I Just Found My “Randy’s-on-the-Road” Love Note


5c25686efb8c11e19a6522000a1d034e 7 I Just Found My Randys on the Road Love Note

(backstory for those who don’t know: Randy and I met on Twitter during the Alabama vs TN game in ’09 — he thought one of my tweets about the game was funny <3 (my mamaw was a HUGE TN fan… I was raised on AL football)

Processing a Disaster: restoration

One of the problems I keep encountering in my personal blogging is knowing where to write certain things. I’ve mentioned this dilemma before, and it frustrates me to admit that I am not one step closer to sorting it out than I was 5 months ago. (I’m still open to ideas, so feel free to weigh in)

Therefore, here I sit, attempting to write about my visit to Pleasant Grove, Alabama, three weeks after the fact.

Its taken about that long to begin to process what I saw.

As I’m sifting through it and trying to process it,  I am all over the board. On one level, I find myself racing to help. On another, I want to sit quietly and just pray. I recognize that people can only take so much before they shut it out completely, yet  I struggle with the desire to post every single article, photo and video I come across that pertains to the destruction and recovery.

Because in every way, this strikes something deep that ignites a fear. We long for control. For a sense of order. And nothing about this feels orderly.

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While the entire state of Alabama and other parts of the Southeast continue to process this record-setting devastation and destruction, a fear that creeps in to our minds is that others will quickly forget and move on.

And there lies the trigger for my struggle for control.

What many are faced with every single day now is this:

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Their lives and spirit broken and scattered in every direction.

From the outside, it has the appearance of  hopelessness. It’s scary; overwhelming.

I hear it so loudly in my head: How in the world can we pick up the pieces?

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Until I find myself back in that spot where I recognize and acknowledge that I am not in control. I still have no answers for my children who ask why some were spared on one side of the street while the other side is gone. Who try to wrap their heads around whether or not God caused this…

I believe in a God who doesn’t cause the storms, but Who is with us through them.

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(image credit: Church of the Highlands)

So even though I can’t hold and comfort every victim of this storm, nor wipe every tear that falls, I am seeing Him all around in the recovery and relief efforts. He is still here in the midst of it. And once again, I am reminded of how restoration works.

As love pours in…

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Restoration takes place.

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And pinned to the sleeve of a child’s shirt, I am spoken to:

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Restoration will take place across the state and in our hearts.

To help those affected visit Magic City Post’s “Now It’s Time to Help” – many volunteer opportunities and lists of needs. Also included are ways that those not in the region can help directly.

For more related links, see my prior post “Pray for Alabama” and scroll to the bottom

New on LTLF

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Today we celebrated our first year of being a family. (If you are new here, I know that sounds weird, but just trust me…)

You can read more about it over on Living The Life Fantastic.

Pray for Alabama

I was born in Alabama, and although I didn’t grown up here, I spent every Christmas and summer in Decatur and Florence with family. It’s a place I’ve always been connected to and have always felt a connection with.

When Mamaw passed away in December 2009, I was saddened to realize that I would no longer have a reason to be in Alabama. I didn’t know at the time that I’d be living there within 5 months. As I like to say, I’ve made it full circle. Not only am I back where I started, but I’ve made friends and once again, have family here.

It’s home.

And so, that is why yesterday, April 27th was a day that left me exhausted and heart-broken.

We knew it was coming and we knew it was going to be bad. Even before Wednesday, forecasters were speculating that it could be “historic” or “epic”, but there was no doubt it would be damaging.

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It was such an odd day. Randy was out of town on business, and so I had several backup alarms set for getting the kids ready for school. Instead, I woke up to sirens and within minutes, I heard that initial crash of thunder – that moment that I visualize the warm and cold air finally collide. There was no rain or wind at that point.

Within minutes of that collision, the initial storm hit with rain and strong winds. I watched as my Twitter stream filled with reports of power outages and down trees and damage.

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Schools were closed due to fallen trees and widespread power outages. Only 20 out of 55 schools in our system had power.

The rest of the afternoon was amazingly nice. Sunny and windy. But it was coming:

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(screenshot of @Spann warning of the tornado on the ground headed toward Tuscaloosa)

Watching it, I felt helpless. I felt awe at the force of nature. I wanted to cry. Cullman had already been beaten up severely, as had many other towns and areas across the state. Seeing this, and knowing what it was doing to the city below it, shook me to my core.

