This is amazing grace...

Sunday, May 18, 2014 | | 0 comments
May 20, 2013.  A day that will forever be burned into my memory.  A day that will always be one of remembrance and thankfulness.  Thankfulness that my family was safe.  Remembrance for all that lost their lives that day.

For those of you who don't know me personally, you may have never heard my story.  You may have seen it through Hope Raisers, or you may seen our story on the local news station. But, there is more to our story than just surviving a tornado.  There is a story of change, trials, and grown faith in the Lord.

The morning of May 20 would be just like any other for me.  I woke up, got ready for school, and told my family goodbye.  As I walked out the door I remember thinking that the weather was supposed to get bad, but I was unsure of how bad it would be.  A friend of ours had warned us to be prepared and be weather aware.  I made my morning stop at 7-11 for gas and a drink, talked to my usual cashier and told her to have a great day.  Little did I know, that exact 7-11 would have people perish in their store later that day.

  As I arrived at school, I prepared myself for the last week of the year.  It had been one of the hardest years I had as a teacher, mother and wife.  As I started that year, I would be a new mother.  That brought challenges in and of itself that I wasn't prepared for.  My heart longed to spend my days cuddling my sweet, chunky baby but I was unable to do so due to the fact that my husband was finishing next to last year of his PhD.  In October, my cousin had a psychotic break which would result in the loss of my sweet Aunt.  I would watch my Uncle endure pain and grief that I can't imagine facing at the loss of a spouse and the loss of a child all at the same time.  In November of that same year, we would lose my husband's Grandmother to a long fought battle with dementia.  In March of the following year, my mom's longtime boyfriend would be diagnosed with cancer, and faced many months of chemo, a colostomy bag and numerous surgeries to ensure that his cancer would be gone.  Throughout the year, I still had to manage a home and a classroom, all while not letting my emotions get in the way.  I've never been one to deal with change easily, but this year, the Lord would change that.  I learned so many things about who I am and who I don't want to be.  In my class that year, I would have two particularly special children who would forever change the course of my life.  I was warned prior to school about one child in particular.  One who would challenge my patience, kindness and classroom management.  As the year began, I realized that this particular child only needed to feel loved and have someone to trust.  Many students from my school come from environments that aren't particularly conducive to their well being.  Slowly, I would begin to chisel away at this student's heart, learning so much about who he was.  After learning more about his home life, I found out that his younger brother had been given up for adoption, but remained in his life.  After meeting this family, I was blown away by the Christ like love that they had for him and his family.  They will be an integral part of my story later on. Stay tuned.

The other student that would change me was the single most challenging student I have ever met in my entire teaching career.  He came into my class as a quiet, shy 8 year old.  I would later learn that I was very, very wrong.  After an episode one mooring involving this student and a fellow teacher, I was given some very gruesome details of his short life.  He had endured cancer, missed numerous days of school, had an older brother that is facing life in prison, and a mother who wasn't equipped to be a mother to her many children.  At first, I felt angry that she wouldn't take care of her children.  Mad that she could treat them they way that she did.  Then, as I prayed for them, I realized a very important truth.  She had probably never been trained how to raise a child.  I don't know her story, I will probably never know her story.  Who am I to judge her as a mother? So, from that point forward, I made it my mission to give that baby as much love as I could at school, so that he was full when got home.  He would challenge that mission each day, either by throwing things, cussing at teachers and parents, or just flat out refusing to do things.  After I worked my way into his heart, we had a relationship that I will cherish forever.  He respected me, he trusted me, and he loved me.  Just as much as I loved him.

So, as I said, it had been a tough year.  I was so ready for summer.  I was looking forward to the upcoming 1st birthday of my son.  One that I had been "Pinterest" planning for many months. (don't know you do it too!)  Then, at 2:56 pm, all of those things would come to an abrupt end.

My plan time at school started at 2:05.  It went just like any other day does, me scrambling around to try to get things ready for that busy last week of school.  Then, around 2:30, it started to rain really hard.  I had talked to my team about leaving early so I could beat the bad weather home.  Fortunately, the rain came before I could leave.  A few minutes later, the hail would begin.  I was corresponding with my husband, who assured me that all was okay and he was at home with our son watching the weather.  We have direct TV, so our satellite had gone out with the bad weather.  Around 2:45, the sirens began to go off in OKC.  I knew then that something wasn't right.  A team mate of mine had been texting me telling me that a tornado had been spotted in Newcastle, which isn't too far from Moore.  As I sat with my kids in our designated tornado area, I turned on my tornado app that I had downloaded only days later.  Between the app and the text from my teammate, I quickly realized that this very large tornado was headed straight for Moore.

