Wednesday, February 29, 2012

We've Been Everywhere

Dear friends and family,

Just wanted to give you an update since we haven't had a chance to post since this past November. We haven't quite been everywhere, but we have traveled more than is the norm for our family.

The pictures we've included aren't really in the proper order but we thought we'd include them anyway.:)

For those of you who don't know, our family, along with many others, was affected by the April 27, 2011 tornadoes in Alabama. We lost our husband/father, some were injured, and the house was destroyed.

I'd like to thank those of you who have prayed for us and bring you up to date as to where we are and where we have been these past months and since our last post.

Following the tornado, we stayed in the home of dear friends and then in the home of my mother. My two oldest daughters went from the hospital to the home of dear friends who have a wheelchair accessable apartment in their basement and who took very special care of them until they could be brought to our temporary home. Our temporary home was graciously provided by sweet friends who also prepared a room for the girls on the main floor and whose church family also built a wheelchair ramp for them to be able to navigate more easily. This home was about an hour from the valley we'd lived in. Many many people offered us homes in which to stay and we are deeply grateful to each of you and to all the above families:)

My older sons traveled to the valley each day to work with others on the repair of the Railroad House (our next stop and home of dear friends whose ministry we served in a small way) and next door to where we lived when the tornado hit. The house restoration was being planned and repaired by a very dedicated, talented, and generous group of people and many volunteers and families who gave up their own projects for many months. We initially thought we would be moving in the Railroad House as soon as it was ready and then re-building next door or very nearby. We had found a house plan which we liked and thought would work for our family.

The rest of us spent the early months mostly with family members at the hospital and then to physical therapy and doctors appointments and handling the many matters which need to be taken care of following such an event in the life of a family. There were also many trips to be made and many memories made while we journeyed:)

Friends, churches, family, my husband and son's employer and co-workers, companies, and even strangers surrounded us, supported us, cleaned up and sorted things scattered all about, and blessed us in more ways than I can begin to describe. Never have we seen such an outpouring of love, support, prayers, and acts of kindness. THANK YOU!

We moved back to Shoal Creek Valley and into the Railroad House in October and stayed there until the first of the new year. It was a time of being back where we had lived and loved and laughed with our Tom and a time of realizing fully that we were there and he was not. But God's grace is sufficient, He is GOOD, and we are more grateful for His mercies and for the time we have together.

Those months were also spent in much prayer as our plans for rebuilding in the valley didn't seem to be working out. Our desire was to be wherever the Lord would have us live. We began to look at other options and at less expensive farmland and possibly a house that was already built and move-in ready. We couldn't wait to find out where we'd end up living. We eventually found out and we have been here in our new (actually very old) home for a couple of months now.

A picture of the BEAUTIFULLY repaired kitchen in the Railroad House.
Another picture of one of the bedrooms. The house was an absolute mess the night the tornado hit. The outdoor picnic table was in the living room, windows were blown out, furniture looked as though it had been thrown about, and a bed and a VERY large tree was in the ceiling of the house and on the roof.
A picture of the living/dining room.

The walls and floors were sanded and stained again and windows replaced.
Entry picture.

The French table above was given to us by a sweet family whom we've never met. It was counter top height. We shortened the legs so as to be able to use regular chairs. It is almost as long as the one my husband made (10 feet) and we are very happy to have it in our home. Our family of fourteen can be seated comfortably around this table. The wonderful long bench of chairs came from Texas and seats seven.
My sweet cousin drove almost two hours on one of her off days and gave all of us a haircut. It was the first "real" haircut most of our crew had ever had! Thanks:)
The girls at work in the new kitchen in the Railroad House:0
Catching up on studies....and correspondence.
All the various covers and quilts and such were sent by many different people. We were amazed by how all the different pieces just seemed to fit and work for our family:)
At work on projects and enjoying the many art supplies provided by so many.
The chicken is a familiar piece and doorstop which survived the tornado. Aren't the cabinets pretty?
The above picture is of Fulmer's General Store which is near Hattisburg, Mississippi. We traveled there to visit with a friend of my sons and to replace some of the horse drawn equipment he lost in the storm.
They sell wonderful Amish cheese and also have a little restaurant in their store.
They also have many antiques and natural foods.
Posted the above picture by mistake. Just another picture of us traveling in the van. We tried to keep plenty of reading materials and audio tapes available as we were in a vehicle a LOT.

