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

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.