Monday, June 3, 2013

Perspectives (part 2)

In my last post, I ended by talking about prayer.  Prayer during a storm.  Storms happens frequently in this part of the country (especially this year, in this particular spot.)  Since I'm talking about perspectives, I'll let you in on a little secret:

Everybody has one--a perspective, that is.

 And it's different, not only from person to person, but also from time to time.  An overweight mother of four does not have the same perspective that a skinny, single, college girl has.  Does that make one of them wrong?  Not necessarily.  That makes them different.

The sticky thing you get into with perspectives is when you decide that someone else is wrong because of the perspective they have.  Some call it judgement, but I call it not holding your tongue.  "Just because you can say something (and it might be truthful), doesn't mean you should say something."

It seems as though everyone and their grandmother have an opinion about these storms, about the storm chasers, about those who lost everything, about the teachers who prayed.  No problem.  Does everyone need to share those opinions with the ones who just went through this horrible tragedy?  Not so much.

I'm going to give a little rebuttal to some of the things I've heard in the last couple of weeks.
(Disclaimer: I am writing this from my perspective....on the fringe.  I haven't lost everything.  I didn't lose a loved one.  This time, I didn't even have any damage. But my friends did, and these are some things I learned by listening--not talking--to them.)

For the teacher who prayed: Good for you!  Not because you went "against the rules about prayer in schools", but because you protected those kids to the best of your ability.  You didn't force your students to pray (as if there was time for that!), and you didn't lose your job because of it (contrary to the unbelievable Internet rumor spreading wildly.)

For those who would protest at a child's funeral:  I won't mention you by name because that would just give you the publicity you desire (even though there's only 3 people who read this blog.)  What you are doing does not accomplish anything.  You are not what you say you are, and you turn others toward your hate by inciting them to anger.  I wish I could say that I would be the one to give a cup of cold water in the name of Christ, but I'm afraid that I would only accomplish your purpose, not God's, if I ever meet any of you.  All I can do is pray for you--that you don't turn anyone else to hate with your religion.

For those who criticize people who live here:  You've obviously never weathered a storm of any kind.  While these storms are the most brutal thing nature can bring, they also bring something amazing--the helpers.
There is nothing that can swallow you up with both pride and humility at the same time as being approached by a stranger who says, "I am here to help you."  There are those who do this for a "living" like the policemen, firemen, and military; and there are some who stop what they are doing just to make sure their neighbor is okay.  ALL of them come together, work together, and accomplish great things together for the benefit of someone other than themselves.  You should try it sometime--putting someone else before yourself--it is truly an amazing thing.

For those who come to sightsee:  Go home! If you are here to help cleanup, thank you, but please put your cameras away.  If someone wants to take pictures of their destroyed home so they have a memorial of what they survived, they have that right.  And, while you have the right to take pictures of their stuff, it is incredibly tacky to film their loss for your pleasure.  I know the devastation is incredible, and it is hard to turn your eyes away when it stretches as far as you can see.  Please don't take for granted, though, that this is someone else's home turned inside out.  If you wouldn't normally see it driving down the street, don't take pictures of it laying out in their neighbor's yard.

For those who criticize the weatherman: Storms like this cover miles and miles.  They damage or destroy thousands and thousands of homes, businesses, and sometimes schools.  Every single life lost is a tragic thing, but if you look at the storm's path, it is truly unbelievable that there weren't more lives lost.  Truly.  Had it not been for the scientists, the weather reporters, and the storm chasers that number could have been so much higher.  And, while I know the feeling I get in my gut when there's going to be a bad storm, and I know the look of the sky when the clouds get black and start to swirl; there is no way I could warn others on where to go, how bad it might be, or what direction it's heading.  That's why I listen to someone else with a more experienced perspective.

