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

Thursday, May 30, 2013


A while back my dear father said,
"I think your whole town has PTSD."

I agreed then that at that point....he was probably right.

However....we've come a loooooooooooooooooooong way.

We've grown.
We've healed.
We've learned.
We've eaten Shake's.

Last week-ish we had our first really big bout with severe weather since the tornado.

(Not counting that micro-burst that hit us the first morning we were in our new house and literally knocked me over on my screened in porch and messed up our new roof.....)

When the horrible storm hit Moore, Oklahoma
the images and stories hit awfully close to our Joplin hearts.
Then we saw the storm coming our way.
Then the sirens went off.
In fact....the sirens went off THREE times.
People scattered to their various shelters.
(and the the weirdly humorous and slightly self-deprecating comments
began flowing all over fb and texts:
"We are the mole-people!"
"I think we live in Meerkat Manor!"
"Dang...left my wine on the counter!")
And it was over without incident.

Then the anniversary of our May 22nd storm came along.

And again....we were basically ok.

There were memories.
There were fears.
There were tears.
There was mourning.

But we were ok.

(And to make this self-centered....
I was ok.
I was cautious.
I was prepared.
I had my little ducks all in a crooked screwy row and within arm's reach.
I was prayed up.)

And we did it.
We made it through.

Hooray us.
Hooray me.
Adios PTSD!


Ha. Ha.
(Can you hear the slightly maniacal inflection in that laugh?)

Yesterday it was stormy again.
In fact it was supposed to be pretty darn stormy overnight too... and my eldest wanted to stay the night at a buddy's house.

I actually considered keeping him home....
but realized that was neurotic and crazy and pretty non-trusting of the Father that loves him a HECK of a lot more than I could.

So I checked with the other mom and made sure they had a safe room in a basement (they did)...and I dropped him off.

And my stomach was actually kinda twisted about that.

The other two wanted to eat at the mall and then do some shopping.
While we were eating the sky got really dark....and I got the "tornado watch" text from the local weather station.

I told the kids I didn't have "the right part of my wallet" (What?!?!?! That was a graceful sense-making--lie-under-pressure) and we needed to run home for a minute....and we left the mall right after eating.

I'm NOT neurotic.
I said, RIGHT???

Anyway....I screwed my head back on and we headed out a few hours later
for Ethan's saxophone lesson.
(Hooray again....neuroses conquered.)
It was a little rainy then, but nothing too we zipped over to the 15th St Walmart to grab a few groceries.

(Mind you.....this was the store that was smashed two years ago....where quite a few people lost their lives....where two of my friends and their sons survived but went through a terrifying experience that they had just shared with me last week.)

As we were shopping it began to rain REALLY hard.

I noticed a group of  Walmart manager-types marching en masse down an aisle.
Then they marched back the other way.
Several times....not smiling....just purposefully marching somewhere.

We finally got to the check out....and it was raining so hard it was hard to hear people talking.

Our cashier was a young lady who looked at me nervously and said,

"Are you from Joplin?"

I knew exactly what she was asking.

"Yes.  Are you?"

"Yeah.  Were you here for the tornado?"

"Yes.  We weren't at Walmart though....were you?"

"No.  I was at my pastor's house.  But it got hit.  Demolished.  Only thing left standing was the bathroom we were in...and that had a hole in the roof where we should have been pulled out."

"That 's really scary."

"Yeah.  And see the mangers all marching back and forth now?  Looking out the doors?  They were doing this last week when all the sirens started going off."

"You were here?  Where did you go?"

"There's a big shelter here now.  We went back there. "

"That's good.  That's safe."

"Yeah....I hate this.  I can't even hear with this rain.  I hate this."

I reminded her that God had kept her safe before...
And that there is a safe place in the store now....
And showed her on my phone how the radar showed the storm was passing....
And held her shaking hand.

And cell phones were ringing all around us...
And the man behind me was assuring someone loudly that "It's just rain!"....
And the managers kept marching quickly without smiles...
And the thunder rolled.....

And I smiled at my kids and told them we could run by Shakes on the way home.
(Hooray...I am the comforter and Shakes-provider and I neuroses conqueror.)

We stood at the door with our cart for a moment trying to decide if we should get wet or wait.

A Walmart employee swam walked in, looked directly at me and said,
"I really don't want to be working here in this weather."

The rain poured but the thunder had stopped and the kids wanted to
go go go go go go.
I put them in front of me and opened our tiny useless umbrella and told them to hang on to the cart...
And out we went.

JUST AS SOON AS we shot out into the downpour my cell phone alarmed.

