Monday, August 31, 2009

The long overdue: Part 2

I left off by telling you about Wednesday night at "the wall". On Thursday (Ethan's birthday) I helped worked with a team on fixing up Charles's house. We were laying down grout on top of tile that another group had put down. It's not too tough of a job, but you are bending over on your hands and knees crawling all around the a house with no air south July!

About half way through the morning I started feeling really sick. I went out in back where Philip was hanging drywall in the pool house with another group to let him know that I wasn't feeling well. He encouraged me to take a break and drink some water. When I returned to the main house MaryAnn asked me if I was feeling okay. Don't you hate it when people do that? Of course I started crying! I think the emotions of the night before, coupled with not being with my little one on his birthday, and possibly a touch of dehydration just sent me over the edge! After MaryAnn and the other women there hurried to find a fan for me to sit in front of, a bottle of Gatorade, and a bandanna to cool my neck off I felt much better.

For the rest of that day I took it easy. Jon Ragsdale was in our group the first summer we went down and so I played electrician's helper for the rest of the day. It was still hot and humid, but I wasn't bending over, or crawling on the floor so I felt a lot better.

The neatest part of this day was that while we were working, one of Charles's neighbors stopped by to talk to Charles. Charles wasn't there, but what the Slidell pastor had "warned" us about was true with this man. The pastor had said on the first night of orientation, "Everyone down here is sick of hearing about Katrina! They don't want to hear any more about the storm, no more storm stories.....but, if you have a few minutes, they would LOVE to tell you their story!" He proceeded to tell us how he had stayed for Katrina because he felt like he could be of help to anyone else who stayed behind. He was especially concerned about an elderly couple who had decided to stay who lived next door. To make a long story short: He and his wife ended up riding the storm out in his attic with those neighbors who probably would have died if he would not have been there.

Why did he stay?
One of the most enlightening topics he addressed was the difficulty in deciding when to ride out a storm, and when to leave. When questioned by a woman on my team he explained all of the preparations that have to go into deciding to leave your home. Just a few of them include: boarding up your windows, finding a place to go, taking off of work, moving your boat or cars,.... He estimated that it would cost him at least $1,000-$2,000 to decide to leave his home if another hurricane looked like it was headed for St. Bernard parish. The decision to leave or to stay is further complicated by the fact that there are usually 2 - 4 storms that come develop or come ashore in the Gulf each year. He went further to say that he probably would ride out future storms just so he could be of help to others who had to stay behind.

When Katrina (and then Rita) hit Louisiana and Philip and I were here, one of the most frustrating things for me was to talk to people who had never lived in Louisiana (or anywhere along the gulf coast) or never experienced a Hurricane. They would ask the same questions that my team members asked to Charles's neighbor. "Why doesn't everyone just leave?" I remember several times explaining the number of residents of New Orleans that probably don't own or have access to vehicles. Even if they had vehicles, most of them have no place to go, no extra gas money to get there, and no money to stay in a hotel if the shelters are full. Even if they had those things the path of a storm is never guaranteed and so you could pack up and leave all for nothing. It was so great to have a south Louisiana resident put it so clearly to people that have never had to live through a Hurricane. For the first time they had to put themselves in the storm victims' shoes and realize that the decision is not a simple one.


On Friday I worked back at Carpenter's House with Jon and Philip trying to install an exhaust fan in the "blazing hot" kitchen. It was considered a holiday that day so Charles wanted us out of town as soon as we could be. Other team members helped serve lunch and then we packed up to go on a tour of the lower 9th ward.

The first year we were there was the summer after the storm, so not even 11 months had gone by. Philip did take a tour of the lower 9 then and had said that it was terrible. There were no cars or people anywhere. Just destroyed house after destroyed house. Still standing, but unlivable. This trip was different in a lot of ways. In the lower 9th ward there are some new houses, some cars, and some construction crews, but mostly there are blank foundations and over-grown lots. It was good to see that some progress is still being made, but most of all it was sad to think that each square of concrete that is bare represents a family....


One of my family members commented after we were back in Knoxville that she was proud of us for giving up our time to go down and help out in New Orleans. My reply was an honest one. I am not proud of us for giving up our time! Our time is God's time. Whoever sold us the lie that success at a career is success in life had a good line going, but it just isn't so. This life is God's gift to me and I need to use it as he desires! Philip and I (because of this trip and because of Crazy Love) have recommitted to supporting more missionaries financially, but also supporting God's work with our time and energy. Since we have gotten back to Knoxville Philip has already gotten to help out a local church with his dry-walling skills. I don't say this to brag, but to emphasize that God has places to serve all over this country and we are going to continue to serve wherever we see the opportunity.

I think that is all for now. If I think of anything else I want to share (that Philip hasn't shared already) I will post it later!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


I know, I can't believe it either! Anyone who knows me knows that I celebrate my birth month instead of my birthday and even though the last two years have kind of been mellow (having a baby can really change your focus), I figured that ending another decade of life was reason enough for celebration!