  I text my husband immediately asking where he was.  Nothing. I waited and called.  Nothing.  Finally, I would receive a text that I will never, ever forget.  "I'm on my way to a storm shelter."  Then, a few minutes later, the tornado hit my neighborhood.  No confirmation that he had made it.  Only that he had left.  I was devasted.  In a state of shock.  I made sure that I got my kids where they needed to be and I left.  I frantically began driving, and the sirens started again.  I prayed out loud on the way home.

"Lord, I don't know what I'm driving home to.  I don't know if I'm even driving to a home.  Wherever I go, whatever happens, please guide me.  Direct my feet, direct my car.  Get me there safely and help me find my family.  "

After talking to family and friends, I kept driving until I found a place to park.  My phone died and there were people everywhere.  Cars everywhere.  As I started walking, I was stopped by a police officer who informed me that I was not going to be going anywhere else.  I needed to go back to my car.  At this point I had already walked about a mile.  So I walked back to my car, and drove to a new spot and got out of my car once again to walk.  As I walked, I tried to stay where no one could see me and tell me to turn back.  Again, praying the whole way.  I finally reached our neighborhood, hopped fences, climbed over debris and realized just what I was walking into.  I stopped and stared at what looked like a war zone.  Like someone dropped a bomb and there was no turning back.  I wanted to stop and cry.  I wanted someone to tell me it would be okay.  But, I was alone.  I walked to the storm shelter to try to find my husband, nothing.  No one was there.  So I started walking to our house.  Then, I walked upon Plaza Towers Elementary.

  As I walked up on the elementary school I will never forget the sounds.  Sirens, crying, and parents screaming for their babies.  I watched in horror as they pulled precious children out of the rubble.  As I stopped and watched, I knew I couldn't walk any further.  I had to turn around a go a different way.  I wouldn't make it walking past the school.  So, I turned around and took a different route.  As I walked towards our house, I saw the most beautiful thing.  My husband.  He was standing in our driveway as our neighbor yelled, there she is! My pace picked up, and I was finally reunited with the one person who I wanted to see more than anyone.  From the front, it appeared that our house would be just fine.  That we got lucky.  When I explained this to my husband, he told me to be prepared to see the rest.  As I walked to the back of the house, I noticed our belongings scattered amongst the field and our backyard.  Then I took it all in.  I looked at every house, everything I owned, out for everyone to see.  Strewn around like trash.  I looked down at my feet, covered in mud and debris.  My favorite leopard print shoes, ruined.  I was covered in my mud up to my hair, my husband dirty from cleaning up.  We went in and begin to salvage what we could fit on our backs and in suitcases.  My sons bottle from that morning laid in the middle of the floor.  His toys broken and wet.  Our entire life was damp, dirty and stained.

After we packed what we could, we began the walk back to a friends parents house to stay the night.  We talked to people on our walk.  We were rained on.  But we had NOTHING.  No umbrella, no jacket, no nothing.  I remember the feeling of no knowing what we were going to do.  How were we going to recover?  How would we get back on our feet.

The days that followed were a whirlwind.  My kids at school would surprise me with the most amazing, selfless gift they could give.  My coworkers worked hard to make sure that we had everything we needed.  My friends and family would come together to ensure that we were safe, fed and happy.  Complete strangers would donate their time, money and gifts to us.  I can't explain how blessed I felt and still continue to feel.  The Lord answered my prayers that muggy afternoon.  He directed my feet well before the tornado.  He took me to a place where I would be forever changed, Tulakes.  He kept me safe, he kept my family safe.  He knew what would happen long before May 20.

