A Message From a Tornado Survivor

  I usually don’t think about tornadoes or severe weather too much until it starts popping up on the local news, and then I always wish I had been preparing for what we all know are months in “tornado season”. Every spring it seems there are always a few showers or strips of bad weather that blow through and scare us to death. And sometimes some very severe ones come in, like what we’re looking at today. The same feelings come every time; a sinking in your heart because you know there is a possibility your life will have to be put on hold for a bit while you wait in anticipation to see if you’ll even get the chance to continue as normal, anticipation, preparation, calling everyone you love to  make sure they know and have a plan, hoping it breaks up quickly, hoping it’s not as bad as they say, losing sleep to keep an eye on the weather in case something comes up in the night. There are precautions of course but what if the sirens break again or the radios don’t go off.. what if we never even have a chance? And I can’t deal with that possibility, so I stay up, to give us a chance.

And almost every time all of these feelings are also followed by relief that this time nothing happened, this time we didn’t have to seek shelter, this time we’re walking away with every member of the family and close friends still safe and sound. And it may sound strange to you, to hear about someone who is so concerned with what could turn out to be just a thunderstorm. But for us there is this very loud instinctual voice telling us to pay attention. And it’s because we almost died on April 27th, 2011.

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Why Stories with Darkness are Not All Bad

I can remember specifically discovering certain stories when I was younger that I instantly or almost instantly fell in love with. One that I recall brought me to the frozen tundra of a world that had been cursed by a witch and who’s people desperately needed spring again, another immersed me in history and taught me how difficult life might have been just 100 years ago for a girl in a covered wagon, another told me the story of a boy who could write anything and have it come to life, another about a man who could read anything and have it come to life, and yet another about some orphans who had a lot of hardships to face, just to name a few. I would always show them to my family, the people who were most important in my life. Sometimes my findings were met with huge amounts of skepticism and even cynicism, sometimes they were met with encouragement and excitement. But they were all important to me, these stories. I learned a specific lesson in each book that I picked up.

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If you are a reader, the kind who gets hooked on stories and basically lives with them in your head for the duration of the time you read the book or the series, and sometimes even after that. The kind who gets so involved that after a few pages of a good book the words melt away and you are seeing pictures in front of you instead. The kind who a person could find up at 2 am just to get in that 1 last chapter, and the kind who lets books change your heart and teach you truth that you didn’t know. This is the kind of reader I am and also many of the reasons why I love books so much. When I was young I didn’t know all of this though, I just knew that I loved them and that for some reason I needed good stories.

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Serious Salads

 Sometimes it’s difficult to eat in a healthy way when you are on the road. I discovered that this past year when I was on the road at least 3 weeks out of almost every month. Often you might tend to opt for a salad from the menu and feel really good about your decision initially, but then you start feeling hungry around thirty minutes later and you let your stomach growl and tell yourself it’s good for you. Then maybe you start thinking that “eating healthy food” just isn’t for you. But I’m here to propose that perhaps this isn’t really how to do healthy well.

  If there is one thing I have learned about eating well/losing weight it’s that going hungry is NEVER the answer. When you “starve yourself” ( for lack of a better term ) your body tends to act like a refrigerator, automatically storing anything it gets because it’s designed to do this. It’s a survival instinct, just in case you end up going for a long time without much food, your body wants to make sure that you will have enough stored up until you have access to plentiful nutrients again. So in reality you are gaining weight this way, not a good tactic.

 Unfortunately our bodies are not aware that we’re in a country where food is plentiful and we don’t really have to worry about starving. So what is the solution? Learn to speak your bodies language. Know about what you are eating and how it’s going to effect your body, then base your decisions off of that.

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The Struggle is Really Real

Let’s be honest. Sometimes life is just rough, am I right? Nothing goes the way you want it to, no one cooperates the way they should, you can’t find a moment’s peace, you can’t catch a break, you can’t figure out what to do and you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m sure you’ve experienced any or all of these things at some point in your life. And if you’re like me, it makes you want to hide away from the world, forget about life and just find something to do that makes you happy. (Which I’ll admit can sometimes be therapeutic but is never sustainable for long. 😉 )

I like what C.S. Lewis says about this:

Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.

Brilliant.

I am struggling right now. But Lewis and others with helpful things to say pull me out of the pits and remind me of the kind of person I want to be. So here are my musings, maybe they can be helpful to you as well.

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The Light of all Mankind

It happens every year. November rolls around, I break out the Christmas music and about three seconds later someone starts complaining. “It’s only November!” They say. “We just made it past Halloween, give it a rest.” They say. As if filling the homes of people around the world with hope and joy too early in the year is a terrible crime. Well this post is for all of you who listen to and enjoy the holiday season with the most fervent and dedicated posture. Because, let’s be real: Christmas is the THE BEST HOLIDAY ever. Hands down.

