May 26, 2013

Tornado Musings

I have had so many thoughts running through my head in the aftermath of the tornado, so I thought I would try and jot a few of them down and share with you.  They are pretty random and scattered, but I figure you’re used to that from me by now!

-You know, it’s pretty amazing that before our tornado even hit, God gave us all perspective when we saw the horrible devastation in OK from Monday.  Just about anything could have happened here and it still wouldn’t touch what we saw on that screen.  Yes, there were trees all over the back yard, a few cars and fences were smashed, some even had parts of their homes destroyed, but as far as I know, at the end of the day all family members were together and accounted for.  Most, if not all, homes and buildings were still standing.  Yes, we’ve had the inconvenience of multiple days without power or internet, but at least we were able to suffer as a family.  There are many in OK who can’t say that.  God was gracious and provided protection.  The hard thing is admitting that, even in OK, God was gracious and provided protection.  He never changes.  I don’t understand it and I can’t explain it, I just know without a doubt that it’s true.

-I have been blessed with an amazing husband.  He was right out there helping the neighbors move branches so they could access the steps to their apartments, knocking on neighbors doors to make sure they were still OK when family members couldn’t reach them any other way, and even helping some neighbors move power lines to free their cars before anything else came crashing down on them.  That was all before he every touched anything in our yard.  What a servant.  My cup runneth over!

-I rely way too much on this little phone…that doesn’t want to stay charged!  I have felt so lost and disconnected this week as I could not make or receive calls.  I could send text messages…most of the time…when the phone would stay charged…but there was no facebook or twitter or instagram…none of that.  However, that has given me time to see where priorities really need to be.  I’ve enjoyed the extra time to love on my family and my neighbors.

-Even in a tornado, perhaps even with a tornado, God answers prayers.  On Monday night, after seeing the horrifying footage from OK, our family prayed together for the families there and asked God to show us how we could help those who had been affected by the tornado.  Tuesday morning we woke up to a whole neighborhood we could help.  Amazing how that works, huh?  We ran down the street to check on Miss Bonnie (she’s a widow and has MS, so she can’t get around) and even met some new neighbors (Beth and Hope).  Hope was in need of some food, so the kids and I packed up several bags of the nonperishable items we had and took them to her. I’ve gone down a few more times to check on them, but they were not home.  I assume they went somewhere that had power.  I am hoping that we are able to talk some more to these ladies and be able to continue to minister with them and meet some immediate needs.  Lord, help us to be Your hands and feet in their lives!

-We were also very blessed with much needed help from two of our neighbors, Mr. Butch and Cory. After helping some of the neighbors get a few branches cleared, we started Tues. afternoon cleaning up our tree-covered back yard.  We finally finished Wed. afternoon around 3:15.  Mr. Butch and Cory helped us load up and haul away every last piece of wood from our yard.  Cory only gets one day off a week, and he spent it helping us!  It was such a blessing.  We would still be clearing things now if they hadn’t helped. 

-Laura Ingalls I am not!  Though I did survive without power, it wasn’t always with a great attitude and I didn’t always do it well!  I guess if I had no choice and this was consistently my way of life, then perhaps I’d get better at it, but for now, I’d rather have the power back so I can finish Fringe before we give up TV in June! (I know, that’s pretty shallow!)

-It’s really hard to follow a diet in the midst of tornado recovery with no power!  We were really trying not to buy any food until we got power back on so the food choices were pretty limited.  Not a whole lot of protein comes in non-perishable form!

-Rain boots can be fashionable…OK, not really, but they sure do come in handy when walking around yards that are muddy and full of debris! 

-One might think that raking and sweeping are similar actions (a rake, after all, kind of looks like a metal version of an oversized broom, right?)  One would be wrong!  One of those actions is much harder and provides a much better workout!

-Totally not on the diet, but man, these Wildberry Skittles are pretty good!  Thanks to the awesome kids from the purple team (and no, it wasn’t just Sophie…Ethan said a verse every week, I think Olivia said a verse almost every week plus all the books of the Bible, and the other Sophie said quite a few verses….I promise, it was a group effort!) who helped us win the color prize in Family Quest so I could enjoy these treats.  Yep, I’ll have a lot of work to do to lose all the “Tornado Recovery 2013” weight!  And, no, I don’t care, they’re just.that.good!

-Getting sick at 4:30 in the morning in the pitch black with no power is just about as fun as it sounds.

-Gratefulness is not a strong enough word to describe the feelings for my amazing parents who took our children and dirty laundry after a day and a half with no power.  Sitting here on day 4 of no power, I don’t know what we would have done if they had still been with us.  Pretty sure at least one of us would be dead.  Just goes to show our stellar parenting probably involves too much TV and not enough time outside, playing games, and reading books, huh?  I mean, kids lived for hundreds of years without power and did just fine, but ours were about to “die” after just one day.  Yeah, first world problems.

