Monday, October 24, 2016

Walking in Hard

I don't really know where to start in getting back into posting here. Life has been a whirlwind literally this month.

All of the storm related word pictures we are given in Scripture have taken on new meaning for me in the process of walking through a Hurricane coming through our area. There are piles of debris at the curb in front of most houses and I feel like there could be spiritual application there as well.

Thank goodness I don't have to sweep out all of my internal debris to the curb to be seen by all my neighbors. But, oh, isn't that what Christ wants for us? To sweep that debris out and let Him cleanse us?

Like the remains of this tree: look at how hollow it was inside and no one even knew it from the outside. Whenever I drive by this neighbors house, I am reminded that I don't want my life to be like that.

After my sweet friends cleaned out all the lost food from our freezers, I've opened and just looked at how empty and clean they look. It has left me feeling sort of small and sad that all the careful planning and thrifty shopping came to this. It feels hard to know that I worked hard and diligently to make extra pancakes, muffins, cooked chicken and more to keep on hand and now that is all gone.

And on the other side, I am so utterly thankful that our house was spared when I see friends around me dealing with much larger damage and difficulties. I'm also overwhelmed when walking through the grocery store at how quickly food just appears on the shelves and in the freezers. To know that these perishable foods were completely wiped out just days ago and now are fully back up to normal is overwhelming to me to consider the abundance of where we live and what we have become accustomed to.

On the upside it is actually fun to look inside my freezer and see how neat and clean it is!! It is feeling like a game and success to come up with  meals that utilize what I have and slowly rebuild our staples and stores.

My heart hurts for our little sponsor child in Haiti whose family, we were informed, lost their way of making an income during the Hurricane. I know they do not pick up and move forward as easily because of where they live.

I have taken for granted the beauty of the trees around us and yet how powerful and strong they are to do such large amounts of damage. And after finding out that thousands of trees came down in our area, it is a wonder to me that so many are still standing. How does one tree fall and the one next to it stays?

There is an abundance of stories where trees fell in just the right places away from houses, even split in two or three directions. Only God.

I have a huge list of things I need to process, things to mourn, learn from and move forward in. Not just storm related. Yet I have felt like they are coming so fast that I am holding on for dear life and not really working through any of them much yet. I'm thinking a lot about how we grieve. About God as my refuge. About numbness to so much hard in life.

I'm not looking for pity or for anyone to feel sorry, we all have a big list of hard things in our lives. I can only speak to my own set of circumstances. I know that you could rewrite this entire post with the hard you are walking through right now and maybe writing it out would be helpful as I remind myself of as well.

Comments will be turned off for at least today as making this a quiet space is something I need right now.

For now - settle your heart and mind on this:

Romans 5:1-8, "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die - but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Biltmore

Let's take a little break from talking about evacuation and talk about hurrication. My friend Jen came up with this word: hurricane + vacation = hurrication. Make the best of it, right?!

This was our one big splurge during the evacuation and I'm already so glad we went for it while we had the unexpected opportunity!

The Biltmore! Of course I'd heard of it but hadn't really known much about it - wow, what a place. I think it is providential that they day we were there was their first day of decorating for the coming Christmas season. David said he is surprised I ever left! Ha!

Emily wants to move into the library a few photos above, Rachel's favorite was the laundry room which had multiple sinks, a big roller washing machine, mangle and neat sheet drying system. I kept telling Rachel she would have that place whipped into shape in no time!

I loved this family room immediately above and also the servants quarters - they just felt much more homey to me than the lavish living quarters "above stairs" :)

The crisp Fall air and mountain views, gorgeous sunset and just doing something different were all a welcome treat in our time away! And what fun memories we made. Can you imagine cleaning 43 bathrooms?! Samuel thought that fact was especially interesting!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Evacuation Thoughts

Oh friends, what a couple of weeks. I keep reminding myself that God knew these days would be like this and it was no surprise to Him though I was caught off guard by the things that these last days have held.

Our county went under mandatory evacuation during Hurricane Matthew. For those of you who aren't on the coast, this doesn't really mean anyone comes to your door and makes you leave. It just means that the state and local governing authorities will not risk their lives for you if you choose to stay behind. You're on your own kinda thing.

Because my husband is a First Responder, he is not allowed to leave during evacuations but stays behind to help make sure various areas are covered by law enforcement and that as much as possible everyone is safe. I am grateful for his level head and clear thinking at times like this when I tend to waver - should we go? shouldn't we go? when should we go? where should we go?

This is the first time I have ever evacuated, but I do know that typically a mandatory evacuation is sort of pre-announced and then officially announced. At the pre-announcement is sort of a golden opportunity to go. The traffic is less, you have more flexibility on where you can go, etc. One the official evacuation is announced, all incoming traffic lanes reverse to double the outgoing lanes and you go where you can go and where you are told.

For these reasons, we left in the pre-evacuation stage of things. Precious friends opened their home to us for over a week. We had so much fun together and yet I know it was a burden on their family just being out of their usual routine and peacefulness of their own home. Yet they shared abundantly, graciously and just above and beyond the entire time.

When thinking about leaving home, I tried to imagine the worst case scenario to know what I would want to try and take with me. Space was definitely at a premium so I needed to be choosy but I didn't want to have a lot of regrets either just in case.

I asked my Mom and sister to help me think as well just because there was so much swirling in my mind, I couldn't think straight.

Here are some things I did bring with me:
* important financial records and paperwork {birth certificates, car titles, power of atty, etc.}
* my Bible
* our wedding album
* my kids Christmas ornament boxes
* painting David gave me for our wedding
* a couple of old family photos
* a Christmas book that my Dad recorded for our kids
* our homeschool books: mostly so we could continue school!
* my blog books, laptop, camera, ipads, phone, chargers
* cooler with as much perishable food as we could manage
* sleeping bags, pillows, loveys, one backpack of special things per child
* clothes for a few days that we are just wear, wash, repeat :)

I think I can honestly say that I haven't had second thoughts about wishing I'd brought a certain item or that I'd not brought something. My Mom also sent me a great list from Fly Lady that helped me to think of some of these.

Filling up with gas before mandatory evacuation is announced is ever so helpful and time saving! I also went and bought water and trail mix for David before we left and we went on the early side before there was a big rush.

I do have an emergency kit in our house, but would really probably use that more if we were stranded at home without power.

Ok, more to say on this - what else would you add? I hope I don't have to do this again, but if I do this list will be so helpful in thinking quickly and efficiently!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Pumpkin Farm!

One of our favorite Fall traditions is going to the local pumpkin farm. I use the word farm loosely because they don't grow their own pumpkins, but it is such a fun spot either way! Samuel has been asking for months when it will be open and time to go! When we heard that the hurricane was coming, we were needing to wait one more day before we saw a little bit more on the predictions as to whether we would be evacuating or not, so after filling up with gas I told my littles we were going to go enjoy the pumpkin experience for part of the day.

We had the place almost entirely to ourselves, the weather was not hot and it was really a great decision to go ahead especially we were gone for almost two weeks and didn't know we would be when we left!

I think we wore Samuel out - he fell asleep on the way home with his head on top of his pumpkin!!