Life Lessons From Crazy Town

Friends, it has been a week.

Greg had Impact all week; I taught literacy classes; Luke had his 7th birthday party; two friends had babies; Greg baptized three teens; I had foolishly signed up to make lunch for 80 people at Y.E.S.; my mom came in town; we went out to dinner with new friends; we saw lots of old friends and teens at Impact; we had play dates.  It was nuts.

Oh, and you may have heard that there was a scholarship competition going on during this time.  During the competition, Greg and I joked that this was actually his first grad school course:  Mass Communication.  Even though we hardly got to see each other, we would have impromptu planning sessions by phone:  What about a picture?  It would have to have a link attached…What about a Facebook page?  Maybe Y.E.S. could send out an email.  Maybe so-and-so could tweet about it.  Have you reached out to him?  Have you done your afternoon update?  We’re up a percent.  No, half a percent.  Now, we’re down a percent.  Could we put a link on that church’s Facebook page?  Have you sent your daily email reminder?

Crazy Town.

It felt like we were losing more than we were winning, and that pushed us to keep thinking and brainstorming new ways to reach out, to spread the word.

And yet, that’s not why we won.

My biggest lesson in this whole scholarship brouhaha was that mass communication tools alone can’t take you where you need to go.  We didn’t win because of a picture or a particularly potent post.  We won because we have amazing people in our lives.

We won because my mom and dad beat the bushes just as much as we did.  Also, because of the way they have lived their lives, their friends voted with them, no questions asked.  Even on one of Greg’s posts on the Facebook page he made, a woman we didn’t know commented, “You go Dave Sparrow!”  I’m not sure she ever fully realized that she wasn’t voting for my dad.

We won because Greg’s family supported him 100% and shared with everyone they knew.  Greg’s mom, in particular, talked his cause up to anyone she met.  A high school friend from Murphy messaged him and told him that while she was in the bank, she heard people behind her talking about the contest.  She turned around, and it was Greg’s mom!  At Impact, Glenda took a bunch of fliers and went around passing them out to youth ministers to get them and their teens to vote.

We won because Mr. Rob, the preacher at my parents’ church in Macon, showed Greg’s video in Sunday morning worship and said very sweet things about us, urging the congregation to vote daily.  It appears that they did!

We won because, Jim Yates, the preacher at Radnor, in whose building our church meets, told his congregation about the contest as well.

We won because people like Daphie Sellers and Maria Bunyi took the time not only to share our link, but to write heartfelt pleas begging people to vote.

We won because women from Brentwood Hills Church of Christ, like Leslie Fisher and Jenni Whitefield, and Amy Bowman, voluntarily took up our cause and rounded up votes for us.

We won because our Woodbine teens and our Summerville teens spent their free time at Impact getting votes.  (See also:  the counselor for our Jr. High kids, and several different teens from Greg’s past Workcamp crews.)

We won because Pat Ford…oh, Pat Ford.  We won because he not only shared relentlessly, but helped on the technical side with voting troubleshooting, page maintenance, and basically whatever else we needed.

We won because Bryant Bumpus kept the tweets coming for us.  And so did Jeff Walling, David Skidmore, David Rubio, Zac Smith, and Dave Clayton.

And because family members like Sharon Pogue (and family) and Alan Kirby and Rhonda Gray shared and/or emailed daily reminders to vote.

Because people like Kevin Harris and Rebecca Claypool helped solicit votes daily.

Because Daniel and Jiff Burnell took up our cause wholeheartedly, even though they had a baby during the contest!!

Because Caroline Aly recruited her whole family as active campaigners and at one point got us hundreds of votes by going to Pancake Pantry with an iPad and soliciting votes from people in line.

Because DeRon Rogers is the best cheerleader a team could have.  “THE POWER OF ONE!”

Because Amy Games asked for a daily reminder so that she could share about the vote every single day.

Because Matt Suber shared with his 2,700 friends even though he doesn’t even know Greg.

And Jaima Schutt shared with her 20,000 followers on her blog’s Facebook page.

And Kelsey Eaton voted and solicited votes from the hospital while experiencing a significant health crisis.  Seriously.  There are no words.  Plus, her mom, Nancy, and sister, Lindsey, got in on the action, as well!

Because Viviana Elizalde, Michael and Heidi Peters and Alison Winstead begged multiple times a day for votes and got their families voting.

