It's been a while since I blogged.
Now why oh why could that be?!?!
Could it have something to do with my 3
How about our current
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 reason...it'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 GO LEND A HAND.
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.
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 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 people......wow.)
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 you....it was VERY different from here.
Those were "typical" tornadoes....in 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....you 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. But...as 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...
and....one 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
We cruised on the General Jackson and listened to more
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.