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

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Light a Fire Under Me....

There are many many things I need to play catch-up posting about.
I know that.
I want to do that.
Truly, I do.

But... I seem to have a hard time finding 14 full minutes together when
3-5 people aren't asking for things
and several dogs aren't sliding around me on the floor
and my hands aren't covered with chicken nacho dip
and my various i-thingys aren't fighting instead of sync-ing
and we aren't moving houses
and my son isn't crushing his foot under a 4-wheeler
and I'm not trying how to figure out how to clean 3/4 of a crockpot full of nacho cheese dip out from between the seats of my car where it spilled
and my daughter isn't starting kindergarten
and a wind storm "micro-burst" isn't knocking trees on our roof
and a large man dressed all in black with dark sunglasses isn't at my door telling me I haven't paid my house cleaning bill promptly enough (TWO WEEKS?!?!?!)
and my power steering fluid isn't pouring out of my engine leaving me stranded at fiddle lessons
and the chinchillas haven't escaped and gone running to the bathrooms

I got nothing.
Nothing to say except that life somehow gets in the way of my updates.

And I gotta say....I miss writing.
I am going to do my darndest to carve out time for that.
It may be when I have duct taped all of my family members to each other.....but I WILL find time.

So instead of a 263 page "catch-up"....maybe I'll just parcel things out that I think are worth mentioning.

As I sift through those things in my mind....I'll leave you with a picture of how my quiet Saturday night at home went.

Can you make out what this is?

A bunch of them.
Two hook and ladder trucks and a pick-up worth.

They were in my back yard last night around 11:00 putting out the fire that didn't quite get put out earlier that day.


I could tell you how weird it is that I shut the bedroom windows thinking the "crackling noise" was coming from a nearby Halloween spook house.
I could write about how blessed we are to have a sweet worried neighbor who called to ask us if we knew our woods were on fire. (  Answer is no.  We do not.)
I could write about how God protects us from our own stupidity.
I could share about the fact that grace and mercy surround us even when we try to avoid them.

But even though I know all these things are true....I'm not going to.
I'm just going to leave this image with you for a possible plausible excuse as to why:
my memory is shot
I'm constantly confused
I'm exhausted and
I can't ever seem to catch up on blogging.

So....until next time.

Right now I have to bake several dozen cookies for our new neighbors whom I met last night in my PJ's amidst a haze of smoke and embers.

Yeah....RH and family have come to town.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Happy June...

It may be impossible for me to explain how very happy I am that it is now June.


I can't tell you (but I'm gonna try) how thrilled I am that May is OVER.

While I don't want to wish time away....
or hurry through the moments that God has blessed me with....
In all honesty???
May 2011-May 2012 was not exactly my favorite period of time.

I'm kinda ready for a "re-do".

I'm looking forward to a summer that IS SUMMER....
not one that was....well....this post may best explain what last summer was/wasn't/was/wasn't.

I'm looking forward to catching fireflies with my kids...
to staying up super late and missing much needed sleep because I choose to....
to remembering which days are for tennis and which are for swim team....
to not showing up at the wrong venue 2-3 times a week....
to remembering all the ingredients (at once) for homemade ice cream....
to checking some things off our "what we WANT to do" list....
to being excited to come home at the end of a weekend getaway.

And speaking of "home".....

We're making some serious progress on our "forever place".
There is paint on the walls and tile going down on the floor.
It actually looks more like a house than a disastrous tangled wire pit of total chaotic dust-ridden despair construction zone right now.

And that's good.
Real good.

Our official move date is (hopefully) set for September 1st....but everyone is telling me that it could me much sooner than that.

All of the wonderful kind people in my life are so thrilled for us....and they keep asking me if I'm so excited to be at this point of "transition".

(Now here comes the point of my post where I am afraid I sound like a spoiled rotten ungrateful horrible brat....when I am actually incredibly grateful and know my blessings are obvious but am simply being honest because SO MANY of my "displaced" friends have admitted feeling the exact same way to me and I hope to perhaps normalize this feeling a bit by publicly admitting it and confronting the emotional contradictions.....make sense? )

I don't think "excitement" is the best word to describe my feelings.

I've been racking my computer's thesaurus brain for a good word and here's the best I can come up with:

Anticipatory Relief.

('s two words....a "term" really but let's not get technical....please.)

I am really looking forward to being DONE.
I am really looking forward to being SETTLED.

To be specific..... unpacking that last room in the warehouse and seeing once and for all if certain things are actually gone or have been waiting patiently for me in insulation filled cardboard boxes.
... to my kids having a place to unpack their "treasures" and see that some of their old life is still around. framing some photos (that had been lost and I have re-ordered) and putting them out where I can see them. buying bathroom towels that match and are in a color I like. changing the address on my driver's license and sending out "change of address" cards. putting things where I want them instead of just using them from where they landed when they came out of a big black garbage bag last June. being DONE and SETTLED.

Now believe you me....I KNOW that "things" (or even walls and a roof) don't make a home.
I know very well that anything tangible (and I mean anything) can be taken away from you in 72 seconds flat.
I know that the only dependable constant in my family's life is God....and that if we aren't centered around Him we're simply stumbling along on sinking sand.

I promise.
I know this.
I know know know know this.
I knew this last year....and I know it now.

But here's a truth I have learned about myself this year...
I want a home base.
Not a temporary one....but a permanent one.

Maybe it's because I'm a stay at home mom.
Because I'm a homemaker.
Because I'm a girl.
I know it's not because I like picking wall colors and flippin' fixture shapes....because those decisions are driving me freakin' batty.

Whatever the reason....God wired me to feel and work best from a "homey home"....and that's just how it is.

Small disclaimer:
((On the flip side.....
If I felt like God was calling us to make a move....
To become more transitory as a family....
To uproot and travel around doing His work until He told us (if ever) to stop and rest....
I think I could totally do that.
Because the difference would be this:
First of all I would have had the opportunity to CHOOSE to make that lifestyle change. would be our new life....not some temporary "on hold" business until things became settled again.
But I certainly don't feel like God's nudging me toward a gypsy style missionary life.
If I'm wrong...I will gracefully certainly accept correction.))

Sure....I know this has been an awesome refining experience for me.
That being said....I really hope I've learned what I should and it's almost over.

So let's stop the rambling.

Let me quote a friend of mine in a great article recently written about Joplin:

"This is an opportunity we never asked for....but can't afford to waste."

I get to essentially create a home that will be custom-ly perfect for my family of five.
What an opportunity!
I can put outlets in places that I've only DREAMED of!
I can add insulation between my kids' rooms so they don't wake each other!
I can have a fireplace that turns on with a light switch!

And YES I am so happy about the house that we are creating!

I didn't want to move.
I liked my house.
I loved my neighborhood.
I really miss my neighbors and my "old" life.

I have an opportunity to create a home that my family will enjoy for the rest of our.....forever.
I thought we would have enjoyed our old home forever.

So I look at the dusty newly textured walls in our new house.
I picture where the Christmas tree will go.
I imagine the kids sitting at the soon-to-be installed breakfast bar watching TV.
I try to find the right furniture for the room---and isn't it cool to be able to purchase furniture that actually fits a room instead of trying to fit your old stuff into a different space?--and try not to wince when I think of how our old couch/rug/table/lamp/whatever would have looked in a certain spot.

I want to live in this house.
I like this house.
I know we will be so comfortable there.
I realize how incredibly unbelievable blessed I am to have this opportunity.

I don't think I've explained this very well.
Let me try one more time.

When I am picking out a design for a bookshelf at the house....
I am not "excited" about changing a wall into something different....
But I am hopefully and gratefully anticipating how good it will feel to see my things settled on those shelves.

When I am walking out a potential fence line in the backyard....
I am not "excited" about creating a fenced space for our dogs.....
But I am happily anticipating how good it will be to not have to worry about that anymore.

When we are moved and settled.....
I will feel relief.
This chapter will close....and the next will begin.

Chapters...and season....must be experienced.
Thank God they have endings.

And we're close to the next chapter....
And when we get there....
Come on over.

I am going to be on the back porch enjoying a big mug of tea.