For those who want to introduce immediate legislation to get everyone a shelter less than 24 hours after a storm (and this is where I'm probably going to make people mad): It's not the government's job to get everyone a shelter.  When you live in this part of the country, you have to make choices based on what is important to you.  Do storms like this happen every week, every month, or every year?  No.  These storms are rare, but they do incredible damage.  From my perspective, this is another opportunity for neighbor to help neighbor.  If you have shelter, let someone else in.  It's as simple as that.  You have to decide if a shelter is worth the money you'll have to spend.  What is a life worth?  What is it worth if this only happens once every 10-15 years?

As far as the schools, those teachers are not to blame.  Neither are the administrators.  Nor the school board, builders, etc.  We learn from history.  Unfortunately, we learn when we lose lives.  These storms don't happen every day.  We also knew from the time we woke up that these storms were going to be bad.  While you can't keep your children home every time there's a risk, there are times you get to be the parent and override any other deadline you may have.  Some parents kept their kids home, some picked theirs up early, and some left their children there.  None are wrong.  Not even the ones who are now grieving.  They did the best they could, and they don't need our criticism or our suggestions right now.  They need our friendship and our love.  We'll learn from this, and maybe we'll make different decisions, but now is not the time.

Wow! This turned into a long post.  I'm guessing you probably get where I'm going with this.  During times like these, it's easy to have all the answers--especially when you're sitting hundreds of miles away. This isn't the first time this has happened, and I'm sure it won't be the last.   We don't need answers right now.  We need helpers, love, and a little time to make sure we keep things in the right perspective.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Perspectives (part 1)

Since most of the people who read this blog are friends of mine, you all know where I live.  Most everyone who doesn't live under a rock knows what happened on Sunday and Monday.  Something that happens when you live in this part of the country--tornadoes.  Since then, I've seen all kinds of posts: from "what are they thinking..." to "why don't they..."  to "don't mess with us".  I'm here to tell you that people have all kinds of different perspectives when it comes to events like this.  These are some that I've seen, some that are my own, and some that come from some wise friends of mine.  

First, a little history....

I was born in Pueblo, CO, but I have lived 30 of my 35 years in Oklahoma (3 of the other 5, I lived in Kansas--another state in "tornado alley") so I have experienced my share of severe weather.  Four tornado events have made an impact on my memories so I base most of my tornado knowledge on those.  The first was when I was in 1st or 2nd grade.  I do not know exactly when it was or how powerful.  I know it hit in Ardmore, OK where we were gathered with another family in their hallway.  Their daughter was dropped off from a school event, and she received a nasty gash on the head when she fell over a fence that had been flung into their yard.  But, she did make it in safely, and their house did not sustain any damage.

The second tornado that made an impact on my life was on May 3, 1999.  I lived and worked in Blanchard, OK at the time, and I watched the storm from the south as it tracked across the county.  I had friend living in Bridge Creek, Newcastle, and Moore at the time, and it completely rocked our little communities.  A young man that was a good friend stopped by my house a few days later.  He had first aid training so he had volunteered in Bridge Creek, only to be put to work in the makeshift morgue.  He stopped by to "talk" and tell me about some of the things he had seen, and he wept as he recounted the stories.  Thankful that God had shown me this young man's heart, I married him the very next year :)

The third tornado was only two short years ago (on this very day).  I blogged about it here.  After a day with lots of kiddos at my house, I was left with only my four children.  Thankfully, my father-in-law was also there to get into the cellar with me.  Seeing the tornado headed straight for us, we locked the door, prayed and waited.  When we emerged, we saw that it had taken a sharp right turn, missing us, but hitting our neighbors, friends, and family.  It's hard to describe how we can be thankful that something so powerful missed us but still so very heartbroken about the devastation to those who we love. Those are amazingly complex emotions.

This last tornado has also made a profound imprint on my life.  It dropped out of the sky just three short miles north of my Mom's house.  Once again, that complex mix of thankfulness and sadness are flooding my home.  We are close enough to be affected emotionally, but far enough that we weren't affected physically.  

