Friday, May 27, 2011

Stories of Joplin...

I wrote this note to a few friends who are dear to me...a group of women that I meet with monthly to pray for our husbands, their work, and our families, and our walks with God. After writing it, I knew that I had to post it too, to share these accounts and give them a place to live.

If you have a tornado story too, from Joplin or another location, please feel free to leave an account of it in the notes.

May God continue to show the power of His glory, through disasters and recovery, through death and birth, through the lives of people who are able to move along day after day, and those that come alongside them and bring them bottled water, pillows, peanut butter and jelly...

I know that I'll be seeing you guys over the next week or so, but I didn't want to forget the things that Jason has shared with me....if I've already told you these things I'm sorry for repeating it...

Jason was just back from a Men's retreat with his girlfriend's dad (Jason) and her little brother. They were in NW AR somewhere - fishing?? Don't remember exactly. As they were saying goodbye at their house in Carl Jct (North of Joplin) it started to rain, and storm, and Jason asked if he could just hang out there until the storm passed. They said yes, and the sirens went off and they evacuated to a neighbor's basement. The tornado didn't go by there, so they were fine. Jason had been texting with me the whole time and I had weather channel on, so I knew right away that there was a tornado on the ground in Joplin. Jason had to drive right through it all, and immediately tried to get ahold of his best friend K, but he didn't answer. K lived in back of the Walmart that was destroyed...and as Jason drove to the apt. to check on K he was pretty shook up - he was on the phone with me and was saying "oh wow...I can't believe this...the store is gone...oh my..." and then that he had to go and check on him. He had no idea what he was going to find when he got there, but he knew he needed to know - and to help him if he needed help. His apt. was standing, but the windows were blown out, his dog was ok, and K was a little shell shocked sitting on his couch. He had hid in the bathroom and came out once the noise stopped...there was a block wall in back of his apt. that barely missed him..he would have been crushed.

Jason went out to his house to check on things...the door to his greenhouse was blown off, and there were a lot of trees down, but the buildings were still standing. They still don't have power out there, but Jason goes back every day to check on his cat and his landlord's dog (they are staying with family until utilities are back on there - they have a newborn baby so they needed to be especially careful - and a few other kids too).

After that Jason went to the Police station to check in, and see where they needed assistance. They sent him over to Memorial Hall, the makeshift medical center since St. John's was hit directly and they evacuated all their patients to Freeman, which also got some of the trauma injuries...they were full, and had sent others on to other hospitals in the 4 state area (Joplin's less than an hour from NW AR, NE OK, SW KS and Springfield, MO). After he got there he couldn't sit still, so he went out "door to door" at their request. At one point he called me and said, "They told me to go door to door, but there are no doors left to go to...everything is flat". He also talked about finding  a few people dead either IN or UNDER a car - and having to get a team in to get them out. He said he was so grateful for his new iPhone, for the GPS on it, as no street was recognizable - especially in the dark. He was pretty shook up. Eliysha's folks said that Jason could sleep there - as he didn't have any power or water at his place - so he went back there and slept on the couch a few hours before going to The Bridge to volunteer at 6am. He's been doing that during the day and working nights this week, then going and crashing at the Spangler's house - until her big brother got home from Hawaii where he is stationed in the Navy(?). He was able to get a 20 day emergency leave to assist in the disaster relief.

B  - J's mother in law (and a dear friend of mine) USUALLY goes to Weight Watchers on Sunday afternoons at 5 or so, then goes to Walmart to do her shopping for the week. She was really tired that afternoon, and took a nap, and slept through till the sirens went off. If she had set an alarm she would have been in town, likely at the walmart store that was demolished.