Or a wedding cake concrete from Shake's.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Longest Year....

It's been a year.

How can that be?

I'm sure it's only been a week or two.....or maybe it's been 8 or 9 years.

It's so raw....but such another-lifetime-ago.

The week after the tornado I was on extreme autopilot.
I honestly remember maybe about 20% of that time period.
One thing I do recall is lying in my mom's guest bed on one of those endless sleepless nights and realizing that I HAD to somehow process what had happened to me.

I seem to do this best by writing things.

I didn't have a computer,
Or a phone,
Or enough brain cells to spell my name.

Then at some point my mom found her old laptop and I rigged up some weird shouldn't-have-worked connection to the Internet...

...and I wrote.

Over the past year I have looked at my "story" every now and then.....
But haven't been able to read more than a few lines at once.

Today I decided it was time.

And I read it.

And I started shaking.
And crying.
And remembering so so vividly.

I will heal....
I am really almost there.
This city will heal...
It's come so far.

But here's the thing....

Even when healing has occurred.....a scar remains.

And anyone who has ever had a significant scar knows that....
They are sore at first.
They hurt when we touch them.
Yet we occasionally feel the need to probe them to "test" the healing process....
and we feel the pain again.'s less than the original injury....
but it still hurts.
But with each day/week/month/anniversary that passes....the tenderness lessens....
Until eventually only a memory of the pain surfaces.

Joplin has scars.

Some are the monstrous hulk of St John's hospital.

Others are prettily the Extreme Home Makeover houses standing along an otherwise empty street.

But many are the debris that's been covered with a foot of new topsoil.
And these remain out of sight until someone decides to dig a hole for a new tree or foundation....and then makes the realization that the "fresh new ground" is just a big facade.

Moving on?
Moving forward, I think.
But not forgetting.

Remembering how we were....
What we liked about our PT lives....
What we lost...
What we gained....
And ultimately realizing that God truly truly truly does work all things toward His good.

So here's the link to my post on May 22nd 2011.

And a link to my sister-in-law's story, which easily brings tears to my eyes too.

If you have a them.
And remember.
Remember not what abject fear feels like....but what abject gratefulness feels like.

God heard my prayers....
And to borrow the words from a beautiful song....

(On May 22nd I saw:)

Love that doesn't ever end...
Even when the sky is falling...
I've seen miracles just happen...
Silent prayers get answered...
Broken hearts become brand new....
That's what faith can do.

I am truly blessed beyond measure.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Here It Comes....

I don't believe much in anniversaries.

Not that I don't believe they exist....that would be a little silly.
It's just that I've never put much stock in the self-made importance that people pour into a certain amount of time passing after an event.

(Now I DO love birthdays....which I realize are an "anniversary" of the day of birth and all...but I look at those more as an excuse to celebrate a person.  Am I talking out of two sides of my mouth?  Possibly.  But it's my mouth.)

Ask RH.
We're married.
We were married last year.
We'll be married next year.
We'll be married forever....and the "year amount" might be a good excuse for an adult-only vacation....but the amount of years doesn't truly matter unless it's the diamond anniversary and then RH better flippin' remember.

The point I am trying to come to in my rambling is that while I have never been much of an "anniversary gal"....
I simply can't avoid this particular anniversary.
This particular "memorial".

May 22nd is right around the corner.
Even if you didn't have a calender or an iphone or an ipad or a clue you couldn't claim "ignorance" on the date.
There are ads and information and counseling offers and tributes in all of the newspapers and tv stations and billboards and signs stuck on pickets in yards.

And then there was the Joplin Memorial Run yesterday.

While it was a good race....well organized, well attended and well wasn't what I had personally expected.
I had thought that I would have a good ol' cathartic cry at the beginning when they released the 161 balloons and called for 161 seconds of silence.....but unfortunately I was too busy totally panicking trying to find my running partner to give into any emotions.
I had thought that I would have a hard time not crying when we ran past my old neighborhood and the other tornado devastated areas....but I was too busy avoiding various splots of road kill and trying to keep up with my psychotic we can make it in under two hours running partner while going up the longest hill ever.
I had thought that after the run I would (literally and metaphorically) wipe off the reside from the tornado, close the steel reinforced door on the past year and move into the next year as a gi-normous "redo" with fresh expectations and views.

Then I saw my mom after we finished and she told me she cried when the men carrying flags ran by.

And I teared up.

Then I saw a picture of a friend of mine's cat on someone's shirt.  My friend found her cat after it had been buried in the debris of her house, and the shirt said: "I survived being buried under the rubble for 16 can run 13.1 miles!"

And I teared up.

Then this morning as I was getting dressed for church I picked out a white skirt.
Then I realized I wore that same white skirt the first (and second and third) time we went to church after the tornado because it had been in my "lost" luggage and was the only skirt I had left.

And I wore a new sundress instead.

And I went out to lunch with my mom and step-mom and they began talking about where they were when they heard about the tornado and what went through their minds.....and for the first time in months (and I meant MONTHS) I started shaking.

That same all-over-body-shaking I experienced the first few months after the tornado.
My mom thought I was chilly.
I let her think that.

Then someone pointed out that my dad and step mom were leaving to go back to Atlanta on May 22nd....just like last year.

Who cares?
It's just another day?

And no.

Then I got on facebook.
It may not be May 22nd...but it is the "same Sunday" (thank you leap year!) that it was last year...and
People are remembering.
People are emotional.
People are re-creating in their minds exactly what was happening one year ago.

Most of the posts are full of gratefulness.
Many are full of memories.
Some speak of the fear that still lingers.
Quite a few of them address the changes that are still hard to adapt to.
Many mention the difficulties that still exist in dealing with the event.

Yeah....I get all of those emotions.

I finished my "additional living expenses" report for insurance today.
Basically it's a compilation of expenses incurred during our "homeless period" directly after the tornado.
Part of it included itemizing receipts (which I somehow miraculously had) of food, supplies, and meals eaten out of the house during that time.
As I copied a receipt from Johnny Carino's on May 28th I had a total memory flashback of that afternoon with my brother and my parents.

We left my house because I just couldn't take it anymore....and went to see what had happened to the rest of the town.
We drove past the high school to see it for ourselves for the first time.
I remember how raw and horrible and sick I felt.
I remember when we reached the other end of town and my brother and father said they were starving and pulled into the restaurant and I thought I was going to throw up.
I remember pretending to eat a wedge salad (and there it was on the receipt) so my dad wouldn't yell at me....while sitting in the restaurant in my sister-in--law's dirty workout shorts drinking wine (because there was still a boil order on water and I couldn't get diet coke)....and Barrett meeting us to tell us that our insurance company had officially "totaled"our house.
I remember RH and my parents and brother being happy about that because it was "better" for us insurance-wise....and having to go to the bathroom because I was crying so hard.
I remember my dad telling the waiter to just ignore me as I continued to cry all the way through lunch....

This vivid memory came back from a receipt.
A stupid little piece of crumpled paper.
A piece of paper with the ability to make my stomach churn and my eyes well up.

What's going to happen on Tuesday?
What's going to happen at 5:40 when I remember how scarily empty my arms felt when I couldn't put them around my son and nephew as trees began flying?
What's going to happen at 5:41 when I remember how loudly my ears popped?
What's going to happen at 5:42 when I remember holding my arms over my son and godson and his sister in my basement and hearing the world rip apart around me?

Well...there are two possibilities.

One:  I lose it.
Just lose it.

Two:  I am overcome with pure and extreme thankfulness.  Complete gratefulness to God for hearing and answering prayers that day....for my family and for so so so so many others.

I suspect it will be more of the latter....with a healthy dose of the former thrown in.

It will be a day of many tissues.
A day of holding my family close.
A day of reading Psalm 116 over and over again.

I'm looking forward to May 23rd.
I want to "close the door".....and keep moving forward.
I don't want to "re-live" and "re-remember" all of this....because it is still so very raw.

Other truth?
I want to remember.
I don't want to forget.
This event has changed me, shaped me, helped refine me... and I want to hold it close enough that I can reach out and grab a memory that helps me keep my priorities where God wants them to be.

