Oklahoma and Goliath

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Our area was impacted by winter storm “Goliath”, but just as in the biblical story of David and Goliath, the Lord protected us from this giant which hurled not spears of brass, but of ice and sleet. We had had lovely, sunny, mild weather all week, so this change was a drastic one. Strong winds and heavy rain began on Saturday afternoon. This turned into sleet and ice by Sunday morning as the thermometer dipped 30 degrees colder. Our services were cancelled on Sunday, not only because of the slick conditions, but also because of the 50 mile per hour winds. This “blizzard force” wind lasted Saturday, all day Sunday, and Monday morning. By Sunday night, our power lines had taken all they could and gave way leaving us in the dark.

And let me tell you, our house is dark. I have made it through a few strong storms in Oklahoma (if you’ve lived here longer than a month, then you probably have, too) but this was the first time we lost power. When the power went off at 9 PM Sunday, the darkness was palpable. I felt my airway constrict like I was suffocating. I know! Isn’t that crazy? Thankfully, I got a grip and we found candles and used our phones for flashlights. Since it was bedtime, we all made our way to bed, beneath lots of blankets since the heat wouldn’t work without electricity. We were blessed not to have needed to eat, so we made sure the fridge and freezer doors stayed closed. The lights came on for about an hour between 2-3 AM, which gave me time to charge my phone to 100%. (Yes, I have my priorities right.) During the night, I could hear the sleet hit the windows, sounding like someone was throwing gravel against the glass. The wind whistled through the eaves and across the chimney pipe, creating a mournful sound in the darkness. I was thankful for strong walls and a good roof!

We all slept late Monday morning on purpose because, well, when you don’t have power, what can you do? We couldn’t do laundry, iron clothes, write blog posts, cook, vacuum, or even shower! The hot water heater has to have electricity, too. We tried to start a fire in the fireplace, but the wood wouldn’t light. The house was growing colder and colder, and we had no idea when the power would be restored, so we got dressed and made our way into town.

The damage from the winds wasn’t wide-spread, but it was noticeable. The awning over the gas pumps at a nearby gas station had fallen, balancing precariously across the pumps. The Subway restaurant sign had turned 180 degrees. Lots of dead tree limbs and trees were toppled, and some living trees were blown over at the roots! When we moved in almost three years ago, we had two dead trees in our backyard. Some sweet folks  in our church helped us cut them down and haul the branches away, and we burned the wood for fuel that winter. I am so thankful that we got rid of them promptly, because had they not fallen before, I feel sure they would have in this recent storm. We were so blessed! We sustained no other damage than the loss of power.

Well, after driving around town for a while, eating lunch at one of the few places that were open, and dropping by the library to pick up a book that had come in, we checked the church to see if there was power there, and there was! We went back home and collected a few blankets and computers to take to church to try to pass the time. We also put our milk and a few other things in the snow to try to save them from being ruined, and turned on our porch light so we could see if the power was back by just driving by the house.

We were only at church for about an hour when a church member, who lives near us, said they had power at their house. They were kind enough to drive by our house to see if we had power (thank goodness for that porch light!) and we did!

We headed home and rejoiced at the sight of lights! We got the heat on and surveyed the damage to our perishable food, which wasn’t much, thanks to the snow and cold temps outside. It didn’t take long to clean up, start laundry and get a much needed shower.

It was a wonderful blessing to awaken today to a warm home, with light! I’m sorry to say that I often take for granted the blessings of electricity, but not today.

With love,

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Snow Days and a New Series

I feel sorry for my friends in the North who have to deal with snow all the time. They have so much of it, that they have to get tons of fancy equipment to scrape it off the roads. They have to have piles of salt to spread out and melt the snow immediately so they can shuffle off to work each day. In the Southwest, we thank our lucky stars when we get to see some of the white stuff. Our mouths gape open in utter amazement. We walk outside, with great trepidation, wondering what this cold, fluffy stuff is. The smallest among us begin to shout for joy! They run around and make snowballs and snow angels and snowmen, even if they are a tad muddy because it’s only 3/4 of an inch of snow. The older ones grab their cameras and begin snapping away, until they have somewhere around a hundred photos that all basically look the same. We shut down schools and stores close their doors. Why? Because of the SNOW! Snow days are like vacation days. You aren’t sick, so you can stay home and do all the things you want to do on vacation. When my mother was expecting me, she was in her first year as a Special Ed. teacher in Jessieville, Arkansas.  She was exhausted and overwhelmed at work. The Lord blessed her with sixteen snow days that year. What a joy those days were! She had more time to figure out the requirements of her new job. The Lord was also helping her rest up for the huge challenge of raising me.

