This is a simple story of a simple family trying to slow down this crazy life and enjoy the "moments"...

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Just Fine....

Last night after putting the kids in bed, RH (who, as we know, does his very best to stay relatively unaffected by the girly emotional world) says, "It's hard to believe that THIS (gesturing around him) is our real house now."

Then as I picked my jaw off of the carpet he did a pretty good job of summing up what I have been unable to successfully put into words: "I mean, before today, we had our other house.  Even though it wasn't "ok", it was still there.  It was still our house.  I almost felt like this house was a hotel.  Not anymore though.  This is all we have now."

And with that, he turned around, walked off, and probably looked for something very manly and tough to do.


I get it.

The sense of "home base" has been completely severed and is in the process of being re-grafted.

You see, yesterday we bulldozed the remains of the old house.

How weird does that sound/feel to say?!

There is nothing but a gi-normous pile of rubble there now.  And that will be gone today.....scooped up by some huge machine thing and thrown into a gigantic dirty black truck to be hauled off to some enormous dumping site.


And then there will be NOTHING there.  Nothing of the house, that is.  Or the several tree stumps that the huge bulldozer thing plucked out of the ground. 

But my forsythia on the corner are there.
And my mailbox.
And the tree house (for now, until we cut it down and bring it "home").

I took one last walk around the yard as the demo crew removed all of the undamaged cabinets and everything else they thought might be usable for Habitat for Humanity.
As I rounded the house one of my dear friends showed up...sent expressly to me for a much needed boost of support and love.

We stood and talked for a moment....about our kids, life, nightmares and priorities. 

We looked at the house which was soon to be gone, and I told her that I was just fine with it.

That I knew my "home" was with my family....and that this structure in front of us was nothing but walls and a ceiling (or lack thereof!) and it was just fine to knock it down.

That the house had kept us safe, and now it was time for it to go and that was just fine.

I told her that this stupid tornado experience has helped me realize how incredibly important (and to be honest, incredibly logical and practical too) it is to root yourself in Christ...and let Him (rather than a structure) provide that sense of "home"....and that because I have Him I was just fine.

My friend looked me in the eye, and told me that she understood that I was just fine, but that it was also just fine to grieve the loss of something that had given my family a sense of home for so long.

Then the dear gal hugged me, spread her angel wings and flew off jumped back in the car with her daughter, and left.

Just fine.

Then a ginormous metal dinosaur began eating my house...loudly smacking it's huge iron head against the brick wall (knock knock who's there?  The house monster!) until it crumbled and the neighborhood could watch RH's fancy toilet careen down into the ruined air hockey table in the basement.


The sounds were eerily reminiscent of the ones we'd heard while hiding in the basement as the tornado ate it's way through the house.

My sil, RH, 2 great friends and I watched in utter shock and awe (but not really was just too weird and surreal) as the dinosaur took something that we'd thought was so solid and utterly crumbled it. 

Now I realize that the tornado has done that to a fourth of my town....but I didn't actually SEE that happening.  I only saw the aftermath.  To SEE the destruction occurring (and occurring voluntarily) was rather bizarre, to be honest.

Once the dinosaur trainer dozer-driver had finished the side of the house he drove around the front.

Then he asked me if I'd like to do the final knock-down myself.

Yeah.  I think that would be just fine.
Interesting, even.

I climbed in, and after a brief tutorial drove the lifted grappling arm into Ethan's wall. 

Down came the bricks and the remaining dormer.

Then I backed it up, and out came his window seat with the 3 red (moldy) cushions on it.
And then I put the grappling arm into his green and blue room (that my mom and I had painted) with all of the Star Wars jedis on the walls and smashed them.
Then I backed up and watched his little spider-man lamp tumble down into the mess below.
Then I realized how hard I was crying.

The driver asked me if I was ok, and I told him I was just fine.

And I asked him if he could smell the lavender from my plants that were being crushed beneath the treads of the bulldozer.

He said it smelled nice, and I agreed and kept crying and used the dinosaur head to smash through the old wooden bookshelf that was in my kids' hallway.

Soon I climbed out because I think I was freaking the driver out a bit so the driver could re-align the machine, and let RH do the final knock-down.

