I think the 4th of July is my family's second favorite holiday. There is an excitement about the 4th that does not compare with any other holiday except Christmas.
I have a love/hate relationship with the 4th of July!
First, FOOD! I love planning for, cooking and eating on the 4th! We have pretty much designated baby back ribs as the food of the 4th! Add in cheesy potatoes, grilled corn, deviled eggs, poke cake, and watermelon. YUM! I make my own bbq sauce. It always smells so good! But there is always so much food! My extended family does not come over and the past 2 years Lacey has been gone to CIY MOVE. We eat 4th of July food for days!
Second, Location! Joplin's big celebration takes place at Landreth Park, next to Ozark Christian College. There is nothing better than meeting friends up on the hill by the OCC chapel and watching the fireworks explode over our heads. It puts a whole other dimension to the fireworks. But everyone else in Joplin enjoys the show too! We used to live an 1/8th of a mile (if that) from Ozark and it would take 1-2 hours to get home! As much as I hated that, I couldn't resist the thrill and excitement of being right there!
Third, and this is the biggest love.hate, BUYING FIREWORKS! I hate spending money on fireworks. It is the biggest waste of money. It is literally burning money. I dig my heels in every year. But Zane drives me up to one of those tents, Lacey is usually in the backseat bouncing. There is just this evil draw to the fireworks, an adrenaline, a thrill, so much excitement. I give in. Now mind you, I complain as I am ooooooohhhhhhhing and awwwwwwwwwwwwwwing! I didn't grow up with fireworks, they were illegal in Chattanooga. I guess my love and excitement grew watching Lacey look on in wonder. That still gets to me today coupled with the laughter and memories made every year.
I love our freedoms in this country. I love being able to celebrate our countries birth. I'm thankful for even the silly things that make us smile and ign
After last night's blog, "Home is where the heart is", my mind has been flooded with all sorts of memories of what made our home so special. Memories filled with love, laughter and a few tears.
There are 8 children in my family. We are spread out literally all over the world. There is a big age difference too. All of this plays a part in the fact that we are not ALL able to get together very often. There is probably good reason why we shouldn't all get together at one time! Ha!
1. We moved to Chattanooga the first few days of December 1979. My brother Tom was a Senior in high school and did not want to leave for that last semester, he stayed in Joplin. He did come for that first Christmas. Tom and I had a favorite cake, chocolate with cherries mixed in the batter. We convinced mom that cherries needed to go in the icing too. I do not remember why we did that or why we thought it was so funny because Mom sure didn't find it amusing! I guess the icing was runny and she couldn't make it right, I'm not sure, I don't really remember. Here is a little secret (sorry all WF supporters) I hate folding the newsletter. I don't know why because it isn't a big deal. It drives me crazy! Christmas Eve that year was spent folding the newsletter, eating chocolate cherry cake with weird icing well past midnight. Maybe there were a few tears over folding the newsletter, but that night was filled with laughter and that's what I remember.
2. In 1984 my parents thought it would be a great idea for all the kids and their families to come home for Christmas. Chris had to work, had a baby and was pregnant and could not make it. Tom was in the Air Force and stationed in California with no leave. There were 10 grand kids at that time, I think. It was a full house. Micah had been adopted and arrived in the US only a few months before. We had seen him a couple of times, but he was still getting to know us. One morning Mom and I were sitting on the kitchen floor watching cookies bake. I'm not sure why we were doing this, maybe we were trying to hide! Ha! We looked up and sweet little Micah was staring at us from around the cabinets. The first couple of times he looked at us like we were crazy, the he ran back to their room. The third time he smiled and then ran back. Fourth time he must've thought being crazy was fun because he came over and sat with us! That began a special lifelong bond with Micah. When it was all over with our vents had been stuffed with 2-3 bags of cooked egg noodles, a big box of crayons glued upright to the concrete basement floor, and many other things that now bring much laughter!
3. Since my parents didn't learn anything from that Christmas, they decided to have another family Christmas in 1994. By this time there were 25 grand kids! Is it bad to admit that I was so happy I had my own house a few blocks away and Lacey was only 3 months old so I had to take breaks with her? Haha! It was crazy! Mom decided it would be a lot of fun to make Christmas cookies with the grand kids! I don't think she has made Christmas cookies since! The house had 10 feet ceilings. We found icing, flour, dough on the ceilings. There were feet print on the walls, Mom had to re-paint walls once everyone left. It was crazy and still kind of stresses me out thinking about it, but I wouldn't trade those memories for anything.
Two of my brothers have now passed away, only making those memories even more precious. The grand kids are all grown up and most have kids of their own. This makes it even more rare that we all gather. Makes those precious memories easier to hold and wanting to hold on tighter!
