Sunday, December 4, 2011

Post Six Months

It is weird that it has been over six months since the storm changed our life forever.  The past three weeks have been a whirl.  Josh and I went to Wichita, Kansas to see some good friends.  Josh was able to see their son who entered this world in a dramatic fashion.  It was so good to see them. 

After we returned "home" I decided to investigate movers.  I know that I am a little late in the game at this point, but I figured why not try?  I contacted six or seven companies and received an online quote of $1700 from one.  The estimated cost of moving ourselves at this point was $1600 with gas and rentals included.  I figured that I might as well try.  Over the next week I received two phone calls regarding these inquiries.  That's right I contacted six companies and (in a down economy) two returned my calls.  The one that gave me the online quote of $1700 increased the bid by $1000 after speaking with me because I have a set of stairs and they could not give me a firm move-in date which I need because I am moving into a large city that requires elevator reservations.  The second one no-showed Josh after he took off work to meet them.  So what a bust!

Josh had a tooth extracted that week and I went to Austin, Texas to see my mother.  I feel like I have a check off list of people to see, but I do not have enough time to spend with each of them.  I know intellectually that I will be able to see them again, but when?  I have so many emotions going through my mind right now and they are hard to express.  I had a wonderful visit with my mother, but I did not feel like it was long enough.  I then went to Fort Worth to see my father and my "Texas Grandmother".  It was fantastic to see them all.  I miss living in Texas near them, but I know that it is not the right time for us to live in Texas.

While I was in Texas the sixth month anniversary of the storm occurred.   It is just a strange realization that six months ago I was in beautiful Miami, Florida celebrating and thinking that life was great.  I was considering my new job and my recent graduation.  I was planning to take the master's level licensure exam in Missouri and thinking about completing the clinical requirements for a social work license.  Little did I know how my life would change.  Especially with the knowledge that Josh and I are now moving to Pennsylvania in less than one months.  It is strange how God intervenes.  Proverbs 19:21 says, "Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails."  How true this is in our situation.  I hope that I will continue to rejoice in what the Lord will provide for us in the next few months.

When I returned to our "house" I did a load of laundry and then repacked as it was time for the great Arkansas Thanksgiving Tour.  We started on Wednesday in Little Rock to see Josh's aunt.  Thursday we traveled to Camden, Arkansas to see his paternal grandmother and that side of the family.  It was really great to see them and spend so much time with our nephew.  On Friday we traveled to Delight, Arkansas to see his maternal grandmother and rest of the family.  I have never eaten more Thanksgiving meals in my life as I did these four days.  It was good, but I am tired of Turkey and southern dressing at the end of the weekend.  (Southern Dressing is cornbread dressing for those that are unfamiliar with the regional differences in dressing preparation.  I am most familiar with northern dressing which is breadcrumb based and traditionally has some sort of fruit--cranberries or apples--along with onions and celery. YUM!)

The Monday after Thanksgiving I started packing.  I am moving in two weeks from Tuesday at this point and I am feeling overwhelmed.  I have not reserved a moving truck, Josh and I have still not settled on how we are going to transport all our belongings, I have a going away party on Sunday, and we have not packed anything.  Then on top of all this Christmas is coming and I have not started shopping for Josh.  Yay...I am done with my family though, so that helps.  After five days, I have most everything packed that is not needed for the next week.  The garage below our apartment is no where near full of stuff and we are almost done.  I keep walking past our stuff thinking that we should have more stuff.  We don't.  (insert shoulder shrug)  We reserved a moving truck with a car dolly on Wednesday.

On Friday Josh and I went to his office Christmas party and then we went to the game store to hangout with our friends.  On Saturday Josh's dad was supposed to come and pick up my family furniture that was salvaged from our house, but needs to be repaired.  It rained all day Saturday and so we postponed this until next weekend at which time Josh's family will also pick up my car.  We are selling my car and becoming a one car family.  Josh's friend came into town for our going away party and they watched the Oklahoma State game.  It was good to have everything going on, but I am stressed.  On Sunday we all went to church and then we went to the going away party.  It is bittersweet to be leaving this place.  I am very glad to be moving on, but I am sad about moving away.  We have made so many good friends here and they will all be missed greatly. 

After the party Josh and I went home and two of our friends came with us to play games.  When we got back Josh stayed outside and I could not figure out why.  I went to check on him and as I was leaving the garage he was holding a bouquet of flowers and talking with someone.  He tells someone to turn on the camera and asks me to come out.  I have no idea what is going on.  As I come out, there are two women and one starts to say that she is from Abilene Christian University and they want to give me a new diploma.  I am overwhelmed.  It is such a small thing, but it means so much to me.  I enjoyed my time at ACU so much and I was so disappointed when I saw my diploma after the storm.  It was so wonderful of the Alumni office at ACU to give me a new one that was framed.  It means so much to me.  I am just so thankful to them and especially the two women who drove here to present it to me.  I am also so thankful to Ron Hadfield for coordinating this.  I cannot say thank you enough.  So I will end this blog with a HUGE THANK YOU to all that helped with this including my wonderful husband who finally surprised me!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Day 172-ish

Since Wednesday, this week has been up and down.  I got to meet my new nephew for the first time this weekend.  It was such a huge blessing to see him and also hang out with my sister-in-law.  I truly have a wonderful family!!!  I also experienced my first earthquake.  It was such a strange feeling.  It really does sound like cattle running by.  It was mostly uneventful, but there were subsequent earthquakes through Monday evening.

Then after the weekend the week was sucked away.  Monday night we had really bad storms in the area.  Yes, that includes Tornado warnings AGAIN.  I know, it's not tornado season, but we had potential tornadoes nonetheless.  Monday night lightening struck the house and it fried the well.  Thus Tuesday morning we had no water.  This continued through Wednesday.  We went to a friend's house to shower and then went back to our apartment.  In the afternoon on Wednesday, water was restored to the house and I started cleaning.  After an hour of work, dark sludge started to come out of the faucet and all my hard work was fruitless.  Every water vessel in our apartment was black.  Yuck...we then flushed out the lines for two hours.  The tree hugging hippy in me was screaming.  I wasted water for two straight hours before we started to have clear-ish water.  The next morning we still had some dark spots in the sinks and toilets, but it cleared after a short time.  After two and half days we now have clear water.  We are still drinking bottled water...I am leery of what is coming out of the faucets, but still appreciative of the fact that I have running water.  Every year Josh and I give money to clean water initiatives over seas and this week, I felt truly blessed that I have access to clean water even if not from my own faucet. 