Then, it was done.  My friends left.  RH left. The volunteers from Ft Worth across the street (who stopped to watch and film the demo) left, and it was just me.

I looked at the rubble pile that looked just the same as all of the rubble piles all across Joplin.

I prayed, and cried a little.

I thanked God for giving us that house to keep us safe...
for giving us such a wonderful place to call home for 7 years...
and for all of the memories we'd created in that house.

Then I thanked Him for a new place to call "home"....
for giving me my amazing family and friends to fill that home with laughter and new memories...
for staying so ever-present and faithful to me...
and for sending me someone to tell me that it was ok to be sad when I said good-bye to our old house.

Then I picked up the little "Atlanta Braves" stuffed baseball that had rolled out of the pile of bricks and insulation and furniture and glass....

and I went home to my kids.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Nothin' But the Truth.....

Ok.  The truth?

I'm annoyed at myself.

It's been FIVE weeks since the tornado......yet I still feel utterly discombobulated 80% of the time. 

My short-term memory is SHOT.

I can't remember what I went to a store to get.

I lose every flippin' list I make.

I can't get this stupid total pain in my butt excel spread sheet of all our possessions to work because the stupid program keeps shifting my "cells" (and what the heck is a flippin' cell anyway? Not what this biology major learned about!) about randomly ruining hours of work I have never done a spreadsheet before.

I have a mattress in the dining room that I can't seem to remember to take back.  A mattress.  It's big.  Hard to miss.

I started crying at Sam's when my raspberries spilled and the lady in the next check-out lane glared at me.

I take the wrong turns driving anywhere and am constantly late....and I've always prided myself on my punctuality.

For literally TWO weeks now I've forgotten EVERY DAY to call the "Furniture Rescue" place.

Anyway, I'm just not up to my PT self....and I'm annoyed.

What's the deal?  I realize 5 weeks isn't 5 years....but it's plenty long to get back in the game. 
I have a home base now.  We all have mattresses WITHOUT MOLD.  Underwear has been found (or purchased) for all of us.  I even have new Monkey Grass (thanks, Uncle Frank!) that the kids have remembered to water. 

What's it going to take to feel "settled"?

Yesterday morning my pastor taught out of Luke. 
Luke 12: 13-34, to be exact.

I'm not going to quote all of it here (although the read is soooo worth the effort!), but here are some "highlights" that really pierced my heart.

(I am doing some serious piecing and jumping around here....still quoting Luke, but in a funky way....)

(Jesus said,) " 'Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses,'.......then he said to His disciples....'Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.  Life is more than food and the body more than clothing.....if God (takes such good care of birds and grass), how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?

Which of you by worrying can add one day to his life?  Seek the kingdom of God, and all (other things that you think you need) shall be added to you.' "


You know how sometimes you think the pastor is speaking DIRECTLY TO YOU?

And other times I think, "Interesting message, but not really pertinent to my life right now." (maybe only I think that way?)

Well to be honest (again), at first I didn't feel all that "spoken to".
I am honestly truly completely sincerely totally truthful when I say I AM OK NOT HAVING MY OLD HOUSE AND STUFF. 


It's not just lip's a sincere not-all-that-concerned feeling about those possessions of mine.
I'm pretty darn lucky.
I haven't had to worry about having enough food.  I have friends, family, and an insurance policy that have taken care of that.  I have clothes to cover my family.  The tornado presented a good spring cleansing, and we'll go school shopping in the fall.
Big flippin' deal.

I KNOW that God takes care of my needs.
I have seen it, experienced it, felt it, believe it.

So....this passage isn't so-much for me, right?

Well.....maybe. Maybe not.

In it, Jesus also says that worrying is not such a good or healthy or obedient past-time.
He tells me not to be anxious.

Well, I think that maybe possibly sorta.....I am not listening to that very well.

True, I'm not worried about clothing or food....but I am still very shaken.

I don't mind changing my life around....but I didn't get to make the decision to change it.
A stupid EF-5 did it for me.