The Fulmers also have a number of little cabins on their farm. They have an annual Pecan Festival and they also provide history tours for students.

Outside one of their cabins.
The kitty always had one eye closed.

In the vehicle again....but happy:)

The Wests loading up another puppy for us to take home. We lost the one they gave to us before the storm. Thanks!
On the road again and making a breakfast stop..
We found the replacement bedding for the boys on our trip to Texas.
A dear family allowed us to stay in the "White House". Their guest house is decorated with LOTS of historical memorabilia. We learned a lot of history just looking around and reading what was on the walls and shelves of their home.

The "White House"
Judson was thrilled to get to sit on big brothers lap and "drive" while on a private road in Texas:)
The above is a picture of many who worked in the valley repairing the Railroad House.
A picture of the outside of the house. Several families left their campers for months and they were available to be used by those who worked on the project.
No trees left:(
A wonderful vehicle provided to replace the one we lost...BLESS YOU!
Finding beauty in the everyday. Don't you just love wildflowers?
Another very generous family allowed us to stay in their lovely lake house when we needed a place for a short time.
Children caught some nice fish:)
Moving in day at the Railroad House! Grandmother and others brought lots of food:) Thanks!

Liked the picture of the boots lined up in the Railroad House.

Time spent at my mother's house..
My brother spent his birthday taking the family out in his boat. The boat broke down and all were stranded and had to be towed by a neighbor. It was still lots of fun and a memory was made and his boat was still under warranty:)
The birthday boy!
Pretty sunset:)
Just a picture we took while in Georgia visiting with friends. We thought at the time that we'd be building a house. We were looking for ideas and paint colors and took pictures anytime we were out and saw something of interest.
The family received a very special gift of dolls and books which replaced many of the titles we had before the storm. The books were DEVOURED by all, and the girls loved the dolls.
A lovely sewing basket and supplies were given, but we were unable to use them until about a week ago because of space issues, time, and the fact that they had to be in storage until we moved. We just recently received the boxes of cloth and machines out of storage and we can't WAIT to open them and begin sewing and making some curtains for the house. A big THANK YOU to some of the most generous, talented, and thoughtful ladies EVER:)

A VERY cute puppy given to us by dear friends in Georgia.
On the road again and trying to redeem the time with some audio learning.

Wading in the Buffalo River. We stayed in a TINY but cute little cabin.

Helped with some repairs at a friends' house before their CD release party:)
The tiny cabin. We fit like sardines in a can:)
Listening to the music at the party??
Traveled down many a country road these past months.
The Little Store.
We were given a weeks stay on the beach in September:)
Preparing to drive the dune buggies:)
The water was clear and beautiful:) Two sisters enjoy the view:)
My brother met us there for the weekend and took the fellas deep sea fishing:) Was the first time we'd been to the beach together in more than ten years:)

Some of us on the beach just before leaving for home.

No one got sea sick:)

We had the pool to ourselves for the entire week. Since there are so many of us, our plan had been to clear out should anyone else show up to swim. But they never did. Little Man had a wonderful time. Many thanks to the thoughtful family who made our trip possible.

A pretty old barn in Texas. We always visit a park while there and learn all we can from the historians who work there. More about that in another post. We were also able to visit with the dearest people while in Texas and we were also able to attend church with them. ALWAYS a special treat. What a BLESSING they've been to our family. We love you!

A picture of some of the girls and Judson along with their physical therapists and Victoria. They officially graduated in November, and Tiffiny finished the medication for the blood clot and had her last visit with the neurologist in December. They spent LOTS of time at physical therapy and received WONDERFUL care. They, along with the owner, are some of the kindest and most generous people on earth. THANK YOU! They also had the most WONDERFUL and generous doctor and staff at St. Vincent's East. THANK YOU!! And so many of our friends and relatives who are in the medical field offered their skills and are so knowledgeable and gave us the best advice and care. THANK YOU!!! The girls walk and run and are able to do all the things they did before the storm, and we are grateful. And Jacob has totally healed as well. Everyone has. Thank you for your prayers.

December was spent preparing to move and spending as much time with friends and family as possible. We were also able to visit again with many of our dear relatives on my husbands side of the family. They were full of surprises, and we enjoyed being with family and friends who were celebrating a sister and brother-in-laws wedding anniversary:) They've always been so supportive and such a blessing to us. We love you:)

We are getting settled here on the farm and adjusting to our new life and community. We thank you again for your prayers and for your interest in how we are doing as a family. May God bless you.