For me, the house or how ever fancy it is decorated or furnished, or if I pull out all the different holiday or seasonal decorations
"HOME is where love resides, MEMORIES are created, FRIENDS always belong, and LAUGHTER never ends."
That sounds cheesy! Cheesy or not tho, the older I get the more I realize it is true!
For as long as I can remember my mom made our house a home. Not only for us kids, but for our friends! Friends were in our house all the time. I was 10 when my sister started at OCC. Our home was their home away from home. They were there all the time. They sought out the place they could go and feel a little less homesick. My brother Tom was still in high school at the time and his friends came by to raid the pantry and to talk...and probably to see what college girls my sister had brought home. When we moved to Chattanooga and lived across the street from the church, it was the same for my friends.
Our house wasn't always seasonally decorated or over the top, but it was welcoming and inviting. It was a safe place, it was a home away from home for my friends. There would be days I would come home from school and my friends were already in the house or waiting on us to get home. My mom always made sure she had "the regulars" favorite drinks and snacks in the pantry and fridge! I am assuming since they kept coming back they felt loved!
We also had crafts, talks, laughs...even had an easter egg hunt when we were 17, 18, 19 years old.
Those days in Chattanooga are some of my best and favorite memories! Although we moved away from there 27 (eek! really?) years ago, it is still home because I left a big piece of my heart there.
When Lacey became Middle School age, without planning, our house became that house in our neighborhood. There were kids here all the time. Kids were here when Lacey wasn't! My heart was here and it was home!
Lacey's Freshman year at college, kids came home with her even for an hour! Kids would come to the car when we would visit Lacey to say hi and I hope to help ease that homesickness.
Tonight, My heart is in Haiti and I wish I was HOME! I find my heart in Haiti a lot! I find myself wanting to be home, to my family that welcomed me a long time ago, no questions asked.. I love seeing Francius Joseph! We grew up together. Despite cultural and language differences we are so much like brother and sister! Our greeting always starts with me saying he has a big head and him saying something back to me and then laughing and hugging. I love the first hugs from my kids.
Tonight is a little different. Francius called me with urgent news that 7 of our kids at the Jesus Loves Me Home have the Chikungunya virus. This virus is not deadly, I know they will be ok. This virus is carried by mosquitoes. It causes fever, vomiting and painful joints. I've heard the pain in the joints is so bad that you cannot move. I want to be home to hold my babies. I want to be there to try to make them feel better. Our two youngest and two 6 year olds are the worst and have gone to the hospital. They have been vomiting and have not been able to eat for a few days. Please pray for all the kids sick with this, but especially for the 4 littlest babies.
Thinking about my first solo trip to Haiti and the many trips before that, we had very little communication with the outside world! We had very little of anything period!
I can remember setting up a schedule of who called home and when! It was so, so hot and we didn't even have fans! But Teleco across the street had air conditioning! The best part of our day was when someone was calling home and we ALL had to go with that person so we could have those few minutes of cool! Never mind the fact that It was a VERY small room and by the time you put 20 of us and at least 20 Haitians in room there was no AC to be found!
We also had no clue what was going on in the world! We would get bits and pieces of news every time someone called home. We didn't even have radios. We didn't even have steady phone lines to call within Haiti or right there in Gonaives. It was nice in a sense but we also felt totally cut off from the rest of the world.. At times it was a pain and we were uncomfortable, but what memories!
Eventually, unbeknownst to me, Elias, our trusty hotel owner, bought a TV and had CNN. He kept it hidden in his room! Elias was a short, pot bellied, Lebanese man. He had a thick Lebanese/Kreyol accent and never moved very quickly! I has in Haiti in 1992 with Clyde and Leona Brooker. My Dad and Aunt were also in Haiti but they were at another part of the island. At that time a coup or riots were happening every other day in Haiti. I pulled into our hotel courtyard and Elias came running towards me, throwing up his arms and screaming, "Russo has fallen! Russo has fallen!" Elias' actions scared me for one and I automatically thought we were in the middle of a coup! Of course I wondered if my Dad was safe and if we were going to be able to meet up! I started asking Elias if we needed to leave, if we were in danger, what we needed to do. He looked at me like I was crazy and kept repeating "Russo! Russo!" Finally out of frustration he led me to his room to show me his secret! Ha! Communism had fallen in Russia! I think he was sorry he showed me because we were addicted to the story! Especially when my dad arrived!
These days, tonight in fact, as I am writing this blog, I am talking to 3 of my Haitian friends, in Haiti. It amazes me the cell phones and the internet! Granted the internet is still sketchy and have to hit timing just right but we have it! I have my own cell phone in Haiti and can reach any number of people locally, country wide or word wide in the matter of seconds. In a few minutes Junior is going to skyoe me so I can see my kids and talk to them! I look forward to that because I miss them so much!
