Monday, November 18, 2013

What I Wish I Could Tell My Midwestern Tornado Victim Friends

I call them friends because when you've waded through something so deep and ugly and come out breathing on the other side, anyone else who later tromps in your footsteps somehow becomes your friend.

I knew after May 20th that I was now gifted (though I agree this is an odd word to use) with a unique card of compassion--of empathy rather than sympathy--for those who would later become the unsolicited victims of such a horrifying and merciless decimation of their world by a tornado. Really, by any disaster because truly, the ache is the same. I did not think that wisdom and experience of one such misadventure would turn up only 6 months after my own left me reeling.

Once I gained composure in the weeks that followed and began allowing my mind to venture ahead toward future happenings where I would possibly be of help or comfort to someone one day, I imagined what I would feel as I watched the next tornado engulf another land. I know how I felt the day before I became a national news story, but I wondered how I'd feel after. Would I be able to watch the footage of the storms as they ripped through, uncaring of who or what they ravaged? Or would this be something I will never be able to witness again, at least not without vomiting? I have looked at a few of the images, read the statistics. My heart sits heavy, naked with the still raw throb of my own undoing. And when I thought there was no room to carry more pain on others' behalf, it has found its seething way into the still open wounds.

I see the shock on the residents' faces, and I know.
I hear the panic in their voices, and I know.
I see the splintered pieces twisted and thrust, and I know.
I hear the noises--the machinery's incessant beeps, the deafening tornado sirens, and I know.
The weeping--I know.
The desperate prayers--I know.
The questions--boy do I know.

I wish I could hug them all and let them tell me in how ever great detail they need of what was where and how it felt, how it sounded, how it smells.
The smell...I don't believe I will ever forget. I look at the haunting images on my computer screen, and more than anything, I can smell it. It is a smell that you don't forget, and one you must ponder a while in order to describe.

I would tell them that it will get better, even though today that seems impossible. And tomorrow it will still seem impossible, but one day soon--maybe in five or eight or fourteen days, it will slowly start to sting less and less. I would tell them that supplies will come from places they have never heard of, and to receive them without shame. I would tell them to give themselves permission to collapse, for a while. I would tell them that when someone asks what they can do, tell them, and let them do it. Don't worry about thank you cards. No one cares, and those who do, didn't give for the right reason. I would tell them to get help with emotional healing when they are ready. The pain will not simply dissipate. You will wake up in the middle of the night reliving every second. You will think you hear tornado sirens when it's in fact just a car wash vacuum cleaner. You may never feel comfortable around an air force base or airport because the jet planes do indeed sound like the monster that destroyed your world and will surface emotions you didn't realize your heart had tucked away. But one day you will hear a test tornado siren, and you will suddenly realize that it did not scare you this time. Did it scare you the last time? You won't remember. Healing will sneak up on you, just as this devastation knocked the wind out of you.

I would say to unleash every ounce of your anguish on God, because well, I've learned that He can handle it. He already knows every aching thought you have. Give them to Him; don't hold them in. Healing will come eventually, but in the right now--I hurt alongside you. I have an entire community that does as well. They care because they have lived your hell and know the demons you face. Our prayers are and will continue to pour out on your broken behalf.

Peace of Christ to you,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


What you're looking at is a miracle. Yep.

Because everyone is looking at the camera!

(You thought I was going to reference something depressing such as, oh, maybe a tornado, didn't you?)  ;)  Nope, just the sheer fact that all three of the kids are looking AND Matt and I are not looking at the kids trying to get them to look!

It's the little things, isn't it?

I've come to adore the little things recently. I had a rough patch (don't we all) where I wasn't leading our children too well. We were technically doing all that we should; we were getting the subjects in during the day for school, but I had forgotten why I was doing all this. I left my passion somewhere.