So I'm a little mixed up on this.
That's par for the course.

But listening to the people around me....I'd say I'm not the only person who is (eagerly or dreadfully) anticipating this anniversary.

We're all experiencing something new..... this whole year has been a year of "firsts" after the storm.
And this is the "first" memorial.

We'll see how it goes.

If you catch me crying....just pass the tissues please.
But I'd prefer to avoid the wedge salad.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Just a Thought...

My (almost) 12 year old and I are reading the Left Behind for Teens series.

(it's not the same as the adult one...but has the same characters etc.)

One of the cool things about reading these books is Bennett's reaction.

He has been thinking up ways to reach people in our lives with the gospel.

In fact....his voluntary after school activity plan yesterday was to print out all the ways that Christ fulfilled the old testament prophesies.

(A worthy yet lofty goal....and one that was actually lost to the distraction of Sponge Bob and a tennis lesson.....)

He is a good kid.

A good good kid.

And his goal is a good good goal.

Sharing the truth is easy.

IF you are sharing it will people who believe the same things you do.

Sharing it with people who think you're annoyingly crazy (or cute but misled) is a little harder.

Sharing it with people whom you love dearly and are very close with who STILL think you're a mostly harmless nut-job is harder yet.

Because when the people you love most tell you to lay off the Bible's very easy to back quickly away in fear of damaging relationships.

True......permanently harming relationships isn't so good.

But isn't temporary annoyance worth a permanent good??

Probably totally completely yes.

But when someone is TOTALLY not may have to back away.

Doesn't mean you stop praying though.

I found a passage in my bible that made me think of this.
My pastor had given us some neat ideas about it....and it made me think of some people in my life.

It's Mark 9:14-29 basically.

In this passage, a man (perhaps not even a believer in Jesus....just a desperate dad looking for some help) comes to Jesus to find a cure for his child.  His son has a "mute spirit" that  " Throws him down, he foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid."
This man asked the disciples for help, but they couldn't do anything. 
Then Jesus came on the scene and took over.
He said, "Bring him to Me."

When the child was brought to Him, he immediately fell down and had a huge awful enormous convulsion.
Jesus had a brief medical history conversation with the dad, then told him, "If you CAN believe, all things are possible to him who believes."

Here the father cried out (with, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful statements in the bible), "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"  
And note....the bible says that this utterance was given "WITH TEARS."

(To me....those tears show not only his complete desperation...but also his profound sincerity.)
And guess what? 
Jesus healed him.

So here's the thing.

Jesus said "BRING HIM TO ME."
That's key.  
Anyone we know under the sway of Satan.....BRING 'EM TO GOD EVERYDAY IN PRAYER....but be prepared because odds are....that on their way TO Christ....things will get worse before they get better.
The convulsions, or argument, or whatever huge obstacle is keeping this person from being whole in God WILL GET WORSE.

Then notice this:  
The dad wanted so very very very much to believe....but he had doubts.
He had honest true real doubt.

He felt in his heart that Christ could do it....
But his head was telling him that it was impossible.
Impossible, ridiculous, and even just some silly little pipe dream with the whole purpose of giving himself (the dad) hope that there was ever a chance for curing his son.

the disciples couldn't do a thing for the boy.

How crushing.

But....(the man must have hoping yet not hoping yet wanting to hope yet afraid to hope yet hoping yet not willing to be crushed yet hoping....)
Maybe the LEADER of the disciples could do something.

the dad made a conscious decision to take a leap of faith.
A leap IN FRONT of the crowds.
A public whole-hearted leap....even though he really was not confident it would be a leap with a soft landing.

"Help me with my unbelief!"

And Jesus ALWAYS has compassion to honest doubt.
And He did.
And the boy was healed.

The dad had his son back....and his son was WHOLE.

Now that's a soft and wonderful landing....if you ask me.

So I am thinking here....
We have people in our lives (and I think we maybe sorta know who they are!))) that we think may NEVER EVER EVER NEVER come to believe in God.

In a way that's right.
They will never come by OUR doing.

BUT....if we keep bringing them before Him in prayer.....
God DOES answer prayer.

When it gets worse (such as this person publicly declaring their disbelief on facebook  or refusing to read the bible with you or walking away the minute you start talking....).....then they are feeling the presence of God.

They know He is close....and they don't like that scary conviction.

That's when we don't give up.

That's when we go ALL OUT....and take a leap.

Just thinkin'.........that's all.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Today I feel the need to share a personal bit of truth.

( far far away from here while there's still time!)

Here goes.

I am not a runner.

I am simply not a runner.

Yes...I run.
Yes....I train.
Yes....I even run races.

But....I am not a runner.

In my mind....a runner is someone who loves to "get out there and pound the pavement."
Someone who pushes themselves to the ends of their limitations....and then begins planning the next run while they're picking themselves up from a puddle of exhaustion.
Someone who wears shirts that say, "If I collapse....pause my Garmin."
A runner gets those "runner's highs"....and strives to go farther and faster.
They are anxious to start and thrilled to finish.
Runners properly carb load and do recovery drinks (usually involving some weird protein combination) and actually know what "interval training" means.



I run because I'm getting older and I want to keep eating Shakes.
I sign up for races so I HAVE to train and therefore have "street therapy" time with my running buddy.
I don't go if it's too cold or too hot or raining.
My carbs usually include some variation on a mixture of bagels, cadbury cream eggs, mac & cheese, and probably Shakes.
(But not Thai food.  Never Thai food.  I learned that me on this one.)
I walk when I'm tired and my only "intervals" involve speeding up until I get to a shady spot.

In fact...the majority of the races I sign up for involve a fun destination....and that is how I justify get my "girl trip time" in with my friends.

My next races is not so much a "destination" one.

In two weeks I'm going to run in the Joplin Memorial Race.

It's commemorating the tornado last May...and dedicated to those who lost their lives as well as those who came in by the thousands to help us.

And as much as I'm not a fan of running....I usually just gripe and moan and make it through without actually going off of the deep end although I may tuck and roll....just ask my running boss!.

This time though....I think I may be a little more emotional.

Today I got an email from the race site with a link to THIS VIDEO showing the race course.
There are a few spots during the video where the tech-savvy crew put up a simultaneous side-by-side picture of what the road looked like BEFORE May 22nd next to what it looks like now.

Quite a bit of the race route goes along the exact streets where we run.
Now we've been running these streets for several months now...and gotten over the shock used to seeing them as they are today.
But as I watched the "before" pictures ......
Gut punch.
I forgot.
I remembered.

Then just after "mile 7" (at about 5 minutes) the route/video goes past my old neighborhood.

My friend and I have been purposefully running through our old neighborhood since a few months after the tornado.
Although both of us had been "displaced" from that neighborhood...that's where we'd run for sooooooo long we didn't want to let the stupid tornado change any more of our lives change all of our routes. was a good way to keep up on the rebuilding of the 'hood.

Point is....I'm used to it now.
What I'm not used to is seeing a "side-by-side" of how it used to look.
How I remember it....even though I have almost forgotten it.

So all of this blather is a long way around to saying....
I think I may be a bit emotional this race.

It's been a year.
That's a long time.
But not that long.

Things still hurt.
Things still seem "off".
Things still aren't quite settled for everyone.

Me, at least.

Tuesday the furniture restoration place came to get my bedroom furniture.
Parts of it had big scrapes and gouges and water damage....but we'd waited until everything else was done so that I didn't have to go too long without dressers or a bed.

Before they came I had to clean out all of the drawers.
Now mind you...I've been using these drawers.
We taped them shut after the storm when we moved the dresser....and I just kept using them when we moved it into our current house.
On Tuesday...when I realized they restoration people were coming in 15 minutes.... I dumped all of the drawers out on the floor.

Amidst the cascade of mismatched socks and old workout shorts came pretty little tufts of insulation and random twigs and gritty things.

Again....gut punch.

I've been USING this stuff.
These drawers were closed during the tornado.
How did I not notice this junk in my drawers???

Then I dumped out my night side table.
Same thing.


