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

Friday, May 30, 2014

Clean Slate...

Every morning is new.

Those regrets that come crashing into your consciousness the moment you're awake enough to realize them?

They don't have a right to you.

Chances are….
You messed up yesterday.
Maybe big….maybe small….but I'd surmise there is something you wish you had done differently.

Tell God about it.
Confess your actions,
confess your regret,
and give it all to Him.

Then, while your hands are still open from letting go of those things….
Accept His forgiveness.
Accept another chance.

Know that God will help you do better today….
And that you don't have to do it on your own.

It's a new morning.
A new start.

And you can decide how you want to use it.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Three Years….

Three years is an amazingly long time.

Yet there are times…
…when it's quiet at night
…when I look for a building that's no longer there
…when I smell leaking gas
…when multiple helicopters fly overhead
…when I hug one of my kids
…when I see a program about our town on the Weather Channel
…when tornado sirens scream to life
that it doesn't seem like all that much time has passed.

Not every time that these things occur….but sometimes.
Random times.
Ones that catch me off guard.

And memories (visions, smells, sounds) shatter their way into the foremost part of my mind with a force that still takes me aback.

I don't know.  Maybe.
Isn't "flashback" just a word for a strong memory?

3 years later,
we-- as city, a community, a family,
have certainly come a really really long way.
Obstacles have been overcome,
Anniversaries have been …well…survived if not celebrated,
And our city has been mostly (not yet completely) restored to a better than original state.

In three months the new high school should be opening, and President Obama will be back to oversee the festivities.
I think this is his 3rd trip here.  RH and I went and heard him speak the first time, and my eldest went to hear him at the first Joplin High School graduation the year after the storm.
((Who'd of thunk we'd be on such close terms with the supreme chief executive????))

While things have grown and settled and been restored and repaired….make no mistake.
The memory of that time is still quite fresh here.
The impact it had on our town….both good and bad….is immeasurable.

Lots of people still define their life timelines with "before the tornado" and "after the tornado".
Restore Joplin signs and t-shirts and bumper stickers are visible daily.
New buildings are still popping up…and empty deserted lots with concrete stairs leading nowhere are right beside them.

This city is moving forward….but we aren't moving away from May 22, 2011.
We can't put it behind us.
We won't forget.

We will remember:
…the way the world rallied around us
…how criminals and police worked side by side to save lives
…when strangers took strangers into their homes and hearts
…how houses were completely gone except for one small area that sheltered and saved a family
…what miracles looked like
…the importance of white butterflies
…how it felt to have a stranger walk up and hug you and give you bottled water
…the smell of "tornado puke"
…when thousands of people came to our town to show us we were not alone.

And we will also remember the hard things.
The bad things.
The things that we maybe don't enjoy revisiting…but can't always help it.

But that's ok….because those things help us remember how it felt to be utterly and completely helpless.
Because for me….that was the time I fully realized how very dependent I was on God….and how very able He was to provide.

God said,
"Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you."
--Exodus 20:24

Memories, articles, pictures….they are all ways we can remind ourselves of God's goodness and faithfulness.   They are our mini- high-tech altars that cause us to stop and recognize the things that God brought us through.

So….here are my memories.
I've linked them to other stories and such….just click on the colored words if you want to visit them too.
And as time continues to pass I will remember that God is the same today as He was then,
and the same as He was a thousand years ago, and the same He will be next week and next year.

He is enough.

And while I might not understand how three years can be so long and so short all at the same time…
He does.
And that's enough for me.

----Here's my story of that day and night….It took me over a year to be able to read it myself without shaking.

----My daughter was with my sister-in-law….and her story is still a little hard for me to read.

-----When we were finally able to leave our neighborhood, I remember my brother-in-law gasping when we saw what had happened to the hospital.  The story of what happened inside St. John's hospital is unbelievable.

----These are the pictures from that night.  I had my camera with me because we had been celebrating Bennett's birthday.

-----Out of the MANY bizarre experiences… knocking down my own home had to be one of the most surreal.

----Re-reading this post makes me so grateful that we are so much farther away from 2011…but helps me remember that there is an explanation as to why I have gaping holes in my memory.

---Videos like this one  and this one can still make me tear up…and I can't even watch this one the whole way through.

