During the April 2011 tornadoes, a massive tree fell into the Jackson’s house, ripping through the walls of the back bedroom. The Jacksons were taking shelter in their home at the time and the tree should have crushed the house and them inside, but miraculously, it didn’t.

Their lives were spared, and they knew that God had protected them. They were unsure how to get the tree out of the house and did not have the insurance coverage adequate for the tree removal and house repair.

Over time the continued water damage caused extensive problems throughout the home. The Jacksons continued raising their two children and working and just tried to ignore the house problems. They just weren’t sure what to do and Mr. Jackson said that over time the problem got so big that it just “got away from them.” Both Mr. and Mrs. Jackson are hard working, kind people who needed help to fix this problem. Unfortunately the home was too damaged to repair, so in partnership with Alabama Rural Coalition for the Homeless (ARCH) we were able to tear down the house and rebuild a new house for the Jacksons.

At one of the very first house planning meetings with the family our team asked Ms. Jackson what her wishes were for her new home. If she could have anything, what would it be?

Their lives were spared, and they knew that God had protected them

Ms. Jackson thought for a few minutes and said she would like windows, a water faucet on the outside of the house and a plug on her porch for Christmas lights. Three simple requests! This was the home Ms. Jackson had grown up in and raised her children in. She loves this home and had many possessions that were from her parents and memories from childhood and from raising her children there. All of these emotions made it hard but the Jacksons trusted us and trusted God to provide.

While walking around the yard, Ms. Jackson pointed to an overgrown cedar tree in the front yard. She said that her Dad had planted the tree and asked if we could keep it. Unfortunately, the tree needed to be removed and this was just one more memory that Ms. Jackson had to be willing to let go of.

Because we had to tear down the home we needed to move the Jacksons to a temporary home. Wells Fargo, who knew nothing about the Jacksons or our need for a home, called during the process and offered us a house! The house was actually in really good condition and only needed a little work to get it livable for the Jacksons! This was such an answer to prayer and encouraged us that we were on the right path!

The building process took about six months and during that time one of our long-time volunteers, Randy Sain, had an idea about the tree. His brother owns a saw mill, River Bottom Wood, and so he had the tree removed and taken to his brother to see what was possible. The tree was milled and cured and stored because everyone was busy trying to get the Jacksons back into their new home!

After moving the Jackson family back in, Aaron Parsons our Construction Manager, got busy with a group of volunteers who had diligently worked on the house, building a dining room table out of the cedar tree. The table came together beautifully and the team was able to take it out to Ms. Jackson to surprise her with a memory of her Dad and a new piece of furniture for her home.

The Jackson family is doing great. Their youngest daughter, who was in high school at the time, is completing college. And Ms. Jackson is continuing to cook for her family and friends in her home and serve them at the table her Dad grew.