And that stupid EF-5 violently ripped away the home (not the house, mind you...but the sense of "home" inside of the walls) I've worked for 15 years to create. 
It stole my organization, my summer plans, my time, my children's peaceful sleep, my joy in thunderstorms, my husband's 9 hour days, my emotional stability.......

Let me be clear....the tornado DID NOT shake my faith. 
The tornado DID shake my "normal".

Every aspect of it.
I said to RH--if someone grabs your torso and violently shakes can't expect your hand to be able to write smoothly and legibly no matter HOW good your muscle control might be.  (I'm actually kinda proud of that analogy....)

But...and let's be honest AGAIN....the Bible doesn't say that "you can't worry about clothes, but anxiety over your normal life being torn away is totally fine."

It says, First seek God, and all the OTHER things will fall into place as they should (paraphrased, me).

So, I'm gonna try.
I'm gonna try to remember where my heart is rooted. 
I'm gonna try to bury myself a little deeper in Him.
I'm gonna hand over my anxieties (and quit grabbing them back) and just breathe.

It's ok if I don't get that stupid stupid stupid excel spread sheet turned in this week.
It's ok if I'm not on time to the kids' tennis camp.
It's ok if I cry when I drive into our old neighborhood.
It's ok if we eat out for the next 2-16 weeks.

These things are ok...these feelings are OK to have.....but they are not a reason for me to feel overwhelmed and flummoxed and discombobulated. 
They are simply emotions and things to recognize.....and then turn over to God.

Gotta quote one more song here....

"When my world is shaking....
Heaven stands.
When my heart is breaking....
I never leave Your hands."

So.....MAYBE the gospel of Luke was meant for me too. 
Every once and a rare while....I don't mind being wrong.

Here's a link to the song, "Your Hands"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Turn...and Face the Change's now been a month (yesterday) that my town was smashed by a tornado.

One month.

31 days.

Not such a very big amount of time, really.

But...I must say that it has TRULY been the LONGEST 31 days I've ever experienced.

I've found it interesting how "warped" time has become since May 22nd. 
Even though I may have literally lost from memory several days of my life, a week seems to stretch on for years. 
And nights when storms come through lately?  Well....2 hours seems to become 8 or 9. 
But other times I am running around doing everything/nothing and I look at my watch to see if it's dinner time...only to find that it's 10:30 at night.

Time just isn't the same.
31 days later....things still just aren't the same.

To be honest, some of the "not-same" things I really kind of like.
For instance....
The low level of tolerance people seem to have for other people's insincerity.
Watching strangers sacrifice so much to help strangers.
Seeing so many people holding hands around town.
My new disco ball. I was forced to drive through yet another previously-unseen hideously disastrous road this morning (due to the fact that other roads had been closed for house and what remains of people's lives debris removal) I looked around me and noticed some things I found pretty interesting.

I think I'll list them here, so that in 3 years from now I don't forget and start taking the world for granted.

--Trees that have absolutely NO bark on them can still grow new leaves.
--Shiny sequins from Hallmark bags still stay shiny after a month out in the elements.
--Flags moved back up to the top of their poles from half-mast look very strange to me.
--Going without any fruit or vegetables for 14 days will not harm my children.
--You can honestly get used to being able to look through a building.
--Waiting an extra 8-9 minutes in line at Wal-Mart so the checker and another customer can compare tornado stories and hug isn't so bad.
--I can easily live with 4 pairs of shorts and 7 t-shirts (but having all of my fun flip-flops that were in my "lost" luggage helps!).
--It's spookier to see a totally bulldozed and cleared area then one filled with debris.
--A good Dr. Seuss read in quiet-yet-enthusiastic tones can keep a 4, 7 and even 11 year old calm during the sirens.
--Sometimes I'm quicker to cry about amazing kindness then I am about utter devastation.

Some things I'm ok with "getting back to normal."
Others....I hope they ARE the "new normal."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Different Kinds of Beauty...

Maybe about a week and a half-ish PT Ethan asked me if he could "write something."

He and his cousins had been into making lists of everyone they knew, so I figured that was what he wanted to do.

I gave him my legal pad I'd been using for inventory and a pencil and he sat down at the kitchen island and lost himself in thought.

I busied myself around the house, until he asked (without looking up), " do you spell 'tornado'?"