Then that same night Ethan and I went looking for a book.
It's a book I had as a kid (and the kids loved that you could still read my name where my mom had written it) that we all enjoyed reading together...we just hadn't thought about it in a while.

Guess what?


It's gone.

Then this weekend we needed the camp chairs which were buried in the warehouse....
Then I discovered that my kid's special photo books I thought were ok (because I finally had time to look at them for the first time in 11 months) were actually moldy....
Then I argued with the contractors that I didn't want my new kitchen desk the practical way they were suggesting....I wanted it the same way as my old house....

Nothing big.
Nothing earth-shattering.
Nothing (Certainly!) salvational.

Just little snippets.
Little reminders.
Little "side by side" comparisons of what normal used to be.

I think that as we near the one-year anniversary....memories may come closer to the surface.

Today as Bennett was climbing out of my car to go into his fiddle lesson he randomly said,
"Mom....know what's weird?"


"I don't want to think about the tornado....but I really want to remember the tornado.  That's weird, isn't it?"

I kind of get what he means.
I'm not dwelling (writing about it is NOT's more of ....well....debriedment.  Yeah.).
I'm moving forward....
But I want to remember.

So I answered, "No.  I don't think it's weird.  I feel the same way. I think it's just that everything has changed so much....including us....that maybe have to remember what it is that made all of these changes."

And he moseyed into fiddle and I wondered if I'd answered correctly.

So.....what's my point?
Who knows.
I guess I'm just realizing that underneath all the day-to-day normalcy around this city....there are still a lot of small little "side-by-side" comparisons to the "old normalcy" in our minds.

Maybe it's just me.

Maybe not.

But I kind of doubt that I'm the only one who is going to be needing kleenex during this race.

Now I realize that many of the runners will be giving their all....running their hearts and knees and hips out and finishing hours ahead of me.

That's awesome for them...and I applaud them.
Those guys and gals have WAY more discipline then I can even imagine having.

But if you happen to come out to spectate this race...
And you see me slowing down and blowing my nose on my shirt around mile 7....
Or crying when I read the "In Memory Of....." shirts around me....
Or wiping my eyes when we pass St John's.....
Or more tears as we go past the street where all of the nursing homes once stood.....

Just hand me some kleenex.
My shirt will probably be soaked by then and my running partner will be incredibly grateful to you.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Bonus With Purchase...

Today the kids were angrily under the threat of permanent grounding and or/beatings cheerfully helping me clean the house.

Bennett was working in his room and Carolyn "popped in" to check on him.
While in there....she apparently decided that he was not doing things the way that SHE wanted him to do them....and let him know.

Big brother told her to mind her own beeswax and clean her own room.

That didn't go over well with Mrs. Clean.

She promptly marched over to him, yelled something unintelligible, and began smacking him.

(for what?  for not cleaning his room in the prescribed order she had in her head?  I soooooo don't understand girls...)

Bennett.....knowing he would be better off homeless then having laid a hand on his little sister....promptly called for parental back-up.

"Carolyn?!?!"   I hollered upstairs.  "Come here please!"

(imagine this in a very wavering shrieky sobby voice.)

"Carolyn.....come down here right now please."

(again in the snotty crying loud voice.)

"And I said come down here.  Now."

So she did.

Let me explain though.

She didn't just prance down the stairs.


"Carolyn....why are you crying?"


"Umm....did it hurt your hand or something?"


"Then.....why are YOU crying?  You chose to hurt your brother.  He's the one who got smacked.  He should be crying, not you."


"Umm....yes.  I know that.  So why are YOU crying?"

I won't bother to share the rest of the slightly crazy repetitive bewildering conversation with you.
Suffice it to say....that by the end of it,  I was ready for a stiff drink my deduction was as follows:

1.  Carolyn was crying because she realized she had done something wrong and was a bit concerned about the possible punishment
2.  Carolyn felt bad that she had "hurt" her brother.
3.  Carolyn felt like she couldn't apologize enough to make things right.

Now while all 3 of these reasons definitely played a part in my five-year-old's great despair....I suspect that for her, reason #1 was the leading cause of the hysterics.

Makes me think though.

When I have wronged someone.....
when I truly know beyond all shadow of a doubt that I am the cause of someone else's pain...
I am the kind of person who won't stop apologizing.

I will sincerely say "I'm sorry" over and over again....because I truly feel bad AND the other person's acceptance of my apology doesn't make ME feel better.

Because.....if I have hurt someone's THEIR job to make me feel ok.

(makes about as much sense as the reasons behind Carolyn's whacking episode)

Now listen.
I DO feel sorry for whatever I did.
It's not ALL about ME feeling better....
It's also that I want the other party to feel better too.

And granted.....
We all know people who require 3 or 4 or 8 apologies and a few drops of blood before they will bestow forgiveness.

(And yes....I realize that forgiveness is not something anyone is entitled to....that it's the option of any injured party to make a personal decision based on whatever they want.  And that some things that happen are so so bad that forgiveness may be a long time in coming.  But here....I'm just talkin' in general about small incidents or misdoings that are slightly wounding and perhaps even accidental....)

But other people have the huge hearts that allow them to forgive.
Forgive and oftentimes forget.

And those are the people that you feel the worst about wounding....if you know what I mean.

There are times when we mess up.
We say something without thinking.
We act by habit instead of by intellect.
We react without considering our actions.
We smack our siblings for indeterminate reasons.

And we feel bad.
Really bad.
So bad that we know we probably don't deserve forgiveness.
So bad that even if the other person forgives us...
....we don't really allow them that privilege.
We don't accept the forgiveness....
...because we just plain don't deserve it.

We don't deserve it.

If I have done something wrong....
then I deserve to reap the consequence.

No one is entitled to forgiveness.

Forgiveness is something that's given by the goodness of someone else's heart.

Can you guess where I'm going with this?

I mess up.
Sometimes it's accidental......
But mostly it's due to my selfishness.

I am human.....yes.
But I have free will.
And I use it.

I am soooo beyond nowhere near perfect that there is no absolute way I deserve to (or have ANY right to) be anywhere near someone who IS perfection.

I certainly don't deserve forgiveness when I continue to mess up day after day after minute after hour.....

But I got it.
I am forgiven.

God said I am.
He said that if I'm sorry....
If I truly try to turn my back on what I've done wrong....
If I ask Him for forgiveness....
.....then I got it.

But only because HE chooses to give it to me.
Not because I deserve it.

That's kind of a really hard pill to swallow.

It's hard to accept that gift of a "fresh start"
or a "clean slate"
when I know I don't deserve it.

But here's the deal.

When I accepted that Jesus was God....
When I asked Him to take over my life....
When I admitted that only He could remove the stains of sin from my life....

...I also had to learn to understand that forgiveness is HIS right.
Not mine.

It's almost easier to realize that God is Jesus was man is God....
then to truly humble myself and accept the free gift of undeserved forgiveness.

Because that's what it is.
A gift that comes with faith.
Bonus with purchase....if you will.

All these magazines and talk shows talk about "Learning how to forgive yourself".

I don't know if that's really what's important.

I think that it's more essential to accept forgiveness...and then you feel loved and forgiven.
Isn't it better for me to have God's approval than my own?

Part of Carolyn's consequence was to apologize to Bennett.
As she tearfully came down the stairs the second time she quietly whimpered,
"I'm sorry, Bennett."

And he looked up at her and said, "It's OK."
And he held open his arms.
And she ran into them and cried while he hugged her.
And she felt forgiven.
And loved.
And good.

Maybe it's harder to accept forgiveness than an apology.

I need to learn to do that.
To run INTO His arms instead of just bowing my head and feeling unworthy.
Because feeling forgiven and loved and good is....


So here's my "song of the blog day" for this entry.

"Running to your arms" it says.
Not "stomping sobbing drooling wailing".....
just "running."

It's easier that way.
Cleaner too.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I wish I had the technological savvy to make a song play during a certain blog.

If I could....I would totally have THIS TUNE going when you clicked on this entry.

(Oh well.
Nice thought.
Not gonna happen.)

This morning I awoke at 4 to RH's alarm going off.
And off.
And off.
And off.

