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

Monday, November 21, 2011

Shifted Foundations...

Six months ago today we said good-bye to my dad and stepmom and they headed back toward Atlanta.

Six months ago today we went to church.

Six months ago today I traded my sister-in-law a daughter for two nephews and went home to get ready for my son's 11th birthday party.

Six months ago today 4 boys played in the sprinklers in the yard while I made vanilla buttercream frosting.

Six months ago today I agreed with my father-in-law that we should move the party to our house instead of their pool because the weather might get yucky.

Six months ago today I asked my husband to take the boys to my in-laws for a quick swim so I could get the house ready.

Six months ago today two of the boys came back with my mother-in-law.

Six months ago today we ignored a tornado siren and sat in the kitchen eating chips and dip.

Six months ago today the sky got really black and I called my husband's uncle and asked him how close he and our aunt were with my son and nephew.

Six months ago today the kids and our friends went down in the basement when the second tornado siren began wailing.

Six months ago today I stood in the doorway to my garage and stared up the street looking for a truck.

Six months ago today the world began spinning around us and my ears popped over and over.

Six months ago today I yelled at my family to get into the storage room and sprinted down the stairs with my dog.

Six months ago today I heard our house being ripped apart as I leaned over children in our basement.

Six months ago I placed my son and nephew and aunt and uncle and father-in-law into God's hands.

Six months ago today God gave me tangible proof of what a better caretaker He is of my family than I could ever be.

So much has happened.
So much has changed.
So much I've forgotten.
So much still confuses me.

So much inspires me.
Warms me.
Touches me.

Six months ago we said good-bye to a lot of different things:
...our old home
...our old neighborhood short term memory 8 year-old's easy going nature 11 year old's ability to let US be caretakers and HIM just feel taken care of
...enjoyment of summer rainstorms ability to get through a day without crying.

But six months ago we were introduced to a new way of living:
...that is based on people and not places
...where I only need LITERALLY one pair of jeans and some sneakers
...when giving one more hug and one more story truly matter more than my schedule
...when the presence of God actually feels like a blanket over my shoulders
...where when if I decide to have a latte and a scone with a friend instead of going for a run I actually feel I made the better choice
...that is rooted more firmly in God instead of my worldly surroundings.

Now I have certainly had quite a few experiences since May 22nd that I did not really expect to have this summer this fall this lifetime:
We lived with my mom for a few weeks....
I personally helped bulldoze my home...
We bought two houses...
I saw the president...
We got a puppy...
I learned how to tell if clothing had insulation in it by how it felt on my arms in the first 30 seconds...
I saw Barry Manilow...

Priority shifting.
Life changing.
Faith building.
Sleep ruining.
Perspective turning.

Quite a busy six months, I'd say.

Our house was totaled partly because it had a cracked and shifted foundation.
Rather poetic, don't you think?
I will venture to say that 6 months ago.....
more foundations shifted than just the one on our house.

My eldest son says that one thing the tornado has done for him is make him pray more.
I'll second that.

I know I felt God so so very close to me right after that storm....and definitely in those first few weeks when I ran on nothing but adrenaline and coffee.

He was so present.

I realize He's always present....but when we are blatantly open and raw and stripped of all defenses....then He can move in close.

And He did.

And He was. I move on into a new normal....I don't always feel Him quite as closely.

Is He still around?



Without a doubt.

It's just me who's let all my "life junk" get in between me and Him.

I miss it.

Now don't get me wrong....I certainly don't miss the psycho-chaotic-confusing-emotional-mindbender that those first few weeks (or can I be honest?  First few months is probably more appropriate.) brought....but I miss that closeness and utter/complete dependence.

How very very lucky I was to be able to experience that without experiencing an enormous devastating loss.

And although there are so so so so so so so so so many things I can't seem to remember from these past six months....
I won't forget how it felt to have His arm around me and hear His voice in my ear.

And because of the gift I've been given....the gift of shifted priorities and changed perspectives.....I can work toward that closeness again.
I can build my firm foundation from the ground up.

Hopefully it wont take 200+ mph winds to shove me into His arms....

Friday, November 18, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011


So for the last few days everyone has been telling me (and when I say everyone I mean at least one (if not two or three) random or different people each day) that the 6 month tornado anniversary time-period is going to be really tough for people.

My mom the nurse has given me articles with all kinds of experts backing this fact up with suggestions on how to cope.

People in the grocery store line have graciously warned both me and fellow customers that its going to "really suck" for some of Joplin when the 6 month mark hits and "they" realize that their lives are still not put back together.

Electronic "change-screen billboards" around town are informing Joplin about a memorial service on
 11-22-11, then following up with a "When You Need Mental Health Help" screen.

(So...6 months.
100 days.
Haven't I had a post like this before????)

Here's my observation on this.

Time goes on.

Every day things become a little easier......overall.

I say overall, because interspersed in that gradual upward emotional climb are some jagged downward peaks.


Conventional wisdom (including mental health experts, Biblical wisdom and life experience) says that with the passage of time.....hurt eases.

This is true, to some extent.

However, there is something a little different that happens when the main event involves a TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE.

You see....God created our minds and bodies in a really amazing way.