DD  - a friend on facebook and mom of one of our missionaries in A, was in a play at the Stained Glass Theater right around the corner from the St John's Hospital. Her granddaughter was watching the play. DD was in a costume change when the sirens went off. She got stuck in a stairwell, and her granddaughter was whisked to the basement of the building. The whole building was demolished - and a brick wall was knocked down and although the wind should have blown it INTO the stairwell where they were seeking shelter, it fell against the wind AWAY from the stairwell...a miracle!!  DD was beat up by flying bricks - broken nose, and bruised up. Her granddaughter was safe and unharmed. Many people lost their lives, and the director of the play was undergoing a precarious surgery and fighting infection today. Keep them in prayer please - as it was a pretty tight theater group that had performed for many years together.

Jason has shared a few stories from student friends that all had survived...only one student at OCC lost her life, a close friend of his girlfriend's, and many have lost their homes, apartments, cars and all their belongings.

One student was hiding IN their bathtub, when something hit the wall of the shower and THREW him OUT of the tub, to the middle of the room next to the bathroom. The apartment was hit, hard, and the bathroom disappeared. The only thing remaining was the one area of the room he was in. God's hand.

Another young family was hiding in their bathtub. they put their children in the tub, and mom and dad laid down on top of them, trying to keep the twister from hurting them. The whole mattress was picked up, with kids below and parents on top, and set in another room, and the bathtub was gone.

My friend, Bruce Beadles, has been going from Springfield to assist in the recovery work, and he shares these stories which he calls "Faces of Joplin":

Faces of Joplin: Older man was walking down the street, going to take pictures of his sons house for insurance. I asked which house was his... He was not sure. He had been looking for it for quite a while. Just cant find it...

Faces of Joplin: Brad is a joplin firefighter. Today was his frst day off since his home was destroyed. They insisted he take the day off to go deal with his house. His gaze was blank and distant, unsure of what to do. We helped him get some belongings out of his house and moved to a new location. Please pray for Brad and his family tonight!

Faces of Joplin: a tired and broken man came into the convenience store talking to the joplin pd. I couldn't hear what they said to him but my heart broke when he replied "I will not go home and sleep, I will not stop calling, and if it was your daughter missing you wouldn't either!". (from a friend's post)

Faces of Joplin: He said, "Why would God do this?" My best comparison: If you are a child walking down the street with your dad, and you step on a nail, did your dad cause it to happen? No, but He did pick you up and carry you until you could walk on your own.

Faces of Joplin: Saint (the dog) lived 2 blocks from the hospital. When the tornado came he was in his kennel by an inner wall. His family just made it under their house as the house was destroyed. His cage was strong enough to keep the debris from crushing him. He was trapped until the following morning.

Faces of Joplin: Ricks dad died in his livingroom 2 weeks ago as he performed CPR on him. Today we unburried his belongings and hauled truck and 2 trailer loads to a storage shed. He said his family had been praying and today his prayers were answered.

I pray that you are BLESSED through the stories that you read here. I pray that it gives you courage to face whatever you are facing today...and strength to face whatever comes at you tomorrow. Know that you are loved!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Just another Thursday morning...

I try (hard) to keep Thursday's as my reading and writing day. I'll catch up on news from around the world, check in on reading friend's blogs and write on my own (if so moved and motivated to) and generally do more reading...even opening a (gasp!) REAL book (made of paper and everything!). 

Today, I'm all "media-d" out. The 19 years in Southwest Missouri building friendships with wonderful people, 2 daughters that had graduated from Ozark Christian College in Joplin, and my son and both of my daughter's in-laws living in Joplin, has kept me tied to the tv, computer, telephone for the past 4 days. I'm at peace with it, I know what tornadoes can do and have seen the destruction before. I don't like tornadoes, but am fascinated with their dance as they move across the countryside and through the city. It's a healthy respect that I have with their power and might. I've seen them destroy before.