I actually had to swallow hard and tell my stomach to stop flipping over before I could answer him.

He wrote for about 20 minutes, pausing every now and then to ask me how to spell something, then walked over to me with the big yellow pad and asked me to read it out loud.

(I wish  I had picture-posting-capabilities right now...because his beautiful childish handwriting captures his story so much better then the computer....but hopefully that will come in time, too.)

Here is what he wrote:

I was in a car when the tornado happened.
I was in my Uncle Franks car.
The tornado broke my house it was really scary!
Something blew and hit the glass and the glass hit me on the head.
I mis my house but I got a new one and i like it and im glad that everybodys safe.

Today I got a beautiful message from a dear friend of mine on facebook.  She shared a verse that had been on her heart to give to me.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord,
thoughts of peace and not of evil,
to give you a future and a hope.

Aren't both of these beautiful? 
So different (but not so different)  from each other....but so touchingly wonderfully beautiful?

I know I've said it before, but I think it bears repeating.

I am unbelievably blessed.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Keep on Climbing.....

I'm a manner of speaking.

This weekend we ran away.
All 5 of us.

RH and I realized that we pretty much hadn't REALLY seen our kids for 5 weeks.
Sure, we'd been around....

But in reality we were gone on vacation for the week PT*...
Then we came back and had that little EF-5 incident...
Then we spent a week digging through and packing up our lives while the kids were shuffled from person to person....
Then we spent a week trying to find parts of our lives while the kids were shuffled from place to place....
Then we spent a week throwing away moldy parts of our lives and trying to move into a new home with mold-free stuff while the kids were shuffled from here to there...

(And I realize that only makes 3 official weeks....but to be honest..I think I literally lost a week in there somewhere!)

Ethan has been up with nightmares and random complaints almost every night.

Carolyn has told the bbsitters that she no longer has to listen to them (although there is a very distinct possibility that her....a-hem...defiance has nothing to do with our temporarily crazy lifestyle and more to do with her....a-hem...independent personality)...

Bennett has been on a hard-core-won't -leave-the-house-organize-everything-in-his-vicinity streak.

It was time for some JUST US-ness.

So we went to Kansas City, left our "pick-up-sticks" lifestyle behind, and just hung-out.

We went to T-Rex Cafe, stuffed ourselves, and let them all Build-a-Dino.
We went to Oceans of Fun and tried to conquer every water slide there.
We went to PF Changs and inhaled 2 orders of lettuce wraps AT THE KIDS' REQUEST!!!!
We went to Barnes and Nobel and let the kids pick whatever they wanted.
We pushed let the kids jump into the fountain outside the InterContinental Hotel.
We let the kids order off of the adult menu.
We spent way too much of our time watched street performers and let the kids put coins in each of their "boxes".
We ordered ridiculous amounts of room service (which was FREE since they forgot to clean our room!) (which I'd normally be grumpy about but the room STILL looked better than my new house!) and let the kids eat in bed and watch Shrek.
We got frozen custard after already eating dessert.

And the kids smiled.
And we smiled.
And the kids laughed.
And so did we.
And we all slept.

So we're back.  It's 7:45 in the morning, and the kids are STILL sleeping.  I have at least 27 more posts I need to add to this blog....but I think I'll wait till later.

Now...I'm going to breathe a little bit.
I'm going to slow down, and have a fifth second cup of coffee.
I'm going to make a list instead of rushing around and forgetting what I need to do.

Yes....there is still a lot of mountain left to climb in this weird journey to "new normal".....
But now I think that I can find some firm footing on my way up.

And I just might take some coffee to go.

(*PT= post-tornado)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Another Great Word...

Start with a side note:  Bennett is reading The Hobbit and asked me what "flummoxed" meant. 
I replied, "Confused.  Scattered.  Frazzled by circumstances around yourself."
Good word for now, don't you think?

Well....I went by the dry cleaners to drop an entire car load a little bit of stuff off for some serious cleaning. 

This was by no means my first trip to my wonderful cleaners. 

I had already dropped off many loads of random things that I thought might be "save-able"  (Including Carolyn's giant pink stuffed bunny that she LOVES but was really really wet...).