He gave us this incredible substance called adrenaline to get us through crazy experiences.

He also gave us the ability to completely block things out of our memories until our minds are able to process them.....allowing us to "compartmentalize"---or tuck certain emotions away into little internal boxes and keep them closed for an indefinite amount of time.

When a traumatic event occurs....there are too many BIG things that happen to you all at once.

You can't mentally/emotionally/physiologically handle all of these things. deal with the immediate surface issues and hide the rest of the things away.

By things I mean: visual memories, hard conversations, emotional memories, physical pain, unanswerable questions etc.

In fact, you become kind of numb....operating on a sort of auto-pilot to get through each day/hour/week. some point, the numbness starts to wear off.
And apparently....6 months is pretty key to this.

(And yes...I realize that "6 months" or "183ish days" are nothing but man-made numbers....but God DID give us these numbers (and hence the time frames) for some reason!)

So I was thinking about when I first came out of my house and was trying to find out if the neighbors were ok.

One of my dearest friends lives lived on the street behind me, and I remember as we walked that way, asking people if they had seen her family.  I could see where the top of her house has been....and I knew they had been hit.  But I wasn't screaming or panicking....just asking.  Then someone said they had seen both her and her husband and that her family was ok.  Then we went on to check on other neighbors. I was remembering this story...i had a stab of bitter cold sickening fear slice through my stomach.  It literally made me gasp.  My shoulder and neck muscles tightened to the point of pain......then it all went away.

I think.....that was the fear I wanted to feel that night.  That was the true abject huge fear that something horrible had happened to my friend and/or her family when I saw their house.

Going to church yesterday Ethan was talking about the windstorm we'd had the night before and said how glad he was it didn't turn into a tornado.


Then he looked at me and said, "I am really glad I didn't die in that tornado, Mom,"  and started talking about the cardboard swirling past Uncle Frank's truck that night and when his head (and elbow??) were bleeding from the stupid stop sign that smashed through the back window. stomach clenched up.  Tears came.  My upper body tensed to the point of spasm.....and it stopped.

Again...I think that was some of the fear I should have felt that night.

May 22nd was NOT the time to feel or deal with that fear....there were too many things to DO.

So that some of the numbness is wearing off....and we (as a city?) are stabilizing and recreating our sense of home....God is allowing our minds to let go of some of the feelings they have been holding in all of those boxes for the last 6 months.

It's probably a good thing to open those and let the feelings and memories out.
I am reasonably sure my brain doesn't have enough storage space for all of that anyway.

As long as I (we?) remember that each and everyone of those boxes is wrapped in IMMENSE GRATEFULNESS.....

Then one-by-one God can help me empty them.....
Break the boxes down....
And get rid of them.

But...I think I'd like to save the wrapping paper.

Friday, November 4, 2011


"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."
Jeremiah 29:11

You know...I've heard this verse tons of times. 
People sent me this verse many times after the tornado, in fact.

But while I've always like the idea that God was on my side....
I never really sat down and THOUGHT about all this verse said.

(I really need to get back into my hobby of thinking someday....)

The other day I felt overwhelmed.
As we all do....I had lots of issues in lots of different areas of my life.

**We were trying to finalize the deal on our "forever house".
**I couldn't make things better for people I care about.
**Things don't always go smoothly with the kids in school.
**Health issues pop up and leave a "hole" in your "I will be young forever" perception.
**People in their 3rd and 4th decade of life decide to act like 3 and 4 year olds and it still    even though it's really irritating to admit hurts my feelings.
**I have had to learn more about federal legalities than any happy housewife ever should.
**I kept experiencing the reality that when trying to follow God's instructions on dealing with earthly's still hard to wait for His judgement and see people getting away with horrible things.  
**Bennett wanted pictures ("only the really graphic ones, mom") or our post-tornado house for a paper at school and I got those stupid goosebumps while printing them off.
**I was heading out of town to run a half-marathon.
**People in my life had made bad decisions (as I have certainly done at times) and they all seemed to need me at once

You know how sometimes it seems like
hits at once?

I got whacked.
Think about it though....

Some days we have so many "things" pulling us down in our lives.

Seems like there are really too many people/things/commitments to take care of.

They are draining us....and we wonder how exactly we are supposed to have the energy to deal with them all.

We wonder if maybe we should cut some of these people or things OUT of our lives because it's just TOO MUCH.

We can't do it all.
We can't be the one that everyone turns to...that everyone's TOO MUCH.
Who is there to be "our one"?


He will lift us up and support us.
That support will enable us to support others.....but He is NOT doing it just for that.
He's doing it because He loves you.
He wants to take care of you.
He wants to give you peace, hope, and He has said He has plans for you.

In other words....
He's the one who's going to hug you.
Let you rest your head on His shoulder and stroke your hair...
Smile at you...
Let you know that YOU matter because YOU ARE YOU.
He loves YOU.
He wants to give YOU peace.
He wants to give YOU hope.

Yes....we have responsibilities to other people and things....and God expects us to fulfill them.
But in the meantime?

He's looking out for YOU.

And me.

And that's just plain good.

(Check out THIS SONG.....
and grab a kleenex.)