Yard Sales, Lost Houses, & When Zucchini Bread Is What You’ve Got

My neighbor Ashley and I organized a multi-family yard sale back in April, which took place in my yard, since it’s on a corner and is pretty spacious. Folks from church stopped by, folks we didn’t know stopped by, and our neighbors stopped by. An old man picked through my VHS collection because he thought it was an incredible deal that I was selling 4 for 25 cents each or 10 for $1. (Think about it.) I sold three giant boxes of books for dirt cheap to a woman whose son has a brain disease and reads voraciously all day. I let three shy little daughters of a non-English speaking mom into my house to use the bathroom. I learned that people are more likely to buy furniture–even old, icky furniture that we picked up years ago alongside the road (and blogged about it)–if you put a $3 price on it, rather than Free. For real.

I have been on a less-is-more trajectory for some time now, and it felt good to go through our house and ask honestly whether we needed particular items. The answer to “Could we make due without this?” is nearly always yes, by the way. In fact, sometimes I think I’d be happiest living in one of those 348 square feet apartments from the IKEA showroom.

And then sometimes I don’t.

Sometimes I am flabbergasted at how we, we who are so conscious of our purchasing habits, accrue so much stuff.

Have I mentioned that we have this verse on our refrigerator?

How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods
and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? 
1 John 3:17

At the yard sale, a neighbor of ours came over to chat for a few minutes while she was out walking her dog. We asked how she was doing and how her husband was, as he’s had quite a few health difficulties recently. In the normal flow of conversation, she said, “And we’re going to lose the house,” and then kept talking as if it were the most normal thing in the world.

Ashley and I both volunteered to bring meals to them the next week but in the scheme of things, they seemed like piddly offerings.

This is a woman I see multiple times every day as she walks by my house with her little dog on the leash and cell phone in hand. And it got me to thinking that there are so many people–so many people–we see and know and interact with on a regular basis and we really don’t know their stories.

How could she be losing her house?

How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods
and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?

She and her husband are indeed losing their house. They move today.

When I found out a few days ago that the move was happening this weekend, I told J about it. He asked if they’d tried to sell the house, if I knew what their mortgage payment was, if there was any chance folks could rally around them and help pay the mortgage to get the house on the market for a few months, basically, if there was anything we could do to help.

Anything we could do.

I love that man.

I didn’t think there was anything we could do, but for the next few hours, I couldn’t help but think about it. I felt like I couldn’t not offer to help, couldn’t not find out what the needs actually were, what the situation actually was, couldn’t just not do anything as they packed up and moved away and began walking their dog in some other place.

And so I said to myself last Thursday, if you see her again today, you need to go talk to her and ask her what’s going on with the house. You need to ask if you can help in a tangible way.

As these things go, I was over at Ashley’s house borrowing eggs to make zucchini bread when I saw her out walking the dog, so I ran over to her, eggs and all.

Obviously I am not going to give you the details of her situation, but as it turns out, I couldn’t really help. I did ask, but the situation was too dire and too long in coming and they really didn’t have other options.

But I did listen, which is pretty much always the most important thing to do. And I was able to offer help with moving the furniture. (Okay, I offered for J to help with moving the furniture.) And when she asked about the eggs, I told her I was going to make zucchini bread.

And then, a few hours later, I took her some.

How does God's love abide...
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3 comments on “Yard Sales, Lost Houses, & When Zucchini Bread Is What You’ve Got

  1. Darla says:

    Seems to me you gave what is most important: caring and hearing her story. Really enjoyed this post, Elizabeth.

  2. Lisa says:

    Elizabeth, I really liked this post. It reminded me of a time when…..ahh, maybe I’ll blog about it soon. 🙂 Seriously, I think sometimes I don’t act because the thing I can think of to do seems too small or silly given the gravity of the circumstances. Or I don’t comment because my comment seems too small compared to a story like this one. I’m grateful for the reminder to do what we can when we can. You and J. are bold in that way and I want to follow that example more. Miss you, our friends. Thanks for this encouragement and for sharing this story!

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