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(screenshot of the tornado passing thru Tuscaloosa)

We got into our safe spot as it headed towards Birmingham. Reports were that it could tag the airport, which is about 10 minutes from our home.

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(watching the tornado on the ipad from our safe spot)

As it was bearing towards us, news of the destruction in Tuscaloosa and beyond was pouring in.

In the end, we were untouched, physically. But emotionally, we are hurting for so many. It’s almost unbearable to think about what others woke up to this morning. To imagine what they are facing and coping with. The losses that they have been blown. So much loss of life. The starting over.

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(screen captures of Cullman destruction)

I’m fighting with that all-too-common survivors guilt. Vacillating between elation of being ok and anger that others can think about anything else. Worried that the hurts will be forgotten. Like any tragedy, we rally around it and all want to reach out. But within hours, we change the channel and speculate about what the Queen-To-Be will be wearing tomorrow.

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(tornado debris: a divorce decree from Tuscaloosa County, nearly 80 miles away from us)

And yet, I’m thankful that so many can do that. That they are ok and momentarily carefree. I think we’d all lose our minds if we couldn’t relax our brains from the images.

But let’s not forget Alabama yet. It needs help. It needs prayer.

It’s going to be a long journey back for too many. They shouldn’t have to do it alone.

Governor Bentley pushed back against questions from reporters on Thursday about whether Alabama residents had failed to heed tornado warnings, thus pushing up the casualty toll. “We were very prepared … but it was just the force of the storms,” Bentley said. “When a [large tornado] hits a largely populated area like Tuscaloosa, you cannot move thousands of people in five minutes. When an F4 or F5 tornado hits, there’s not much you can do to change the outcome of that.”  - Christian Science Monitor (emphasis mine)

Additional Links:

137 Tornadoes Reported in the Deep South on Wednesday *(AL.com)
Alabama Tornadoes: How You Can Help Victims of the April 27, 2011 Deadly Storms (AL.com)
‘We’re Alive’: Survivors Recount Deadly Tornadoes (MSNBC)
April 27, 2011 Alabama Tornado Photo Stream (from ABC 33/40)
Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes (Facebook page set up to help people recover debris found in others yards)
Pray for the Tornado Victims of April 27, 2011 (Facebook page filled with thoughts and resources for helping)
Tornado Season Reaches Peak in “Dixie Alley” (Washington Post)

Videos:

http://youtu.be/kxWRS-aFBW8
http://youtu.be/5ohIVzIZLuQ

Storm Aftermath Video Shows Nothing Left (CNN)

*Updated: links no longer available/online

Mixin’ it up

Lots and lots of pictures today.

First off is my idea for Works for Me Wednesday.

Now, I have never done a WFMW, and may never post another one… I’m just not very good at coming up with things that are ingenious and fresh. In fact, I didn’t come up with this one on my own. But a lady in my bible study class last year came in with her big Daniel bible study bound. It was wonderful! Amazing! Clever! So I went to Staples yesterday and had my new A Woman’s Heart (updated version!) study bound. It cost under $5.00 for it to be cut and bound, and only about 4 minutes to do.

 

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Now I can fold my study back and it lays flat while I work on it.

THAT works for me!

I am embarrassed to be posting these next photos… They certainly DO NOT make me feel like mother of the year… My poor Quinn has been the victim of countless bites and stings (you may recall this from last year – *he looks so little!!)… And the weekend I came home from the hospital was no exception. He and Sean went out to the woods to hang Sean’s deer cam. Along the way, Quinn sat down on a rotting log. It was filled with chiggers…

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Those are not chicken pox. They are hundreds and hundreds of chigger bites, literally, from the top of his head to his toes. He has taken oatmeal baths and been sprayed down. My poor guy…

Isn’t that JUST AWFUL!!?? Again, I say, Mother! Of! The! Year!

The following photos are just because they are so STINKIN’ cute!!

Seamus was playing with the walkie talkie on the way home from Alabama on Sunday. He kept talking into it and giggling. Suddenly, his eyes betrayed him. Even asleep he tried desperately to keep that “phone” up to his ear.

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going…

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gone…

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A rare glimpse of Declan’s eyes:IMAG0057 Mixin it up