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

Monday, October 31, 2011


It's getting chilly around here.

I got out Carolyn's cute little brown leather coat.

It had been in the coat closet at our old house....which I remember being relatively unaffected by damage.

It has since been hanging in our coat closet at the new house after being examined and declared "fine".

It has white crusty mold all over it.

ALL over it.

Stupid tornado.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

EHM is in the House!

Extreme Home Makeover has come to Joplin!!!  

I love this show.

I have ALWAYS loved this show.

RH thinks it's ridiculous....but I love love love it.

Cry every time, in fact. person can't give one family a home.

But....when one person plus one person plus one person plus a few more one persons get together....


It's awesome.

And these families have been through so much.....

I am volunteering for a couple different days and will post about them later.

But for now.....
Joplin Home Makeover

Check it out.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jumping the Hurdles....

So last week my baby boy turned 8.


Sometimes days seem to drag on and on and on and on and on....
But isn't it amazing how overall, time truly does fly by?

Saturday after Cougar Carnival I cooked and shredded a ton of chicken and baked Ethan's requested pound cake.

Then we had his friend party at Lazer Force and had the blessing (blessing because it was NOT at my house!) of watching 19 little boys run WILD for a few hours.

Total chaotic bliss.

Then we brought 4 of those boys home with us, picked up two little girls and partied hard 'till the ripe 'ol time of 11:15 when we all soundly and completely passed out.

Which was fine, until 6 little precious sets of feet came tip tip tapping down the stairs at 6:12.

But you can't beat your son's big beautiful dimpled smile when he sees you at the bottom of the stairs as he and his 3 buddies (all wearing only RH's shirts and underwear because they are sooooooo cool and big) sneak down and he yells:


What an amazing age.
What an amazing kid.

All 6 of the kids happily got dressed and ate healthy Boo Berry cereal for breakfast and we headed for church.

Serious picture perfect morning.

But for some reason I was antsy.

I couldn't figure out why....maybe just tiredness from the long weekend?

After church the other kids headed out and RH took our 3 to Duck Camp for a bit so I could finish getting ready for the family party (15 people) that night.

I made Crunchy Chicken Casserole.
I marinated the asparagus.
I toasted the toppings for an Oriental salad.
I cleaned areas of my house where the guests might go and shoved all the dirty stuff in random closets where no one would ever think of looking all of my house thoroughly.
I found candles and put them near the cake.

Then I started to set out a stack of plates for the dinner that night.
Then it hit me.

On May 22 I had been doing the same thing.

I had made Bennett some Crunchy Chicken Casserole.
I had marinated asparagus.
I had made Oriental salad.
I had cleaned the house.
I had strategically placed birthday candles.

And I remember the picture of the kitchen that night....

The wooden bowl of Oriental salad.
The full wine glass sitting undamaged and unspilled.
The missing ceiling.
And the stack of plates...mostly unbroken, with the top one strangely flipped upside-down on top of the others.

And the truth?
I consciously did NOT set out a stack of plates for the dinner that night.

I let people simply get them out of the cupboard when they needed them.

And that worked just fine.

Silly little things.
Silly little pointless memories.
Silly pointless things that make my stomach knot up and volcano-sized goosebumps break out all over my arms.

Did Ethan and his Aunt have a good family birthday dinner?

Yes.  I think so.

Was I really really glad to have it over with?

Yes.  I was.

I have the feeling that there may be many of these unforeseen silly mental hurdles in the future.

But I think it isn't just my's this city's future.

Just like after any life-altering event....we have to do things for the "first time".....again.

And these "firsts" are both triumphant.....
and heart-wrenching.

First Joplin Football game?

First Halloween without certain family members?

In the grand scheme of life....a birthday dinner isn't all that victorious (although I am quite proud of myself for having the mental fortitude to remember birthday candles!) or heart breaking.

But it was a small couldn't-have-known-that-was-going-to-happen "first".

And while I don't want to obsess about the tornado....I have to say this:

I am VERY thankful for my kids.
I thank God daily for them.
On their birthdays I like to take time to especially thank God for all the things that they have brought into my life.

And this year....with the not-so-distant-memory of how I'd felt when I thought perhaps I'd lost my youngest son .....
Coupled with the unsettling deja-vu of recreating the afternoon of May 22nd....

my thankfulness was truly...
truly beyond all words.

And that is both heart-wrenching.....AND triumphant.

Happy Birthday, Little E.
I love you.


Wow.  This had me smiling and crying.  Actually had to put my tea down for fear of spilling.
Sweet little Emma Cox shown in this video lived in my neighborhood....
so strange to see her house like that.

Watch the video.
Trust me.
It's worth your time.

Joplin Strong

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Tonight Bennett told me "His Story."

4 1/2 months after it happened he spontaneously spoke about it.

After I've asked him time after time after time after time
if he wanted to talk about it....
if he would talk about it....
if he could talk about it.....

After he's told me time after time after time after time

He finally talked.