Snow days are a blessing! I hope you can get out and enjoy one.

Or sixteen.

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All bundled up and ready to play! We didn’t have winter gloves, so we used regular gloves and water-proofed them by putting Latex gloves over the regular gloves. It worked well! (Special thanks to my mom for this idea. 🙂 )

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Terry didn’t realize he had so much camo stuff! There is a man there, in case you missed him. 😉

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The dog even got to come in out of the cold.

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Before I go, I wanted to let you know about a new series that I’m starting tomorrow. Spring is around the corner, even for you folks in the great white North, and I thought you might like to start it off by reading Proverbs every day. It’s sort of like a book club. We each read the chapter of Proverbs for the corresponding day (Proverbs 1 on the first, chapter 2 on the second, and so forth). I’ll share a verse here that is a blessing to me, and you can do the same. Or, just let me know you’re participating, without sharing a verse. Or, just read it by flashlight under the covers and tell no one. It’s up to you! So, how ’bout it?

I know it’s a bother to read a blog post every day, but I promise they will be short. You can also subscribe to my blog (see the link in the sidebar) to receive the posts automatically in your email. This series should arrive each day at 6 AM CST, if all goes as planned. There’s no hassle that way, right? Feel free to join me on Facebook, Twitter or Google+  as well. I hope you’ll join me! God’s Word is our necessary food, so why not eat together?

Reporting to you from beneath my fuzzy blanket,

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A New Winter Tradition

Old man winter came blasting its way into our lives on Sunday, February 2nd! It was a church day, and the start to our missions conference. Here is what it looked like as we were leaving:

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The view from our front door. It’s SO beautiful!

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A little hard to see.

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Across the street.

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Our van had a “ledge of snow” on it.

Our guest speaker, Bro. Green, is from Michigan. That’s why I was a little surprised when on our way to church he said, “I’ve never seen roads this bad in all my life!” We’ve seen them like this often. Terry’s driven in much worse – ICE!  I inquired as to how he could say that, since he’s from up north. “They get the plows and clear ’em off in no time.” Ah yes. Plows. Salt. The things of which we here in Oklahoma can only dream. We just blaze our own trail, here. 😉 We got a total of 5-7 inches (depending on where you measured) when it was all said and done.

A friend at church shared a recipe for snow ice cream with me. There was a bit of discussion on whether to use eggs or not. This man, Bro. Randy, ate it with eggs and lived to tell about it. Today, we are advised not to do consume raw eggs. Also, I was informed I should use whole milk. I didn’t have any, so I made do with…skim! I know. A sacrilege. Please forgive me.

Anyway, despite not having whole milk or using eggs, we really enjoyed our FIRST experience eating snow cream! It was delicious!

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This southern girl sure did enjoy this new wintertime treat!  Here’s the recipe we used:

4 cups clean snow

1 cup WHOLE (if available) milk

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

Mix together. Enjoy.

I really hope we get more snow this year and some next year, too, because I want to continue this new tradition. But, I’m learning that here in the wild frontier called Oklahoma, you just never know!

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This recipe is kid approved!

Thanks for reading!

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I Slept Through the Winter Games

I was just outside photographing a few wintry scenes in my yard. We are getting more snow as I type! I love the snow! I grew up in the south where it rarely made an appearance. I suppose you have to have that background to truly appreciate snow – even a dusting! – as much as I do.