Now for the perspectives:

This is my home, where I grew up, and where I make my life now.  I drive down the highway that first felt this monster on a weekly basis (my husband drives it on a daily basis.) As we follow its path, I see that it destroyed the place where my Mom used to work when we first moved to this town. I see that it narrowly missed the part of town where the Walmart, Braum's, my bank, the first place I held a job, and several other often highly populated areas (thankfulness, because it could have been so much worse.), but then it ripped through the homes that were sitting right behind those stores (sadness for those who were losing everything--possibly even loved ones.) I see that it ripped down the old bridge--the one that has stood for years, the one that we used to sneak onto when we would go out with the girls, the one that has been a landmark seemingly forever. I see that, as it passed over the current bridge, that it tossed cars off of it like they were children's toys. It's path traveled down 149th, "the shortcut to Moore", took out the farm where my daughter was at a field trip less than a week before (MAJOR thankfulness), and then it headed for more homes, one of which belonged to my very best friend, and still a list of others who lost their homes or sustained major and minor damage.  It tore through schools, neighborhoods, a hospital, and the movie theater.  It scattered debris along side streets, main streets, and across two major interstates.  And then, it just spun out...fizzled...gone....as quickly as it came.  And you turned around, and all you could see was destruction in its wake.  

That is my perspective.  How I saw it from the outskirts.  I imagine that the feelings were magnified 100-fold for those who had to ride it out in the closets, cellars, hallways, bank vaults, and even cars racing out of its path.  Minor damage or major damage, it would be absolutely terrifying to know that monster was heading in your direction.  People will be insensitive, derogatory, and questioning; but the fact is, until you've been in that situation, you can't tell anyone else what to do.  Yes, there are right things and wrong things, but sometimes the right things aren't available, so you have to do the next best thing.  Just ask the teachers that did the best that they could, but still lost their students.  Ask the family of the mother and child who sought shelter, but that shelter didn't protect them.  Everyone in the state of Oklahoma knows that you shouldn't try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle (except the storm chasers, but that's a whole different story!), but when a vehicle is all you have to get you out of the storm's path, then you do what you have to do.  

And you pray...

A school teacher is getting a lot of publicity for what she said about prayer in schools, but it's true.  When a storm is bearing down on you, you pray.  You pray OUT LOUD.  You pray until it's over.  And when it's done, if you're still around to pray, you pray some more.  Period. At least, that's how we do it here, in tornado alley, where the storms come.  

Monday, April 29, 2013

Disappointed? Not so much!

Yesterday, was the day of my second half-marathon.  Last year, I ran the Oklahoma City Memorial Half-Marathon just 20 days after my Dad passed away.  I had trained hard for it, and I ran it for him :)  This year, life was a little more complicated (hard to believe, but true) so I didn't train as faithfully*** This is an important note to remember as you read this post. These are the completely random thoughts that I had as I ran/jogged/walked/limped my 13.1 miles yesterday.