Josh and I started to pack up this week.  It is a strange feeling to be packing when we just moved.  We are very happy to be making this transition, but it is weird to start packing when it feels like we just unpacked.  I have started to pare down things that we don't need or have replaced.  Again, it is strange to have so little and still be getting rid of things.  This just shows how blessed Josh and I are to be able to still get rid of things.  I am incredibly excited about moving into our new apartment and unpacking our new stuff.  I have boxes of kitchen equipment that I have been itching to open and dirty.  I am almost done with purchasing for the kitchen, but I will still need a few small kitchen appliances once we move.  I am still trying to accept spending three hundred dollars on needed items in one day.  It is a hard lesson when I do this once a week or more.  I am looking forward to this ending.

I know that many people will read the above paragraph and think that I should not be complaining, but when I spend money, I know that it is not just today that I have to do so.  I will have to do this for a long time and I have not even bought furniture.  It is overwhelming.  Josh reminds me of the rich young ruler (text follows). 
Luke 18:18-23 (with the context of versuses 24-30 also)
[18] A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"  
[19] "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good -- except God alone. [20] You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'"
[21] "All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.
[22] When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
[23] When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.
[24] Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! [25] Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
[26] Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?"
[27] Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."
[28] Peter said to him, "We have left all we had to follow you!"
[29] "I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God [30] will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life." 

This scripture does not cause conflict in my decisions, it just makes me wonder.  I know I should move on.  I know that I should not sit and be idle.  But I want to be mindful of how "stuff" can make people lose sight of what is important.  Plus I really don't want to just get "STUFF/ CLUTTER".  I want what I will use.  Will I use six wooden spoons?  Will I need this mirror?  Will I use a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer? Should I buy an immersion blender, blender, all-in-one, Cuisinart food processor, or generic food processor?  When the options are endless you don't know what is the right decision for you.  There is a term for this in board gaming.  It is "analysis paralysis" this occurs when you have so many options that you end up stalling on your turn.  It is frustrating in board gaming, but it is even more frustrating in real life. 

I mentioned in the last post that I am struggling with the holidays.  This is still occurring, but I have decided that I need to just accept this.   I have been offered Christmas with family and also friends once we move and Josh and I are going to see his family for Thanksgiving.  It is just hard to accept that I will not get to use all my Christmas ornaments this year.  All my family's Christmas ornaments were saved from the basement after the storm!  However they will stay in the box this year.  I should look at it like I did when we went to Hawaii.  "Why decorate when we are not going to be here for Christmas?"  (Just had a small realization.  It is amazing what writing will do!)  Though I think I will still struggle when it comes to Christmas music.

Some blessings this week were:
  • We had insurance on our house.  We were considered "under insured" but we still have plenty to get the things we need to recover. 
  • My nephew is beautiful!
  • We have running water!!!
  • We are beginning the long process of moving.
  • I have fantastic in-laws.
  • I have a fantastic husband who keeps me grounded and encourages me when I have a bad day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Update: Day 163

So I have been told recently that I need to do an update.  I will touch on the blessings over the past few months at the end of the blog instead of the beginning.  It has been hard to continue to look at the positive side of this situation over the past few months.  This is in part due to how things progressed.  It has also been difficult to post blogs when we did not have regular internet connections or know where we were staying that day.  I will discuss this in the July portion of this post.  I am not sure if I ever explained that Josh and I decided to wait to make any major decisions.  This has been a blessing and a curse.  I will explain this later when I talk about September. 

Here is how the past few months progressed.

June ended and things stayed the same for the most part.  We stayed with our friends another few weeks.  I was offered another job which was very flattering to turn down two positions in one months time.  I saw a counselor for a couple sessions to make sure that I am coping adequately.

When July came, life became more difficult.  After staying with our friend for over a month, we started to feel as though we were over staying our welcome.  I think we were there for five or six weeks.  We found an apartment, but due to extenuating circumstances our move-in date was pushed back several times.  We thought we would move-in by the beginning on July and then it was pushed back to the middle of July.  After this happened several times, we began to lose hope.  The feeling of home was starting to wear on my mental health.  I started to feel homeless and hopeless.  Thankfully we have wonderful friends.  Josh's best friend from college offered to host us indefinitely immediately after the storm.  We declined at that point because we had things to do in Joplin.  After some discussion, we decided to move.  It was the easiest move we have ever done.  It took two trips with two cars.  The first trip was to the barn where we were storing our stuff.  The second was to one of Josh's coworkers.  We stayed with them for one night as we transitioned to Texas.  We then went to Texas for two weeks.  It was really nice to be in a large city again.  We went to museums, movies, played games, ate at really good restaurants, and just tried to enjoy ourselves. 

We had several bad experiences in July.  The most influential one was feeling like a criminal when we went to a distribution center.  This is something that I struggled with from the beginning.  I do not like asking for help.  I do not like sitting on the other side of the table from the social worker.  (I need to get over this.)  After the horrific experience at the last distribution center we went to, Josh and I never went back.  Our church started a program called "Adopt a Family".  This program enables people who want to fill specific needs for families to do so.  It also has cut down on all the excess that was donated to the Joplin area.  This is a blessing, but we opted out since we know that there are more needy people in the area.  We also were in such limbo that it was difficult to identify a need for any specific item.  While in Houston, we were notified that our house debris was quarantined due to asbestos.  Our debris was the only one on the block that was marked.  Mind you, our entire neighborhood had asbestos siding.  Our contractor said that he would take care of this and was keeping us apprised of the progress.  The same day I found out that we were required to remove our tree.  It made me sad to realize that the next person who lived at our address would not have our tree. 

August came and things started to get better.  First of all, we moved in on August 1st and then went on "vacation".  Josh got to go to GenCon and play boardgames.  When we came back we got to settle into our apartment.  I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned.  Even after all the help we had from friends with cleaning, we still had lots to clean.  I got down to two boxes and ran out of creative ways to store items.  The best part about August was I finally got to go shopping and not feel useless.  Both Macy's and Bed Bath and Beyond provided Joplin tornado survivors with twenty percent off purchases thru a particular date.  I have since purchased a lot at these stores.  (Kudos to the marketing team who thought of that.) 