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(See it blowing from the roof of our neighbor’s house? Brr!) 🙂

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After I came in from snapping the above photos, I was warming myself up while reading the headlines on my computer. I noticed the Olympic winter games are underway in Russia. I started ruminating on the last time the Olympics happened. Was I alive then? 😀 For some reason, I couldn’t remember them! I checked on Wikipedia and saw that they were in February of 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia.  Then, it hit me. That was the week that Laci had her febrile seizure!

We had lived in Hope for about eighteen months. I was about four months pregnant with Matthew. It was a harrowing day. I had no idea what was happening to her. At first, I thought she was just “playing dead”, with her eyes open. Then, as I approached her little body stretched out on the floor, I thought she was choking! I tried to see if something was lodged in her throat, but her jaw was tightly closed. Then, in my hormonal, expectant condition, I panicked. I called 911 yelling at the poor dispatcher that my little girl was dying! I was on the verge of hyperventilating, not realizing how I was scaring my other three children half to death! The ambulance, with no siren, ambled (not exaggerating), up our driveway fifteen minutes later. Laci was unconscious by then. I really thought she was dying. I went to her funeral in my mind. My world, for those thirty minutes or so, was turned upside down. The paramedics finally informed me that she’d had a seizure and was now in a very deep sleep. When the EMT’s finally roused her as they were putting in an IV, her pitiful little voice saying, “I want my mommy.” was music to my ears! I thanked the Lord over and over for her life! At the ER, she began vomiting, a lot, all over me and her bed. That told the doctors what was wrong. She had caught a stomach virus and her fever went from about 99 to 103 in very little time. This caused the seizure. With my weakened immune system from pregnancy, I caught the virus in just a few hours. I was sick for over a week, and finally recovered because of special medication from my OB. In fact, everyone ended up getting it!

So that’s why I couldn’t remember the last Olympics. I literally slept through the 2010 winter games!

I’m not sure whether I’ll have time to tune in to the Olympics this year or not. But, these games remind me to count my blessings: my sweet Laci, who is now an energetic seven year old; that baby I was expecting is now an adorable three year old who keeps us all laughing, and I now can recognize a seizure if it ever happens again. I’m thankful that the Lord doesn’t punish us for panicking in stressful times, but rather He embraces us and helps us more than ever. Even in my fearful condition four years ago, I was crying out to my Lord Who was right beside me.  I’m thankful for a husband who rearranges his life and works overtime and at odd hours to help me when I’m sick. I’m thankful that my mother was close by, and could stay with the kids while we took Laci to the pediatrician for a follow up visit. I’m thankful for the prayers of precious friends during that scary day!

I could go on and on…God is so good.

With love,

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Ice Storm

Right before Christmas, we got a good dousing of sleet and ice. We were thankful that it wasn’t enough to stop the traffic and threaten power outages like we experienced in late November and early December. It was, however, just enough to make everything gorgeous.

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This tree had long, icy fingers.

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These bare, frozen bushes reminded me of a glass forest.

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This bush still had some green leaves, each one encased in its own little ice tomb.

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A dormant tree shrouded in ice against a bleak sky. It would have been depressing if hadn’t all been so beautiful!

The next morning the sun shone brightly, slowly melting away our ice-land. It was stunning to see the millions of sparkles! It was as though the Lord had showered the barren world with billions of sequins as if to say, “You think winter is ugly? Take a look at my creation now.” It was something to behold. I am constantly in awe of God’s creation. And, as my husband reminded me, it’s all just flood damage!

With love,

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A Weird Week

Two weeks ago, we had a winter storm that nearly prevented us from going to my mom’s for Thanksgiving. The Lord allowed us to make it safely there and back, with no delays due to weather. The week after a vacation, though, is always weird. Suitcases – seven of them – are lying in odd places around the house, all of your good clothes are dirty, there’s no milk in the house, and the house has that stale smell. It’s just…weird. The Saturday of our return, I was feeling icky. My throat was scratchy and I was sneezing. I made it through my Sunday school class, but it was hard. I felt myself wanting to say, “You know, you guys are yawning and I’m feeling rotten, so how ’bout we just have a testimony time?” My only problem was that these first graders didn’t have a testimony, or perhaps didn’t even know what that meant, so I forged ahead. I was so thankful that I wasn’t scheduled to sing that day, because it probably would have been really terrible!

