I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken... Psalm 37:25 NIV
Four months today...On last month's anniversary date I confidently planned to have a positive news filled report on month four. Sadly, things are pretty much the same. We are nearing approval of a floor plan so the back and forth dance between the builder (what it will actually cost to build) and insurance (what they think it can be low-balled at) can begin. We have an experienced builder who will not be a pushover so that will hopefully work in our favor. It sure would be a blessing if this back and forth can move quickly so we can at least apply for a building permit and get a start date in view. Contents insurance news is much the same. We have an appointment next Monday to begin going over the many items they changed to different lesser value items before the depreciation. We are fairly confident this will be resolved in our favor.
Honestly, it is very discouraging to still be in a holding pattern when spring has arrived and we see (with joy) others beginning to make real progress. Spring will be difficult as we long for coffee on the porch watching the yard/garden come to life.
We are trying hard to find and focus the positive. Since that awful November day we have enjoyed the blessing of becoming much better connected with neighbors (some we knew/some we didn't). We also found out today that we were approved for a generous grant from a large credit union in Chicago that will help with some of the financial shortfall. That is a blessing for sure.
Maybe (said with significantly less confidence) we will be able to surprise everyone with a super positive report on month five. Until then we continue to trust (sometimes impatiently) in God's perfect timing and can always say with utmost confidence that "we have never seen the righteous forsaken".
It has been suggested that I resurrect the poor neglected blog again to document our crazy journey. So here goes. Backtracking to November 17, 2013 when everything in our world turned upside down. I had spent the month of November posting things I am thankful for on my Facebook wall. This was posted the morning of the 17th, the day (26 years earlier) that our youngest son was born and passed away.
November 17: Today I am thankful that the faithfulness of God is ever present and never ending in every circumstance.
Shortly after I posted this we went to church. Just after the morning service got underway the tornado sirens went off and we were told it was a serious threat. We sat in the hallway with friends waiting for the all clear. Andy and a few others were outside for a bit and did some video of this storm. We could tell it was headed right toward our neighborhood. Once it was over we decided to head home to see damage (totally thinking windows or roof damage). It quickly became apparent that we were not going to be allowed near our home which is on the main road through town. We could see downed power poles and began to get really frightened. We decided to try to go in through the back of the neighborhood. We got in...rescue workers had not yet arrived. The first thing I saw that really terrified me was a man driving a mini van that had every window blown out. As we got into the neighborhood the damage got more and more severe. When we got to within a couple of blocks of our home I saw a home I recognized (the others were mostly piles of wood). I started calling out names of neighbors and friends whose homes were gone. I was pretty much hysterical. We saw no people. We were both thinking that everyone was dead. We got onto our block but couldn't keep driving so we got out to try to walk to our house. We got somewhere within four or five houses from ours before we had to turn around because of debris that we couldn't get around blocking the road. We could smell gas and were stepping over live power lines. At that point, even though we couldn't see anything we knew our home was gone. Looking back I'm sure we were both in shock at this point.
This picture was taken by our neighbor literally a few seconds before the EF4 tornado hit our lovely little home.
This picture was our first look. It was taken within the first hour and sent to us by a first responder friend who was there.
There is much, much more to this part of the story but I'll leave that for another time.
We woke up the next morning homeless, in the comfortable guest room of our friends (our son Tom's in-laws). It was our 34th wedding anniversary. The following is my Facebook post from that morning.
November 18: I made this picture collage on Saturday when our life was normal and pretty much easy and I believed every word. Today when nothing will be normal for a very long time and every little thing is difficult the words are truer than ever. I am so thankful and very blessed to begin my 34th year as your wife wherever the road may lead. There is no one I'd rather be homeless with I love you very much. Happy Anniversary!
The next day we finally got to go see what was left for ourselves. Driving into the neighborhood was the most difficult thing I have ever done. I literally could barely breathe and Andy thought he was having a heart attack (which he didn't tell me till it was over). The following was my fb status that evening.
November 19: I have more things to be thankful for today than words can say. So many volunteers today worked so very hard to help us. We retrieved some of our treasured family heirlooms, scrapbooks, my Bible, clothes, kitchen stuff, Christmas and so much more. Everything is filthy and much is wet but we feel so very blessed!
The following was written early the morning of the fourth day:
November 21: Awake when I should be sleeping because that is what I do best lately. When I shut my eyes I only see the devastation that was my cozy little home and my beautiful neighborhood and the faces of people I have grown to love. I am still fine. I am not overstating when I say that my number one emotion is still gratitude. In this incredible loss God has shown Himself big. He has blessed us with life and soul sustaining gifts from people like you, my dear friends. Your comments and prayers and encouragement have meant more than I can express. Knowing how much we are loved has lifted our spirits tremendously. When the panic feeling threatens to overtake me I have remembered a story from our recent Lysa TerKeurst Bible study Unglued about the woman who had just received some devastating news and the calm that came with just speaking the name Jesus...breathing it in and out. Doing the same has been life to me the last few days.
I am also so very grateful that God led me to spend 2012 reading and rereading and leading Ann Voskamp's Bible study One Thousand Gifts. Because of that I not only have a completely changed view of gratitude and the difference being truly grateful makes in my life but I also have (safely on Facebook, not lost in a destroyed home) 900 plus pictures, many of my home that no longer exists! The picture below was one of the last ones my husband took when we first arrived at our home after the tornado...only the jacket of a beloved book but seeing it in the rubble was a reminder and a gift in itself.