I struggled through August somewhat as it is just hard to put into words the feeling of loss.  Don't get me wrong, it was incredibly satisfying to have a place of our own again.  The feeling of relief was overwhelming.  The struggle I experienced was moving on.  To explain, our house was in the center of Joplin.  We were five minutes from my husband's work, five minutes to the grocery store, five minutes from the any big box store, five minutes from the bank, fifteen from church...I think you get the drift of what I am saying.  We were close to everything.  The problems I am experiencing correlate to this.  We are now living twenty-five minutes out of town (e.g. Joplin).  It is the closest, easiest, and most affordable housing we could find.  On top of not having a home, I no longer have my grocery store or big box store and so nothing is familiar to me.  It takes me forever to find anything when I go shopping; plus, I am not thinking straight still so it takes me even longer.  It is amazing what stress does to a person's mind.  I also miss the familiarity of our surroundings.  Our street was a standard street, but it was our street.  It had large trees and friendly neighbors.  It was pretty.  It is not anymore.  So the short of the matter is I am not adapting well. 

(  This link is to The New York Times Site.  They did a panoramic view of our street to show before and after.  Our intersection is 24th and Pennsylvania and you can drag the map to see our house.  We spoke with the gentleman that took these photos after we spoke with our insurance adjustor one day.)

Our land was finally cleared and we were done with clean up.  We were able to sell our property to a development firm in Joplin that is locally owned and operated.  It was incredibly freeing, but it was also hard to know that we were never going to live there again.  

September was a continuation of August.  My days ran together because I am not working.  I do not have a routine.  I chose this, remember those two jobs.  I made a conscience decision to not work.  I knew that Josh and I would be moving soon and did not want to start a job and then promptly quit after a short amount of time.  I thought about working retail or food, but I am not handling my own stress well.  I am staying busy by occasionally working as a volunteer at hospice and keeping in touch with friends.  I felt incredibly useless.  I am not working, I do not have children, I am a recent post graduate, and yet I am sitting at home.  These feelings are entirely self-imposed.  Josh is incredibly encouraging and supportive and to be fair I have worked on lots of planning for our move.  That's right, but let me get back to September. 

At the beginning of September, Josh and I decided to start scouting other places to live.  We already discussed options, but the most prominent one was Philadelphia.  I have never been to Philadelphia and so we planned a trip.  Josh celebrated his twenty-ninth birthday on the Thirteenth and we had a big party to celebrate.  I contacted several people in Philadelphia to prepare for our trip.  I spoke back and forth with a realtor about potential properties and narrowed down a list of potential places to see when we were there.  It was both exciting and incredibly stressful. 

We left the second week in October and started the process.  The first thing to do was tour the city.  I realized that there is a huge difference in seeing the city from a tourist perspective and a potential place to live.  Instead of looking at the monuments and museums, you look for grocery stores and proximity to public transit.  I walked around the city all day.  I got lost.  I went back to the house we were staying at.  I then went to see apartments the second day.  It was incredibly disheartening.  I found one to show Josh later in the week after seeing eight different properties.  Then Wednesday came and I went out again.  And it was again disappointing.  I thought that maybe this was not what God had planned for us.  I had prayed and asked God that He would make this decision incredibly easy for us and that we would not have any question about what He wanted for us.  At this time, I had immense apprehension about this decision.  On Thursday, Josh came with me and we decided to look in New Jersey and see if we could find anything on this side of the river.  We found a few things, but none of it was what we really wanted.  In the afternoon, we met with our realtor and saw six properties.  By the end of the day Josh and I narrowed our search to two potentials.  The first was a 1400 sq. foot two bedroom/ two bathroom apartment in a very nice part of Center City--a neighborhood in Philadelphia.  The downsides were that it was at the top of our price range, included no utilities, did not have laundry in the unit, and there was no parking anywhere nearby.  The second was a 1000 sq foot one bedroom/ one bathroom apartment two blocks from the federal park in Center City.  This one has all utilities included, parking on-site, laundry in the unit, and is the exact price point we were originally looking for.  So we signed a lease after some stress and sent off lots of money.  We move-in on December 15th. 

October has been a whirlwind.  We got back and I immediately unpacked our last two tornado boxes.  I am tired of finding "tornado" in my stuff.  (There is this stuff that is left behind after a tornado that covers everything.  It is like silt, but the particles imbed themselves into every crevice imaginable.  I still put my hands in pockets and have to clean out my fingernails because I find more "tornado".  It has become infuriating.)  I started to figure out what we needed, wanted, and had to order before we move so that we could use our discounts.  I also started to sort and throw away things that we do not need.  It is sort of like getting married.  You get all this new stuff and have old crappy stuff that you don't want, but you can't use the new stuff until you move-in or get married so it sits stored in boxes.  I have an entire closet of new shiny items that I have not touched because we are moving. 

While this is incredibly exciting it is also incredibly sad.  We are linked to Joplin.  I do not mean we lived here, but we are written in the ground.  We are tied to this place and over the past few months, we have been broken and lifted up here.  It is going to be hard to leave.  I have cried with friends over this already and it is still six weeks until we leave.  I do not want to say goodbye, but I know that the inevitable is coming.

It is now November and I have become depressed.  The holidays are coming and I realized that I will not have much of a Christmas this year.  We are moving nine days before Christmas and I am not sure that we will have furniture by that time.  I will not have a tree or wreath.  It makes my heart sink just writing this.  I keep trying to remember that the best part will be that I have a home and we are moving forward.  Please pray for this as I continue to struggle through.

Now for the blessings!!! 
  • I am truly blessed to have a wonderful, strong husband who is incredibly supportive.  He is more than I could have asked or imagined.  
  • Josh and I have continued to depend on and support one another.  
  • We are moving!!!  
  • We have terrific friends who have helped us through this time.  I am incredibly thankful for each one of them and cannot imagine what life will be like without them when we move.  
  • Our family has continued to be a fantastic support.  I am anxious about seeing them all.  
  • We have a new nephew!!!  
  • We are alive and do not have nightmares about the storm.   
  • I have been able to work on putting our lives back in order instead of being employed.   
  • We have been able to be generous with our money.  
  • The companies in Joplin have been very generous with us over the past few months.  
  • We had insurance to cover the loss and damages of our house and belongings.  
  • We have the ability to be patient and wait.  
  • We have coped relatively well through all this. 
  • God has continued to provide and hold us in His protective hand throughout all this difficulty.
These are the big ones...there are many more but I am trying to keep this brief.