I have heard SO many miracle stories the past few days; stories of people hunkered down in their bathtubs and their home is wiped away except for their bathroom walls. One friend D.C., was in the middle of a performance in Stained Glass Theater, around the corner of St. John's Hospital. She was in a costume change when the sirens went off, and got stuck in a stairwell, knowing her granddaughter was downstairs, but not knowing where. The building was flattened, and my friend got pretty beat up by bricks and debris, but she lived. Someone took her granddaughter down to the basement and kept her safe, keeping her from going to look for her grandma. She lived. Many lost their lives there that day, in the Stained Glass Theater....sad news to grasp hold of as I think of my friend - and all the years of friendships that she lost with fellow performers...patrons..brothers and sisters in Christ. When they went back on Monday, her son noticed something at the theater as they looked at what remained of the stairwell where she hid. The wall of bricks, against the wind direction, laws of gravity, and all other common sense fell away from the stairwell - not in to it -  God's hands held them back and kept them from falling on those that were seeking refuge there. Another miracle.

I also think of the "should have beens" - like my son, who just came back to his girlfriend's parents home from a men's retreat with her father and brother. He stood in the rain, ready to leave and "just decided" to stay at their house and wait out the storm - no idea that it was tornadic. They ended up evacuating to a neighbor's basement, hailstones pelting them. They were all ok. If he had left when he was going to, he would have driven into the path of the tornado. Just a moment of listening to the Holy Spirit's prompt to "wait" saved his life. I felt so blessed to have been texting with him as he made each decision, each move that afternoon. I never wondered where he was, and it makes me so sad for the 1,500 other people still missing, their families and friends wondering where they are. I pray the most often for them - that they will get some closure, somehow. That God will bring peace to their hearts. 

Odd timing also saved B.R.'s life. Normally on a Sunday afternoon she heads to town from her apartment on the north side and does all her grocery shopping for the week. But on that day, she was unusually tired that afternoon, and decided to take a nap before heading to the store...and awoke to the sound of the sirens going off. With her limited t.v. stations and her internet not working, she only got bits and pieces of what was going on out there. When Monday rolled around it occurred to her how close her life had been spared...she "should have been" at the Walmart store that was hit...exactly at the time it hit. That was her "normal routine" for her Sunday. I'm so glad that she's still alive!! I am blessed each time I hear of a miracle story of someone being found alive inside that store location, and pray for those that may STILL be alive in the rubble of that store, and the many other businesses and homes that were destroyed that day.

SO today is a day where I won't use internet news, weather channel, or anything that's likely to stir my heart. I think it will be a silent day around here - except for my dogs' whimpering for attention and the click click click of my fingers on the keyboard. Oh, and the telephone, friendly calls that still need to be made to check on friends here in KY and IN that were affected by yet another round of severe weather last night. 

It's cloudy and overcast, but maybe a walk will do me good, a nice prayer walk that will push me to pray for the neighborhoods that are no longer standing...remembering my son's broken voice as he volunteered that first night... "Mom, they told me to go door to door, but there are no doors left." He did find a few people that night that didn't survive the giant twister. Each day since then he takes that memory to volunteer at The Bridge, assisting those that DID survive the storm. All those that have their own miracle stories to tell. 

I want to say a HUGE thank you to an unlikely hero  - the multi-national corporations that are helping out around the world in this time of need. Some have not been very nice to them - and many are quick to push aside their common signs and bash them for moving into neighborhoods, doing too much business, underselling the other stores and brands. My husband works for one of those BIG companies, Tyson, and I'm not afraid to say it. :)  They were there, on the ground, within HOURS of the disaster in Joplin. They have sent teams of cooks (with food and equipment) to feed people, and trucks of ice for any need. Also, Sam's Clubs have given without hesitation. At The Bridge, where Jason volunteers, the Sam's Club across the road has been giving and giving since Monday morning. 

Yes, I love the feel of a small family market, getting fresh produce that is grown locally, and knowing where our food comes from....but I am not ashamed to support these large companies that still reach out wherever they can. They have stock holders and profit expectations to answer to, but I'm pretty sure that they have stock holders in each city that has been hit by these recent catastrophe's. 