By Monday, I was worse. Terry graciously went to the store to buy groceries while I managed to do about three loads of laundry. By God’s grace I eeked through the week of school. I even got our tree set up and decorated, but I did it in phases. I hate it when I feel bad during the holidays! I love this time of year, but it requires energy, the one thing I was short on this week. I didn’t get to feeling better until Friday.

Oh! And by the end of the week, we had yet another winter storm warning. This time, it was worse. We didn’t get much accumulation, but we got about two inches of solid ice coating everything. We haven’t lost our electricity so far, and the kids have enjoyed sledding, so it’s been kind of nice! I have spent a lot of time sitting by the fire practicing my knitting, reading to the kids and writing blog posts! For the first time in my life, we had to cancel our Sunday (Dec.8) services due to weather! If last week was weird, this week will be even weirder! I’ve never missed church with my whole family, ever! Starting out a week like that is very strange indeed.

Today, I dressed up and went out for the first time since last Sunday! (Dec. 1) The side roads and parking lots are still *very* icy, so Terry drove me to Aldi and Walmart to do some shopping. We even made it to church to check on things there and ate lunch with some friends. I feel like a true member of society again!

Ice at the Aldi parking lot today.

Here are a few photos of the kids sledding down the side of the flood canal across the street from us. Terry also took them to a big hill at Cameron University to do some sledding, but I didn’t venture out to do that. 🙂

 Terry made a little sled for them, but it just wasn’t fast enough!

 Mitch enjoyed sliding around just on his feet. He’s a ham…just like his father. Right?

 The kids decided that my Rubbermaid container lids worked just fine!

 Matt went down slowly one time. 🙂

Then he was ready to come inside for some hot cocoa.

Lauren has just developed a pretty bad cold today. I’m afraid I passed it on to her. If you think of it, we would appreciate your prayers for her. I haven’t seen my church family for over a week, and I really miss them. I’m praying that the roads are all clear this Wednesday, and that everyone is well, so we can be in our places for church.

It’s been a weird week, but the Lord knew all about it before it arrived, and He knows about tomorrow, too. I’m so glad He is in control not just of the weather, but of my life.
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We Lived the Dream

We’ve all heard it a hundred times – some even more than a hundred. “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas…” Well, those of us in the south have dreamed that dream for many years only to be heartbroken on Christmas morning. Some of us even gave up the dream a long time ago. But, for the first time in my life of thirty…something years, I had a white Christmas in ArkansasIt! Don’t get me wrong, we see snow down here occasionally. Usually January or February. One time, many moons ago, we even had some in March! But never on Christmas Day. It was a beautiful sight! We didn’t get as much as our friends in central Arkansas got, but they got the power outages, too, so I can’t complain that we only saw about an inch of snowfall. Here are some pictures from our lovely Christmas snow!

Coming down peacefully on Christmas evening.

A dusting of sugar covers the ground. Well, that’s what it looks like, anyway. 🙂

When I downloaded my pictures onto my laptop, I found this one! I have a very sweet husband. And, in case I haven’t mentioned it, I love him very much. 
This is the day after Christmas. Everything was so beautiful, and there was hardly any traffic so it was very quiet outside. I love snow! I love the cold weather!
Another picture from my husband. I like how the sun is peeking out between the snow covered limbs. We didn’t see it much in the days following Christmas, making this photo even more special. 
Here are a few more pictures taken the day after Christmas: 

If you read my blog often, you know that I’ve had a difficult year. I know some people say that when they see a cardinal or a butterfly or a rainbow that they are reminded – in a very personal way – that God loves them. They see those things as “hugs from God”. Well, I enjoy all of God’s creation. I don’t have to look far to be reminded of His great love for me. But, when I saw this snowfall in south Arkansas on Christmas Day, I couldn’t help but feel loved! It wasn’t just a beautiful sight to behold, it was a miracle! He reminded me on Christmas Day that, yes, He still does miracles.

I’m praying for many more in the year to come.
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