Sunday, September 28, 2008

Jet Airliner Don't Carry Him Too Far Away

Trevor leaves for Russia tonight. He was supposed to leave last Sunday, but all of the craziness with the hurricane postponed the trip. He doesn't appear to be as apprehensive about traveling this time, as opposed to his China trips. To begin with, the flight is only 11 hours long and Russia is only 9 hours ahead of us which will make for an easier adjustment to his internal clock. Secondly, he's never been to Russia, so there is the excitement of going to a new place. I wish I could go with him. I would love to go to Moscow and see Red Square.

The weather is already cold there, so he is packing up his warmest clothing (which is dismal, considering where we live!). If he continues to travel regularly to Russia, he will have to invest in much warmer clothing. They've already seen some freezing weather, and it's only September. I can't imagine what it's going to be like in January. We're coastal Southerners, and when it gets below about 40 degrees, we stay inside with a roaring fire. We would never be able to live in Minnesota!

The kids and I will take him to the airport later this afternoon, and then we'll probably park out by the runways and watch the planes take off and land. He'll be away eleven days, and only be gone for one weekend, so the time will go much faster than for the China trips. He doesn't have to allow so much time on either end of the workweek for jet lag and travel.

So, we're spending the day together as a family, drinking in the time and savoring each sip. All to soon, it will be time to leave for the airport, but the sooner he goes, the sooner he comes home!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Changing of a Heart

I'm sitting out on my porch this morning, sipping my cream and sugar filled coffee, as I gently swing and enjoy the tangy smell of burning leaves in the air. It's 65, and mornings this cool don't usually come until a little later in the fall for us, so I decided to enjoy it while it's here. I'm fairly certain that the humidity and temperature will rise again before we settle into our autumn averages.

Just like the change in weather, an amazing change has come over Nathan in recent weeks. He is actively putting others before himself. He told me just the other day that he was going to try and go all day without sinning, which led to a great conversation about the whole point of Christ's death. With each passing day, question and discussion I feel that he is being pulled closer and closer to God. I think that his behavior, his curiosity and his change in heart are all indicators that he desires a relationship with Christ.

We have discussed salvation many times in the course of our conversations, and he understands the concept. He knows the steps and the reasons behind our need for being saved. Seeing his interest in all things eternal blesses me beyond measure, because I know that he is being prayed over by myself and my family for early salvation. It is one of my deepest desires, but I also know that if it's not real, it's pointless. I want to be sure he's equipped with the knowledge he needs so that his decision is not a wholly emotional one.

I covet your prayers in this area, my friends. I ask you to pray that I will be ready with the right words when he comes to me with questions, and that he will be receptive to the calling of Christ and respond in a genuine, life-changing way. I never knew that salvation could be so scary. I've taught the gospel in classes and Sunday School rooms for a long time. I have shared the plan of salvation with many people over the course of my life, but it seems so much more important this time. Others that I might have touched were put in my path for a reason, and I was used by God to show them exactly what He intended, and I praise Him for that.

But my children? They were given to me. Given to me to nurture, protect, discipline and love. Given to me with the expectation and command that I would raise them according to the gospel and show those very same tenets by example. It's scary, and I want to do it right. So here's my question for everyone, no matter which season you are in with your kids. How did you know your child was ready to make a decision? If you have children who have not, how are you preparing them?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Thank You

Indiana. Florida. Illinois. Virginia. Georgia. Michigan.

The six guys sitting behind us tonight at Chili's were from Arkansas. They were several of thousands from all over the country who had come to our aid in the wake of Ike. Seeing the long convoys of trucks snaking their way down our highways and back roads was like spotting an oasis in the desert. When I passed them working on the downed power lines, getting our electricity humming one grid at a time, I gave them a wave and a smile.
I realize that these men are getting paid good money to be here, but the fact remains that they are often sleeping in their trucks and working long, hot hours to get our lives back to normal. I am grateful to these men (and the few women I've seen!) for providing this service. I am grateful that they left their families and joined forces with their peers, so that we could get on with our lives.
That is the reason Trevor bought that table of men from Arkansas a round of drinks and thanked them for their help. Thanks, guys. Texas thanks you.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I'm Still Here

I'm still alive and kicking, but things have been a bit crazy around here post-Ike. We were fortunate enough to have our power restored on Tuesday afternoon, just 4 days after the hurricane hit. I praised God every morning for the cool weather and comfortable days following the storm. After Rita, it was sweltering hot and it made working in the yard a bit hellish. This time, we had plenty of cool breezes and cool evenings to take the edge off.