I will try to continue updates on a weekly basis from now on as life has settled down quite a bit.  Yay!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Days Twenty, Twenty-one, and Twenty-two

The blessings for day twenty were that I was able to go to lunch with my old work friends from hospice.  It was great to be able to see and hang out with them after everything that has happened.  We have a car.  I have air conditioning.  Yes, it was another hot day.  Josh was able to play boardgames at his local game store.  We have received more games than we know what to do with.  I found another pair of shorts in my belongings. 

Mostly I just tried to hang out.  I have been overwhelmed with everything I have to do and I hate being alone in the house we are staying at.  It was really nice to be able to hang out with more friends.  I am incredibly blessed with the people who are in my life. 

Today I realized just how blessed we are to have a vehicle.  Yes, driving Josh around and not ever leaving his side has it’s moments of too much togetherness, but at least we have a car.  It is our own car.  Many other people do not have cars at all or are driving around in a vehicle that “survived” the storm.  These cars are incredibly mangled, but are still operable.  Similar to our minivan, these cars could drive, but did not have windows or power steering after 250+ miles an hour winds. 

The blessings for day Twenty-one include that we have a house to live in that is very quiet and I am able to feel more at home.  We do not have to entertain our host or feel obligated to go and do anything.  I was able to make breakfast for Josh and I.  Many of our DVD’s survived and have been playable.  At this point, none of them were scratched enough to not play. 

Josh and I did a lot of relaxing.  It was nice to sit around and read and try to just be.  It is Saturday so we did Saturday things when you do not have to clean your house or mow the yard.  The lack of household responsibilities right now has been a huge weight off our shoulders. 

We went and ran some errands.  I got a crappy phone to get me by until I get a new phone or my recently baptized phone comes back to life.  We played some games at the local game store and ate frozen yogurt.  Other than that we did nothing. 

I watched Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire.  The scene where Harry watches one of Professor Dumbledore’s memories made me want a Pensieve.  I want to remove some of my memories for a while so that my mind is not so cluttered.  I feel like I need a break again.  Josh asked if I wanted to go to Maine today and I think this would be a good diversion for me in July once we have a more permanent dwelling.  We still have lots of decisions that need to be made, but I am definitely going to look into this as a possibility.

Today has been three weeks since the storm.  I am really struggling to see the blessings that we had today.  There are not words to describe how I feel.  A really big blessing on day twenty- two was that I was able to see some friends that I have not seen since undergrad.  I went to church and asked about a counselor.

This morning in service the minister discussed the amount of debris that we have in Joplin.  It is estimated that the amount of train cars it will take to removal all the debris will stretch from Springfield, Missouri to Joplin Missouri.  This is about a seventy mile long distance.  There are lots of garbage trucks in Joplin; all of which are driving either empty trucks in or full trucks out.  Most of these trucks are on my street right now.  Because our house was so far south, the city has already started debris removal from the curbs near our house.  Thus it is very difficult to get to where our house used to be.  While at church, I decided to go forward and discuss with our ministerial staff how I am in need of professional counseling.  Out of everything that we need materially; I know that I am more important.

Josh wanted to go back to our house to see if he could find something that he wanted.  When we arrived, most of the stuff on our property had been moved.  Our entire drive-way was cleared as well as a lot of our side yard.  Someone removed the contents of the living room and bedroom.  It was strange to see where our house used to be.  Josh found a controller that actually turned on and I found a very interesting scene.  

This cross formerly hung in my living room.
This was a very good reminder of what I need to focus on.

Today we also met with some of my Abilene Christian University friends who came to volunteer.  We went to the only ice cream place left in Joplin and had something cold and sweet.  Even at the restaurant the tornado was evident.  It was very hot today and we all just wanted something that was sweet and cold.  We sat and talked before they needed to leave and go back to their homes.  It was really good to see these two girls that I spent so much time with four years ago.  I really miss them.

A couple of college friend’s came into Joplin to volunteer.  There is still so much to be done and an insufficient amount of people to do the job.  My friends did not work at my house but at other houses since there are so many.  I do not want anyone at my house.  You have seen the pictures and they do not encompass how unsafe it is at my house.  To further complicate the issue of debris, there is also a deadly fungus that is infecting and killing people who are working in the devastation zone.  There is mold and other unhealthy particles in the air that cause breathing problems.  I have turned down many of my friends and church family who have offered to go and help.  At this point there is nothing to get that I have not already searched for and I need to come to terms with the loss.  This is something I am working on. 

Josh and I hung out at the house and wrote some thank you notes.  We have lots to be thankful for and I wanted to make sure that people know that we appreciate what they have done for us.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Day Eighteen and Nineteen

The biggest blessing of day eighteen was that we moved back into Joplin today.  It was short and sweet.  One of the easiest moves I have ever done.  Total it took about ten minutes to move all our stuff into the new house.  I got to hang out with a friend and hold her baby for the afternoon.  Josh went back to work for the first time since the storm.  I got all our laundry done.  I was able to watch some television today and tried to get used to creating a “new normal”.

We got all our stuff packed up and moved to the new house that we are staying at.  A friend has a house that she is not living in very often and wanted us to stay there for a little while.  She works all over and is not home often.  She said we can stay until our apartment is ready which is about a month away.  I am going to be able to cook and unpack some of our stuff while we are there.  It has been incredibly frustrating to be looking for clothes and not be able to find anything.   I do not mean my favorite shirt.  I mean underwear, matching clothes, pants.  When I have been looking for pants, I would only find shirts.  I have worn a lot of dresses because of this. 

Josh went back to work today.  It was weird.  I have never been a wife that needs to be with her husband all the time.  Josh and I regularly hear that it is neat that we spend time away from each other.  I think it is very healthy.  However, I am struggling with being alone.  I feel a sense of panic when I watch television or do regular things.  This is all related to stress and trauma.  I have seriously considered going to a counselor to discuss these issues.  I obviously have not done so yet; another thing to put on my list of things to do. 

We went out to eat again after Josh fixed our hosts computer.  We then went to see a couple of friends and then went back to the house.  We got to sleep in the same bed.  Our new dwelling has a full sized bed.  It really is not that bad considering we have not slept together in almost three weeks.  I am so happy. 

Day Nineteen blessings  include how we have wonderful friends.  One of these friends brought me a purse to use for a while.  I only had one left after the storm and I needed something a little bigger.  We are back in town.  Josh is working.  I do not have to work.  After some discussion with the new job about social work licensure, talking with Josh, and talking with a friend who works at the company, I decided it would be best to not go to the interview.  It was a really good decision for right now and they encouraged me to apply later when things settle down.  I went grocery shopping.  I cooked spaghetti and Josh and I ate it at the house!  I have the best husband ever.