I make my share of mistakes.  I learn from some, while others take more time.  This tragic day not only proved to me the love of others, but also the ability to have a great faith in hard times.  I never thought that we would survive.  I never thought we would be where we are today.  I didn't get to give my son his perfectly planned pinterest party, but he received so much more.  The outpouring of everyone will be passed down to him in a way that only the Lord could have crafted.  Don't get me wrong, I still love pinterest, and I still love parties, but if it's perfect, I'm okay with that.  If I don't have time to make the best party favors, who cares!  He is a child of the Lord, who I am going to do my darndest to raise in a Godly, christian environment.

So, how will I remember May 20?  Will it be the horrible pictures, the awful devastation and the terrible losses?  Yes, those will play a part, but the biggest thing that I will remember is the faithfulness of our gracious God.

This is amazing grace
This is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You lay down Your life
That I would be set free
Oh, Jesus, I sing for
All that You've done for me

Picture Saturday!

Monday, February 17, 2014 | | 0 comments
I had the privilege of spending Saturday with 2 wonderful families and one lovely friend!  Bethany & I are both interested in learning more about photography so we have decided to take the time to get better together! It has been so fun being able to run ideas past her and learn along with her! Thank you for inviting me Bethany!

The next picture was one of my favorites I have EVER taken!

Walkin' on Sunshine

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 | | 0 comments
Sunday was such a nice day here!  We had such a great time going to the park to enjoy the weather with our friend Eden.  Since the tornado, we haven't found a new park to make "our park".  Our friends suggested a park close to our house, so off we went!  Knox hasn't ever been on a slide before, so everything was a new experience! He wanted nothing to do with the playground at first but he eventually warmed up!  After lots of spills, running, and hair blowing in the wind, we decided to head home.  I cannot wait for it to warm up again!

We wish you a Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 30, 2013 | | 0 comments
Oh what a year it has been.  I haven't kept up with the blog whatsoever, but I promise to try.  This year we faced so many ups and downs, but we are right where we are supposed to be.

Our Christmas time is always really busy.  We have to visit so many people, that we often forget why we are truly there.  This year, I made it a point to make sure to enjoy each minute, not worrying about where our stuff was or the mess that Knox had left.  It was SUCH a fun time with him this year!  Enjoy the pictures that document just a few of our memories from Christmas!

bright and white

Tuesday, August 3, 2010 | | 2 comments
When we moved into our house, I knew I would want to paint our kitchen cabinets! As we have began checking things off of our to do list, I finally got done to the kitchen cabinets.  I am a teacher, so my summer is winding to a close, and I knew if I didn't finish them now, I never would.  My husband and I began the process of a cabinet makeover on Saturday then finished everything up on Sunday! Here is my beautiful cast of characters that helped me through the process.

This my friends, was the leading role in my cabinet makeover.....

Before I did any painting or anything, my husband took off all of the doors and we labeled each door with a sticky note.  I then one by one used TSP to clean each cabinet door and drawer.  This was a LIFESAVER! This stuff is amazing! It ate away any yucky grease and grime that was left on my cabinets.  Here is the key though.....make sure you wear gloves.  You will HIGHLY regret not wearing them! I used latex gloves and they worked fine.  I used a regular kitchen sponge and wiped the front and back of each door.  Let's just say they were kinda gross. After the initial rinsing, I went ahead and wiped each one down again with a wet rag to make sure there was no TSP left on the doors.  They seemed a little sticky after I was done with the first step, so this is why I used the rag afterwards.  

Now, most people would think we should have sanded in here some where.  Our cabinet doors were original to the house, so they were about 20 years old.  After cleaning with TSP, there was hardly any varnish left on our cabinets.  Therefore, I committed the cardinal sin of painting.  I did not sand. :)

One I was done with the cleaning, I got to painting.  Quite awhile ago, my mom bought a paint sprayer, so we borrowed her sprayer and got to painting.  I gave each cabinet 2 coats of Valspar Kitchen and Bathroom, bright white.  It since has been re-named, and I am struggling to remember the new name.  Same color as the rest of the white in our house!

While the cabinets were drying, I went inside and we began painting inside.  Instead of using the sprayer indoors, we went ahead and brushed the entire inside cabinets.  This took about 2-3 coats, but they look spectacular! I was very pleased with how they turned out! 

The next morning, after all was dry, we replaced the doors and installed new knobs and drawer pulls.  I bought the knobs and drawer pulls at Target about a month ago for half off! They are oil rubbed bronze, with a hammered look to them! 