I will admit that I had a bit of a disappointment happen (you know, the kind where you thought something great was going to happen...maybe a small miracle carved just for you...and then, well--it just didn't?) Yeah, that kind. It stung. But honestly, I'm good with God's timing and His plan and purpose. I don't see so many things that He does, and I have got to learn (for cryin' out loud) to trust Him! I wish it were easier to do, but that wouldn't make it faith and trust, now would it?

There are countless areas to play "catch up" on this blog, so I don't know where to begin!
1. I have been learning to spend time with God more consistently and I'm diving back into scripture. Before, I found myself mindlessly tracing back over the same movements of my faith--a rehearsal of sorts. I knew all the steps, and it was easy to do them while thinking of other things. Does that ring true for anyone else? I wanted something to help me find excitement again in reading words that Jesus spoke. If He is my Savior, shouldn't I be leaning in to hear His every word?

2. Our family made the decision to switch campuses at our church since we moved nearly half an hour away from the campus we were attending. This was no easy choice! That was one of the last things we were still stubbornly clutching from our life on the south side of the city. It was time to let go, and we knew it. The unclenching of the hand is a whole other story, though. We had to release it, let it be our past and no longer our present. We sold the land and are now in no way tied to Moore. It feels weird and sad in one breath, but also freeing in another. We feel the permission to unpack here now, to really proclaim, "We're home." I have finally begun doing things like making curtains. (That was the longest running stint I've ever lived without curtains, mind you!) I believe we are embracing our new world finally, and I feel that this is healthy.

3. I am also embracing a new viewpoint in our school journey, and it has proven to help ALL of us. The other moms God has surrounded me so graciously with are teaching me that it's not the end of the world if I change up the math lesson and use animal crackers for Kate to count instead of the Saxon worksheet. She understands it better and will likely retain the knowledge this way. They are children, not robots. They are going to have good and bad days. I expect consistency far too much, and I'm finally learning to breathe in and expect this inconsistency. One day Keagan is going to go get his Grammar and Spelling workbooks and complete them happily all by himself...and the next day, well--let's just say it's a miracle if we get through all the work at all! I'm learning that this is okay, especially when Keagan decides on his own whim that he wants to learn about fractions and so teaches himself just that. This new "chill" attitude is helping us all to enjoy school more and to enjoy each other more as well. God has given me the greatest privilege--to be someone's momma! I don't want to ever forget what a blessing that is.

4. I'm learning to snuggle (and tell the truth) more. Our pastor, Craig, is doing a series called Necessary Sins--focusing on one particular sin per week that we often overlook. Lying was the first week, and something hit me square between the forehead. It's easy to lie. I was doing it in the tiniest of ways, but ways that may have a LARGE impact. For instance, at night Kate likes to suddenly spout forth all the things she was planning for us to do with each other that evening...right when it's time for bed. She has had all evening to ask for these things, but she forgot, so she begs for snuggles, a particular book, her fingernails to be painted, etc., right when I say it's bed time. So my response, I've noticed, is almost always: "We can do that tomorrow" or "I'll snuggle with you on the couch in the morning." One day she caught me and I was shown that my careless, empty promises to her at night are in fact lies. I am just trying to get her to hush so I can have my personal time, knowing full well that we will not snuggle in the morning, because I will be busy yet again with something else. So, I have been making a conscious effort to not only tell her I will snuggle with her, but to actually do it. If I want her to trust me, I have to lay that foundation today.

I think over all, you could say I'm learning that miracles are all around, every day. One more day to kiss my husband. One more day to snuggle my kids on the couch. One more cup of coffee with a friend. One more birthday, one more year. Miracles. So I'm going to stop looking for them in big things and start recognizing the beautiful bite sized miracles I already hold.

P.S. I'd like to give a shout out to my friend Kim at Photography by Kimberly D for gifting our family with our precious photos. She told me very soon after the tornado that she wanted to do this for our family, and she did that and more, and we are so grateful. If you are around here, book her because she is one talented lady!

Peace of Christ to you,