The Sunday before my birthday I made a black forest cake for our Sunday School lunch. It must have been good because I didn't go home with any! On my actual birthday I made our family pancakes and sausages for breakfast which is a rare treat. Then Ethan and I went to Panera to meet Carmen and Jonathan Baba, Nancy Mathisrud, Hedy and Max Collins and Kristin VanderSluis. It was so fun that some of us went out to icecream afterward.

Tonight we are having dinner at one of my favorite restaurants: Crown and Goose with some of my favorite people.  I can't wait!  Then this weekend I'm having a party at Ben and Jerry's complete with a CareBears cake!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Ditch is Done!

We have had water problems in this house since the day we moved in. The latest was that there was standing water underneath our sun room. To fix the standing water problem we had to get to the problem, which meant tearing up the deck:

Thanks to Shane for helping Philip do this while I was on retreat! After tearing the deck up we realized that we have standing water under our sun room because over half of the back yard drains to the lowest spot, which happens to be under the sun room. Our friend Curt is a water resources engineer and he came over and helped Philip plan a french drain, which is really just a gigantic ditch with a corrugated tube and gravel in it.....

Special thanks to Curt, Justin, Shane, and Tony for helping us dig this ditch! Also, thanks to Sara for delivering lunch! All in all we had one physicist, one water resources engineer, one biomedical engineer, and two electrical engineers working to dig a ditch! We may have had overqualified help, but we payed them in gumbo, so I think it worked out.

Now as the backyard drains towards the house hopefully the ditch will stop the water from getting to us. Instead it will pipe the water all the way around the sun room and out the other side of the house down the hill!

After two half days of hauling 2.88 tons of gravel to the back yard in buckets (thanks Tony and Ann!) we have a finished project:

Now, to put the deck back together....

If you want to see more detailed pictures you can look here. Also, I wanted to add that I am so grateful to have a husband that is willing to work this hard to make sure our home is a safe place to live! Thanks Philip!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Kirk Cameron and the Fireproof movie

So, I know it's been awhile since I posted. I have a few posts that are in the making, but until then I wanted to share what we learned at the Fireproof conference that Philip and I attended a few weekends ago.
If you haven't seen the Fireproof movie, please do! It was made by the same church that made Facing the Giants, but it is a much better movie! Kirk Cameron plays the main character who is a fireman. Kirk Cameron, if you don't know, is a Christian and has several ministries that he is involved in, including Way of the Master.

Here are my notes from the conference:

How to Fireproof your Marriage:
Session One:
  1. The heart of the problem is a problem of the heart. "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" Jeremiah 17:9 (The condition of your heart is really the foundation of all of your other problems.) Your second birth is as radical as your first. Before you were born, you weren't there and then you were! Before being saved, your spiritual life is nonexistent, then it is there!
  2. Singing Sinatra or Surrendering Self The hymn sung in Hell is "I did it my way." Be on alert for separateness between you and your spouse and constantly remember to put your spouse's needs above your own.
  3. Burning Bridges and Building Altars Once a dog finds a feeding ground he will continue to come back to that feeding ground again and again to feed. You can burn the bridges to the feeding ground, but the dog will find another way to get there. We are just like dogs when it comes to temptation. We can burn bridges to the temptations that we face, but if we don't build an altar where the feeding ground was, we will continue to return there. We have to replace our temptation for sin with a love of God!
Session Two: This session was really for the men, but it benefited the wives so I took notes!

"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." 1 Peter 3:7 (KJV)

Kirk dissected the above verse in this way:

"Dwell with them" - spend time with your wife
  • 15 min/day - sit and converse with your wife everyday (free of other distractions)
  • 1 evening/week - Date Night!
  • 1 day/month - Spend the whole day together
  • 1 weekend/year - Get away from the house, the kids, the jobs, etc.
"according to knowledge" - with understanding, study your wife - go to school!
  1. "Nothing" doesn't mean nothing!
  2. Romance comes from sacrifice and planning not convenience
  3. Genuine compliments are never wasted
  4. A little help goes a long way
"giving honor" - value who she is and what she does with every available means that you have. Public recognition - What do you say about her to others when she is not around? If your co-workers were asked about your spouse (if they had never met), what could they say about them?

"as to the weaker vessel (body)" - Protection - Protect your wife - be patient with your wife when she desires safety and manage your anger.

"heirs together of the grace (blessings) of life" Open up and share with your wife

"so that your prayers may not be hindered" Pray together

Men are responsible to God for the condition of their marriage!

Also, while we are there Warren Barfield played and he was amazing to see! He wrote the song that became theme song of the Fireproof movie. He was really funny and his acoustic version of "Love is not a Fight" gave me goosebumps. Here is the normal video with scenes from the movie. If you don't have time to watch the video, the lyrics speak volumes so here they are (I LOVE the last stanza - it makes me cry):

Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It's a house we enter in
Then commit to never leave

So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We'll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it's something worth fighting for

To some, love is a word
That they can fall into
But when they're falling out
Keeping that word is hard to do


Love will come to save us
If we'll only call
He will ask nothing from us
But demand we give our all


I will fight for you
Would you fight for me?
It's worth fighting for

I hope you enjoyed these notes and lyrics! Pass these on to anyone who is married!

Update: I just read that will be releasing copies of the conference for sale sometime this week. Check their website or FB for more info.