I get it though. For all of you people who are on the other side. There is nothing worse than a holiday that comes along and forces sentiment and good wishes down your throat no matter what’s going on. And insists that life is wonderful even if you’re penniless, just broke up with your significant other, got into an accident in your brand new car, etc. You get the point. And then there is the added commercialization of the holiday. Endless adds, endless fake Santa Clauses trying to guilt you into giving money you know you don’t have, endless commercials pressuring you to get everyone just the right gift even if you have to beg, borrow and steal the money to do it. You find yourself saying, “When will this madness end so I can get back to my real life??” And I don’t blame you. What I’m proposing is that Christmas is a tradition that is precious, worth preserving and well worth looking past all of those petty, surface level issues.

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Our Political Climate

  I think it’s safe to say that we are all, in some way, glad that this current political election is finally over. It has been a whirlwind and a mess. With accusations of every kind being hurdled at each opponent, all of which we should not be okay with seeing in a person who could be our next president.

favim-com-girl-american-american-flag-blonde-brick-wall-463545  It’s been heated, and not just among the presidential candidates. I’ve met very few people who do not have some kind of opinion about this current election that we’ve had. Some feel that Hillary would only bring about socialistic ideas and implement them into a country that has worked hard to keep out fascism. Others think that Trump has made it abundantly clear that he no longer thinks our country is for other people and that anyone who wasn’t born on American soil doesn’t belong here. And those are just two examples.

 I know we hear (especially those of us in more conservative circles) a lot about what our “founding fathers” would have wanted us to do. How they’d be rolling over in their graves if they knew what was going on in the country that they established. And perhaps this is true. But I hear the term so much that I’m tempted to ask, “Do we really know what they would have wanted?” Or do we just say that whatever idea I’m promoting is what they would have wanted, so that my idea sounds legitimate? How many of us know anything at all about our founding fathers other than what we remember from high school American history and what we’ve heard others say on the nightly news? Maybe some people do. It’s an honest question.

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The Value of Community

Back in the fall of 2014 I went out to Colorado for the second time ever. This time though I wouldn’t be staying for 2 weeks like before, this time I’d be staying for 3 months, a whole semester long. The longest time I’d ever stayed away from home, especially being so far away.

I was nervous, excited and a little bit unsure of what to expect. I’d been trying to get into this program for 3 years. When I first heard about the opportunity it seemed like a dream that would never actually happen. Why should I try then if it isn’t going to work out? I thought that about a hundred times. But I went to the hour-long session where we could ask the director of the program anything we needed to anyway. He encouraged us to apply, he made it sound like it was possible and I decided then that I would try my best to make it happen. Which lead to 3 years of me attempting to figure out how to pay for the program and finally, with a lot of help from others, it actually happening. Continue reading

An Open Window

13588740_10208300970076379_775864660_oWhen I woke this morning it was pouring rain outside my window. I had left it open the night before because our air conditioner was broken and it was almost unbearably hot upstairs. So I could hear the storm loud and clear, all the thunder that echoed and lightening that struck the sky, every rain drop that pounded against the earth. When I looked I could see streams of water running through our front yard over rock and dirt and grass, washing everything until it was thoroughly rinsed with rain water. I’ve missed rain. Here in the south it rains a lot, whereas when I lived in Colorado for a while I hardly saw any rain. I was only there for a year but I certainly didn’t see any rain showers or thunderstorms. But I love rain. It cools things down, washes anything thoroughly, sounds beautiful and best of all it renews the earth.

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Sweet Raspberry Tea

I don’t know if you guys have noticed but it is ridiculously hot here in the south these days. And it’s hot all the time.You probably find yourself reaching for a cold drink pretty often if you live down here, or anywhere right now because it’s June!

I have a really hard time trying to stay away from sugary drinks in the summer time. Because, let’s be real, literally everywhere advertises them and they all look so good! It’s difficult to just drink water and pass up those fruity, frozen goodies.

But because I’ve committed to eating as little processed sugar as possible, and since it is in no way good for you, here’s what I do.

Firstly avoid nearly anything processed and I typically don’t trust labeling, because I don’t trust marketing. I’m not cynical by the way, just skeptical and serious about what I’m actually putting into my body. So even the ones that say “sugar-free” or “diet” usually are not truly as they say.

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Small Spaces and Beautiful Places

FB_IMG_1466297963236 (1)  I have had the wonderful opportunity to see much of the country this past year, opposite ends of the country even. We began in Florida back in September and ended in Washington state just a few months ago. There were so many beautiful places! Places near oceans, rivers, mountains, on street corners, in hotels, not to mention all of the historic places.

A couple of my favorites were places like the Alamo in Texas (is that because I’m in love with American history??Maybe. ), Fox Island in Washington where we kayaked in the beautiful weather and then ate pizza on the beach. Downtown Seattle from the top of a very tall building, with its bays and bustling people and nearness to the ocean. The Riverwalk in San Antonio where you go down into this amazing below ground strip full of little shops and restaurants and ducks with names that everyone knows. Basically every beach in Florida, little quiet mountain towns in Colorado, and towns in small valleys way up in Canada that you reach after you’ve driven for hours, flown for hours and then driven some more. This town in particular looked like the night sky as we were pulling into the valley along the mountain road that brought us to it. It is one of the most stunning things I’ve ever seen.  Continue reading