As you might imagine, the cleaners is a little backed up right now, and the turn around time for most of the stuff is a few weeks. 

(Really not a problem when you don't have any beds to put all of those comforters back on anyway!)

So when I deposited my "last" load of stuff (I keep telling them it's my "last" load, then I keep coming in with more car loads) I was surprised when they told me I had something to pick up.

The lady brought me out a beautifully hung wrapped-super-nicely package containing:
**one ratty red hand towel
**one ratty red bath towel
**one random green washcloth
**one Superman pillow sham
**one adult size blue snuggy

Good time for that word.
How did that stuff get here?
Why do I want that stuff?
What in the heck am I supposed to do with that stuff?

"That will be.....$14.50," she cheerfully exclaimed.  "Glad we could get it cleaned up for you!"

So...this could be how she speaks to everyone, OR....I look haggard and desperate and flummoxed enough to be eagerly anticipating the return of my snuggy.

Flummoxed, I think.

But....I just might use that darn snuggy tonight.

Monday, June 13, 2011

If You Feel Led to Come Here and Help....

Now THIS was a wonderfully useful post I found on facebook.  Really really great tips for those who want to come (or are already here) and help get this city back on it's feet.

Check out this link:  Tips for Volunteers...
And thank for being willing to help!


Three weeks ago this morning I sat on a couch in my sil's house with my friend Melanie (at 4 in the morning, to be specific) and tried to make some sense of what had just happened to my world. 

It was a difficult task.

We hadn't slept at all, the noise of helicopters flying over was constant, my newly-turned-11 year old was sleeping on the floor with the dog in front of us, and lots of sirens were going off outside of the house.

So we gave up trying to figure things out and headed to Wal-Mart at 5:40 to buy water because apparently ours was no longer safe to drink.

To be honest, that "couch time" is one of the very few solid memories I have of that week.  I hope to spend some time at the computer THIS week and figure out where those 7 days went. 
It feels important to me to know when I first went back to the house, who was with me, who came over, and what we found....I am not sure WHY this matters....but I really don't like the idea that I LOST those minutes and hours. 
Maybe because we've lost so many other things?  Maybe that's why I care where that time went? 
Who knows....but I'd like to try and find it.

In the midst of all that "fuzziness"....there are a few things that remain clear.
This is the clearest of them all....

On Monday evening we moved the 5 of us (plus dog, chinchillas, guinea pig and hermit crab) into my mother's house.  She was in Atlanta during the storm and wasn't due back until mid-week.

After a few hours of sleep (hope to get that "sleeping" thing back some day...) I came downstairs Tuesday morning around 5am. 

Barrett had left to check on his office, and the kids were all sacked out in my mom's spare bedroom. 

I was wide awake, and decided to track down a bible and spend some time with God.

Barrett's was laying on the kitchen table (apparently he had the same thought as me), so I put it in my lap as I pulled up a stool to the island.
I wanted to find something in that bible about gratefulness...something that would touch on my thankfulness.  I know that Psalms is full of wonderful poems and descriptions...but I must admit that I'm not too familiar with that book of the bible.

So, with the bible in my lap I prayed that God would show me the right thing to read that morning.

Now....I've done a lot of praying in my life.  I've felt God's presence in BIG and small ways....I know that He has orchestrated many things for me....I've seen His work and His answers...and I KNOW that He's gently (and not so gently) led me in specific directions.
But...I've never actually audibly heard Him.

I did that morning.


I admit I thought I was hearing things in my too-tired-to-properly-function brain...but I turned to Psalm 116 and began to read.

When I was done, I climbed off of the stool, tears pouring down my face, and got down on my knees to thank my God.

     Psalm 116: 1-9
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came upon me;
I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
"O lord, save me!"

The Lord is gracious and righteous,
our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the simplehearted;
when I was in great need, he
saved me.

Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.

For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death,
my ears from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living....

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Word of the Day.....

I have a new term to be added to the dictionary.