-----Some memories such as these and these just come back at random times….and I have to remind myself that they actually DID really happen.

--And in this post I actually said that I was recording things so that in THREE YEARS I wouldn't forget them.

---There are songs like this one and definitely this one that still make my knees tremble with thankfulness.

I will use this little list of links when I need a dose of perspective…or a reminder of why I tear up at weird and random times.  I will use it to remind myself of how blessed I am…and to help me remember   how strong I can be.  Feel free to peek or not…and add whatever ones you think are important too.
Thanks for being here….

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Friday, May 16, 2014

What is Today???

Sometimes Friday gets confused and thinks it's a Monday.

When your spouse leaves (loudly) for a super early flight in the morning.
When you manage to fall back asleep for the precious 45 minutes you have before your alarm goes off.
When your phone gets unplugged at some point during the night and dies….therefore rendering the alarm null and void.
When you luckily wake up because your kiddo is loudly going to the restroom at 6:15 (gross yet weirdly helpful).
When you get an automated phone call as you're chugging your coffee that tells you your spouse's connecting flight is cancelled and he's been re-booked on a flight 8 hours later.
When you reach for the coffee to to refill your half empty cold cup (because it is really needed) and the coffee pot is mysteriously absent.
When you realize you are the only one home drinking coffee.
When you accuse and threaten and cajole and beg your children to return the coffee pot.

(the pot, mind you.  the entire big 12 cup pot.  that's silver and black. with a big handle. a biiiig pot.)

When you suspect that your children are telling the truth when they state that they did not hide the coffee pot.
When you remind your children 26 times to get their folders and be ready to leave.
When your children are picked up for school by a friend (first time this year I don't have to drive them!!!) and your eldest keeps her waiting while you sweetly scream at him to hurry the heck up.
When you discover your 2nd child has left their folder with their homework in it on the counter.
When you have to text your spouse and tell them their flight is delayed.
When you try to find a new flight for your spouse but you still can't find your coffee pot.

(it's big.  it's not a small little individual mug of coffee.  it's a big heavy pot for crying out loud.)

When you receive a phone call alerting you that you have to be at the school an hour early at pick-up…on your home phone that you would have missed had you driven to school.
When you find out that you can bring the folder to school then without your child getting penalized.
When your spouse calls to say that the flight isn't actually cancelled.
When your school connection calls to say that your presence isn't necessary…all is well.
When you realize the flight really is cancelled but you can make car rental arrangements easily from your computer.

Friday's fighting back.  Monday mentality almost got a leg in the door…but Friday is

I suspect it would prevail a bit better if it had more coffee.
Where's my big pot?

Maybe I'll find it Monday.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stumbling Rocks….

I've mentioned before that I am not, by personality, a runner.
Yes.  I run.
But only because it's the quickest and most effective way for me to be able to stay healthy.
(Note:  "stay healthy" can also be translated as "eat waffle fries drenched in Chick-Fil-A sauce and Shake's wedding cake concretes.")

When I do "hit the pavement" I wear minimalist shoes.  These are shoes that don't offer support, but have a tough layer to protect my feet from the pointy things of life.

Because you see, I've learned about these pointy things in life.
I tend to go barefoot whenever possible.  I just prefer it.
(Not in public though…I actually find that kind of gross.  Especially in places where I'm expected to sit on the areas where people's stinky bare feet have been all curled up.  Ewww.)
When at home I shed the shoes and let the toes hang out.

This is fine….until one encounters some of life's little pointy gifts.
Gifts such as legos,
thumb tacks,
pieces of a son's "fool's gold" collection,
cockle burrs fallen off of hunting clothes,
barbie's high heels,
the metal candlestick from the game Clue….
or really old dried-up pieces of play dough.

Those things….even to my thick-soled old feet….sinkin' hurt.
They make me jump.
Perhaps even give a little gentle shout.
Maybe even cause me to say something that makes me very happy my angels are at school.

Usually I can walk over most anything without noticing it….because my feet have become toughened and immune to most of the things that "tender-feet" can't handle.
But there are still those lovely "surprises" that make me stand up straight and take serious notice.

(Who knew this weirdly compelling story about my feet was about to become an allegory for life experiences?
Well…probably anyone who has read anything I've written!)