I thank you for your prayers, dear friends. Keep them coming for a long time. It is still hard to put one foot in front of the other sometimes. But I KNOW that God is faithful and good and kind and He can be depended on no matter the circumstance. He has shown that to me over and over and over theses last few days and I know He won't stop now!
Goodness it's been a while since I have visited the old blog...let's see if I still know how :)
Olivia and I made a cake for Grandpa Andy today. It was an adventure!
She did great with the mixing and scraping
While we were waiting for the cake to bake and cool Olivia made Grandpa a card
Proud of her work
Once the cake cooled it was time for frosting...Grammy had some reservations but went ahead anyway
She took the job very seriously and it's going pretty well
Still not too bad
--only a few crumbs in the frosting :)
Getting kind of scary
Not sure there is any hope
Best quote of the day...At this point Olivia looked at me and said, "I think this looks LOVELY...grandpa Andy will LOVE it!"
A little sprinkles cover a multitude of frosting sins :)
Grandpa Andy happened to call about this point in the story. The conversation went something like this-- Olivia: "You must come home soon because we are planning a surprise party" Grandpa: "For who?" Olivia: "You" (insert adorable giggling)
After supper it's time for two little girls to put in the candles
Ella's went in a little deep
All in a row
Looks pretty good a lit up
Time to make a wish and blow
--I bet he's wishing for more evenings just like this one
The day ended with Olivia and Grandpa dancing after supper along with lots of other silliness
A pretty successful "not so surprising" surprise party!
No surprise that Olivia wanted to "do a craft" today. We decided on a turkey wreath.
She worked very hard...singing all the time :o)
Cute wreath completed...now grammy asks the fatal question...where should we hang it up?
She tells me we will hang it on our float. Silly grammy asks: "What float?" Darling grandgirl answers: "The one we are going to make...outside...big enough to ride on!" Yikes! Grammy is now in WAY OVER HER HEAD!
Besides all the crafting, Olivia and puppy spent alot of time galloping and galloping on her stick horse.
This was (in Olivia's own words) the Ballerina Cowgirl--cute, isn't she?
Little Ella who is not so little anymore spent some time coloring...
And "reading" to the puppy...and dragging toys all over the house :o)
Olivia's plan is to make our float when she comes back on Friday...better stock up on some building supplies!
Once again it has been forever since I have had time or the motivation to get something on my blog. The past few weeks months have been full of some very difficult challenges. Wednesday of this last week I was faced with one of the most difficult personal experiences I have ever endured, but God is good and faithful and I believe that healing is on its way.
First thing Thursday morning Andy and I woke up to a sweet, unexpected blessing when another baby bird made its appearance in the aviary. Meet Sweet Little Baby Bird (named by Olivia of course)
These birds are zebra finches...the one with the bright orange cheeks is the daddy. Olivia named him Purdue...grandpa was happy about that.
The pretty little white finch is the mama, her name is Snowball.
Olivia was super excited to meet the new baby
She had to introduce "sweet little kitty" to "sweet little baby bird." Grandpa asked what we would call her when she wasn't a baby any more...she said I haven't decided yet!
She was telling me that looking at sweet little baby bird just made her want to cuddle her...so cute!
Grandpa Andy snapped a couple of good shots of two of my favorite blessings all dressed up in our homecoming gear. These girls never fail to make me smile.
Love this one of Olivia and I. I especially love the sweet, slightly stinkery smile.
And one of grammy and Ella...she's getting so big and her smiles are so sweet.
I'm sure there are some really hard days coming...but God has blessed me with the best husband, an amazing family, supportive friends, peace that transcends any circumstance and lots more smiles to come!
Meet the newest guest in the Felix zoo...appropriately named by Olivia as "sweet little baby bunny"...
A few days ago Andy found some baby bunnies in the corner flower garden. I was less than excited as darling little baby bunnies eat EVERYTHING in sight.
Olivia had an entirely different opinion however.
She fell in love at first sight...
Andy and I were both afraid from the beginning that the mama had abandoned these little cuties
Olivia sang to her new friend...
She asked if "sweet little baby bunny" was friends with granpa's fish :o)
She absolutely did NOT want to give it up but we made her put it back in the garden...I know WHAT was I thinking?!?
Unfortunately it rained last night and turned pretty chilly. When Andy went out this morning he found one little baby had not survived the night and found this one mostly cold but still breathing. My kind-hearted hubby couldn't bear to let it lay out in the cold and die, so he held it in his hands to warm it up. Found it a new towel-lined home and brought it inside.
Tom and Jen brought us some baby formula and we began syringe feedings.
Poor little thing could barely open its eyes. I was sure he was a gonner. Jennifer started the feedings out with lots of helpful observers.
Apparently baby bunnies respond well to excessive amounts of attention and tender loving care.
FYI... I have NOT volunteered for the 2 a.m. feeding.
He/She's looking pretty good tonight...If "sweet little baby bunny" survives, he/she will need a new home as she will not be allowed to reside in my garden...any takers???
About me--hummmmmm... I have been married for 30 years to the most wonderful, godly man. It is truly my joy to be his wife. We have two awesome kids--both grown and married to pretty terrific spouses. I am the secretary at our church and handle the Women's ministry. The most exciting part of my life right now is being grandma to our beautiful, spunky Olivia Grace and her sweet little sister Ella Faith. It is so much fun to have little ones in our house from time to time--and a blessing to savor the quiet again when they go home! Being grammy continues to bring a special kind of joy to my life that I can't quite explain and wouldn't trade for anything in the world!