I spent time today mostly for myself.  I am trying to get back to normal.  We are in a place now that I can cook, which means that I got to go grocery shopping.  I also had some spa time.  I got a manicure, but it was just not the same.  My normal salon was also blown away in the tornado.  They have relocated to a beauty college in Webb City, but I just wanted a place to which I was already accustomed. 

I am at a place now where I just want to be able to stop.  I do not mean sit and be still, I mean that everything would just stop and I could go back to the way things were.  I want a “time out”, a momentum shift, a change in pitching, a pause button, etc.  I think you get the idea.  I am tired of being in a place that I am not used to and not ever knowing where things are.  None of the things are mine and I just want to be back in my own place with my own things and smelling my own home.  I have really struggled with this today. 

I had a little break down; alright, truth be told, I went crazy on Josh.  I am not perfect and I am allowed my moments of weakness in this great mess I am in.  It all started when I dropped my iPhone in the toilet.  Yes, two dunks in one week.  I am very concerned that it won’t survive this second drip.  The toilet at the house we are staying at is different than mine and my phone caught on the lip of the toilet as I was standing up and slid into the bowl.  I pulled it out and screamed.  Josh came in and tried to help, which just irritated me.  I wanted everything to stop.  We put it back in the blanket of rice to let it sit.  Then I went to get something out of the pantry and saw a giant spider.  I went to get Josh and when he came to look for it, he did not find it.  This freaked me out and I just started blubbering.  There is no reason for it.  This is when I went crazy.  Josh, in his most loving way, let me be crazy for the moment.  He listened to me as I cried and just encouraged me that we need to be in this together.  I love this man so much.  I know that I would not be able to get through this situation without him by my side.  He has taken care of so much and I know that I would be completely lost on what to do without him.  He has been invaluable to me. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day Sixteen and Seventeen

Blessings for the sixteenth day include that Josh and I know how the city of Joplin wants us to proceed with our house, sort of.  We packed up our stuff in the barn to be ready to move when the time comes.  I was able to find several things that I was looking for like underwear.  It really is amazing how finding small things is sometimes all it takes to make your day better.  My iPhone came back to life!!!

It seems like it has been years since this all started.  There is so much to be done and we have come so far, but it is still impressive how much more has to be done.  Josh and I went through and organized all our stuff again.  We cleaned out everything that is in the barn that is ours and we cleaned out many of the tubs we were able to salvage.  There is still so much debris on everything.  The smell is still very pungent and everything is dirty. 

We went to the mall to find some shorts for me.  I have decided to be really picky about what I get.  I want things to fit and be something I like; not just something that I can wear for now.  I went and got some shoes from a distribution center at the mall.  I needed some shoes for later this week and all I have are strappy sandals.  I did not find any shorts, but I got to shop for a little while which was nice.

Josh and I went to the Joplin City Meeting were they were supposed to discuss the plans for Joplin and debris removal.  Josh has never been interested in attending a city meeting, but the tornado made him be more invested.  It was amazing how many people came to the meeting.  The entire building was full and people were standing in the back.  We sat through the entire meeting to hear them repeat the paperwork they handed out at the beginning.  They did not provide us with any further information and did the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas “Sidestep” on issues that were related to debris clean-up.  It was frustrating. 

There were approximately 7000 families displaced by the storm and of these it is estimated that 50% did not have insurance.  So the city has to fund 3500 families’ home demolitions.  Currently the city is only willing to address loose debris that is around homes.  The city wanted us to sign a “Right to Entry” form that absolves them of any liability of property damage.  The problem is that if Josh and I sign this paper, then we will have to also sign over any insurance money that we have for debris removal.  This is all understandable, except that we have three walls still standing and a basement.  The city will not address their plans for demolition or basement fill in.  So we will have to blindly sign over our debris removal money and there is no guarantee that the city will do all the work.  We were encouraged to hire an excavator to complete the job since we have insurance that will cover the cost of demolition. 

I have to brag about my wonderful husband.  He got up and asked questions at the meeting and was so eloquent.  We spoke with an attorney afterwards and she said that he asked the exact questions she was going to.  He is so amazing.  I cannot describe how proud I am to be his wife.

Our biggest concern is that 7000 homes were impacted and this does not include the commercial buildings.  So we will have to compete with all these other people to hire a company to complete this job.  I also want our money to stay local so that Joplin will benefit from this situation.  These are all incredibly difficult tasks to complete considering the magnitude of the situation. 

We left this meeting some what confused and frustrated and went back to the house.  After the meeting we talked for a while about how to proceed.  Josh called his boss about an excavator and posted on Facebook to find referrals.  He heard back from his boss and he will call the company in the morning.  We ultimately decided to go ahead and higher someone.  As long as they are under the amount allotted by our insurance company, we really do not care.  I just want the house gone.

The major blessing for day seventeen was that we were able to higher an excavator who wants to start working next week!  This was wonderful news since we talked with several who gave us a two month waiting period before they could give us a quote.  The company is registered with the Better Business Bureau and is fully licensed, bonded, and insured.  They are not from Joplin, but are from a nearby community that works with Joplin regularly.  It made me feel a little better to know that the money will at least stay in Missouri.  There are lots of companies from other states here now that are trying to help expedite the process, but will take the money back to their community to spend it.  This will not benefit Joplin long term.  Other blessings include that Josh and I have windows on our car and air conditioning at the house we are staying at.  It is again very hot out and car windows are very difficult to get in the area.  Had my car been at home, I am not sure that it would have survived and it definitely would not have windows if it had.  We are ready to move tomorrow to our new location.  I have sorted through all our clothes and found more summer clothing.  I have been running low on shorts, but I found two more pairs.  Yay for shorts!  I have a job interview on Thursday of this week for a position I applied for before I graduated.  I am excited about it, but at the same time I am incredibly apprehensive. 

Josh started the day by calling all the excavators he could find in the phone book.  He got a hold of two and left messages for all the others; only two others returned his call.  This is typical of the situation.  I never got any calls back regarding the rentals I called about last week.  It is very disappointing. 

We drove into town to get our mail and talk with friends.  We ate lunch out, again.  When talking with our friends, we got the name of realtor who is purchasing property to develop.  Josh and I are very interested in this since we do not want to rebuild.  We called and left a message with them.

