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

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.