I miss the days past when there were no distractions from the modern world but I sure do love hearing from
Tonight is Joplin High School's prom. My facebook is starting to fill up with prom pictures and fun! I'm teary eyed! I think back to just a year ago! I find myself really missing the stress, the nervousness, the giddiness, the joy of getting Lacey ready! Her date would've already picked her up and we would've gathered at a neighbor's house where all the neighborhood kids gathered to have million pictures taken! I can see and hear the kids perfectly.
I'm also sad because it feels like I didn't cherish those moments enough! I tried! Dress shopping with Lacey left me begging to be shot! haha She is so picky and opinionated that it was torture. Although she learned to humor me and try on dresses I grabbed and although she would never admit it, I think almost every formal we bought and she LOVED was one I picked out! I win! Make up, hair, nails ... it was a rush of sorts and missed. How did my girl go from newborn to almost a college Sophomore in just a blink of an eye?
My Dad, Zane & Lacey are going to Haiti in September. (That will be a whole other blog entry.) Lacey decided it would be easier for her to leave directly from Springfield. Originally she was going to be flying all the way to Haiti by herself and arrive 5 minutes after Dad & Zane. Remember Lacey has traveled to Haiti since she was 18 months old and will be 20 in August! A million thoughts ran thru my mind...what if she missed a flight? Does she really know how to check in? Will she lose her passport? What if she gets to Haiti and Zane has been delayed in the states? Honestly, I knew she would be ok. She can maneuver thru airports better than I can. I have made her do those things for a reason.
As I was fretting, I remember my first parentless trip to Haiti was when I was 19 and I was taking a team of people with me! My parents have often told me they were stressed about me going alone. I'm sure they were thinking "where did the time go?"
I remember thinking about that trip... I knew it all, nothing was going to stop me, it was me against the world. You remember that invincible feeling! That has been quite a few years ago! I have lost a lot of that invincible feeling! Time has flown by since that time.
Two weeks later instead of getting a phone call from Rich, we received a text from Terri. I don't remember the exact words but it was something like, "Lori, we need prayers! We just left the doctor's office after Rich's yearly exam and something is not right." I text Terri back not knowing what to think. The next text was read with a heavy heart and complete disbelief! "Doctor says blood work is showing elevated cells like leukemia, but that can't be! Oncologist tomorrow." "No God! Please NO!" That was the first of many prayers.
The next day we were sitting in the waiting room with the family who had gathered waiting to hear, well to be honest, waiting to hear there had been a mistake reading the blood work! That was not the case. But you know what I remember most? Rich's big smile and hearing him say, "God's in control!"
Rich and Terri flew to Houston to MD Anderson that weekend so Rich could be tested again. "Please God let their have been a mistake!"
Rich spent the next year fighting his hardest to beat the leukemia. There were so many prayers said, there were questions asked over and over. When we were worn down from not getting the answers WE wanted, it was RICH who told us time and again, "God is in control!" Even when he was so sick and didn't feel like it, he was at church worshiping and serving God. I can remember sitting in the video booth and watching him serve communion. He wore a medical mask so he didn't pick up any germs. He was thinner but still looked so strong! I held back, most of the time unsuccessfully, a million tears and silently saying "Please God! Please!"
No matter how bad Rich felt, he had that smile, his kind words, and was way more concerned about other people!
On this day a year ago, I was getting ready for work when my dad called. Rich was in the hospital in Joplin and my Dad had gone up early to pray with him. The news was not good and we needed to get to the hospital quick! We woke Lacey up and ran! It was a long, tear filled, sad for us day. There were a few laughs, a lot of hugs, even more tears, and good byes! It was so difficult, but I would not have been anywhere else that day!
I've missed my friend over this last year! I can hear little things he would say. I know he would have called when we dropped Lacey off at school! I know the times he would've called or text Lacey with a little bit of encouragement. I still look for him to be serving communion or handing me a pack of gum or waiting for him to poke his head around the sanctuary door to ask how we are doing. Rich and Zane were always game to go out to try the new little dive restaurants and I know Zane misses those lunch dates.
Rich was a man after God's own heart. He was humble, he was meek, he was generous, he was thankful, he extended grace and forgiveness. I'm sure Rich was not as perfect as he seemed all the time, but that was few and far between.He touched so many lives. Even with our kids in Haiti! Rich would send candy for them every time we went and the kids all knew who Rich was!
Rich's journey over that year became a learning and growing journey for all of us who knew him. Some of those were hard lessons. Our prayers were not answered the way we wanted them to be, but GOD IS IN CONTROL!
After Zane and I married and moved back to Joplin Mo, we started attending Villa Heights Christian Church. It was there that we became acquainted with Rich & Terri Weisensee.
