Diary of a Step Stool

The story of a day God revealed a lot to me… through a piece of small furniture

Intro
So a few weeks ago one of our ReWorkers, Anthony, walked into our little office with the step stool pictured below and a ridiculous grin. It was the first project he’d completed 100% on his own. His own idea, design, motivation, and skills.

Anthony

After celebrating his accomplishment with him all I could think about was how when we first met Anthony it was not uncommon for him to come in and just sit/sleep on the couch most of the day. God used this moment to be like “hellooooo take notice! I’ve been working around here and you’re missing it!” I admit it’s easy for me to get caught up in only looking for what I would consider to be “victory” and forget that God is working at all times. Essentially I think this means we should be having more parties. Granted sometimes His work is so massive, beyond my understanding, or hard to see clearly that I can only trust that He’s working and be grateful for that truth. But then sometimes He does allow us to see what He’s doing and frankly I just forget to look.

So, to the world a mere step stool but to me, on that day: a funny reminder of the truth that God is always working, a reminder to celebrate even the small victories AND no doubt, a functional solution to reaching high shelves. (Note to Self #1: pay attention and celebrate)

How “New Anthony” Came to Be
I won’t go into all the details of Anthony’s transition from couch-napper to step-stool-builder but I will say that as many days as he spent napping on the couch over on the church side of our building, I didn’t expect it to be such a piece of cake to get him working in the woodshop. But all that was said was something like, “Hey you should try working on this job in the shop. Somebody will show you how to do it.”

Next thing I knew he was in there. So much for assuming “lazy homeless person” and that laziness must be the root of his homelessness. I mean we all know what they say about people who “assume”.. but the point is it takes time to diagnose a person’s often multiple rooted issues and even then, leave room for the fact that no matter how long you spend with them you still might get it wrong. (Note to Self #2: pray for humility, avoid arrogant assumptions)

In Anthony’s case laziness/lack of work ethic turned out was not so much the problem as lack of maybe self-esteem, encouragement, and direction. Coming in to take naps was likely a result of being tired and having nothing to do, makes sense. See, when Anthony showed up at ReWork he admittedly had no skills in wood-working or art (two things ReWork Project has the tools and supplies for). He only really expressed interest in working with leather (a craft ReWork does not have the tools or supplies for). I suppose it would have made sense to let him know in the beginning that we didn’t have anything to offer him. But as you may know, the philosophy of ReWork Project is rooted first in relationships and the more I come to understand why, the more I thank God for that. Sure, as Anthony started participating in the program he did learn a skill, but honestly not because we have some brilliant master/apprentice learning program at this point. (though maybe some day!) It’s because we encourage family and relationships and he started teaming up with guys on projects who were awesome enough to teach him during the process. A little encouragement to keep at it now and then and we’ve got ourselves a stool and a grin. (as seen below)

Anthony

and suddenly there he was, the step-stool-builder, unmistakable because of the step stool in his hands…

The grin was later followed by something like “this is the first thing I’ve made that’s felt fulfilling.” Enough said.

Other small victories for Anthony include that he’s gained confidence, quit being a loner, become a motivated, more outgoing human being, realized his ability to commit to a “job” of sorts and after a long process he’s now moments away from getting into a trailer via Mobile Loaves and Fishes Community First program (http://mlf.org/community-first/). This means he will no longer be homeless and yes this is a big deal. :)

Happy to Hear About It
Sometime shortly after what I will call “the step stool miracle” Anthony and I were chatting about his progress among other things. He told me he was happy to have found people he considers reliable and that because of reliable friends he doesn’t isolate himself like he used to. He credits having encouraging people that he knows he can talk to and can ask for help from when he needs it, as giving him enough hope to be motivated about life again and get so much accomplished lately. He also said he just decided to stop being a victim.

0831121006In retrospect after hearing it like that, those aren’t even small victories, they’re life-altering changes and decisions that went down. (yet I almost missed them (thank you step stool)) I’m not going to pretend that we at ReWork Project were the only influences of Anthony’s changes though. For one, we were really just there getting to be a part while God did all the actual changing. But also, He pretty much started hitting Anthony from all angles at once with some helpful people, organizations,  and opportunities and I don’t think it was coincidence.

So why is all of this good to talk about? Well safe to say that my chat with Anthony was super encouraging to me, but I think it was good for him also to be able to talk about and better realize his own progress and how his decisions have slowly but surely changed things. Fear has less to hold on to when proof of what’s true is fresh on your mind, right? Plus now when he tries to tell me something is “too risky” to try or pointless to pursue I can joke about how those are the words of ‘Old Anthony,’ and ask what ‘New Anthony’ really thinks… Last but not least, talking about this stuff and sharing it with anyone is a great opportunity to be like, “Hey God, about what You’re doing around here→OUT-STANDING-JOB. You’ve blown my mind once again, may the glory be Yours!”

Conclusion
Like all of us of course Anthony is still a work in progress. He likely has struggles ahead, some old and some new. But, we’re praying for lasting changes and continued renewal and have every reason to hope for those things.

WANNA HELP?

  1. Pray for Anthony!

  2. Sponsor a leather-working item or two or five for Anthony and any other ReWorker to use.

    With this I should share that after MANY MONTHS of saying how spending any money on the leather supplies, even piece by piece over time, was “too risky”… Anthony DID just last Monday randomly walk into the office, announce (with confidence I might add) that he was ordering a few of the items from his leather catalog, and then pick up the phone and do so. (It was awesome and to be honest– kind of adorable…)

    Anyway, it can be expensive to start up and I’m sure he could use the encouragement. If you’d like to help him out just shoot me an e-mail and I’ll tell you how: allison.eskew@gmail.com

  3. If you’re here in Austin, consider forming a friendship with a ReWorker like Anthony through the mentor program we are ramping up. For more info, click HERE. [disabled link]

  4. This step stool currently for sale at $30 and there are more where it came from! Support Anthony by buying  one! We also take orders! Email either me or info@reworkproject.org

     

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5 Responses to Diary of a Step Stool

  1. Ryan says:

    Awesome story!! Way to go, Anthony!

  2. Sandra Cretton says:

    Love your blogs and your wit that goes with them. But most of all, I love what you are doing and who you are helping. I miss getting to see you on occasion but I am praying for you and ReWork that you will continue to see evidence of His work. I would love to receive your blogs!

  3. Pingback: The Glorious Adventures of ReWork Project | help me help others. [Austin, TX]

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