1. I've never been to any other "big" races before so I don't have much to base this on, but the OKC Memorial Marathon is the most moving and amazing race.  It truly honors and remembers those who were lost on 4/19/95.  
2. Almost 25,000 runners in downtown OKC.  If that won't motivate you, nothing will!
3. Everything about this race is amazing: the runners (top-notch!), the spectators (unbelievable), the volunteers (completely selfless, really!) Yes, I'm gushing, but there was not a single bad moment at all in the whole time I was downtown.  From the guy who let me park for free because I was a runner to the woman who handed me my finishers medals to the people along the course who were holding signs to cheer on complete strangers, the whole experience was inspiring.
4. I totally believe God had complete control of my playlist.  As I got to the bottom of Gorilla Hill, and I was looking at the banner above it wondering if I would make it, "Dear X, You Don't Own Me" by Disciple came on.  Not my normal music, but it works great on a running playlist.  Just passed mile 9 (the EXACT same place as last year), I heard "God's Not Dead" by Newsboys--exactly what I needed to get me on to those last few miles.  And, as I rounded the corner to head to the finish line, "The Final Countdown" by Europe--no lie!  It was awesome, and I'm really thankful that I managed to get music before the race, because the little training I did, I didn't have music.
5. There were amazing people along the race course.  We honestly didn't go fifteen feet without someone holding a sign and cheering.  I LOVE those people who came out on a Sunday morning to cheer us on.  No, they weren't running, but they were a HUGE part of helping so many people finish.
6. I don't know the name of the neighborhood, but it is one of the nicest in OKC.  There are people who sit out on the sidewalk, offer water bottles, and hold signs for the runners.  Of course, they don't have many options: leave the neighborhood before the race starts and the road is closed, or stay and enjoy the festivities.  Thank you!
7. The sea of red sox--completely moving!
8. I didn't get to see an old friend because of the mass of people, but he saw me running and cheered for me.  There's just something about knowing someone is cheering you on (even if you don't see them) that motivates you to keep going.
9. He was there cheering for his brother, who finished 3rd in the half-marathon just a couple weeks after an amazing finish at Boston.
10. Even though I am a totally slow half-marathoner, the moment that I hear the sirens to tell me to move over because the super-fast marathoners are PASSING me, I am so excited.  I do not think, "Oh, running is so easy for them."  All I can think is how much blood, sweat, and tears they have put into training, and I cry and cheer them on.  (Yes, I cry while running. Don't judge me.)
11. My husband, who does not run, always says that he is going to start running after I finish a big race.  That makes me smile to know that even though he sees me hurting or bummed about a slow finish, I have inspired him to do what I love.
12.  My husband also takes on the huge task on that Sunday morning of taking our four children, getting them ready, and off to church on time without me.  He does it without complaint, and he is always encouraging me along the race course by text.  I am so thankful for him and his support!
13. My kids, four of the many reasons why I run, are amazing! They are ALWAYS asking when they can do a race with me, and I love getting to run with them.
14. Back to Gorilla Hill....I know if I can make it to that yellow house on the corner, the rest of the race is downhill (for the most part.)  Best water stop ever!
15. This year I did the race completely alone.  I had friends that were running it, but we had different paces so we just did our own thing.  It was nice, but hard to get pics!  However, when I approached a total stranger to take my picture at the finish line, he happily obliged.  I'm telling you, EVERYONE was amazingly kind at this race.
16.  To the firefighters in full gear, I applaud you.  I was so happy to see the people cheering you on, patting your shoulders, and showing you respect.  
17. To the officers, in uniform and in plain clothes, thank you for allowing us to feel safer. I tried to thank as many as I could, but there were just too many.
18. To the volunteers, thank you for giving of your time to work at this event.  You made it great!
19. To the survivors and family members of the victims, thank you for allowing us to run in memory of your losses.
20. To the runners who finished before me, great job! I have no grand illusions of a first place finish (although those who know my competitive nature might argue), but hopefully next year, I'll be hot on your heels.
21. To the runners who finished behind me, great job! Even if you finish in the very last place, you did more than millions of Americans yesterday morning.  Be proud of your accomplishment, and wear your medal with pride.
22. To all my friends and family who offered prayers and encouraging words yesterday, thank you! I received so much more support than I deserve or expected, and you all made me feel so special.  I truly have an amazing support system, and you make me want to do the same for others.  
23. Since I still can't find anything bad about the race, I will say that the muscles on the ride side of my body from the waist down completely locked up around mile 12.  I really had no choice but to keep going, but I'm sure I looked awful to those who were watching.  Thankfully, they were numb by the finish line, and I managed to run/hobble across.  ***See note above, and remind me of it when I start training next year!

