Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Church remodels house family thought it could never live in again

By Amanda Greene

Published: Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 8:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 8:19 p.m.

Amy King sat in her family’s Pine Valley driveway, dreading going inside. Her husband Aaron King and daughters Micah, 7, and Noel, 5, waited in the car with her. It was Nov. 3, Aaron’s birthday.

Just two months before, their 2-month-old son Ari had died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) inside the house. Before that, Amy had suffered six miscarriages and a stillbirth.

Ari’s death made resuming life in that home too difficult. Since then, the family had lived with Amy’s parents in their Kure Beach home, while members of their church, Cornerstone Baptist, where Aaron is an associate pastor, volunteered to renovate the Kings’ house.

At first the church members were just going to re-paint the nursery. Then they found water leaks in the kitchen, buckling floors in the bathroom, a 30-year-old HVAC unit and rotten garage door.

So, instead of just giving the nursery a new look, they carried out a complete home makeover.

“When I did walk in, I was amazed,” Amy said, adding that she loves the open kitchen with its granite countertops and cubed glass backsplash.

“We saw that the sofa and the mirror in the living room were the same, and that was a pretty much it,” Aaron added. “What can we say to all that work? Thank you?”

“They knew they couldn’t take away the pain,” Amy added, through tears, “but they’ve made it easier to bear.”

Senior pastor Daniel Gillespie likened the effort to the HGTV series “Extreme Makeover.”

“We are called to love one another and care for one another,” Gillespie said. “This was an opportunity for the people to honor Aaron and love Amy.”

Church members worked for two months, sometimes until midnight, taking some rooms down to the studs. They put in all new floors and new paint in every room. They installed new cabinets and counter tops in the kitchen. They revamped bathrooms and provided a new bunk bed for the girls and bedroom set for their parents. The group converted the nursery into a play room, with a flower mural.

Forty people spent a total of 2,000 hours on the project.

The Kings’ next-door neighbors, the Taylors, watched the crowds come and go with astonishment.

“We never saw anything like it,” said Rose Ann Taylor.

Church member Pam Bourgeois joined the effort to decorate the house anew.

“Only God can take away grief like that,” she said. “To see the expression on her face when she saw it the first time and knowing I had not seen a smile on her face in so long was worth it.”

But the church’s giving wasn’t isolated to the house. After Ari’s death, one of Aaron’s friends continued Micah and Noel’s homeschooling. Friends took the girls to soccer and gymnastics lessons. And when the Kings returned, the freezer, cupboards and refrigerator were full of food.

“I tend to think that part of the pain of this life is to pry the hands of God’s children off of this life so they’re ready to be with him,” Aaron said. “My wife’s still hurting, but our God is good through this.”

After being back in their home for two weeks, the King girls are making new memories, filling up their chalkboard in the playroom with doodles. Slowly, their home is becoming a space to heal.

“We’re so grateful,” Aaron said. “With a thousand tongues and a thousand years we couldn’t express how thankful we are.”

Amanda Greene: 343-2365

On Twitter.com: @iwritereligion

No comments: