Category Archives: Weather

Losing Everything to Gain Everything

“Pretend your family has to leave your home quickly.  You may take only one suitcase.  What would you pack?”

This was the question on an assignment my boys had to complete and that I am just now grading.  I chuckled when I read their answers:

  1. Cloths (I believe this should be “clothes” 😉
  2. Toby (the family dog)
  3. Toby’s food
  4. Action figure
  5. bible
  6. toys
  7. pants
  8. underwear (yes, I agree….these are VERY important!)
  9. shirts
  10. books
  11. DS
  12. yogurt covered raisins
  13. charger for DS

LOL!  My how priorities remain different for each of us!  What was on your list? 

I was thinking about pictures, important documents, my purse, etc.  yet to young boys, action figures and video games remain as one of the most important things they own.

Recent tornadic events have swept away what alot of people would consider important.  The residents of Diamond Creek in Forney, Texas  are still picking through what is left of their material possessions.  What may have seemed so important at the beginning of the year is probably very different for most right now. 

Realizing that no one died or was seriously injured surely has caused our community to come back to the importance of life.  Having our families, friends, and neighbors well and healthy brings about a new appreciation for the protection, love, and intervention of God.

Now that the clean up is mostly done and the rebuild is going on, what will we do with this memory?  Will we do what we can to go back to life as it was before the tornado?  Will we build our houses, both physically and spiritually, in such a way that we duplicate what was the “norm”?  Just how long will it take for us to forget the blessings of the past weeks, and start to replace all the “stuff” God allowed to vanish?

I’m not just talking about houses, cars, clothes, and video games.  The “stuff” I’m referring to is our need to gather all those things  — the American dream, the desire toward pridefulness and power and position, and our insistence to keep up with “The Joneses”. 

Stuff like the comfortableness in which we live, or perhaps the wastefulness of our time…the hoarding of treasures and memories.  The stuff we take for granted.  Stuff that pales in comparison to life and relationships.  Stuff comes in lots of forms:  money, position, technology, business, paper, plastic, convenience, procrastination, beautiful colors, memoriable events, books, and ideals.  It can permeate our lives before we even stop to realize that most of it is just “stuff”.

A pastor of the local church we have recently visited took time to speak of such stuff and the effects it can have on our lives.  His thought provoking question was “Is it eternal?” 

The absolute answer to most of our “stuff” is “No, it’s not.”

We often, even unknowingly, use our stuff to set an image to others of what our life is like.  These images are usually false and not at all a real representation.

Years ago, I realized that good friends in my life actually thought I was much more than I am.  They were surprised to hear that my house is not always clean, my children do not always behave, and I, even I, made mistakes.  {gasp!}  I guess because of my quest for perfection at work, they believed my personal life was also that way. 

(And now I just feel the need to break here and laugh out loud!!!  Bwa hahahahaha!)

What my friends had no clue about was that I frequently mess up.  I have baggage.  My house is pretty much always a wreck  (at least until I know someone is coming over, lol).  Try as I may, I cannot clean enough around here.  Try as I might, stuff creeps into my time and thoughts and many times prevents me from being what I know I should be.

Right now in my living room there are mounds of toys, video games,  and a tent set up and encompassing the small amount of space still visible on the floor.  There’s dust on the ceiling fan and furniture, something stuck on the floor under the rocking chair, and toe prints from where the boys and grandchild have endlessly walked on the wooden floor.  I have two sinks full of dirty dishes, things scattered across the kitchen counter, and a whole stack of papers to grade on the table.  Outside, within my current view, is a bag of lawn clippings that need to be thrown out.  There is also bits of fuzz scattered all over the back lawn from where the puppy decided to shred our grill cover…..again. 

This is everyday life around here.  If you called and said you were on the way to our house, I would most assuredly rush to put away all this stuff! 

Still, even though rushing to clean up the house for you, I would hope that our lives represent a real-ness from the Lord.  Even if you came unannounced, I would invite you in, longing to make you feel welcome and be attentive to the purpose for your visit.  I would hope that even surrounded in my stuff, you would enjoy being here and look past my failures as a Domestic Engineer.

I wasn’t always this way.  I used to put only my best foot forward trying to impress and amaze.  During that time, only the best of my stuff was on display.  Nice dishes, perfectly folded towels, trophies, perfectly dressed children pre-scolded about their behavior lined up at the door to greet all who enter… these were part of the stuff I wanted people to see.

What hides behind a perfectly displayed life?  How many times do we greet others masking the events of our personal life with a smile and a nod?  Do we really expect our stuff to effectively shield true lives? 

Our life is messy.  I am definately not perfect.  We have too much non-eternal stuff around here, and what I have figured out is that I don’t have time to lead a non-eternal, stuff-filled life anymore.

Learning to look past stuff, taking moments to address stuff, and talking about how less important alot of stuff is in our lives has led us to alot of decisions.  We have purposefully tried to let go of stuff and look toward only what God would set before us.  These past few years have led us to leave alot behind.  Whether purposefully removed by us or by God, we have found that our lives are becoming more of what they should be. 

This is still transforming even now as we seek our next residence and ministry, but all I can say is “Wow, God really is better than our stuff!”  His stuff is lasting.  His provision is real.  He really does know what it is we should be doing and how we should be doing it.  We just have to lose our stuff to gain His.

There’s still alot of unanswered questions about our immediate future but I honestly believe that wherever He takes us, it will be the right place.  His allowing us to lose stuff in our lives is leading us to a better place.  Although a bit painful at times, the journey is proving more eye-opening every day. 

Sometimes we have to lose everything as we know it, or aspire it to be in order to gain just what He wants, and it is then that the eternal stuff starts to matter a great deal more.

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Filed under Attitude, Blessings, Children, Church, Faith, Family, God, Home School, Homeschool, homeschooling, Humor, Life, money, Obedience, Parenting, Power, Priorities, Sin, Weather

Tornado Clean Up, Day #2

Today, we went back to the Diamond Creek Subdivision.  What was a gorgeous neighborhood filled with nice brick homes, a new elementary school, and beautiful lake now has parts that are trash-laden and literally covered with debris.

Our newest friends, also homeschoolers, joined us for some hours of work.  It was amazing to see just how much had been done in one day.  The community of Forney should be extremely proud of its’ people, volunteers, firemen, policemen, church congregations, businesses, etc.  I am amazed to see how many came from outside of the city.  They pick up trash, rake fields, deliver water and food, encourage each other, and all the while fighting the scorching sun, fire ants, nails, glass, and weeds.

Amidst burning skin, cuts, and sore legs the people still come and work.  And work.  And work.

It’s no easy chore.  Even picking up trash is exponentially difficult due to the small size and type of each item.  It is seriously like a war zone in places.  Fields are littered with debris — roof shingles and plywood that have been reduced to sizes averaging around three or four inches in diameter.

We worked with one crew to fill trash bags for a while, but when the bags were gone, we began scouring the field for larger items to place in one big pile.  Our thinking was that the crews would be able to more easily scoop up the debris if it were in a pile.

There has been so much work done, but there is SO much more to do!  Help is still seriously needed.

Even with clean up being done, I made the comment today that it would be a while before any children could play in the beautiful fields surrounding this neighborhood.  There is so much glass and nails it would be extremely risky.

The elementary school sustained roof, window, and air conditioning damage, but I hear it will be reopened next week.  Still, the children will surely have limited play time as there is no playground equipment anymore.  Even most all the fences that surround the schoolyard have been destroyed.  Again, I can only imagine what may still be in the grass next to the school.

Our little group of six worked until our bodies wouldn’t keep up with our will.  We passed out bottled waters, filled three or four bags of trash, and then made what we thought was a pretty big pile of materials in the field.

Unfortunately, the pile is in a big messy field.  It’s hard to see in these pictures because the grass is tall, but from a distance, the field looks relatively clean.  However, when you begin walking through it, there are huge boards, car pieces, metal pieces, housing materials, fence posts,….more than you can imagine just laying everywhere within that tall grass.  Add to that the millions of smaller roof shingles, insulation, paper, etc and it will be a while before it is all picked up.

All this mess from a very powerful EF-3 tornado, and yet I am still absolutely humbled by the fact that there was not one loss of life.

 A stop at the local ice cream parlor rejuvenated us.  There’s nothing like ice cream to keep a group of silly boys going!

(And going, and going, and going….lol!)

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Filed under Blessings, Children, Church, Family, Friends, God, Grace, Home School, Homeschool, homeschooling, Life, Missions, Parenting, Thankful Thursday, Thanks, Trials, Weather

Not Quite 14

“We can only use those 14 years and up.”

This is what we were told when we showed up at the local church where tornado clean up efforts were being coordinated.

I understand why they made that rule…….sort of.

Yes, I know there are dangers of glass, nails, debris and other safety issues that kids aren’t necessarily ready to face, however, we decided to head out to the field on our own and 5 hours later, this is what we learned.

8 and 10 year olds know how to…

pray,

pick up trash,

pick up someone’s garage door,

 

pick up insulation,

work hard,

and care.

 They may not be fourteen yet, but they now understand more about the force of an EF3 tornado.

They see why it’s a big deal to stay informed and have a safety plan during bad weather.  They now know better why we don’t stay in cars during a tornado.
They understand how trash and debris can affect our waters and wildlife.

They can especially appreciate God’s protection knowing there were no fatalities and very few injuries.

Hopefully the next time we hear sirens and enter our “safe room”, they will remember that God is bigger than any bad thing that could possibly come our way.

 They have a better understanding of how people can help one another…

by passing out bottled water,

receiving free food from community businesses,

and the discovery, saving, and return of somebody’s cherished friends.

No, they aren’t yet fourteen.  They aren’t adults.  They are eight and ten, and they were very valuable volunteers today.  They worked just as hard as any of the 500+ volunteers on site today and I believe they will teach their future children how important it is to help when help is needed.

8 and 10 going on 14, going on 41, going on 81“, as I see it.  One generation teaching another generation to care about people.  Learning to be kind, compassionate, and caring toward one another.

This is Christian Homeschooling 101, and we don’t even care that we didn’t get our book work done today!

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Filed under Blessings, Children, Church, Family, Friends, Gifts, God, Home School, Homeschool, homeschooling, Life, Missions, Parenting, Trials, Weather

Cosmic Cleaning?

Trending now on Facebook:  a broom and an egg will stand straight up when the planets align.  Now if only there were enough solar flares to make it move back and forth, my floor would get cleaned!

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Filed under Family, God, Humor, Life, Weather

Thankful Thursday

Wow!  I really have alot to be thankful for this week…

  1. God, who loves me beyond measure.
  2. Tears spilt for a soul, a reminder that His cause is still deep in my heart.
  3. The look on the boys faces when Daddy came home for lunch yesterday.  (He is working mostly in our town now, instead of driving the 140 mile round trip each day)
  4. Rain.
  5. A sweet, loving dog who so appreciates being let inside during cold and wet weather.
  6. A great first overnight sleepover for my son.
  7. Seeing my son and his friend do their bible study together.
  8. Whatever Wednesday — it made me laugh, really hard, for the first time in a while!
  9. The ladies of our church family who minister and seek God together.
  10. Donna – for the time and effort she has made for the Father/Daughter Banquet.  What a great testimony for Cornerstone to encourage building that relationship.
  11. My Daddy and the time I had with him…sure wish he was here to take me to the banquet {{sniff, sniff}}.
  12. The opportunity to take pictures for all the little girls and Dads as they enjoy their unforgettable evening.
  13. My daughter’s comments on the Life’s Work post.  
  14. God’s financial provision.
  15. The opportunity for the boys to play at the park this week with other homeschoolers.
  16. Seeing the dad of those homeschoolers take his four children to the park alone.  You could tell he truly enjoyed the time with them.
  17. This blog — there’s been over 25,000 hits now.  Wow! — Truly amazing that there are that many people who want to know what I have to say, lol!
  18. Anoop is still on AI — for Noah.
  19. Pam has begun to blog again.
  20. Kenya got home before midnight last night 🙂 

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Filed under Blessings, Children, Friends, Fun, Gifts, God, Grace, Homeschool, homeschooling, Joy, Love, Reaching the Lost, Tears, Thankful Thursday, Weather, Whatever Wednesday

Weather Report.

Just a warning….the four year old gave us a weather report this morning.  According to him, all the leaves are going to fall off the trees today, especially in Dallas.

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Filed under Blessings, Children, Family, Gifts, Homeschool, Humor, Weather