Because the entire Salley/Brown family got involved:  Larry, Ann, Erica, Tommy, and David shared the link, and Jacob actively campaigned for Greg at Impact!

And also, the Kendall/Steed family:  Penny Kendall, Adrian and Courtney Steed, Joel and Amber Caillouet, and Kayli Kendall all shared Greg’s link.

Because old family friends, like Connie Bedwell and Vickie Rector and Tammy Behel and Whitney Behel Skellie, took the time to post regular reminders.

As did Drea Braddock, Allyson Gaither, Erik Spell, Page McCurry, Kristie Oliver, Nick and Leah Wilson, Jerry and Beverly Bryan, Kari Brooks, Marchelle Cox, Linda Kunkle, Allison Roberts, Doug Wallen, Chris and Lena Lovingood, Audrey Miller, Ron Jones, David Matthews, Jeff Wright, Jeff Carter, Shawn and Holly Duncan, Jonathan Bradley, Kevin and Molly Griggs, Justin Moore, Cortney Seaton, Shana Edinger, Stephanie Strunk, Zack Robinson, Whitney Young, Kari Waltz, Kevin Appleby, Cyndi Albach, and Candi Miller.

As well as former youth groupers like Stephanie Beaudry, Lauren Young, Melissa Price, Vanessa Helbig, Brittni Shannon, Olivia Todd, Olivia Cook, Taylor Dement, C.C. Garland.

C.C. shared from Afghanistan, Penny Kendall and Jesse Mook shared from the Philippines, Dave and Sharon Dement shared from Germany, David and Caryn Henniger shared from Nicaragua, and Keith O’Neal shared from Switzerland.

And there are more.  Oh, so many more.  I keep scrolling through my news feed to try to look to see who all shared, but there are so many posts that I can’t see past a couple days before Facebook gives up and starts showing me highlights from 2013.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’ve left out some wonderful people who were huge helps.  If I didn’t mention you, please let me know because I do want to thank you!  

And I know that you didn’t help us so that I would mention you on a random blog post, but I wanted to write the names down.  I wanted to see them and to think about them.  This list of names includes people from my childhood; dear friends from college; family members from Macon, Murphy, Memphis, Kentucky; our church family at Woodbine; brothers and sisters from Summerville; friends from around the world; and people whom I don’t even know.   I write them because your names represent the lessons I learned during this contest.

I learned about the power of relationships and how we are so connected to each other.  Throughout the contest, we had people voting for us whom we had never met, but who had heard about the contest from several different sources from several different states!

I learned that our friends are a really generous, thoughtful group of people who will spend time and emotional energy on causes from which they will not personally benefit.

But most of all, I learned that the most valuable asset in life is community.  Technology didn’t win this contest.  Desire didn’t win it.  Perseverance didn’t win it.  Our friends and family won it.  Our church won it.

Thank you for showing me how powerful community can be.  And thank you for giving this opportunity to Greg, to our family, and ultimately to our church.  My memory fails me, and words fail me, but please know how deeply grateful I am to all of you.

25 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jeff Carter on June 22, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    You’re welcome.


  2. Wasn’t it fun!?!?! I learned how many mutual friends Greg and I have, because of all the posts that kept popping up (“Shana and Jiff and 9 others shared the following post…”) Power of community, definitely! It was a perfect storm of us being a social-media-heavy generation and a very close, supportive CoC family. I voted every day and am super excited to watch Greg’s journey as it continues through grad school and beyond.


    • Well put, Molly! I also liked seeing the random connections on Facebook. I sent a plea out to my homeschooling play group on Yahoo!, and a woman whom I didn’t actually know wrote back telling me it was the third time she’d heard about it–from three disparate sources! And I totally agree about the perfect storm of social media and a close church group. It was amazing to see the machine in action! Thanks so much for your support!


  3. Posted by Linda Kunkle on June 22, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    It was wonderful to see all the response and pulling together, and whether he had won or not it was wonderful to be a part in seeing it happen! But, oh, it’s MUCH more rewarding that he WON! Congratulations Greg, we are so excited to see your plans come to fruition! Praying God’s blessings on you, your family and your work!


    • Thank you, Mrs. Linda. Greg and I agreed that “win or lose,” this was a beneficial (if highly stressful:)) experience. It was amazing to feel the support of our friends. But yes…it IS a nice bonus that we won:).