Tornado Puke:  the collection of debris left by an EF-5 tornado after it attacks a city; may include shingles, dry-wall, glass, insulation, and various bits of unidentifiable things;  often found on cars, tall grass, lots where large solid structures once stood, and inside of drawers and trunks that were closed before and after the storm and should have been airtight.  This substance has a very distinct odor consisting of a combination of wet dry-wall, mold, and rot.  Bits of this substance may be found to linger even after repeated attempts to wash it away.  Caution should be used when attempting to remove this material; preferred methods include q-tips, clorox wipes, towels, brooms, and bulldozers.

Could somebody please call Mr. Webster in their spare time and make sure this makes the 2012 edition?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kim's Story

The following is my sister-in-law Kim's story of what happend two weeks ago.....I can't read it without crying....but they are tears of fear mixed with tears of gratefulness.....

Sunday, May 22nd , 2011, a date I will never, ever forget. I have been meaning to take the time to sit down and recount that evening’s events, putting it into writing, so here goes…
That Sunday started out like any other Sunday. 
We went to church and after church my sister-in-law, Shannon, and I switched kids around as we often do.  We had my nephew’s 11th birthday party that evening and decided that all 4 boys would go home with her,  and Spencer and I would take Carolyn and Scarlett home with us. So we went our separate ways and had plans to meet up at the birthday party. The party was originally planned for 5 o’clock at my in-laws pool, but we were more than likely changing it to Shannon and Barrett’s house because it was forecasted to rain later that evening. Shannon called later to tell me that Barrett was bringing the 4 boys over to our in-law’s house to swim. She also told me the party was moved to 5:30 since it was just going to be at her house instead of the pool now. So the boys went swimming at their grandparents and we just planned to meet up at Shannon and Barrett’s for the party later on.
Later that afternoon I ride my bike up to the south YMCA which is only about 4 miles from my house. I leave the Y around 4:30 so I will have time to shower and get over to the birthday party. Our Y is located approx. ½ mile south of the St. John’s Hospital, on 32nd Street. Little did I realize that the bike ride to and from the Y is the last one I will be taking for weeks, if not months! I ride right by the hospital and through tons of housing that will be leveled within a little over an hour of me leaving the Y.
I get home and take a quick shower and get ready to head to Barrett and Shannon’s house. We are all ready to go around 5:15 when I am listening to the local radio station in my bathroom. They are talking about bad storms to our west and the possibility of some high winds, hail and a possible tornado spotted near Carl Junction (NW of us). I call Shannon and tell her that storms are moving into the area and we will head that way when they pass over. 

Around 5:40 Spencer’s Uncle Frank calls to see if we have left the house (his aunt and uncle live just down the road from us). I told him we were waiting out the storm and were leaving when it cleared up a little. He said it was horrible and to stay put and then we were cut off. I couldn’t believe he was out in the storm because it was getting so dark, windy and starting to hail. So we wait it out and even watch the storm roll in from an open garage door.

The darkness was like nothing I have ever seen with a storm, but never did Spencer and I realize what was behind that darkness. We are just waiting for the skies to lighten a little so we could head to the party. 
We had NO clue there was a tornado that had touched down in Joplin until my mom texted me a little after 6…these are the texts that went back and forth between the two of us for the next hour and a half..
MOM: let me know if you guys are okay. i know a tornado hit parts of Joplin. i am worried about you guys (6:07)

ME: didn't know an actual tornado hit parts...we have no working television. we are totally fine. just waiting it out to head to shannon's for bennetts bday party. (6:08)

MOM: i heard damage near 32nd and shifferdecker and st. johns hosp hit as well as some apartment complexes. so relieved about you guys. (6:11)

ME: the boys are at shannons...can't get ahold of bad damage over there?? call my cell if you can... (6:12)

MOM: can't get thru when i try to call you but they said 22nd and black cat road and mentioned 32nd and shifferdecker. try to text shannon let me know okay? (6:15)

ME: driving to shannons bc we still can't get a hold of anyone...damage and emergency vehicles all over. guess rangeline is pretty bad. (6:32)

MOM: that's what we heard please let me know anything as soon as you can we love you and be careful (6:35)

MOM: are you home yet (6:57)

MOM: do you have any news yet? the kids are okay right? i am worried... (7:34)