When I finally forced myself to open my eyes, I realized I was alone in the bedroom.
I rolled out of bed, turned off the alarm, and located my spouse in the kitchen.

I sweetly ensured he was awake, and went back to bed.

At 4:30 I awoke to RH's phone alarm going off.
And off.
And off.
And off.

I lovingly and kindly picked his phone up and gently tossed it over the balcony to its violent demise into RH's hands.

I went back to bed.

At 4:58 I awoke to RH slamming into the bedroom exclaiming,
"Both of our cars were broken into last night."

Apparently all of our stuff is strewn all over the driveway.
I haven't been out to look yet.....too dark for me.
And they got into our storage/bike closet thingy.
Who knows what was stolen at this point?

At 5:12 I stumbled downstairs to discover a moderately loud hissing-running noise coming from under the kitchen sink.

I don't see any water.....yet.
I suspect it's coming though.

So I poured myself a gi-normous cup of coffee and sat down with my bible.

As I was paging through it to Proverbs....
I felt that strangely familiar "lump" under a page.

Almost 11 months later.
(and I seriously DO read this book and go through the pages lots!!!)
I found a big 'ol chunk of dried up leaf and some black pebbly things that appear to be shingle residue.

So I naturally begin to read what my "debris bookmark" is delineating for me.....which is once again, in Psalms.

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.

Psalms 103:1-5

Bless the Lord....because I AM BLESSED.

I have an early start on my day....
I can hear the birds singing....
I have hot coffee....
I remembered to bring in my purse last night....
We both forgot to lock our cars so no windows were broken....
I have 3 beautiful kids to pack lunches for....
I have hot coffee...
I get to have lunch at the mall with my 2nd grader's class today....
I have hot coffee....

And ABOVE all that?

God loves me.
He's healed me.
He's forgiven me.
He gives me mercy.
He fills my life with good good things.....

....I just have to remember to slow down, "feel for the bookmarks"....and notice those good things.

It is a beautiful day.

I am looking forward to figuring out the "renewed youth" part though....
and to uncovering exactly WHAT is going on under my sink.

Anyone know a good plumber who can help me with that?

Monday, April 16, 2012


I don't want to be rude....just (surprise!) honest here with a sincere disclaimer:
If you're sick and tired of hearing about the probably ought not read this post.

Just a fair warning because I hate the thought that I'm the cause of eye rolls and heavy sighs and grunts of disgust.

(I get enough of that with my pre-teen and 5 year old.)

To be completely honest (again)....I'm sick of hearing about the tornado too.

It's over people....
It's been almost a year....
Strap on those big girl panties and


When I see the remaining smashed up untouched buildings around town I get a little irritable.

Let's smash and crumble and pile and remove that debris folks....we all know the routine by now.

We've all seen the signs flashing on every major road this month:

When I am at the store and get held up in the checkout line because people are retelling their "Where Were you When" stories I no longer feel quite as patient as I did the first few months after May.

When people ask me if I was happy with our insurance company and I have to explain to them that we still haven't received a CENT on content and I am still filling out appeals and receipts my shoulders tense up with the frustration at the repetitive state of stress these pain in the.... goofballs have chained me to.

When I go into stores to pick out things for our new house and the lovely workers ask me if we're remodeling because of tornado damage I cringe.

I don't want to revisit it anymore.

We are moving forward.
We are focused on what we've gained.
We are grateful for what we have.
We are immersed in our normal (not even a "new" normal anymore...right?").
We are simply living our lives.


At my boys' school they have an art fair every year.
Each student in the elementary classes draws a picture...and they all have to include the same elements in their own creative variations.
This year the kids had to draw a gorilla, an elephant and a giraffe.

I always like wandering through the halls and seeing the fun scenes everyone has concocted.
Elephants playing tennis,
Gorillas rowing canoes,
Giraffes neck-wrestling.

Then I came upon the elephant being sucked up by a tornado while the giraffe exclaimed (via a bubble over it's yellow head), "Oh no....not another tornado!"

Then we had thunderstorms this weekend and my nephew (who is literally not afraid of ANYTHING) hid behind a door so I wouldn't see him crying and shaking.

Then I watched some show on the Weather Channel about how they rate tornadoes on the EF scale based on damage caused.  They simulated how an EF-4 knocked down interior walls....and I had a startling vivid memory of how the big inside wall of our foyer had been knocked over so we could see through the ceiling.

When these things (I) deal with them.
You smile sadly at the poor elephant and thank God that the kiddo can express himself in art.
You hug a nephew and explain how we have weather alerts and will let him know when/if it's time to worry then take him outside and let him roll in the mud and play Navy Seal until he's not scared.
You pray a prayer of thankfulness and change the channel.

But then...
When you're not expecting it....
Something wrenches your insides and you have to go to a quiet room and figure out why you just want to curl up in a ball and cry.

Too many "reminders" in one day?
Too many instances of feeling helpless?
Too little sleep?
Too much insurance hassle?
Too much other stress?

I don't know.

But I do know that it's not just me.

(I may be a little "not-normal"...I may have neuroses aplenty...I might have serious (matching and cute) emotional baggage....but this time I do have plenty of company in this particular arena.)

Sitting at my in-laws pool this weekend my father-in-law (who is not really an emotional guy at all) told me that the weather that day reminded him of the afternoon of May 22nd.

My dear friend told me that she is terrified of the approaching storm season.

Another sweet friend changed important travel plans last weekend because of the threat of severe weather....she was afraid to be away from her kids if a storm happened.

A good friend called me to offer their home (with many basement rooms) to us any night there were storms....and said she just felt she had to make sure I knew it was available.

And there are more stories.
More people who seem to be a little jittery.

Is it because the storm season is starting?
Is it because the "anniversary" is approaching?

Maybe both?

And this isn't just people who were actually "in" the tornado.
It's everyone who lives in this town and was impacted.
All of us.

We've lived through it.
We've victors.
We have put our lives and the lives of our loved ones in God's hands and we're comfortable with that.

When the Weather Channel says:
"Live Threatening Storms Approaching!!!!"

We get a little sickly tremble-y on edge.

So what's the point of this rambling post?

Maybe it's just to say.....
Let's give ourselves a break.
Take a step back.
If you need a moment.....take it.

And maybe try to be sensitive to each other.
If someone leaves work early to get their kids from school early because yucky weather is approaching.....
Don't judge.
Just love them.....and pray for the spirit of fear to go away from them.

If someone goes into a loooooooong story about how their new dress/sweater/shoe/whatever that you just complimented is actually a replacement from the one the tornado sucked away.....
Don't groan.
Just love them....and pray for quietness and peace for them.

And if someone snaps "No thank you we're fine!" when you explain to them that their new fixtures will all be discounted because they lost their home to a tornado (not mentioning any names like myself here...) then walks away in tears.....
Don't take away the discount.
Don't take it personally.
Just know that they're working through things the best that they can.

And we ARE moving on.

We really are.

But sometimes we may find that a little bit of debris got left...
And we may trip over it....
But we'll get back up and keep on keepin' on.

And for me...
My gratefulness is very prominent.
My praise and thankfulness to my amazing God won't stop......
And I'm very happy he loves my old messed up self.

And I'm happy for discounts.
And the wedding cake concrete at Shake's.

(And THIS SONG....I'm awfully grateful for this song too.)

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Little Frayed....

This post has no deeper meaning.
No profound revelation.
No spiritual side...really.

It's simply a personal attempt to reconcile with myself why I feel the way I do today.
Self centered....yes it is.
Self focused....oh yes.
Fair warning....given.
But my weary body and over-stimulated mind need some justification.


5:30 alarm goes off.
Snooze until 5:45.

Get up, make bed, get dressed.
Pack "running bag".
Realize that my right eye hurts too much to wear a contact and decide to try today with just one in.
Let dogs out.
Make 3 lunches.

Enjoy coffee while reading the Bible for a bit.

Empty dishwasher.
Check kids' take-home folders (because I forgot over the weekend).
Feed and water dogs.

6:55: wake up kids.

Tell 5 year old who's screaming and sobbing "I DON'T WANT TO WAKE UP" to simply go ahead and wake up and get dressed and come on down when the tantrum is over.