I thought you might get a kick out of seeing what a small town I live in. The powers that be still use a siren to let the town know when there is a tornado, fire, wreck or (in case you don't own a clock) when it's noon. I recorded the siren going off the night that Ike hit, and it struck terror in my heart when I heard it because when the weather is bad, it usually means tornado. (We actually had one touch down in the woods behind our house later that night) In this case, there was a fire, because soon thereafter we saw fire trucks racing by our road.

I also included a little video of the tail end of the storm. The winds had died down a bit by the time it was light enough for me to take any video footage, but it was still whipping the trees around a good bit.

So, I haven't disappeared, but I have been busy. As soon as I get a few minutes to gather my thoughts, I'll post again. Your prayers were much appreciated and I ask that each of you continue to pray for those who are still without power and for those who have lost everything.

(BTW...does anyone know why my videos always appear TWICE when I post?? It's really annoying.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

And We Thought We Had a Mess to Clean Up!

Trevor's parents came over today for lunch. His mom called to say that they were tired and could really use a hot meal. Since we are the only ones in the family with a gas stove, we were happy to oblige. We grilled chicken, made mashed potatoes, beans and served leftover jambalaya on the side. When they got here, we were almost ready to eat.

His mom got a phone call from his aunt, and went outside to take it. The next thing I knew, they had left without eating or saying goodbye. Trevor said that his mom and dad had been borrowing his uncle's generator (theirs had broken), and that his uncle wanted it back now that they had returned to town. He said his mom was upset, and that his dad seemed really stressed.

I suggested that we bring the food out to their house, along with an ice chest full of ice and water for them. We got the kids ready, loaded the 4 wheeler onto the trailer and headed out. We live right in the middle of town, but they live out in the boonies. We had to forge several small streams to get out to where they live, and we were a bit awestruck by all the destruction from Ike.

His parents live on a 1 acre lot that is filled with trees. It is a beautiful piece of land, and they work hard to keep it looking nice. Nothing could have prepared me for the sight of their yard as we pulled into their driveway. The only reason we could get into the driveway was because they had spent all of Saturday afternoon clearing it of trees so they could get out.

I saw with sudden clarity why his mom was so upset. First the stress of the hurricane (every crack in the dark sends new rushes of adrenaline), then the devastation of the yard, and then the fact that they were without a generator. We reassured them that we would help them get the yard cleaned up and that everything was going to be fine. Trevor took a look at their generator and pronounced it dead. There was some sort of faulty part that would require me to know what I'm talking about to describe it, but suffice it to say that a call will be placed to the company.

I called my mom and dad (who just recently got power back on from Gustav) and asked if my dad would meet us halfway in Jennings, LA with his generator. He agreed immediately and not only brought his, but my grandmother's as well. Did I mention he brought 47 gallons of gas too? He did, and it was a good thing because there is no gas to be had here. So Trevor met him in Louisiana to get the generators, and we were at least able to help with that problem.

So, tomorrow we'll be heading out to their place again to try and help clear out some of the debris. We have been blessed with (atypical) weather this week, for which we are eternally grateful. After Rita, it was boiling hot in the 90's, but it's been in the mid 80's and lows in the 60's. It's even supposed to dip into the 50's tomorrow night.

Here are a few pictures of their property. The photographs don't really do it's amazing the amount of wood that is on the ground. On a positive note, we'll have plenty of free firewood this winter!!

Click to play Damage from Ike

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ike: A Retrospective

Well, the storm is over and the cleanup is just beginning. We were so fortunate to make it through the hurricane safely and without incident. The minor damage we sustained on our property is easily fixed, and doesn't even compare with the devastation experienced by the residents of Galveston and nearby coastal communities.

The eye of the hurricane passed right over us around 5 am, and it was such an eerie sound...the sound of nothing. No wind, no trees cracking, no chimney creaking. Just nothing. I went outside to try and assess the damage with a flashlight, and spoke for a few minutes to my neighbor. As I drank in the blessed silence in huge, refreshing gulps, I was reminded of Psalm 46:10:

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!
In this complete and relative stillness, after the lashing of the wind and frightening sounds in the dark, it was refreshing to be still. It was a time of renewal and thanksgiving. It gave me enough respite that I was ready for the crash of the winds when they came again. It was a great object lesson for me.

The generator is up and running, keeping us cool and comfortable until power can be restored. We continue to clean, rebuild and be thankful that we did not greet this morning to complete destruction. We thank God.

Click to play Hurricane Ike

The View From My Front Door

Posted with LifeCast

Hit The Road Ike!

I don't want to use up the battery on my phone, so I'll make this brief. We weathered the storm just fine. We had a fence down, and more debris than I care to mention, but nothing that can't be replaced or fixed. My inlaws lost about half of their trees, but none hit their house.