We met with an excavator at our house and he gave us a bid that is completely acceptable.  The company said that this was do-able and that he could get to us next week.  He does not want to move his machinery very far since it is expensive and we are only two blocks from his current job.  God has watched over us so much during this process.

While at our house, I realized that I hate going back.  Every time it makes me cry.  It also really smells now.  The fridges and freezers smell awful now and there is nothing that can be done about it.  The city has started to remove all the debris that is right next to the street.  This is the first step in the process.  Hopefully, this will not take forever. 

We ate and went to a friend’s house to hang out.  We talked about our day and then watched some comedy on Netflix.  It is weird to laugh.  Things are just not the same.

Day Fourteen...and Fifteen

The blessings on day fourteen were that we were able to get out of town for a little while.  I was able to see all my clothes that were pulled out of the house.  My mother-in-law washed and cleaned all my shoes that survived.  She said, “I may not have washed your feet, but I have come close.” I thought it was incredibly thoughtful of her to do that.  I got to sit by the pool and sun bathe.  We did not have to eat out.  We got to sleep in the same bed after two weeks of bunk beds.

We went to Tulsa to get the rest of our stuff.  After the storm, Josh’s parents took a load of our laundry with them to do for us as we had lots of clothes pulled out of the house.  Some of it was not salvageable, but some was.  It all needed to be laundered because it stunk badly not to mention the amount of debris that was mixed with clothing.  There is nothing to compare the smell of tornado to. 

While I was hanging out at the pool, I threw my iPhone into the pool.  I could not believe I did that and to be honest I am not sure how it happened.  We were all hanging out and I went in side to do something.  When I came out, I picked up my book and my phone fell.  I still am not sure where it came from.  My mother-in-law pulled it out and I immediately toweled it off and tried to take the Otter Box off.  As I was doing this, I think I let water in and it started spasming.  We threw it into some uncooked rice and let it sit over night.  When I looked at it later that night, it was lighting up and doing strange things.  I was really worried.

We went to hang out with one of Josh’s college friends while in Tulsa.  She is moving to India and has some stuff for us to have once we have a more permanent place.  We talked about the tornado and her children.  She always has the funniest stories to tell.  It was really great to laugh.  Then we went back to Josh’s parent’s house to sleep in a queen sized bed.  It was nice to say goodnight without me standing on my tip toes to get a goodnight kiss.

The blessings for day fifteen were that I have lots of winter clothes.  We again went to church.  I went swimming again.  Josh and I were able to talk about housing and many other topics that are very pertinent currently.  Josh and I have wonderful family.  We have finished our insurance list of personal property minus some family items that need pricing.  We were able to back to Joplin somewhat more refreshed and less stressed.  All of our world possessions are in the same place.

Josh and I went to church this morning at his parent’s church.  It was good to go back to a Church of Christ church for one Sunday.  After attending Abilene Christian University, I miss the acapella worship every now and then.  I thought that being in another city would allow us to have a slight break from focusing on the tornado, but even in Tulsa the service mentioned Joplin several times.  It was kind of weird.  I know Tulsa is not that far away, but the media attention is mostly off Joplin and it seems that the focus has shifted to other major news events even though Joplin is still greatly suffering.  The amount of volunteers in Joplin is still strong, but in just one week the volunteers have decreased by half according to church emails and other sources

After church, we went back to Josh’s parent’s home and we ate lunch.  Then Josh and I took a nap.  I know that when a person experiences trauma, their physical needs change.  This is very true.  Josh and I are still not eating properly or drinking enough water.  We are also not sleeping enough.  I cannot say how much we have slept, but I am sure that it is not enough.  We slept for three hours.  It is amazing how the simple things in life, like a nap, can make a person's day.  After this, I went swimming and then we packed up. 

I have lots of winter clothes now, but very little summer clothes.  That means that I will have to go shopping.  Darn.  I am still not sure what survived or did not because I still need to go through all our clothing.  We separated our winter clothing from our summer clothing.  We do not need winter clothing when it is 90 degrees. 

We went back to Joplin.  We got back to the house and talked to our hosts for a while.  Josh and I are planning on moving this week and wanted to make sure that they knew our plans.  We watched a movie and then went to bed, again in bunk beds.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Day Twelve and Thirteen (I am combining to catch up)

Day Twelve blessings were that Josh and I have air conditioning.  We were able to find an apartment.  We got to talk about a lot of things that we needed to discuss during the drive to and from Springfield, Missouri.  We have great friends.  We have the finances to go out to eat, buy gas, purchase things we need, and not worry about what to do next in terms of money.

Day Twelve was very much like day eleven except being in a different city.  Josh and I drove to Springfield to find alternative housing and so I could get my stuff from my job.  I have explained before that I was previously employed as a contract social worker for an agency in Springfield.  I left my notary supplies there as I thought I was going to continue to work there over the summer.  After the storm, I decided it would be better for me to not work.  While there, my coworkers gave me some money.  I was so humbled.  This is a not for profit agency and they gave me money to help with the new costs we are experiencing.  We went to lunch and then drove around looking at apartment complexes and talking with thier staff.  We found a potential place in Republic, Missouri that is approximately one hour away from Josh’s work.  It is more expensive than we want, but could be furnished.  We realized that if we are going to stay in Joplin for the next few months, then we need to be closer to Joplin than Springfield.  There is still so much to do and to be an hour away would make everything more difficult.

We went back to Joplin to have dinner and to get mail from our friends.  We then went to the house and tried to decompress after the day.

Day Thirteen blessings included finding an apartment that is furnished and is within twenty minutes of Josh’s work.  We returned our library books without losing any to the storm.  The weather has been beautiful. Lots of sun and no rain, but it is hot.  We went for a walk.  We have a car that is ours.  Josh has a wonderful job.  We have great friends and family. 

Day Thirteen, we have found an apartment that is furnished!!!  The family that we are living with has purchased a new house and will be moving soon.  The family is trying to move into the new house and once they move the family will do a lot of reorganizing.  Long story short, we will move into the above garage apartment.  I have never been more excited about moving into a 900 square foot apartment. 

We learned that the Federal government is going to pay ninety percent of the demolition cost and the city is soliciting the State of Missouri to pay the other ten percent.  What a blessing.  This has been one thing that Josh and I have been agonizing over since this started. 

We returned all our library books that we checked out for our Miami vacation.  I know this is a small thing, but it means one less responsibility we have. 