I asked him if I could write it down, and he said that I could....but he didn't want to have to speak about it again so I'd have to do it from memory.

I will ask him if I can share it on the blog.....and hopefully he will let me.

Until then....I will simply tell you that he remembers a lot of things that I do NOT recall...and that again, my stomach churned, my eyes teared up, and i had monstrous goose bumps all over my body while I listened to his account of May 22nd.

We were driving home from the Young Life "non-banquet" and had to go down the entire stretch of Main Street.

You simply cannot drive from the South to the North end of town without passing through the DZ. it fate, God's provision, or simple unconscious avoidance I have been able to NOT go through the DZ at night very much at all.

In fact, this was only the 2nd time I'd done it....and I CERTAINLY hadn't done it with the kids.

We drove past Auto Zone, and Carolyn was reading the letters and asked Ethan what it spelled.

The 'T' was gone in the sign, so Ethan wasn't really sure what 'ATO" spelled and asked me.

I explained the missing letter mystery, and Carolyn asked where the 'T' had gone.

This store sits on the edge of the DZ, so I replied that the tornado had probably knocked it down.

As is so often the case, the simple mention of the tornado changes the atmosphere in the car....especially as we drove into the eerily darkened area of Main St.

It was only 7:40ish, so you could still see outlines of busted buildings and empty spaces (and I realize that empty spaces don't officially HAVE outlines but you really do know somehow that the spaces are THERE and maybe it's just a felling of the lack of ANYTHING being there when there SHOULD be something there??) and an occasional random flashing yellow light.

I guess that everything combined got my kids in a talking kind of mood.

As we drove I asked Ethan if he remembered being in the car with his uncle.
He said he did.
I asked him what he remembered seeing, and he said, "Things flying by the cardboard and other stuff I didn't know what it was."
I asked him if he remembered pulling up into some guy's front porch to take shelter, and he said, "No."

Bennett turned around to look at him, and began quizzing him on WHY he didn't remember a fact that he had not only TOLD us about but had SHOWN us which house it was.

I gave Bennett one of those copyrighted "Mom-looks" (later to explain to him that sometimes God lets us forget things that are too hard or painful for our minds to remember and to let Ethan remember what he wants to right now....hope that was the right thing!) and asked Ethan what he DID remember.

Ethan told us something we hadn't heard before.
He said that they were driving to our neighborhood and he and his cousin had their heads on the seat like their uncle had told them ("Put your heads down and take a rest boys, just take a rest...") when the car stopped.
A man was standing (according to Ethan) on TOP of his wrecked smashed-up car, and their uncle stopped his truck and asked him if he was hurt or needed help.
The man replied no, that he was just trying to call someone on his phone, and so their uncle continued driving toward our home.

(Later in the evening Ethan told us that when Uncle Frank's truck "Made it to my house I was scared when I saw the house because I thought that the people who were in it were maybe dead." "You thought WE were dead?"--asked Barrett, and Ethan nodded....)

I said to Ethan, "That must have been so scary for you."
He said yes, and then I asked Bennett if HE had been scared that night.
He said he was scared about Ethan and Wyatt and his aunt and uncle.
I said I had been scared about them too, but then asked him if he had been scared for HIMSELF when we were in our basement.

He thought for a moment and said, "Well, when I heard all of the (insert appropriate sound effects here that mean crashing and banging) noise I was pretty scared that the house would fall in on us."

Then he turned to me and said, "Do you want to hear MY STORY?"

And I kept looking forward, slowed down, and said, "Yes."

4 1/2 months.
That's a long time to go without talking.

He's ok.
We're all ok.

But we've been are we affected?


My dad and step mom came last week for a visit, and my dad told me that every single one of my friends and acquaintances he spoke with had PTSD.

He's probably right, you know.

This whole down does, to some degree or another.

Maybe you talk about the tornado INCESSANTLY.
Maybe you continuously call yourself a victim and look for free help.
Maybe you've been "relocated" and are trying to find that lost sense of home.
Maybe you refuse to speak about it because it was just a storm and it's over now.
Maybe you cry at random things during the day.
Maybe you never cry during the day but keep waking up with a wet pillow.
Maybe you get annoyed at people who "just can't shut up and be over it."
Maybe you still live in a tent (and these people are out there).
Maybe you are rebuilding and praying it will bring you a sense of closure.
Maybe you are finally getting used to going to the "other" Walmart.
Maybe you keep making the turns that lead to your old house instead of your new one.
Maybe you question whether your lack of memory and organization can still be blamed on the tornado or whether you have an actually biological issue.
Maybe you are totally fine until someone asks you if you're fine and you get angry because you are SO fine.
Maybe you have a lot of migraines.

Maybe more than one of these apply to you.
Maybe there is something more you could add to this list.

All I'm saying is.....4 1/2 months.

Life is going on....the blessings are flowing and MY gratefulness truly knows no bounds.....

But 4 1/2 months ago something happened.
And it did affect us.