As we go through a "normal" day, week, month we experience all kinds of things.
The majority of these things barely register on our awareness indicators.
(When I run, I don't notice the flat gravel underneath my thin-soled shoes.)
We make standard replies, act reflexively, and continue on our pre-planned path.

Other things might make us pause for a moment.
Something nudges us out of our routine and we have to regroup a little bit.
(If I step on a irregular shaped rock my foot might slip…but it doesn't cause much pain.)
Our eyes are opened to something new, and we have to consider how to respond.

Then come the moments that stop us dead in our tracks.
Something is brought to our awareness that resonates and shakes every bone in our body.
(I step on a sharp piece of metal or glass that pierces through my flimsy shoe.)
We are not the same person we were before that occurred.

In other words…the awareness indicator just went off the dial.

These "things" could come as emails.
Donation requests on Facebook..
Conversations with the grocery store clerk…

You name it.  Any ordinary thing that you've probably been exposed to a GA-BILLION times and never been "wowed"…..until this one time.
And this one time….
You're over-wowed.

There have been times that things have simply "struck" me.  Pulled at my heart.  Made me stop in my tracks

These are the things, or should I say "realizations" or "new awarenesses", that just won't go away.
You simply can't forget them or put them out of your mind.

Oh…you may try to refocus your thoughts….but that won't help anymore than me trying to convince myself I can run on tiptoe and ignore the spiky thing hanging out of the bottom of my shoe.

And I just have to think...that when those "things" keep coming to mind over and over and over and over again…
Maybe it's just God saying "PAY ATTENTION TO THIS!"

If you see a news story about a fundraiser for a sick kiddo it will probably pull at your heart strings.
Maybe you'll think about it when sitting down to dinner with your healthy children.
You might even pray about it before bed.
Perhaps you'll even go to the web site and donate the next day.
But…chances are….your memory of that story will grow dim.
In a few months you may casually wonder how that family is doing….but it won't be a huge presence in your life.

Then you see another news story about refugees who have no where to go.
Again, it pulls at your heart strings.
Again, you think, pray, and possibly even donate.
But…the memory of that story doesn't go dim.
You don't stop thinking of it.
It is front and center in your mind and heart.
Days later, weeks later, lots-o-time later.  And then you start hearing other stories about these refugees.
You see things on the news, or overhear people talking about them, or get a random pop-up on your Facebook screen about the plight.
Your Bible reading takes you to verses that obviously apply to the situation.
The memory is not growing dimmer….and you can't "un-know" the seriousness of the situation.

It has been put in front of you not as a coincidence…
Not as a burden...
Not as an opportunity…
But as a purpose.

Fact:  God opens our eyes to things.
Sometimes they are brief little openings….like fluttering eyes when you're half-dreaming.
Other times though?
It's that sit-straight-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-with-your-eyes-wide-opened-and-your-heart-pounding-out-of-your-chest kind of feeling.

Know what that THING is???

That's your purpose.

Don't try to forget about it.
Well…go on and try….but He won't let you.

What the heck are you (am I ) supposed to do about the worldwide plight of refugees??
(or whatever situation put in front of you)
I don't know.
But He does.

"…Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
--Esther 4:14

You're aware.
Waaaaaaaay aware.

God's put a serious sense of purpose on your heart.

Now what?

Wish I had a good pat answer for that one.
BOY do I.

Truth is…..I don't know.
But I DO know…that God knows.

He has something He wants you to do.
Something He planned out for you waaaaaay before you were even a sparkle in someone's eye.

And He will show you what it is you're supposed to do in response to that gripping longing and desire in your heart.
(By the way….the Christian-ese word for that feeling is "conviction".)

So how do you figure out what to do?
I learned a great little "ABC's" while teaching my Sunday school class.

A:  Ask God.  Pray.
B:  Biblical agreement.  Does it line up with scripture?
C:  Counsel.  Ask advice from wise people in your life.
D:  Doors.  Are they opening or shutting?
E:  Extraordinary events.  It probably is NOT going to be something you can do without God's help.

Remember….His timing really is better than ours.
Way better.

So we wait.
We remember our ABC(DE)'s.
And we keep on running (after bandaging and proper rest) so that we're ready and trained-up when the true task is revealed.

And we have dessert.
Because we did go for a run.