After all the hard work, I love my new kitchen cabinets! Our next big tile and countertops! I will update you when those are installed, but for now, enjoy some pictures!!!!



In with the old...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | | 3 comments

It's been a long week in our household! Now that we are back home, I can finally get around to posting a new furniture renovation! When my husband and I were married, my in-laws gave us a dining room table and chairs that have been passed along to many different family members. At first, we had both decided that we would just keep it until we saved money to buy a new table. Yet, after looking through all of the wonderful blogs online, I decided that once again, I would take on a new project and try to make this old family heirloom, a new improved dining room table. I love the look of white furniture, so we decided to go with the same white that we used on our buffet. I painted the table and chairs after removing each seat cushion. We have a paint sprayer, so this made my project MUCH faster and efficient! My husband helped me sand, sand, sand. I primed the table using KILZ primer, then I painted the first coat. After the first coat I sanded again, using very fine sandpaper. I repeated the process of painting and sanding twice before I finally sealed my table. To seal the table I used Minwax, Fast Drying Polyurethane. I was skeptical at first, but I am really pleased with the way my table looks after sealing! So far I have seen no yellowing!!! After looking around for quite awhile for the "right" fabric, I decided on a damask print black and white fabric from Hobby Lobby. After the 40% off coupon from the internet, my material ended up being about $12 for 3 yards. I covered five chairs, as one of our chairs was broken! The cushion of my chairs were in good condition, so I didn't add any padding or remove anything from the previous chair. I traced each seat onto a piece of cardboard. This made having to cut out my fabric MUCH easier. I allowed about 3 inches over the amount of fabric I needed, just incase I somehow cut it too short! I was VERY pleased with the way my table and chairs turned out. Unfortunately, I don't have a before picture of the table, but it was solid wood, being the same color as the chair. Now, I am trying to decide on a cute centerpiece for my table....any ideas?


people give me their trash....

Friday, June 4, 2010 | | 6 comments

My husband and I have been married for close to a year and a half. When we first got married, we relied on the things given to us to use as furniture. Thanks to our parents, we have couches to sit on, tables to eat on, and a bed to sleep in! In February of this year, we bought our first home. We were both SO excited, and ready to get started on our first big adventure together. From the day we moved in, we have done nothing but try and perk this place up! Collin and I's styles don't quite match up, but with a little pushing, and I'll do the work if you agree, I was able to get Collin to go for some of my crazy ideas! We had a small TV stand before we moved into our house. It was cheap, and didn't match anything that I would say was our style. So, I called on my mom. If any of you know her, you know that she is the QUEEN of thrifty. I can only hope that someday I will be able to take over the thrown. She suggested that we find a cheap buffet and repaint it. Thus began my obsession with painting and re-purposing furniture. My mother-in-law called one day and said some friends of her were throwing away an old buffet and hutch, and if we wanted it, we were welcome to take it! Of course, knowing I needed a buffet, I gladly accepted! Thus, this beauty made it's way into my garage.
The top previously had a hutch on top, but I removed the hutch and it made it to the dumpster. Now - to try and describe the colors in my home would be hard. Our kitchen walls are Valspar Asparagus Green. We wanted to tie this color into our living room, so we painted a few lamps the same color and added one unique color to the room : orange. I know what your thinking....BAD IDEA! I promise, once I post pictures later, you will see how cute everything has actually turned out. Unfortunately, I did not take pictures of each step of the process in painting my buffet. We sanded, scrubbed, and then took to painting. First, we got smart and purchased and electric paint sprayer. I must say--this has saved us a ton of time and money. We took all of the doors off of the cabinet and painted the buffet a cre
amy white color. I also removed all hardware except for the hinges. We purchased knobs from Lowe's, and spray painted them with Solid Black Valspar spray paint. When we finished the entire buffet, we decided it needed an extra "punch" of color. My mom and I being the sneaky people we are, told my husband we were off to Lowe's and would be back soon. When we came back, we had trim, baseboard and Valspar Dark Palomino in hand ready to paint - otherwise known as orange. We added the trim to the sides in order to cover up some nasty nail holes. On the very bottom, we added trim to make it look more like a piece of furniture meant for a living room! After all of our labor and hardwork, this is what we finally accomplished.
(This picture doesn't show the knobs...they weren't dry yet!)