So needless to say, it was the LONGEST hour and a half of my life! We left the house as soon as we could get the girls in the car and headed to their neighborhood (approx. 5 miles from our house). People were just starting to get out after the storm, so it was kind of eerie driving across town. We came to the intersection of 26th and Shifferdecker, just ¼ mile from the entrance to their neighborhood. The scene at that point is nauseating …
Big houses to our right are half gone/destroyed and smaller homes and a neighborhood to our left is completely leveled. We can’t go straight or take a right onto 26th because of downed trees, poles and power lines. We are stuck. The girls are chipper and totally unaware in the back seat; their giggling and chatter making me even more sick to my stomach. I started shaking and wanted to cry so hard, but tears wouldn’t even come, my body didn’t know how to respond. Too many emotions…too many fears…
Spencer jumps out of the car and yells at me to take the girls back home and he will call me (which we have already realized is impossible since we cannot make or receive calls at this point).
It took all that I had to turn around and head back to the neighborhood.
I wanted to jump out and run towards them with Spencer, but I knew I couldn’t because I had the girls.
I was finally able to get through to my father-in-law, Steve, who was still back at his house in our neighborhood. I was becoming more and more upset (probably better defined as “hysterical”) and I do believe he yelled at me several times…not that I cared as he was 5 miles away and unable to see what I was seeing from this intersection. I turned around and kept him on the phone and drove home, shaking all over and on the verge of getting sick at any moment. Spencer beeped in and I clicked over to hear him say something about Harry and I could hear Shannon say something and then Spencer said “Frank has the boys” and then we were cut off.
He followed up with a text saying  “everyone is okay”. I started to calm down and told the girls no more talking as we drove back across town. I tried and tried to keep calling my mom and could never get through, lines were jammed and I was still shaking so much I had a hard time just dialing numbers. 

I get to my father-in-laws house and feel somewhat relieved for just a moment…

I tell Steve that Frank has the boys and he says he knew Frank had Wyatt and Ethan.

I am puzzled because I assumed Frank had my boys when Spencer told me that he had “the boys”.
Steve then goes onto tell me that Frank and Aunt Sana took Wyatt and Ethan after they swam earlier that afternoon and he was trying to figure out where Frank was. He was under the impression that they never left his house to go to the party and was somewhere else. I tell him that Frank called me at 5:40 as he was driving into the storm and I had no idea he had Wyatt and Ethan with him at that time! At this point I am making my own conclusions and am certain that when Spencer told me Frank had the boys, he was meaning Wyatt and Ethan and that quite possibly they never made it out to Shannons!

I am in complete panic and trying not to let my mind go there, but as I rehash what we drove up to at 26th and Shifferdecker, I am anything but positive.

Steve starts sensing this and is making up tons of stuff to make me think otherwise, but I can’t help it and the uncertainty, coupled with not being able to get ahold of ANYONE over on that side of town is killing me!
Finally Steve and I decide to take the girls to a friend’s house in the neighborhood and go back across town. Just as we are passing by our house my friend Melanie pulls up and I jump out to leave the girls with her.

She is taking them inside the house when Uncle Frank comes around the corner with my two boys, Susan and Sana.

I lose it and just start crying because up until that point I wasn’t sure if Wyatt, Ethan, Frank or Sana were even in my life anymore!

But there they are, Wyatt running into my arms and not a scratch on him.
Susan is holding Harry as his shoes are lost somewhere in what was left of my sister-in-law’s house.
He rode out the tornado in their basement, in the arms of Susan and Beth, a family friend who was there for the party that evening as well. Harry was really shook up and upset as he managed to survive an F5 tornado without the comfort of either of his parents. He hugged my neck so tight and wouldn’t let me set him down for quite a while.

As for Wyatt, it is at this point in the evening that I discover how truly gracious God was to us that fateful evening. I must have talked to Frank just moments before he ran off the road that evening to get away from the falling trees, poles and power lines, calmly telling the boys to “take a rest” and lie down in the floorboard. He was so close to Shannon’s neighborhood, but Frank, Sana, Wyatt and Ethan rode the tornado out in his old brown truck…at that unforgettable intersection of 26th and Shifferdecker.