I was able to talk with my family, which has been very helpful over the past week.  I have enjoyed letting them know how we have progressed and the celebrations we have over the little things.  I continue to talk with friends on Facebook that I have not spoken to in a very long time.  Some from elementary school have contacted me to lend support and encouragement.  Each person helps spur me on.  Thank you all.

After we returned the library books, we went and watched a movie at the house to relax.  Josh fell asleep, no surprise.  It occurred to me today that we have not really stopped since May 22nd.  It feels like the days just run together and there has been no sluggish progression of time.  Time just goes quickly all the time because there is so much to do.  Josh mentioned that he wanted to go back to work on Tuesday of next week and this sent me into a panic.  I can think of so much that needs to be done and he wants to go back to work.  I am not mentally able to go to work right now!  The thought frightens me.  I am usually a person that enjoys working and facing each challenge, but I am not the same person right now that I am normally.  I am taking each day as it comes and nothing more right now.  Continue to pray for us as we continue this journey.

Day Eleven

Blessings for today were that I was able to cook!!!  I love to cook and this morning I made biscuits and gravy for the “family”.  We drove around to locate housing.  Josh and I have the financial resources to drive around to look at housing.  Gas is only $3.52 per gallon.  We were able to discuss car options for Josh.  Josh has never gotten to pick out a car because he always got whatever car was available and working at the time.  I want him to choose his car.  We hung out with friends for the evening.

Today we went to find housing.  Josh and I went all over the area and I called approximately 40 people about rentals.  There were none.  Not very surprising considering the amount of displaced families.  We learned that there are approximately 7000 families displaced and half of these families do not have insurance.  This was an incredibly depressing piece of information.  I cannot imagine going through this experience without insurance.  It frightens me to just think about it.

We were able to speak with our church about housing today.  They have a vast amount of people volunteering their homes for our support.  We were given the opportunity to stay in Nevada, Missouri; Pittsburg, Kansas; and Springfield, Missouri.  None of these locations are incredibly close, but are options should we need them.

We went to hangout with our friends in Carthage.  It really is a blessing to just sit and talk to people after being displaced.  Many of our friends have felt like they are not contributing, but they are.  To be able to have a meal with someone is really a blessing by itself.  We really appreciate the friends who have come to be with us.  I love it!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day Ten

Blessings from today included that Josh and I were able to cash our checks from the insurance company.  Our mortgage is paid off!!  We spoke with attorneys and we do not have to rebuild unless we want to.  We were able to register for FEMA.  We had dinner with friends.  I spoke with family.  We were able to deter identify theft one more time.  We were able to obtain an address to use!

Josh and I drove into Joplin with large checks in hand to put into our savings accounts.  It was a very strange experience.  We calculated the amount of our checks and the grand total is almost three times Josh’s annual gross income.  Again, this is very overwhelming. 

Today I sat on the other side of the table.  I was the person seeking services and it was really interesting.  We arrived at the Multi Agency Resource Center, MARC, to fill out and apply for federal aid.  In order to do this we must show proof of residence.  This was not difficult as we both had our driver’s licenses.  Had we been home we may not have been able to produce this.  We were shuffled through the different interviews in order for the Red Cross to identify our immediate needs.  Then we were led to the section that allowed us to connect with the appropriate agencies that we directly needed.  The three agencies that we accessed where Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Post Office, and the Missouri Bar Association.  The Missouri Bar Association was most helpful as they were able to give us guidance on how to proceed with our property.  FEMA informed us on how to proceed with federal aid and will continue to meet with us to make sure that we have our needs met.  The Post Office let us change our address right there and so we did not have to wait in the incredibly long line at the post office.  This entire process made me feel like a sheep being herded from place to place.  Thankfully Josh and I have the personal resources to be able to work outside this system, but others in Joplin do not. 

We then went to our local game store.  The proprietors have graciously allowed us to use their address to receive mail.  We have been waiting for our rent check to come in so that we can deposit it, another large check.  On the way to the game store, Josh realized that he needed to get any personal documents out of the minivan since it will be towed soon.  We drove by and now the area really smells.  The refrigerators are all rotting and the smell of tornado still lingers in the air.  Josh got the documents and we drove away.  I did not even get out of the car. 

After running errands, we went back to the house.  We ate dinner as a “family” and then hung out.  Again, it was nice to just be able to sit back and relax.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Day Nine

Blessings for the day were that Josh and I took a break.  This allowed us to put things into perspective. 

Today Josh and I did nothing towards the house.  We took a break.  We celebrated Memorial Day at the house by swimming, playing games, and seeing friends.  I ate so much that now, as I type this, my stomach is upset because I ate too much.  Tomorrow business begins.  We plan on getting many errands completed and trying to find another place to live.  It is still very overwhelming.  Josh and I planned on moving eventually, but nothing was ever decided.  We wanted to make an informed decision after I was done with graduate school and potentially licensed.  This plan has been totally scratched.  We are totally open to anything that comes.  I am unemployed and Josh is able to go anywhere within his company, within reason.  We are not saying we are moving, but we are also not ruling out the possibility.

We had fun hanging out at the pool and enjoying the heat.  I relaxed and read a book while Josh got to play board games.  It was a nice little breather.  We will start working again in the morning as we still have a lot that needs to be done. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Day Eight—It has been a week.

There were many blessings today.  We went to church and met a college friend.  She has been reading this blog and we were able to meet up.  She read a previous day's blog where I mentioned that Joplin has few tubs available for displaced individuals like myself.  We need these Rubbermaid tubs so that we are eventually able to move.  She brought eight of these totes.  It was such a blessing.  She and her spouse were also volunteering at our church for the weekend as it is Memorial Day Weekend.  Another blessing is that Josh and I were able to go to church.  We were able to see my in-laws again.  I have the most wonderful husband ever.  We went and hung out with friends for the day.  We ate dinner as a “family” at the house we are staying.  We played games with the children at the house.  I said goodbye to our house.  I also spoke with many of my family members today.

One week ago today, Josh and I were in sunny Miami when the tornado struck Joplin.  We are getting ready for church and I pray that it is just what we need.  I have never before been more excited and apprehensive to go to church.  I am tired of the exposure.  We keep leaving rooms when news comes on because we do not want to see it.  There is good information on the news and signs of hope in our community.  A story was about one person who is already rebuilding.  I thought that was neat.