Not the gentle "You have a text" ding....
But the


alert that you can hear above a pounding rainstorm and loudly laughing kids.

And I stopped in the middle of the slick crowded parking lot
and frantically searched through my now sopping-wet purse for my phone
because IF the alarm said a tornado had been sighted.....
I was going the heck back to that safe room with my babies.

And my stupid phone said:


And I shoved it back in my purse and kept running and tried not to throw up.

And as we tumbled into the car and threw the groceries all over the drenched seat I could feel my heart literally pounding faster than I could comprehend.

Was it because I didn't have Bennett too?
Was it because it was a genuinely scary situation?
Was it because the moon was in the 7th house and Jupiter aligned with Mars?????

I don't know.

But I know that after I slowly drove home (via Shake's and I didn't even get anything because my stomach hurt so badly) and parked the kids in front of only the dear Lord knows what on TV....

I needed to sit down, closed my eyes, and just breathe some deep shaky breaths for a few minutes.

Maybe there is possibly some PTSD involved.
But I guaran-dang-tee you it's not just me.

I read THIS ARTICLE in our newspaper that said the combination of events last week (Moore, our tornado anniversary, bad storms and sirens here) resulted in a larger group of residents requesting mental health assistance than has happened since the year (or so) after our tornado.

It also said that just because you are aware of the weather conditions and take precautions....
it doesn't mean you have some severe post-traumatic issue.

It just means you've learned your lesson.

Lesson learned.
Gratitude in place.

I was working on a blog post about how I thought the Moore, OK tornado affected Joplin.

My ideas included some things like:

--Because we've recently been thorough such an eerily similar situation....we are in the strange position of being able to anticipate what they will need right now and in the near future.
--Because of this, we are able to offer a special kind of help.
--This help is a true blessing TO US....because it helps us turn our focus to healing someone else instead of dwelling on what happened here.

While I think all of this is still showed me that we, as a city, may still have some healing to do ourselves.

So....WHAT'S my point in writing this out?

I guess it's just this:
Be gentle.
Be soft to people.
It's been two long years....but sometimes scars re-open.
People might still need to tell "their story".
Let them.

And maybe buy them some Shake's.
Or a latte.

Because I heard those help.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Closer to Home...

Here is a link to a truly amazing video.

It's a beautiful song accompanied by unbelievable pictures from the Joplin tornado.

I am blessed enough to call the singer, Piper, a friend.

Well done, my friend....well done.

Closer To Home

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When the Words Won't Come....

I sit here this morning,
a day before the two-year Joplin tornado anniversary,
and my heart is completely broken for the town of Moore, Oklahoma.

We rushed to the basement last night when the sirens blared here.
We hunkered down and watched the radar
and checked facebook
and poured over our phones
and flipped through news channels on the tv
and listened to the sirens go off two more times.

Then, when we had an "all-clear",
We calmly
walked out of the basement.

Everything was fine here.

Completely fine.

But as I stood outside later that evening...
and looked at the super pink sky reflecting off the strangely patterned clouds....

It was very hard to feel any relief.

All I could feel was a sick sick wrenching in my stomach.

I remember when the skies had lightened May 22, 2011.
I remember looking around and thinking.....
maybe I wasn't really even capable of thought at that point.

But I remember a feeling of incredulity
mixed with fear
mixed with gratitude
mixed with nausea
mixed with relief
mixed with desperation
mixed with sadness
mixed with panic
mixed with confusion
mixed with exhaustion.

I think I know how the people in Moore were feeling right then.
I remember....and I find no relief in my safety.

Right now they are running on pure adrenaline.
They are frantically trying to find some way....
however small....
to uncover some kind of piece of "normal".

Something that can serve as a type of cornerstone to attach their spinning-out-of-control lives to RIGHT NOW.

It might be an intact dinner plate.
Or a neighbor.
Or a pet.
Or a picture in a cracked frame.

Something that can serve as an anchor....
irregardless of how small...
to a sense of what WAS just 12 hours ago.

What I can NOT imagine is this.
Learning that the child you have so frantically searched for....
is now on the other side of heaven.

I know how it feels to be scared that you child (and nephew) could be gone.
I know how it feels to have people searching for them.
I even know how it feels to loose the ability to pray actual words....and just cry out from the most hollow empty scary place deep inside, "GOD....GOD" because all you can say is His name.

But my arms were eventually filled with the precious living squirming crying beautiful filthy bodies of two 7 year olds.

Oh my heart.