Thank You: Sam's Club, Tyson, Chic fil A, Starbucks, and the many others that I don't know about, for giving to The Bridge and the people in Joplin, victims and volunteers. 

OH, IT'S NO USE!! My heart focused on Joplin is not going to go away. No amount of reading, writing or prayer walking will wash this from my soul. It's like the smoke after a summer bon fire, it's permeated my clothing and sits in my hair. I can smell it on my skin, and feel it in my lungs.  So too, are my prayers and thoughts for Joplin. 

John 9:3 NLT - "“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him."

May the power of God be shown, through the power of the tornado, the miracles that are being told, through the healing of the broken hearts of the families of those missing or who have lost their lives, through the bringing together of resources and serving of the victim survivors, and through the rebuilding of this fine city.  

Grace and peace...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

spiritual black holes??

since writing about Spiritual White Space, i've been feeling that i'm in a Spiritual Black Hole - oh, my faith has not been's still there - and growing even! but it's been a hard couple of weeks...months???

today Holley Gerth at "Heart to Heart With Holley" wrote about being in a hallway...and seemingly facing a dead end, and it got me thinking... and then this is where i landed in words to Holley...

i'm praying for you and the hallway you're in too. i know that this can be a hard season for many women; missing our moms, longing to be moms, and moms without kids around, all seem to share this hallway. makes me want to get to that corner and give a little daughter miscarried last week, my mother's been gone for a long time already, and it's one of the few times that i won't see any of my own 3 kids - and my husband has to work to boot! 
any other year i'd know what to do, have a few widowed friends in the wings, put a plan in place - but we're in a new town, in a new area, and i'm sort of at a loss. each time i think i have a decent idea, God puts a stop to it may just be He and I...and that must be ok!! 
so I'm praying for those that are also facing hardships on this Mother's Day...we're in good company with Him in our corner..."

pity party...not quite...just a remembrance. HE IS HERE. i am not alone. certainly not in my circumstances, and i have no reason or room to really's just all hitting at one time. a really long work project that keeps my husband away too many hours, for too many days...loneliness sets in... but he has a job, and it allows me to volunteer, to stay home, to be available for those times he can take off work on a normal work see kids, grandkids - yes, there are a few out there, though not close to me, i am half-way closer than a few years ago. and the daughter that miscarried - oh, it hurts when our kids hurt - but their faith remains strong in our Father, and although they question "why?" they trust His perfect timing, and see the blessings in His perfect will this. and missing my mom...she died so long ago, but there were so many years i didn't miss her, didn't think i would ever miss her, there was so much hurt and bitterness locked in there, and God came and healed my heart when i let Him in, when i let Him touch me there...  

so no, no pity party here. just seeking His will for that day, and wondering if i will make a plan to go and do and venture out, or what?? what shall i do?? i wouldn't normally go to church that day, i attend evening services on Sat., but would He be honored if i went then, looked for another lonely woman who is also walking this hallway? would He open the door for me to volunteer to help with gathering the tornado relief supplies? would He be honored by my best if i even just got out of my bed, out of the house, and gave a day to Him in silence? camera clicking at the sights around me, looking for ways to showcase the beauty of His creation?? 

oh, the plan still needs to come together, and i'm not sure what it will look like, but i don't think i'll sit at the end of this hallway and not take on a bit more landscape; be willing to grow a little more; let Him grow a little more in me...

and i may even take a bit of that hallway with me. black. hole. and. all. 

take it out to the great outdoors. let it get some fresh air. breathe deep. in silence and beauty allow myself to grieve - just a bit - and think of all the mother's days that mom has not been here, all the other women that are missing their moms, their children, their unborn children that they never got to hold. and take that hole and let God pack it with His hands. fill it to full and overflowing with His love, like wet sand in a bucket, and tip me over to leave something to build on...whether it's another year, or another hallway, it's all just another journey to take with Him. 

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