We went to church this morning in order to be renewed.  It was great!  We met and spoke with many of our friends and church family and we were prayed over by these family members.  Ninety families in our church have no homes due to the storm and there were approximately two hundred and thirty families from our church in the disaster zone.  Today they announced that the official death toll is now 139 and counting.  There are still 42 missing and will soon, I am sure, be presumed dead.  Again I was grateful that we were not home. 

We went back to the house one last time.  I know I said that we were not going to return before, but I wanted to go back for one last shot at finding a family heirloom.  We searched and did not find it, but did find several pieces of jewelry that I had.  I also got sun burned.  After we left, I immediately wanted to go back and continue searching.  I know that this is just something that will happen.  This time I wanted clothes.  Mind you, the clothes that I wanted to go get have been in the rain for seven days now, sun for three, as well as exposed to other elements.  I really just want the city to bull doze it and then I will have no reason to return.  I have my moments of acceptance and then insanity not long afterward. 

I looked for a furnished apartment on the Internet in a nearby area.  It is very difficult to find a rental right now due to the amount of people searching for a home.  There are approximately 5200 people looking for a place to stay and there is not enough housing to accommodate the  amount of people in need.  Josh and I are not ready right now to buy a different home and we are not in the right frame of mind to make a major decision right now.  There are also too many unknowns right now.  We do not know if we will have to rebuilding, who will clear our lot, and many more logistical questions. 

Josh and I returned to the house and we were invited to the family Sunday Dinner followed by a movie.  Our hosts cook a big family dinner every week and it is a time to get together and see each other once a week.  We ate an amazing Taco Feast and watched “I am Number Four”.  It was really nice to have a sense of normalcy amongst the chaos.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Day Seven

The Blessings for today are that I was able to take a nap while Josh drove us to the house we are staying at.  I was able to visit with a friend for most of the afternoon and talk about baby stuff with her.  She has a child, not me.  Josh was able to move his flea market booth today in only one trip and condense his booth space from two to one.  He was able to collect his extra toys to donate to our church for children who lost their toys.  We found almost all of our DVD’s and we were able to salvage many of them.  We will still have to see if any of them will play.  An old friend from college contacted me as she and her husband came up from Fort Worth to help.  They read the blog from Day Two about how Rubbermaid Tubs are difficult to come by and they brought us 8 tubs.  We are getting them tomorrow.  We got our checks from our insurance agent today. 

Today has been a really hard day.  Josh and I need a break.  It was the first day in a long line of days that we truly feel displaced.  I miss the quiet of my house.  I miss being able to not talk to people when I am in the middle of something.  Please do not hear that I do not appreciate the calls and messages; I do.  I am just starting to feel the strain of being temporarily homeless.  I hesitate to use this word because we are not homeless; we are just our homeless.

I just do not know what else to say other than pray for Josh and I to be strong and lean on God.  He is the only thing that will get us through this. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Day Six

This morning I was able to blow dry my hair, wear sweats and a t-shirt.  This is so nice!!!  We were notified first thing this morning that our insurance company is going to provide us with one year of rent up front.  We do not have to go through our insurance agency in order to get into a house and it does not have to be one of the homes they find for us.  Houses are going so quickly in Joplin that it is very difficult to get into a house, apartment, or shack out back with utilities.  What a blessing.  A high school friend contacted me who is a pilot with Delta Airlines.  He is sending me some buddy passes for people to fly in and out of the area.  We have no immediate need, but this is something that could come in handy in the future.  There are so many needs that we are unaware of that it is just nice to be prepared for things like this.  We have not gotten a flat tire.  We are so blessed to have a car that survived, that I am hoping with all the nails around that we will be able to get out of this mess without having to replace a tire.

I got up and ate one of the best breakfast sandwiches of my life.  When I awoke this morning I was craving a sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich.  My hosts had one and it was so good.  Talk about God providing for all my needs when I would have just eaten cold cereal or a cup of coffee.  I was able to watch old “Bugs Bunny” and “Tom and Jerry” cartoons on Cartoon Network today.  It was nice to laugh at nothing as I lay under my newly laundered only slightly stained memory quilt.  I mean now it just has more character.

Josh was in contact with Accenture’s Human Resource Representative who has applied us for the Accenture Charitable Trust Grant for $2500.  We were approved.  She is also trying to get Josh enough PTO for all of June so that he can continue to take care of our little family.  Again the generosity of the people we know has brought us to tears. 

Some of today was very hard.  I do not want to dwell on that.

One amazing thing that happened today was that we got some more of my family heirlooms out of the house.  We went back for a badly mangled table that I was super fixated on.  I know this is stress and loss.  When we got there I was not in appropriate foot attire and as I got out of the car, I stepped on a nail.  It did not penetrate the skin, but I will probably never wear flip flops again.  (This is a rather jaw dropping statement.)  And yes I did get a tetanus shot after we left as a preemptive measure.  As I was sitting in our car, Josh went and got the table.  I decided I would open the door and see who was around and saw that there was a fire department truck from Weber, Missouri.  I stopped them as we needed to get the license plates off our vehicle for insurance purposes and while there they offered to get anything out of the house we needed.  I asked Josh if there was any way our drop leaf table could have survived and he humored me and looked.  It was under our living room wall being stepped on, rained on, and tornado-ed.  Josh and three firemen moved the wall and pulled out my almost intact drop leaf table.  It was amazing.  I realized that this was all I cared about for the most part.  I do not think I will be going back for a while.  It is a strange feeling.

We also met a photographer from the New York Times who was photographing our area.  The New York Times is trying to reproduce the shots taken by Google Earth of many streets in Joplin.  This will give a better before and after shot of our street.  He was saying many interesting things and was going to take some photographs for us and email us copies.  Josh had a great idea to frame some of these images to remind us later that we need to be mindful of how stuff is only temporary.  I have a wonderful husband.

Just to mention, Josh and I were married four years ago today.  May 27, 2007 was our happy day and we are both truly thankful for both being here to share another year together.  We have had a really excellent year despite the tornado.  Over the past 17 months we have gone to 23 states including Hawaii in December 2009.  We have seen many baseball parks and experienced quite a few wonderful things.  I have been blessed more than I could have asked or imagined.  He is a wonderful perfect match for me and I cringe at what the alternative could have been just days ago. 

We received word that Josh’s office has given us money that was a significant amount considering we are in Joplin.  We have received almost $5,000 in donations alone.  This does not include other in kind donations of respite, food, clothing, and airline tickets.  We are truly blessed.