I know that You are with your children in Oklahoma.
I know You have stayed by their sides and are there now...even if it is hard for them to feel You.
Please, them feel Your presence.
And for those who can't find the strength or words to pray right now....
I thank You that You hear the cries of their hearts.  
For them I pray....
Heal the hurt.
Keep the rescuers safe.
Strengthen the parents and families searching and mourning.
You make beautiful things out of the ashes....
and even thought they can't see that right now...
Help them feel the strength that comes from the hope of that.
In Christ's name....

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Two years ago on this day I was sitting on a beyond beautiful tropical beach.
It was the first more-than-three-nights vacation that RH and I had taken since the whole "we had three kids what in the heck happened to our lives?!?!?!" episode had occurred.

I am sure we had a really amazing time....
But truthfully?

Neither of us can really remember it at all.

You see...
We came in a day late (and several dollars short) due to a delay caused by some nasty storms in the area.

We didn't arrive home until the evening of May 21st.
The next day as we tried to celebrate our eldest son's birthday we had yet another event.
This one pretty much wiped every relaxing memory out of our heads.

Two years ago.


I guess I can comprehend that.
I so so so much has happened since then.

We demo'd a house/bought a house/sold a lot/sold a house/bought a house.
My youngest started kindergarten.
We moved several times in search of home.
We got a new dog.
My eldest started (ahhhh!) middle school.
We had many birthdays.
RH turned....well....older.
I had heart surgery.
My dad had back surgery.
I consumed 2,318 concretes from Shakes.

Time must have passed to pack so much in!

But on the other hand....
It's hard to believe that it's been two whole years.

Some of the memories are still so very very vivid in my mind.
Some of the emotions are still much closer to the surface than I suspected they would be at this point.

Yesterday I ran in the Joplin Memorial Run.
It was really a super event and there were TONS of people cool to see!

Last year I was worried that I would be so emotional it might be hard for me to run.
It was hard....but pretty much just because of the horrible blistering straight from the depths of down below heat and sun.
There were a few "oh wow" moments....but mostly it was just trying to get through the 13 miles of asphalt from hades running.

This year I went into the race pretty much just concerned with how un-properly-trained I was for this.
I hoped I wouldn't let my running partner down by crawling the last few miles.


As we jostled about in the starting corral they released 161 balloons and called for 161 seconds of silence to honor the 161 people who had died from that storm.

(And I thought about how very easily two 7 year olds and my aunt and uncle could have made 4 more balloons.)

Then they told the story about the young lady who sang the national anthem; how she had been working in the pharmacy that was completely leveled and how frantically her parents had been searching for her.

(And I remembered seeing the pharmacy after the storm and the sick feeling of not knowing where my child was .)

Then they introduced the woman who officially "started the race" and she told the story of how she had rushed her mother (who didn't make it) to the hospital and her mother said, "Don't worry about me....whatever happened God has it under control."

(And I remembered telling God that I knew he loved my son and nephew even more than me and that He knew what was best for them and I handed them over to His big 'ol hands.)

Then we started.
And we ran.
And we looked at the names on the banners.
And I said to my running partner, "Hey...remember that name?  That's the baby who...."
And she said, "Stop.  I can't."

And we ran.
And we came to the part of the town where the trees disappear.
And we didn't say anything.

And we ran.
Then we walked because it was hot.
And we finished.

And I ran into my friend Tiffany, who told me how emotional it had been for she and her husband....and we both teared up.

And I went home to my intact amazing family in my whole safe house.

Wednesday is the official two year anniversary of the tornado.

Today is the "same day" in the fact that it's Sunday and Joplin High School is having its graduation ceremony.

Today we have horrible storms predicted for our area after five o'clock.
Hail, thunderstorms, tornadoes and such.

Today everyone is posting deja vu's all over facebook.

Today I checked my emergency kit in the basement to make sure it was stocked.

Today one of my good friends and her hubby are coming to stay the night because they don't have a basement and they got totally blown away two years ago.


Two years ago.

A lifetime.

A moment.


God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.
He has His plans....and I am grateful.
So so so so so grateful.

Am I nervous?
A little.
I thought I wasn't....but a rumble of thunder made my stomach twist so I guess I must be.

Am I freaking out?
Not yet.

Just being prepared.
Thanking God for warnings and perspective and a basement.

So I will try and ignore the fact that my usually calm and somewhat lazy dog is nervously pacing around me in circles.

I will sit down with my family and friends and have dinner.

I will tuck my kids into bed and crack my window so I can hear the sirens if need be.

And I will continue to praise God.

I may be praising Him as I run to the basement....but I will praise Him!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

To Some People They are Weeds....

This morning I woke up
(and by woke up I mean I ran back to my bed when I heard a minor stampede coming up the stairs)
to a wonderful Mother's Day surprise.