We have a great deal of cleaning to do, but we are safe. Thanks for all of the prayers lifted on my behalf, and I ask that you continue to pray for all of the people dealing with the aftermath in the coming days.

As soon as I can, I'll post some pictures.

Posted with LifeCast

Friday, September 12, 2008

We're Ready

  • 8 bags of ice in the deep freeze....check.
  • 80 bottles of cold water...check.
  • extra bread and milk...check.
  • 2 jars of peanut butter and jelly...check.
  • telephone that does not rely on electricity to work...check.
  • every single item in our yard stored in the shed...check.
  • generator and 20 gallons of gas...check.
  • chainsaw and 4-wheeler for post-Ike cleanup...check.
  • window unit air conditioner...check.
  • all clothing washed, dried and put away...check.
  • beds freshly made...check.
  • floor vacuumed...check.
  • trees trimmed of all dead branches and overhang...check.

I guess we're ready for Ike! Ready for it to be over.....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

But At Least Our Priorities Are In Order

There has been much speculation over the last few days about the path Ike will take. Will it continue west-northwest, or will it jog north and become more of a threat for the area in which I live? Like most people who live within striking distance, I have followed Ike's progress with something akin to obsession. I eagerly read the updates from NOAA, and then go to our local website to see what it has to say.

I was reading an article a few minutes ago about the storm, and was relieved to see that we Texans have our priorities firmly in the right place. That's right. I'm talking about High! School! Football!

Any town within 100 miles of the coast has rescheduled the Friday! Football! Game! to Thursday evening. Hurricane notwithstanding, it is vitally important to us that we have continuity and watching our boys play will insure that we have it. Sure, might be damaged or destroyed, some will be without power for an extended period of time and people will be displaced but we will know who won the district games and our stats won't be disrupted.

Texas High School Football.

It's a beautiful thing.

(Just for the record, I love me some High School football.)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

New Application For My iPhone

I was browsing all the new applications for my phone, and found one that allows me to conveniently blog from my phone.

Yes, what I've been needing is a way to blog MORE! Trevor will be so excited.

It also has a feature that lets me add a link so that anyone who cares can see where I was when I was writing the post. I did a test post, and it was eerily accurate. As in a google map with a little pushpin where my house is located.

I promptly deleted that post in the spirit of protecting myself from crazy internet predators. I'll save that feature for when I'm traveling. This would have been a cool feature to have a few weekends ago in San Antonio!

Posted with LifeCast

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

First Day of Preschool

Today was Gracie's first day of preschool. I went in to work late so I could take her to school, and the entire experience was a little bit surreal. It didn't seem possible that my baby was ready for a classroom. I was so proud of Nathan when he started...I was excited about that first milestone. But with Grace, I just want to hang on to her and keep her small. As I snapped pictures of her wearing that pink backpack that is bigger than she is, I couldn't help but feel like I was having an out of body experience.

This was someone else's baby traipsing along the parking lot, turning around every few seconds to make sure that I was still coming. Surely this was not my daughter greeting her friends from church and hugging her teacher as she went in the door. This little girl was not a baby anymore...she was a child who has shed all the remnants of babyhood for the strong, straight limbs of childhood.

The first day of preschool. The first milestone of many, and I pray that she reaches each one with as much wonder and excitement as she met this one.

Click to play First Day of Preschool

Monday, September 1, 2008

That's My Name!!

Since promotion Sunday at church, Gracie is officially too old to stay in the nursery during church. She is old enough to attend children's church, but she gets a little overwhelmed with all of the older kids, even though Nathan is there with her.

Yesterday, when it was time to send the kids out of the sanctuary to children's church, we asked her if she wanted to go with Nathan. She told us she wanted to stay with us, but when I told her that her friend Nate was going, she changed her mind. She went running down the hall, and I followed at a distance to make sure she was okay.

I peeked in and saw her sitting next to her brother and she looked just fine, so I went back to church. About 3/4 of the way through the sermon, Gracie comes tip-toeing up the center aisle looking for us. (We learned later that she made the entire congregation behind us stifle their laughs because she was "sneaking" up the aisle with great big, exaggerated steps) We got her settled with a coloring book and turned our attention back to the pastor.

It just so happened that our pastor did a great deal of talking about grace of the God variety. He had the music minister come up and lead us in singing Amazing Grace. It was all I could do not to laugh every time Grace heard her name. She would loudly whisper, "That's my name!" Thankfully, the music was loud enough that no one else could hear her.

I think I need to speak to our pastor about eliminating any talk about grace until ours is old enough to understand that he is not talking about her! No? Yeah, I guess the gospel is meaningless without grace. That won't work. We'll have to think of an alternate plan.