Having said all of that (and it was a lot, but you have a lot of things run through your head when you run that far), I just want to say my finish could have been disappointing.  I finished 30 minutes slower than last year, but I can't be disappointed.  Someday, I'll run for time, but right now, I just run.  So if any of you want to run it with me next year, I'll totally be ready!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Vegan Forever

About 2 months ago, I decided to embark on this wild & crazy adventure--a vegan adventure!  After some friends mentioned their success on the Engine 2 Diet, I decided to try it for myself.  Being the skeptic that I am, I wasn't just going to see what happened.  I needed documentation.  So, I went to the doctor and had some basic blood work done. 

That was the first eye-opener.  For a fairly young mother of four, who exercises semi-regularly, and has even done crazy things like running a half-marathon; I was not as fit as my body tried to tell me!  My beginning numbers looked like this:

  • Weight--149 pounds
  • Height--5ft 4in
  • Glucose--99
  • Triglyceride--88
  • Cholesterol--197
  • LDL--131
  • HDL--52
  • BMI--25.6 (overweight)
While these numbers are well within the "normal" range*, I have recently witnessed the horribly painful death of someone very close to me because of poor heart health.  I definitely understand that you cannot predict the day or time that you die, and that it is futile to try to prevent your body from aging.  But, I also firmly believe that we were given these earthly bodies as a gift from God, and we are to care for them like we do anything else on this earth--to the best of our abilities. 

*And, anyone who knows me also knows that I'm just not very good at accepting the "normal" label. 

I tried this Engine 2 Diet for 7 1/2 weeks, and I liked it.  Now, there were some recipes that we are definitely NOT trying again.  I did find some that are now weekly dinners, and I have some others that I can go to in a pinch.  I have even become confident enough to look at recipes online and find the ones that apply to the way I want to eat.  (I'm not quite to the point of being able to craft my own recipes, but I might be willing to attempt one soon!)

After my time was up, I went back to the doctor to have my bloodwork redrawn.  Because my glucose was normal and the insurance wouldn't pay for a new test, I just did the lipid profile.  When the PA called with the test results, she was obviously excited.  Not only had I lost weight, but my choloesterol had dropped significantly.  So, for those who are interested, these are my NEW, shiny numbers:

  • Weight--134 pounds
  • Height--5ft 4in
  • Glucose--***
  • Triglyceride--34
  • Cholesterol--148
  • LDL--96
  • HDL--47
  • BMI--23.0 (Healthy)
My plan was to try this "diet" for a month, maybe two.  I think a better plan might be for me just to make a change in my life to accomodate some healthy eating.  My body is telling me it just might be worth it!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

You Don't Eat Meat?!?!

A few weeks ago, some friends of mine were posting absolutely yummilicious recipes on Facebook.  So yummy that I was inspired to start asking some questions.  These weren't your regular, butter & cream, Southern recipes that I was used to seeing.  These included words like vegan, flourless, and heart-healthy.  So, I did some research. 
It turns out that my friends had tried a diet called the Engine 2 Diet.
First of all, let me say that this is NOT some fad diet.  It is a plant-based, whole foods, meat products-free, heart healthy diet.  People have done this for years--they're the crunchy ones that everyone looks at strangely.  Doctors have promoted this for years--the author's father is actually a notable cardiologist who makes a convincing argument.  Even Biblical figures have used this diet--think Daniel refusing the king's meat!

I didn't want this to be some rash decision that I just jumped into so I asked my husband to read the book.  My carnivore husband. Imagine my shock and surprise when he agreed with the author and even agreed to try this new diet with me ("It's only for 28 days!")  We decided this would just be a family event, and we promoted it to the kiddos who were fairly enthusiastic.

We spent our last meat-filled week "cleaning out" our cabinets and refrigerator of all the bad foods mentioned in the book.  (And by cleaning out, I mean eating them up because my family doesn't like to throw food away!)  I also went to my family PA, and I asked her to get me some basic numbers (Height, Weight, Blood Sugar, Total Cholesterol, HDL, LDL, Triglycerides).  Then, I printed out a Week One menu and shopping list from the website, and off to Whole Foods I went.