Tell 11 year old that I realize he has no clean jeans and it's simply because all of his jeans are laying around in his room instead of in the dirty clothes where they have the potential to become clean at some point.

Extricate myself from the hugs of a sleepy 8 year old because I suspect he's simply using me to sleep standing up.

7:05: breakfast for kids.
Review spelling words with boys.

7:15: tell 5 year old that if she continues to cry over the fact that I gave her orange juice (which she asked for and has since changed her mind) she will have to go back to her room.

7:16:  send howling 5 year old back to her room.

Remind boys four times to pack tennis and fiddle paraphernalia and grab water bottles.

7:25:  tell 3 year old she can bring her breakfast in the car.

7:35:  load up car.
Negotiate with 11 year old to give front seat privileges to 8 year old so I can hear said 8 year old do his reading homework (which was forgotten over weekend) in the car.
Send boys back in for their tennis and fiddle paraphernalia.

7:55:  Drop boys off at school.

8:15: Drop 5 year old off at pre-K.
Meet friend at pre-school for 5 mile run.
Realize that I MIGHT have enough time to shower if I hurry (thus rendering "running bag" with wet wipes, ball cap and change of clothes useless).

9:18: arrive home
Shower and get ready.
Fold 2 loads of laundry.
9:40 leave for boys' school.

10:00:  spend an hour helping out in 2nd grade class.
Attempt to figure out what "special sounds" are and what the "secret code" for "-ing suffixes" translates into.
Interrupt teacher whom I'm supposed to be helping to find out what the secret suffix code means.
Fake code knowledge to a bunch of 8 year olds.

11:10: leave for a city 15 miles south of here to solidify cabinet plans for new house.
Return 2 phone calls while driving.
Take tylenol for "one-contact" induced headache.

11:30: arrive at appointment and begin to thoroughly confuse both myself and the poor cabinet guy.

12:00:  agree on EVERYTHING and attempt to pay down payment.
Discover they don't take American Express.
Discover that I am completely out of checks.
Promise to drive the 19 miles tomorrow to bring a check.

12:15:  head back to Joplin to shop at Sam's.
Remember I have no checks.
Go to Wal-Mart.

1:25:  Arrive back home and unload groceries.
Loose several bottles of water down ultra-steep driveway when bag breaks.
Retrieve water bottles and put away groceries.

1:40: Begin to scrub black crayon residue out of dryer with suggested Magic Eraser.

2:15:  Realize that cleaning the dryer is going to take WAY longer than anticipated.
Hang clothes from washer over mops and brooms and coat hooks in hopes they won't mildew before I get the dryer clean.

2;37: leave to pick up nephew from school.

2:45: retrieve precious boys (complete with 3 backpacks and a large empty pretzel box) and head out to my boys' school.

3:05:  pick up my sons and take youngest 3 to tennis.
Remind youngest 3 to take their tennis stuff out of car.
Remind youngest 3 to get their tennis stuff out of the back of my car.
Remind youngest 3 to GET THEIR STUFF OUT OF THE CAR.

3:30:  Take 11 year old to fiddle lesson.
Sit in car like lazy delinquent mom and almost fall asleep.

4:00 take 11 year old to Starbucks because mommy really needs a coffee he is starving and I forgot to bring him a snack.

4:30: Pick up youngest 3 from tennis.
Remind them to bring their stuff to the car.
Remind them to get their stuff and put it in my car.
Put their racquets in the back of the car.

4:50:  Trade my nephews for my daughter.
Pick up a load of my kids' clothing that my sister-in-law has collected over the week.
Notice that it has a pair of clean jeans in it for my 11 year old.

5:15: start potatoes.
Force Help 8 year old go through papers and do homework.
Go over to new house to stake out potential fence.
Help 5 year old retrieve and drive her barbie jeep.
Remind children to get their stuff and put it away.
Put jeep away and come home to start grill.

6:30: finish cooking.
Listen to 11 year old practice fiddle.
Agree to let kids watch a movie with dinner if they will just FOR THE LOVE OF PETE get their showers done before dinner.

7:00 Pray with family and then head to dryer to magically erase the black crayon.
Continue scrubbing.
Move to 2nd magic eraser.
Get 8 year old a bowl of strawberry ice cream.
Move to 3rd magic eraser.
Open Popsicle for 5 year old.

8;10:  Put 5 year old to bed.
Notice that she has gotten into her medicine (cream) without an adult.
Have serious talk with 5 year old.
Tell 5 year old to stop shrieking and make better choices.

8:25: Walk into boys' room.
Tell 11 year old to go back downstairs and pick up his stuff.
Tell 8 year old to pick up his stuff and put away his laundry.
Tell 11 year old to pick up his stuff in room.
Tell 8 year old to pick up his stuff in room.
Feed guinea pig and chinchillas some raisins.

8:40:  Put away folded laundry.
Find that RH has helped clean the dryer.
Move to 4th magic eraser and finish dryer.
Make coffee for next day.
Run "test load" in dryer.
Pick flooring and doors for new house.
Send emails regarding new doors and floor.
Clean new black marks out of dryer.
Run another "test load".

9:30:  shower again because I'm so sweaty from scrubbing dryer.
Feed and water dogs.
Clean kitchen.
Eat an apple because I completely missed dinner.
Send/return emails.
Start load of wash.
Sit down at computer.

And that's it....I'm not getting up again.
I may sleep here.
I may make it to the carpeted couch and sleep there.
At least I got the other contact out.

I think?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

It's Good to be Used....

It's been a while since I blogged.
Now why oh why could that be?!?!

Could it have something to do with my 3 psychotically high energy nut-jobs precious angels?

How about our current ripping to shreds of anything usable cautious gutting of our soon someday-to-be-forever house?

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we stayed up until 11:50 the other night using two (count 'em...two) snow sleds, an entire roll of packing tape, 3 trash cans and a soup jar to make a redneck water divert-er because our fishbowl was leaking really badly in the rainstorm and we haven't had time to get that piece of the roof fixed?

Might it have been the 24 page appeal I had to write our insurance company regarding the 120 out of 610 items that they depreciated 50% -80% even though they were brand new?

Perhaps it's because I had to spend several hours "dealing" with the....shall we say....issues that RH's puppy had on the main floor, down the stairs, on the landing (including the wall...huh?) down the next set of stairs at the bottom and into and throughout the storage room?

Well...whatever the's been a while and I apologize for not sharing our spring break story more quickly like I promised so many sweet friends.

As the local and national news reported....after the tornado hit us in May
of volunteers came to Joplin to lend a hand.

Some of them rebuilt entire homes...
Some of them handed out water...
Some of them helped people find their belongings....
Some of them adopted homeless dogs...
Some of them passed out sack lunches...
Some of them gave out moving boxes...
And many of them prayed and gave their shoulders and ears.

These amazing people are one of the reasons that we--as a city---were able to withstand the chaos that the tornado caused.

For our family personally, it meant more than the world to receive goodies and cards and calls and prayers and messages from people---both known and unknown--all over the country.

And we told each other that
(although we fervently hoped and prayed a storm like this would never happen again)
IF tornados struck somewhere nearby....

WE should be the ones offering support.

Well....'ol mother nature may have had a nice rest this winter...
But she sure as heck came roaring out her cozy little nest in a very foul mood.

On March 2nd a series of storms ransacked Missouri, Illinois, Alabama, Indiana and Kentucky.

We watched the TV in a sick sense of shock....
grieving for them as we relived the terrifying sensations ourselves.

And we knew....
That although God certainly hadn't caused this to happen...
He most definitely was presenting us with a chance to serve.

So we decided that since our family dynamics don't lend themselves well to a clean-up or demolition crew (although they kids are REALLY good at demolishing my attempts at organization!) we would have to find another avenue to "serve" with.

And since the news reports showed that many volunteers had already flocked to the affected areas, we came up with the idea to do something similar to what we'd done for the volunteers in Joplin this last summer.

We put out some messages asking if anyone might want to provide some baked goodies or cards with prayers and words of encouragement for the tornado survivors.

And wow.
The outpouring of love was AMAZING.

