Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Nature's crystal adorns Dallas

Last night it started raining heavily as the temperature dropped, and this morning our world was 19 deegrees and ice (not snow!) glazed. It's so gorgeous but so treacherous. Double click on each picture to expand for detail. The good news is that the sun is out and temps are climbing rapidly. It should be above freezing soon, hitting a possible high in the low 40s by late afternoon. This is not a big deal to northerners, but everything comes to a screeching halt here in Texas when we get frozen precipitation. Schools have been closed for 2 days, but everything should be back to normal by tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hope-y Change-mass!

(new set of photos posted on Flickr.) I heard Mark Steyn say that a few weeks ago, and it cracked me up. He, of course, was manipulating the traditional holiday greeting to conform to the mantra of those who worship at the altar of Obama. Don't worry, I'm not going on a rant. What's done is done. My audacity of hope is that things won't be as terrible these next 4 years as I'm expecting them to be. It's just hard to know what to expect since he has yet to give any specifics, only large, flourishing generalities. But I can't seem to shake the ticking time bomb feeling.
So, Christmas has come and gone, but not without at least one crisis. Tony, Millie, and I enjoyed our 3 days in Corpus Christi (photo above taken on Padre Island) without incident. Jenni, Dave, and Zoey had a great road trip to Pittsburgh, stopping in Nashville along the way, but their other two destinations--Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.--never materialized due to illness in the two families they were going to visit. They did have a wonderful time, though, and Zoey was amazing in the car during four 10-hour days on the road. Erika, Josh, and Leo spent 3 enjoyable days in Round Rock with Josh's family for Christmas. It was what met them when they returned home that sent them into a tailspin from which they have not completely recovered.
As they pulled into their driveway on Dec. 26, they noticed a small stream of water running down their driveway from the garage. When they opened the garage door, they saw water pouring out of the house from beneath the laundry room door and walls. Once inside, they were horrified to see that their entire house was flooded with several inches of water! Apparently the flexible hose that connects their master bathroom toilet to the water pipe broke, and water was spewing forcefully for an estimated 10 to 15 hours. Their insurance company promptly sent out a very good restoration company, and when the chief guy walked in and took a look, he just shook his head and said, "Wow!", never a good sign. They immediately went to work, pulling up carpet and padding, and completely removing and hauling away the yards and yards of beautiful Pergo that Erika and Josh had painstakingly and lovingly laid by hand for weeks and weeks prior to their moving into their home 2 years ago. Pergo cannot take heavy water (attached are 2 photos from this past April to give an idea of how the house looked before the water). 39 fans and 9 dehumidifiers were set up to start the drying process, requiring an electrician to come out and add extra circuit breakers to handle the extra load. The air conditioning was set at 72 to help rid the house of moisture. Beautiful baseboards were pulled off and holes were drilled into the drywall to allow air to circulate inside the walls to dry them. Moisture readings were taken every day for several days until it was determined that the house was dry. Antimicrobial solution was sprayed to inhibit the growth of mold.
So they're basically back to starting from scratch with bare concrete. Every piece of furniture--Leo's crib, the rocking chair where Erika nurses him, the wonderful coffee table they made by hand and the lovely rug beneath that they finally found on clearance, the massive desk where Josh's work computers reside, their wood dining set, everthing on the floors of their closets, tools in the garage, pretty much everything they own--sat in several inches of water for at many hours. The insurance company is replacing their floor coverings after their deductible is met. They have been given a modest allowance for furniture repairs. The damaged drywall and baseboards will be repaired or replaced. After 3 1/2 weeks, Josh and Erika are over the initial shock and are handling the destruction and repairs very ably. And they recognize many blessings from this crisis.
As shocking and paralyzing as this situation has been, a fire would have been much worse. Having supportive family, friends, and church nearby has been a lifeline to sustain them while dealing with the enormity of the situation. When Jenni and Dave found out about the flooding, they did not hesitate to invite Erika, Josh, and Leo to move in with them until the house could be lived in again. The two families enjoyed living together for two weeks, and it was a very special time of bonding for Zoey and baby Leo. There were several other offers to house E, J. and L, but they decided staying with J, D, and Z would be most convenient. The insurance company, while not exactly over-the-top generous, has been pretty decent with its compensation and compassion. Many, many volunteers have come forward to offer any help needed.
The kids are now back in their house, awaiting the repairs and floor coverings. They estimate it will be another two to three weeks until things are back to normal, but they're very happy to be home. The baby is doing well and seems to be oblivious to the upheaval surrounding him. Josh's job allows him quite a lot of latitude, so on most days when workers will be in the house, he can work from home. Retiree Tony has also volunteered to be with Erika and Leo if Josh has to work at the church.
So that's what's been happening in our family the past few weeks. What is that line? "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."? Probably. But even better is "I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13). We do serve an awesome, amazing God Who never give us more than we can handle. Our faith is secure even during times of testing, and we can wholeheartedly and unreservedly give Him the glory in all situations. His grace has sustained our family too many times to count, and we thank Him for always being there in every circumstance.
Hope-y change-mass and a very happy new year, y'all!