I'm not gonna lie. That first week was pricey! I spent about 2 1/2 times our normal weekly grocery budget, but I had anticipated a pretty big price jump.  What I didn't realize is that we didn't use some of that stuff.  Some of the recipes on the site included soy, and we had opted to keep the soy out of our diet.  Also, after making some of the recipes, we decided that we won't be making them again!  We have found lots of ways that we can alter our "regular" recipes to make them vegan, and we've also found tons of great new recipes that we love.

After some encouragement from some of my friends to blog about my adventure, I decided to start writing about my daily struggles and victories during this "diet".  The biggest thing so far has been explaining to people what we're doing.  When we say we've given up meat and are eating whole foods, the answer is always, "You don't eat meat?! You have to eat meat! Your body can't survive without meat!"
Every.
Single.
Time.

You don't realize how ingrained it is for Americans to eat heavily processed foods including meat products.  The first week I sort of missed some of our regular foods, but the newness of the adventure was still there.  The second week, I realized that I was eating really great food, and I didn't miss that stuff as much.  The third week, it made me almost physically ill to walk down some of the aisles in the grocery store and realize how much of that food was not only not very tasty, but also dangerously bad for my body. 

I've realize that my way of thinking is changing, and my body is changing, too!  I guess that means this "diet" is working.  I'm three weeks into it, but I plan on doing it full-force for at least six weeks.  After that, I'm hoping to keep it up as much as possible, but we will see with the holidays rapidly approaching.  I'll end this post with my beginning stats, and I'll try to update as much as possible.  Leave me a comment and tell me the things you'd like for me to tell you or questions that you might have!

  • Weight--149 pounds
  • Height--5ft 4in
  • Glucose--99
  • Triglyceride--88
  • Cholesterol--197
  • LDL--131
  • HDL--52
  • BMI--25.6 (overweight)
Oy!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Getting Fit

Last year, in June, I posted about my goals of running a few 5ks and my desire to lose weight.  I half-hearted did it the last part of June and some of July, but in August, something inside of me clicked.  I honestly cannot tell you what it was, but I knew that if I was EVER going to do anything for my health, it would have to be NOW.

So, on August 15th, I started the C25K (Couch to 5k) plan.  I worked the whole plan, sometimes repeating a week so I could catch up.  I finished it, and I ran my first 5k for real in 40 minutes.  I realized I loved running, and my husband realized I was serious.  What a strange combination!

I lost 20 pounds in the process, and I began sleeping better and eating better.  It was a natural progression, and it just morphed into a total lifestyle change. 

In 2012, I ran a 5k in January, and a 10k in Febuary.  I was supposed to run a 15k in March, but for personal reasons, I had a friend run that race for me.  I did, however, finish my first half-marathon on April 29th in 2 hours and 40 minutes.  You'd think after all that running that I would be done.

Not anywhere close!!

I did take a running break to relax a little and catch up with my kids, but I'm back on track now.  I'm doing some of the last half of my half-marathon training program, and I'll start my marathon training during the next month.

Yes, I said (typed) MARATHON.

26.2 miles.....not meters.....miles

One year ago, I would never have imagined that I could run a marathon (and there are definitely days that I still have my doubts!)  But, I am going to try.  I'm so excited and scared. 

I'm so thankful for all the runners who have encouraged me along the way.  They say that running is a solitary sport, and it is.  But, while you may physically run alone, you never run alone.  It is very difficult to stay motivated and on-track all by yourself.  Thankfully, the running community is filled with people who are always willing to give a "Good job!", "Way to go!" or "You can do this!" at just the needed time!

I'm also thankful for my non-running friends who have encouraged me even though they think they could "never do it" (even though I'm sure most of the could. After all, I did!)  Not one time did anyone tell me that I was wasting my time or that I wouldn't succeed.  All those fears I had about myself were just in my head.  No one ever spoke those things I thought about myself. (Do you think there's some sort of lesson there?!)

Now, I'm going to name some names!