-Thankfully Kevin’s mom’s power came back on Thursday, so we’ve been spending the days at her house.  Since I was sick Friday, I spent the day coming to love a new TV series (via DVD, she still has no cable or internet), Body of Proof.  (Probably won’t get that finished before No TV June, either!)

-I think I have figured how the pioneers were able to get up so early in the morning…when it gets dark and there’s no electricity, you go to bed a lot earlier!!!  Naturally, this makes you get up earlier.  This would also apply to the Amish.

-I am so thankful for the graciousness of God in regards to the weather.  It has been just perfect, especially since there’s no AC.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Perfect weather, Lord, even though we don’t deserve it!

-Life can continue “on the outside” even when there is no power.  Tuesday was not a great day for me, but it turned out that going to our Hannibal Area Home Educators graduation was just what I needed to catch my breath and remember life is not all about me.  As our sweet keynote speaker reminded us, “The Waiting Place” is not a “most useless place”, as Dr. Seuss would have us believe.  Instead, it is a place where we can choose to be waiting on the Lord and resting in Him, gathering strength for the journey ahead.  Those were words I needed!

-I serve an amazing God!  I am thankful that He alone is the God that turns mourning into dancing, weeping into laughing and the ugly into the beautiful.  Yes, we had lots of branches to clean up, but as I told the kids, each branch was a reminder of God’s grace.  His protecting grace in the midst of the storm.  His sustaining grace in the aftermath.  His provisional grace in neighbors and family members.  He was there.  What I didn’t tell them, was that each branch was also a reminder to me of someone in OK who no longer had a home to return to or a child to put to bed that night.  It was a reminder that somewhere else, God’s protective, sustaining, and provisional grace came in a barely recognizable form.  Lord, reveal the mystery.  Lord, open our eyes to the grace and love You pour on us.  May we see Your beautiful  in this world of ugly.  Lord, all is grace, so show us how to see it even in the storm.

May 15, 2013

Reading for Refugees

I wanted to let you know about a program that Sophie will be participating in this summer, from June 1-Aug. 1, and let you know how you can help.  She will be doing the Reading for Refugees program (find information on it here: created by the missions organization His Voice Global (  She has lots of books to choose from as her reading material, but she now needs sponsors who will commit to a PER PAGE price they would like to donate for her reading.  We will keep track of the pages she has read and let you know the total.  The money is due to His Voice by Aug. 15, so those of you who do not live in Hannibal, we will total the pages before Aug. 1 so you would have time to send your check. 
I am personally excited about this because it fits in with what our family has been doing the last few months as we have been fasting from some of our excesses and attempting to follow Isaiah 58, which instructs us to use our time of fasting to help others in need.  In June, we will be giving up the TV, so this is the perfect way for us to fulfill Is. 58 while we are not watching television.
If you would like to help us with this program, just reply to me and let me know what your PER PAGE READ pledge will be.  (FYI---she's a great reader and loves to read!)  Please do not feel bad if you cannot participate in the financial end of this program, but we would still love to have your prayers!  Thank you so much for thinking of us and for praying for us as we tackle this amazing project.

May 03, 2013

It's May Already?!?!?!?!?

Well, somehow May snuck up on us!  How did that happen?  Our house survived birthday month (everyone but me has a birthday in April) and we're moving along toward summer.  Of course, with this crazy weather, it doesn't really feel like it!

As we head into May, we begin the next phase of our "7 Experiment".  This month we are focusing on having Sabbath.  Now, I will admit, we are three days into the month and I still don't feel settled on just how we should make this happen.  I did a study and read some about it and still couldn't come up with an exact "how to" (which if you know me, I LOVE HOW TO LISTS!)  One phrase in my reading really caught me, though, and that is "living Sabbathly."  It's basically the thought that anywhere, anytime you can stop what you are doing and focus on God rather than on the circumstances around you.  You can see and worship God in all that He has placed around you.  Of course, there's also the idea of trying to go a little more schedule free, too.  Living apart from the hassles and busyness this world so craves.  So, unless God directs otherwise, we will be doing our best to take one day a week just to enjoy time as a family, with little to no schedule, and see God in the things around us.  These times might involve family worship through music, studying scripture together, taking a walk at the park, making meals together, not really sure.  But, we will try, for one day a week, to slow down and remove stresses from our lives so that we can see the joy and gift in the family God has given us and in the many other people and things He has placed around us.

I am also planning to continue my 2 "sacred pauses" that I have added to my day.  I so enjoy those, sometimes very short, times of prayer.  God has always given me something specific to thank Him for or pray for in those times.  They are truly a blessing.  I would encourage everyone to try at adding at least one set time of prayer to one of the busiest parts of your day and just see how God uses that in your life!