Collins is now a motivational speaker, which allows her some free time. So she went to the worst economic zip code she could find in the inner city and volunteered to be the cheerleader coach, overseeing 16 girls. She came home about two weeks into it, and so she couldn't make the practice that was scheduled that day. When she told the girls, she got 16 text messages from every single girl because they all missed her so much.
Were you ever nervous about letting a stranger in your home? What did you see in Mike that let you know you could trust him?
That's a great question. To us, there was never a doubt, and it's hard to explain to people. We looked into his eyes and saw needs, but also a lot of love … and then the next day was Tuesday, and then Wednesday, and it's nine years later. I'm sure there were bad days, but we can't remember them. My wife says she blocks it out, kind of like childbirth. She doesn't remember the misery of the process; she just remembers the joy of the birth. It's kind of like that. I'm sure we had bad days, but I don't remember any. That's a horrible answer to a great question, but in our house when you raise our garage door, we have a huge sign that says: We Believe in Miracles. And that becomes the only explanation that we can substantiate, because all the rest of it doesn't make any sense.
In your book you talk about the popcorn theory. Would you explain that?
Our philosophy of giving is that we believe God will send you messages. It's like looking into a big pot of boiling oil of popcorn kernels when one pops up and hits you in the face. We just try not to run from it. Of course, Michael was a huge piece of popcorn. We get letters upon letters of people doing wonderful things, but all of a sudden we'll react to one of them and really dig down and engage in it. People ask, "Why did you choose that one?" And we don't know. It was a piece of popcorn that hit us in the face.
What did Leigh Anne think when Sandra Bullock described her as someone who practices but doesn't preach and changed the way she saw Christians?
Well, that's obviously a huge compliment. I remember her saying it. It had a big effect, I think, on all of us. And what it told us, too, is that sometimes we can be just as destructive as we can be constructive in our walk. How we deliver our message is important.
In the book, you talk about how you wrestled with the power and effectiveness of giving. Would you explain?
People sometimes get hung up on their giving and want to know how much of a difference it's going to make or how it's being used on the other end. Our feeling is that God judges your heart as the giver, and it's up to him, not me, to judge the person who's the receiver. Once we give it, it's not ours anymore. If the person uses it for something bad, then I hate that, but my heart will be judged on the giving side. And you can't give based upon what you hope the result will be. You give according to how much cheerfulness and joy it puts into your own heart.
We have a lot of faith in people and so sometimes we are disappointed. We like for people to do well, but if they don't then unfortunately that's something they're going to have to wrestle with. My responsibility is to my own heart.
I also go back to what you said earlier about the miracle. It's leaving it in God's hands, isn't it?
if you don't believe in miracles, then this whole thing doesn't make sense. But that's why there's miracle after miracle in the Bible, because God says: "I'm taking you to a whole different level in your faith."