First, I had an awesome race partner, CJ.  I've known her since high school, and she's an awesome motivator and friend.  I could not have finished any of my races this year without her--she's awesome.

Second, my family is beyond words.  My Mom & Dad totally supported me running.  Babysitting for long runs or races was always ok, and they always had Academy gift cards so I could buy running gear.  My husband, Kevin, was a little hesitant at first, but he is ALWAYS 100% supportive!  And my beautiful children, Abi, Hannah, Connor, & Jada, are the absolute best cheerleaders!!

Third, I have friends online and in real life that offered the kindest words of encouragement.  Katie Cook (who ran the marathon when I did the half), Stefanie Shockley, Tara, Brette & Joel, Mary Ellen, Amanda, Lucretia, Connie, Amber, Tammy, Chandelle, Crystal, Jennifer, Jenn, Shannon, Cassie, Laura, Charlie, Deborah, and all the other "Sistas" whose names I cannot always remember. 

I have a few people that I consider running "mentors".  Some I have never met. Some inspired me to begin running.  Some I met after I began running, but they have encouraged me to keep pushing myself to new challenges.  So, Jenn & Barbie, we will meet some day and run together! Jodie, you'll always be younger (& probably faster), but I'll race with you any day! Erin Henderson, I am totally rooting for you to qualify in 2016!  Jason Butler, we don't live that far from each other and we are bound to finally meet at a race this year, but you are going to do awesome in Boston!

What about you?  Are you running? Swimming? Encouraging? Being encouraged?  Let me know about your goals and mentors.

Fading Scars

One year ago (and a few days), I posted about a vicious storm that ripped through my area.  I showed the pictures of the devastion just one-quarter mile from my home.  I spoke of the faith and generosity of the people in this area that jumped to help one another.  What an amazing and terrifying time!

Now, it is one year later.  New homes sit where the old ones had been wiped away. Storm shelters are inside or outside most of the new houses. The trees are green and so is the grass.  A new oil rig sits whirring every hour of the day (much to the annoyance of the neighbors--me included!)  It seems as though healing has begun....

And it has, but...

There are scars.  Lots of 'em.

There are the trees that will never have leaves again.  There are the expanses of land that still have no grass--just a fine covering of topsoil where the grass was sucked from the ground.  There are the giant balls of twisted metal that no one has had time to remove from the pastures.

Then, there are the people.  Some were injured physically during the storm, but they all have a mental battle to fight.

Storms don't stop in Oklahoma.  Just last week, while at the ball game, my kids and I had to race to the van and drive the opposite way of the house just to avoid a hail storm.  When you've weathered a tornado, you might think you wouldn't be afraid any more, but it doesn't quite work that way. 

Anytime someone faces a major battle in life, there are scars.  It doesn't matter if it is physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, God gives a reminder--a memorial, so to speak--of the battle that was fought.  In Joshua chapter 4, God has the Israelites make a memorial of stones in the place where they crossed into the Promised Land.  God gives us these scars as a reminder of the work He has done in our lives.  Some reminders everyone can see, like the place where the metal has sliced open a man's head.  Some reminders no one can see, like the memory of that loved one that was ripped from your arms by the twirling wind.

Some scars never change, but most begin to fade with the passing of time. 

As I drive by the properties affected by last year's storm, I pray that God will let me use the scars in my life as a memorial for all the work He has done in the last year.  So many things, so many lessons, so many reasons to praise Him for His faithfulness.  In every situation, His hand was upon me. I pray for the families who deal daily with the scars from this particular storm, and I pray for those whose scars cannot be seen.  "Treat everyone you meet with the love of Christ for you do not know the battle they are fighting."  seems so appropriate when I'm reminded of the grace and mercy that people have shown me during my battles this year. 

Do you have scars?  Visible?  Invisible?  I pray that you will not see them as a reminder of all that is bad that you experienced in life, but as a reminder of the ways that God has worked in your life.