Our entire eating room was OVERFLOWING with cookies and breads and muffins and cookies and CD's of encouraging songs and cards and hand-decorated bags and cookies and messages and stickers and cookies.

And cookies.

(and as an aside I HAVE to say this:  Yes...we (Joplin, that is) were VERY fortunate to have have so many people willing to help us...but this made is SO obvious to me how immense our sense of gratefulness for that help was.  Because the moment people had a chance to "pay it forward"....they sure sure sure did.  This city....these

Then we loaded up the car and headed for Louisville.

From there we went North to Maryville and Nabb Indiana.

These towns were little....and pretty much wiped out.

Now I'll tell was VERY different from here.
Those were "typical" that they "jumped" and "hopped" from place to place.
The places they touched down were horribly battered and destroyed...
but the storm didn't stay on the ground like it did here.

So that meant that in some places there were people out gardening in their untouched yards just 2 homes down from a concrete debris laden wiped-out slab of a house.

An area that was hardest hit in these towns looked like a block or two of Joplin.

It actually made me realize (and i guess although I knew I didn't really know?) how bad our storm really was.

So in Nabb we found a church that was serving as base for all the volunteers to organize and orient themselves.  

We talked with them about where they recommended we should go....and they gave us some direction and invited us to come back at lunchtime.   They had been (and would continue to) have a team of people serving hot lunches to volunteers and survivors. the church lady explained...they didn't have desserts.


Got that message, Lord.

Guess what we just so happen to have in the back of the car?

The team was so excited....and it was so cool to know we were being used.

We left them with a bunch of goodies and many of the copies of letters to hand out to people and then drove to Henryville.

It's a bigger city and we were able to connect with some people on an individual basis.

We handed out some cookies and bags with CD's and letters.
People saw our "Restore Joplin" shirts and asked us how WE were doing.


We also heard people's stories.

We listened to a man tell about how his kids were on the school bus whose driver saw the tornado coming and got the kids off and into the shelter of a stranger's basement, saving their lives. This man started shaking as he talked about how he didn't know if his sons were alive for a while.

I got it.

We talked to a man who was trying to find some salvageable landscape flowers to give his parents who had lived in that pile of rubble for 50 years.

I got it.

We spoke with a man who said that his house had been less than a block away from the DZ and how he couldn't believe how lucky he was.

I got it.

And at the end of these conversations....we were able to do something even more meaningful than share a cookie. (although those were some dang good cookies...not that I sampled any!)

We were able to share with them that :
it does get better...
life will go on....
it's essential to realize how close God is at this moment....
things will begin to eventually make sense....
the fog will begin to lift... day...there will be a new normal.

And we could look around at the chaos....
we could smell that horrible-never-to-be-forgotten-awful wet insulation mixed with pine smell...
see the orange vested people digging through rubble...

And know how far our hometown had come.

What a gift for us.

Then we came upon another big tent at a church where the Catholic Charities were serving hot meals.

Again we chatted with them and told them what we were doing.

They asked us if we possibly had any extra desserts because they were all out, and they expected to serve meals for the next several weeks.

Yeah....we got your desserts right here!

So we unloaded into their trailers and shared a meal with some really neat volunteers (and some really good bratwurst).

I am really glad we went.
I want my kids remember how it felt to step out of our comfort zone.
I hope this can be a baby step for my family in learning to look for God's plan instead of our own.

I am so in awe of and thankful to all of my amazing friends who baked and baked and baked and baked.....what wonderful people whom I am so blessed to know!

Then we decided it was time to let the kids be kids and get away from that tornado puke smell that they all remember too well so we left Indiana and drove South.

We took them to a seedy honky-tonk bar in Nashville and let them put money in the singer's tip jar and request horrible country music.
(that particular endeavor may have been more out of MY comfort zone than theirs....they are RH's kids after all!)
We rode in a tacky horse-drawn carriage and I ate held Carolyn's ice cream so she could help "drive".
We cruised on the General Jackson and listened to more oh please shoot me now lovely country music.
We stopped in Memphis for some Rendezvous BBQ.

And we managed to hit 6 states in 4 days.

Overall....a pretty dang good spring break.

So it's back to "reality" now.
But in all honestly....
I'm a little concerned that my particular reality includes 2 snow sleds taped to my round windows.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Making a Home...

For a few days this week we've been lucky enough to have a sweet young girl from Austin staying with us.

(And if I stop and think how annoyed I am that I can call a 28 year old "young" then I'll never finish this post.  Grrrr.)

She has joined her family and a church group who are here in Joplin for the 3rd or 4th time to help different people do some rebuilding after the tornado.

So this group is here for a WHOLE WEEK.

Some of them have taken vacation time from work and others who are so so bloody young that they might as well be in diapers are giving up their spring break to come to Joplin and simply help wherever they are needed.

How cool is that?

Nine and a half months later....Joplin is still remembered.

People still want to come and help.

But the not-quite-as-cool-part is....

There are still people who need help.

Going on 10 months is a pretty big chunk of time.
Seems like things should be settled and back to normal by now.
Seems like people should have their properties cleared off and be....if not TOTALLY done building....then at least pretty close.

But that's just not how it is.

So this whippersnapper volunteer and I were chatting about some of their projects and some of the people that I know around here.

One family had been renting their home on May 22nd.

The house was very very badly damaged.
The owner said he didn't plan to repair it, but offered to give the damaged building and the land it was on to this family.
They had never been in a position to own land...much less a house before...and were thrilled to accept his gift.


They have been working since May to fix THEIR house.

Both parents work full-time, but every weekend and almost every night after work they have been gutting and rebuilding and repairing and who-the-heck-knows what else to make this wreck into their family home.

But you know how it goes...
when they are working a lot the money's there to buy supplies but they don't have time to use them.
And when the work slows down they have time to do the work but the supplies run out.

So this great group of volunteers has gone in to conquer all of the downstairs sheet rock.

They are spending their days  hanging, sanding, mudding, taping and eventually painting something that would have taken this family of 3 months to complete.

The family is beyond grateful.  In fact, the woman told me that she hopes there is enough for the volunteers to do while they are here.  She said the next step is putting down some flooring...but they aren't able to purchase that quite all they can "offer" the volunteers as a job is the sheet rock.

Then there's another guy the volunteers are helping.

He bought this old home and sunk a BUNCH of money into fixing it last year.
He had just put the final appliance (a stove) into the kitchen on May 22nd.
He cooked a lovely lunch on it....then watched it turn into splinters with the rest of his life that afternoon.

People are still trying to "get settled."
Find a secure home base.
Plant themselves somewhere "final."

I get it.

We still don't have our home base yet either.

Oh...we're doing just fine and blessed beyond measure....but I purposefully haven't re-planted any of the tulips and hyacinths I have because I haven't been sure where I'll be next spring.

(and yes...I realize that many people live their lives this way quite I'm not complaining...I'm just sayin' that my family is still bumping along to a not-quite-figured-out final destination homewise and that's just the way it is.  Period)

Let me explain.
Or confuse.

The dishwasher that came with this house stopped working.

We remembered that we had our other dishwasher (from the tornado-ed house) stored in the warehouse and that it was undamaged...and decided to switch it out into our current house.

Now we had done a big remodel on our kitchen 1 1/2 years before we were "evicted".
We had newish beautiful awesome fabulous appliances that made me embarrassingly happy.
Our current home has 15 year old ones that (except for the dishwasher) are quite serviceable.

So we popped my old new old new newer one into the kitchen.....and I ran a load of dishes.

They came out clean and warm and clean.

And the dishwasher made a smell that smelled like our old house.

And the dishes were clean.

And I got totally teary eyed.

Now I realize I am on the lame side of life....but I honestly don't think I'm such a dork (no comments necessary on this part thanks) that well-cleaned dishes leave me va-clempt.

It's just that...
for a second....
I felt like I was home.

And maybe when that family of 3 has their dry wall up and painted the same color as their old bedroom....
....they will feel like they're home.

And maybe when that guy gets to turn on his old/new stove for the first second time...
....he will feel like he's home.