  4. Posted by Rob Thomas on June 22, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    It was fun! I had friends and family voting in WV and Ohio that probably have no clue where Lipscomb is let alone who Greg is. Mom voted and shared like crazy. 🙂 My wife whom you have still never met voted everyday. Now what are we supposed to do on Facebook??? We love you guys and would do it again and much more if another opportunity arises. PS I would expect nothing less from you than the novel you called a blog post. Miss you both!


    • I loved so much about your comment Robby, not the least of which was your teasing me about my “novel”! I was trying to keep it short!:) Haha–I get a little carried away sometimes.

      What I loved even more, though, was hearing about your family voting. Like you said, we don’t even know them, and had no idea all that was going on. Thank you so much for telling me. And thank them for me! We miss you, too, Robby!


  5. Posted by Kevin Appleby on June 22, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    What about that dude, Kevin Appleby. I think I saw a couple of shared links from him and used four different emails everyday. So happy for you guys. Well deserved. Love you both.


  6. Posted by Cyndi Russell-Albach on June 22, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    So is Greg ready for his classes?
    :), C


    • We are giving ourselves a couple days before we start freaking out about classes:)! Really, it is the schedule that will be the toughest part. I don’t worry a bit about the academics. My boy is “wicked smaht”!


  7. Posted by Dave Sparrow on June 22, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Well said! But this win would not have happened without the credibility that you and Greg have established. Working for years in the trenches, where the rubber meets the road ,as it were. You guys are effective in places and situations where most people don’t wish to go (although I think Jesus would be quite comfortable there:)

    Carpenters Square is a dream, but a viable one. People could see the goodness of Woodbine Family Church and Youth Encouragement Services. The opportunity to help people succeed in life resonates with anyone who cares about making the world a better place. Even in a small way. Like helping a capable young man with a dream by voting in such a painless fashion. So, it was fun, exciting, nerve wracking, etc, but it was an easy sell. You guys deserve the victory!


  8. Congratulations…God Bless you and yours…thanks Dave for sharing this with us so we could vote.


  9. Posted by Daphie Sellers on June 23, 2013 at 6:50 am

    Kim, I was happy to send messages on behalf of Greg and you last week. I cannot think of anyone I would have supported (other than Jay or Nicole) in a journey such as this. I realize that this will be a big thing for your family. This is wonderful; however, it is a victory for God which is awesome. Cannot wait to see how this opportunity will impact the lives of those around you and Greg. I am thankful for all you and Greg did for Jay and Nicole. I am thankful to have known you both and thrilled I had the opportunity to teach both Anna and Luke. May God continue to bless your ministries and your lives.


    • Thank you so much, Daphie! Your words are always such a huge encouragement to us! We loved having Jay and Nicole in our lives and were also very thankful for what a wonderful teacher you were to our own children. Thanks again for all your support!


  10. So proud of you and all those who love you guys! I agree 100% with your daddy – of course a vast majority of the people who voted for you didnt know you guys but they voted because of those of us who do and believe in the work you guys are doing! These kinds of things remind us in HUGE ways that God does bless those who bless him …love it! I cannot WAIT to see all the wonderful blessings that trickle down from this! Amen and Amen! 🙂


  11. Posted by Daniel Moss on June 23, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Thanks for the post from your blog. My wife, Elaine, has known the Kirby family since Glenda, Dan, and her were in college at was then David Lipscomb College. I came to know the Kirby’s when I married and Dan and I share the same love of trains. Good luck to all of you and we are glad so many (including yourself) have been and will continue to be supportive of Greg.


  12. Congratulations on the win!! It was my pleasure to vote every day and ask my fb friends and family to vote! Knowing you, and your work, it was easy to push this forward. Knowing a lot of kids will reap the benefits and our God will be glorified! Thanks for all you and Greg do and will do! Love you, Bobby Collins


  13. What a blessing for all of us to be able to participate in this worthy cause. And I’ve never been more proud of our son-in-law! He has such a good heart. Oh, and I love the movie quote from Good Will Hunting…and I think you are both wicked smart!


  14. Posted by Ivy Deitch on June 24, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    So glad that he won! I can’t wait to see what God does with this blessing. When I think about all that you guys have experienced in a year, God’s hand in it is now more obvious than ever.

    I’ve been missing your blog, too. I find it harder to read my normal blogs when I’m not on a “real” computer (vs. an ipad). I need to catch up!


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