When I Consider Thy Heavens

ShipwreckWriter Blog

Just Stand

Posted by ShipwreckWriter - Lynn Pettigrew Norris on June 16, 2014 at 10:10 AM

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Just Stand

It’s been five years since we poured the first foundation for Lighthouse Library in Dexter, Kansas. The project started in 2003 when Eastern Cowley County Resource Center (ECCRC) was founded – a 501 (c) (3) with a focus on literacy and computers and a heart for service through community programs. Since that time, we have built a cabin on the library site (Grouse Valley Lodge) and a thrift store (Treasure Chest) – both sustaining projects to help keep the library open since there is no other funding.

Today, I personally live in a family home that is in total disrepair. We tore our non-functioning kitchen out over three years ago and it is still out, down to the raw frame boards. The floor is gone and a base floor puts splinters into any bare feet. Our bathroom isn’t far behind needing to be torn out. The ceiling leaks every time it rains and the light fixture fills with water. The old tub is rusted through, needing to be replaced. The hot water tank is 20 years old and on its last leg. The washer and dryer in there are both broken and need to be thrown out. I run water into a plastic dish pan to do our dishes from a faucet in the bath tub. This has gone on for years and I see no end to this.

My husband cannot do another thing. His job keeps him more than busy without all these side jobs at home and at a volunteer project. The strain of this going on for years is taking its toll. There is never time to just relax – enjoy life – rest.

The library project is at a complete stand-still. The stem walls on two sides leak. We cannot proceed to install the carpeting until the leaks are stopped. The utility bills roll in each month. On average, just to keep the place running, it costs nearly $1,000 a month. For the past decade, I have donated half to all of my salary to the library project. Presently, I am an unemployed teacher, having resigned my last position in order to try to bring closure to this huge project.

Today is different from all the other days in the past. Today, optimism is hiding behind the load of care that this project brings. Today, it almost seems easier to just give up. Even that idea presents an overwhelming sense of duty. We’ve come way too far to turn back now. Yet I have no idea how to get this job done.

Everything left is beyond my ability. I cannot seal a concrete wall. I cannot install mop boards or carpeting. Due to a neck injury, I can’t even carry the many boxes of books when that time ever comes. Today I am discouraged and don’t feel like doing anything since nothing seems to provide much hope of completion. I’ve asked for help many times to the point to where I feel bad to even ask any longer. It’s wheat harvest time in Kansas. Everyone is focused on summer fun and vacations after all the work is done.


I wonder as I wipe tears from my eyes this morning if there are others who feel this same way over some project or plans? Maybe there is a church that needs more volunteers but none seem to come. Maybe there is a community leader who just needs help to unload things. 


This post really says nothing new under the sun. It probably comes off as being whiny and trite. But in my little world today, this load seems huge and I’m all out of positive thoughts. The project has simply drug on for too long. I can almost see all the fun the kids in the community would have once completed. But there seems to be a vast desert casting shadows on any such happy plans for now. I don’t know how to complete this project.

I’ve tried everything I know to try to find funding to perhaps hire help to finish it out. Each grant I tried for came back with a nice reject letter. I’ve received a few little seed grants for specific fun days and project for the kids, but these only present the need for yet more volunteers. We are not really ready to complete any more projects. I have no paycheck to donate. Very few donations come in which is totally understandable until we are fully up and running once again.


I won’t even ask for funds today. Instead, I just ask for your understanding if I have to pull out on the project and put it all on hold for now. There are some who no doubt have waited for this day – to hear me say “I quit” and that we are forgetting it all. To those people I say it’s OK. I fully understand. Maybe it makes you feel better or bigger to see others fail. Maybe you won't even feel happy when you see others fall. Maybe all you needed was to fully understand that there really was no alterior motive beyond providing a fun spot for all the kids! For me, I still remember a daughter whose life was much too short and whose memory fueled our volunteer work over these past years. But we are only human and are growing very tired.


I am so sad that all the hopes and dreams to share with young people are put on hold for now. My head has ached every day and every night for the past two weeks. I must reduce this stress-load and there are only two ways to do that: 1) finish the project and 2) Put everything on hold and walk away.

Not wanting to walk away, at least for today, I stand. Frozen in this spot of uncertainty and overwhelming tasks, I am immobile until some solution presents itself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuMLBhrKHsA (Stand – Donnie McClurkin) Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and encouragement over the years.


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