How they drove away from that with only a minor cut to Ethan’s head (from a broken window in the truck), and a banged up truck, is truly the workings of our God. He has bigger plans for those 4 people in that truck that evening.
So many lives were forever changed in a matter of moments, so many lives lost and injured. Frank drove into Shannon and Barrett’s neighborhood by driving over debris, trees, etc. until he arrived at Shannon’s house where that whole family had emerged from the basement and were prayerfully waiting their arrival.

Shannon had known how close he was and had left the garage door open for them to drive up into and make it into the house. She had tried to wait it out but it was too late and she had to run to the basement and be with everyone else.

She lost it and so did Wyatt and Ethan when Frank and Sana arrived at Shannon’s house after the tornado. The boys sobbed and sobbed and Frank had no expression, gray in color. Sana commented several times on how well the boys did and kept telling Shannon that they were great, everyone was okay.
So many miracles and so many reasons to be thankful for that evening. Your house and your “stuff” can always be replaced. Your family and your friends cannot. We were amazingly lucky that evening and God had his hands over every one of us. We are forever changed, and for the better.

I will never forget those moments of not knowing and that sickening feeling of “what if”. I am just so very thankful everyday for every moment that I have with my children and family because we don’t know what the next day will bring. God is so good!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Welcome Home

So....we are no longer "Homeless".  Not that we ever REALLY were....actually "homeless" that is. 

When I was a kid my mom had a plaque in her kitchen that said "Please Don't Write in my Dust." "Home is Where Love Surrounds You."

When we left our house in a mad scramble 2ish weeks ago we went to my sister and brother-in-laws home.  My niece and nephews and mother/father-in-law and daughter and dear friends were waiting for us.
We were surrounded by love.

Then we moved into my mom's house...and were joined for almost a week by my brother, father and stepmom. 
We were surrounded by love.

Every night we ate with 12-22 people.  Cousins came from far away, friends encircled us, we had at least 3 birthday celebrations for Bennett.....
We were SURROUNDED by love.

Now we are spending our 3rd night in our new house.
I couldn't be more grateful.  It has a roof, solid walls, a BASEMENT, a sunken couch (which is kinda weird but really needed considering we no longer OWN a couch!), a lava lamp (and room for 12 more!), a fenced yard for the dog and a "secret closet" for Carolyn.

But....more has us
My husband. 
My kids.

A good friend of mine snuck a casserole into our fridge and some frozen custard into our freezer and I was able to pull food out of the oven and feed my family in my own place.
The 5 of us and my mom sat on the floor around some flattened cardboard boxes and ate out of Styrofoam bowls with plastic forks. 

And I'll tell you something....
I have NEVER felt more blessed.

As funny and cliche (and perhaps even cheesy) as it may mental picture of "home" has changed.....I hope forever.

Driving home from picking up take-out tonight (we have thrown away more Styrofoam containers that my "i love being green and recycling" mind can handle lately...but oh well!) a song came on I hadn't heard in a while. 

I've included the link to the song's really worth your time to listen.

Here...see hear for yourself....
That's What Faith Can Do

And stop by sometime.....we'll leave the light on for you (if I can figure out which switch turns on the darn thing!).

Friday, June 3, 2011


Here are some pictures that I've been trying to post a link sister-in-law and I took them during the few days after the tornado. 

Click HERE for pictures...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Little Stillness

This morning I was somehow able to carve out a few minutes of silence.  Barrett was at work, kids (and dog) still sleeping, and my mom was getting ready to head into her job.

I picked up my is it smoooshed. 

Not sure where it was that night, but most of the pages are crumpled and smashed, and weird debris is falling out from it.

In fact, there are quite a few pine needles in the pages.
We didn't have any pine trees.

Anyway, I started to try and clean some of the junk out and smooth the pages.  As I ran my hands over different sections I felt a large "bump" and turned the pages to discover a LARGE piece of glass and some...other stuff?  The glass was probably 2 inches square.  (I took a picture....just have to find my camera cord now!) 

Guess where the "glass-mark" had landed?

Psam 46
God is our refuge and strength.
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even thought the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Thought the mountains shake with its swelling......

Be Still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

Bring it on today, world.  I'm ready.