I know....maybe more than anyone....that home is where love surrounds you.
Where your family and your heart are.

But "home" is also...
smells and
memories and
random little things like...
certain pictures being placed next to each other or
your favorite broken-in pillow or
being able to walk to the kitchen in the dark because the way is so familiar.

So hooray.
Hooray and big kudos to these volunteers.

They are willing to give up the comforts of THIER homes....
to help rebuild people's homes here.

The media hype has died down, the cameras are gone, Samaritan's Purse and Tide's Loads of Hope moved on....
but these people came back.

I think that is just plain awesome.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

About Last Night...


Let's talk about the storm last night.

It was loud.
It was windy.
It was strobe-light-esque.
It was violent.
It was yucky.

In my fishbowl home there are two large (and by large I mean 4 ft by 5 ft) curved windows on our staircase landing.

These windows are actually made of some kind of plexi-glass...although I'm ashamed to admit that it took me seven six several a few months to realize this.

So when plexi-glass meets a hard hard does this wavy-reverberation thing.

(think of a sound effect where someone waves a huge piece of flimsy sheet metal in the air as fast as they can to create the sound of a water buffalo stampede)

Enter 60-70 mph gusts.

Pretty much sounds like it's thundering inside.

Add to that the fact that when the wind blows horizontally the rain actually comes IN these windows and swamps the landing.

Add to that the fact the indoor windstorm makes all of the pocket doors in the house (and trust me....there are bunches of those) especially the one to our bedroom rattle rattle RATTLE in their pockets.

Add to that our copper roof which is DIRECTLY over the upstairs rooms (think: no attic space at all) and imagine how gi-normous raindrops and various twigs and branches and possibly sad little squirrels and raccoons sound when they CRASH onto it right over your head.

End result?

A beautiful indoor concert featuring the sounds of hell's gates.

In my humble opinion, anyway.

So the heavy winds started a little before 8 o'clock.

Carolyn passed out like a frat daddy at Mardi Gras went to sleep peacefully around then....and I cranked up her sound machine hoping she'd sleep through the noise.

The boys turned their lights out around 8:30.

Then our little game of "Whack-a-Mole" began.

8:39:  Ethan.  Complains of lumps and itches in head.  RH removes 2 ticks.  That's a whole different layer of yuck.

8:53:  Ethan.  Complains that he fell asleep (in the 2 minutes he was in there) and woke up and can't sleep.  Sent back to room with sheep-counting instructions.

9:09:  Bennett.  Requests 10 more minutes of reading time because he's not tired.  Request granted.

9:11:  Ethan.  Requests more reading time because Bennett is reading.  Request granted.

9:20:  Ethan.  Can't sleep.  Sheep instructions repeated in a louder voice.

9:29:  Bennett.  Can't sleep because Ethan is counting too loudly.  Sent back to room with "pillow-over-head" instructions.

9:49:  Bennett and Ethan:  "Can we PLEASE PLEASE read for a few more minutes because we are SOOOO not tired and we both want to read and we just can't sleep and we really can't fall asleep PLEASE can we just have ten minutes?"  Sent to bed with apples and 10 minute reprieve BUT accompanied with instructions that unless they're bleeding or puking I don't want to see them until morning.

As they went back to bed Ethan looks over his shoulder and says, "If you need me I'll be in my bottom bunk tonight....not my top."
(note:  running along side his top bunk is an enormous (6 ft by 2.5 ft) window)

Me:  "Why not the top where you always sleep?"

(sounds of winds roaring and whipping in background)

Ethan:  "I just think the bottom is a better place for me tonight."

(more wind)

Me: (pause) "Are you nervous about the storm?"

Ethan: "NO!  NO!  I just like that bunk tonight."

And they ran off to their room.

And I imagined Ethan looking out of that huge window and the trees bending over in the gusts while the motion lights flick on and off and quietly climbing down the ladder to the "view-less" bottom bunk.

And yeah...
I teared up.

When I went in to check on them after 10 minutes and they were both asleep....cuddled up with all of their childhood animal friends.

So I turned their sound machine way up and headed for my bed.

And my phone buzzed with a severe weather warning.

And the TV began reporting possible tornadoes in Lebanon, Missouri.

And RH and decided that if the sirens went off I would grab Carolyn and he would get the boys.

And my phone buzzed again.

And more warnings came across the local news.

And I cracked a window so I could hear the siren if it sounded.

And the windows rattled.

And both dogs (who never come upstairs) circled our bed over and over again.

And Joplin came under a tornado watch.

And RH fell asleep...confident in my ability to neurotically and psychotically keep tabs on the weather situation and awaken him in time to lead him to safety...exhausted after a 11 hour day at work.

And I checked facebook where so many of my Joplin friends were posting about very sleepless their nights were proving to be
...and how many of them had shaking kids in their beds
...and how some of them had kids AND dogs in their beds
...and how some were thinking about how awful this spring was going to be
...and how some were mad that they couldn't enjoy thunderstorms anymore
...and how the ones in the FEMA trailers felt like they were in shaking tin cans.

And I watched TV/checked my phone/observed facebook until the storms finally passed over around midnight.

Then I checked the kids one more time, mopped up the small lake on my landing, and fell asleep.

But here's the deal.

I wasn't really scared of being hit by a tornado.

(No....I don't so much want that to happen...but that wasn't what kept me wide-eyed and rigidly awake.)

It was more that I didn't want to MISS THE WARNING.

I didn't want to "not hear" a siren because the sound was masked by the storm outside (or noise inside) of my house.

I didn't want to miss that "freight train" noise because I'd drifted off.

I wanted to be READY.

(Cocked, locked and ready to my RH says...)

You see...if the watch became a warning,
if the noise got constant and louder,
if I myself saw a "hook" in the storm pattern...

Then I could take control of the situation.
Wake up RH and scoop up kids and head to the basement.

But if I missed the warning....


You see....

I know that God kept us safe last May.
He has a plan for us....and that plan is good.

I fully believe that He can and will keep us safe should we face another tornado.
I don't doubt His power....not even the tiniest bit.

But maybe I put too much stock in my control?

I mean....if He's going to keep us on this side of eternity for a while...
Then it doesn't really make a difference if I hear the train-a-comin' or not.




I know how it felt to not be able to physically keep my babies safe (see this blog)...
And that was sickening.

But I also know how amazing it felt to turn my baby completely over to God...
And that was beautiful.

Control, let go.  Grab it up, put it down.

Tug-of-war between my faith and my human-ness.

And I'm embarrassed to say that last mortal self won.

Do I think it's wrong to be prepared and on alert?

Absolutely NOT.

God gave us early warning systems and radar for a REASON.

But being so scared that I won't be able to save my children that I manically scroll between 4 forms of technology (as well as staring out of various windows while I am praying) for several hours until I notice that my shoulders actually hurt because I'm so tense?

Maybe a little?

I'm not sure about this.

Even the Israelites set guards up around their camps to warn of invasions, right?
( I think I've read that somewhere...)

Maybe it's my mind-set that was the problem.

I was genuinely bona-fide-ly truly freakishly worried about not being able to help my kids.

I think that maybe if I work on being prepared WHILE AT THE SAME TIME finding a peace that He is in control of the whole situation (not just whether or not we're going to get whacked) might bring me to the correct mental compromise.

I'm going to work on that.

It's not that I mind being the sole sentry while my husband and kids sleep peacefully (and how in the Sam heck they do that with that NOISE is beyond me) trusting in me to alert them to any dangers....

It's not that I mind getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep...

It's not even that I mind cleaning up a swamp on my stairs.

But I could do without the adrenaline rush from such a heightened sense of worry.
(That rush will keep you awake long after the storm is over,  I tell you.)

God loves my children even more than I can possibly imagine loving them.

He has plans for them....GOOD PLANS.

I am not privy to those plans....but I gotta trust that.

God gave me the job of looking after these kids while they're here on earth....however long that may be.

So I will do the best I can.

And I will trust Him to do the rest.

And I will probably keep on watching the radar on stormy nights...
And stay signed up for weather alerts on my phone....
And keep my emergency box in the basement well stocked.

But I will turn off facebook.