English muffins with butter, peanut butter and jelly,
Homemade waffle,
Yogurt with raspberries,
Fried egg,
and three cute kids.

(Kid #2 has crawled under the covers next to me and gone back to sleep.)

Then at church Carolyn presented me with a coupon book of things she wanted to give me.
These included:
A hug
A kiss
A back rube
Take out trash
A fish

I'll take it.
(I hope the fish is a drawing....)

After a chock-full rest of the morning and afternoon, the kids returned from a fishing trip with their uncle.
Bennett and my nephews had brought me beautiful old water bottles full of weeds wild flowers.

Ethan yelled, "WAIT!"
He excitedly reached into his jeans pocket,
dug around a bit,
and pulled out...
a handful of something.

"I got you flowers!!!!"
Yes he did.
And those flowers and my water bottles of weeds are the most beautiful gifts I've ever received.

Then I had the blessing of making dinner for my mom, my mother in law and my sister in law....some of the neatest moms I know.

The kids ran around and
we all stuffed ourselves and
we had several an extra helping of banana cake and
we talked and
we enjoyed the spring weather.

I just have to tell you....

I am a pretty lucky mom.
Pretty darn lucky.

Friday, May 3, 2013

I Feel a Draft.....

(SPOILER:   If you don't believe in God or His omnipotence....
this post will probably bewilder you quite a bit.)

You know how they say, "When God shuts a window He opens a door"?
(or shuts a door and opens a window or cuts a sun roof or shuts the garage or whatever???)

You know what I mean.

That point when you realize that you are supposed to do something.
You can't ignore that you're supposed to do something.
There is something that you are supposed to be doing.

And you know this because a window/door/opportunity/sky-light/chance/option/opening has been
slammed down right in front of you?

And maybe this "opportunity" has come after other things you've been working on (thinking you were following God's plan) perhaps didn't come to fruition?

And maybe this "opportunity" has appeared after you've prayed and prayed for an answer?

And maybe this "opportunity" popped at a point where so many planets had to come into alignment for it to occur that it's pretty flippin' obvious it's no coincidence?

Could be a job offer.
Maybe it's a meeting.
It might be a letter in the mail.
Perhaps it's an innocent request from a friend.
Possibly it's the loss of a job.
It could even present as an extra burden or task you hadn't planned on undertaking.

Irregardless of how it shows up.....the circumstances surrounding it's appearance make it pretty clear that "it" is destined to be part of your life story.


Just jump on board and ride that crazy train to some pearly-gate station?

Well....I've done that.
And sometimes that train derails and it isn't pretty.

Does that mean it wasn't a divine opportunity?

Not necessarily.

Might mean it was more of a "divine learning experience"...but I still came away a little more bruised and tattered and muddy and refined.

So maybe I should tell the train to just please hold....and do some prayer and research and prayer and talking and prayer and then....if nothing prevents me....climb cautiously on board and buckle my seat belt.

Well....I've done that too.
And sometimes the train falls into a big lake and seat-belts don't help and it isn't pretty.

Does THAT mean it wasn't a divine opportunity?

Again....not necessarily.

Again I come away more soggy refined.

Proverbs 21 says that "The horse is prepared for the day of battle...but victory is from the Lord."

Proverbs 16 says that (totally paraphrasing here) we might toss a coin to decide a direction....but God decides how it's going to fall.

In other much preparation (or just jumping in without looking) as I do...God still decides how it's all going to go down.

So.....the good news?  He's got my back.
If I really really commit my efforts and work to Him....He'll do exactly what needs to be done.

Bad news?
Falling off a fast-moving train sorta hurts.

Risk worth taking?

Well....each situation and "opportunity" has to be considered and taken differently.

In Proverbs 26 (very useful book for this post!) it says:
"Do NOT reason with a fool when they're doing something foolish....but DO reason with a fool when they ARE being foolish."(paraphrased again)

Every situation is different....and every situation needs to be considered individually.

Sometimes God wants to protect us by keeping us away from harmful situations.

Other times we are supposed to go through that sand-papery spiky window....because even though it's going to be painful (and sacrificial)'s the direction God has written on our life-map.

So something comes up.
It's pretty miraculous how it occurs.
It feels like it has to has to has to be directly from God.

Pray while jumping.

But don't just sit there.
Eventually....your current comfy seat WILL become saggy and lumpy and uncomfortable.
And you'll wonder how you got so far away from that breezy open window.

(I need to add THIS LINK.  It's a pretty amazing song....that always seems to come at just the right times.....)