us only wished we had. In fact, if I had half the dedication that Bill has to anything productive in my life, I could see big changes. If I treated my faith the way Bill treats his yard, working at things like sharing the gospel with my friends and spending time in the Word consistently, little by little, the evidence of my faith would stand out to others around me, just like Bill's yard is the first thing you see when you drive by!

So as I said, that day, something changed. I changed. And now you know what I love about Bill. I want to be more like him. And these days, I tell all my friends to come the front way to my house. When they comment on "that guy's house down the street" I cut them off and say, "Yeah, isn't that an amazing work of art?" They just look at me funny and wonder

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