It was your typical church friendship at first: seeing each other at Sunday School, church on Sundays & Wednesdays, church activities, etc. Terri was quiet and Rich had a beaming smile. They had 2 girls, Rachel and Megan. Slowly that friendship grew.
Lacey was born 4 years later and did not like being away from me, so we kept her in church. Rich, Terri, the girls, and Terri's parents sat in the pew behind us! As Lacey grew, we would hear giggles coming from that pew. Rachel was so excited one day because she had taught Lacey to stick out her tongue! Terri's mom had Lacey addicted to "smarties" by the time she was 6 months old! There was a bond forming, the friendship growing stronger.
Lacey wouldn't go to any class until she was an older 2 year old. Rich and Terri were her first Wee Worship teachers. She adored Rich & Terri and the girls. The feeling was pretty mutual. Lacey was an extension to their family, after all she acted just like Rachel! Not only did they help teach her the Bible, they helped nurture Lacey's love of acting and dance. They loved it when Lacey would randomly break out singing the "Cops" theme song during class! Or when they were playing with play dough and Lacey's mean side would come out and she would make big blobs and say in a mean tone, "You want some of this?" Rich and Terri loved that at ages 4-8, 9, 10 Lacey's favorite movie was the Broadway production of "Cats"! I think there was comfort in the fact that we both had crazy kids!
The friendship grew to include home Bible studies, helping each other out with different projects, dinners out, watching our daughters perform at Joplin Little Theater, or other plays, dance recitals, softball games, phone calls, eventually weddings and being excited for their grandchildren. Our families had intertwined and become a non blood family ourselves.
Rich & Terri came and sat with me, held my hand, hugged me, cried with me during some of my darkest hours. Rich, through God, knew exactly when I needed to hear a kind word or see a smiling face. They made sure Lacey was ok and happy! Rich had lunch dates with Zane as often as possible!
Rachel and Megan had both married and moved away from Joplin so Rich and Terri were traveling to see them on the weekends. Rich had also started traveling a lot more for his job. We weren’t able to get together as much as we would’ve liked.
Late February two years ago Zane and I had lunch with Rich. Rich was getting over a cold. We talked about that and his great health in general. We talked about Lacey being a Senior and her future plans. We talked about Rachel and her acting career and Megan and her 3 boys and finally a little girl due the next month. It was a typical “catch up” lunch with a promise to have lunch again in two weeks
Today, I AM feeling another year older. Being sick all of February has not helped! Coughing until blacking out puts the years on you very quickly! I do not recommend that! :-)
This year has been full of a lot of big changes in my life.I do not like change. I have surprisingly handled those fairly well! Pretty sure those closest to me thought I would have had a complete breakdown and need to be locked up by now! I have to admit dealing with the changes and staying positive and strong has made me weary. I'm tired! I'm feeling several years older today!
As this birthday comes to a close I could focus on the negative of all the changes. I could focus on how lost I am without Lacey. It would be very easy for me to only think of my broken tailbone and the pain from that. It would be easy to still grieve over a dear friend and how unfair life can be!
But I will choose to look at that good things that have happened and smile! I will be happy that Lacey graduated with honors, has found her place in college, made all kinds of new friends, and is enjoying life! I will praise because God put such a great friend in my life especially during such a tough time in my life. The tailbone? I'll have to think harder to find a positive in that!
I look back over the last year and I see smiles: mine, my families, my friends, my kids in Haiti. I hear laughter. I feel hugs. I remember the good times, the sad times, the bad times, but most of all I remember the love! Most importantly, I'm thankful God
From pregnancy until now Lacey and I have been attached. It was rare that we were separated. People would always tell me I was doing her harm by letting her be so attached. As a side note, they were wrong! That child is fiercely independent! We have a bond that has been created from not only being mother & daughter, but also shared experiences and memories and having to completely rely on each other at times. It is a strong bond. She is my best friend, she is my heart!
That dreaded day in August 2013 came when Lacey moved to Springfield, Mo to attend Missouri State University. That first day I was honestly ok, I knew I'd be back up there the next day! That next day was rough. I was leaving my baby in the big, some times bad, world. She had tears in her eyes as we left each other. Watching her walk off was one of the hardest things I had to do! Part of my heart walked away with her that day.
There are still tears and a giant empty feeling when we say bye. I know I'm lucky because Lacey is only an hour away and we try to see each other once a week. But I miss her laughter, her goofiness. I miss my partner in crime. I miss her hectic schedule. I can hear her run thru the door and yell "Hi Mama! I love you" as she's running back out the door to one of her many activities. I miss her presence. I miss her constant joy. I miss her rolling those big brown eyes at me. I miss her Lacey-isms. I miss her bubbly self. I miss the pieces of my heart that she keeps with her every time we say goodbye! .
In case you are wondering, I saw Lacey last night! For now I'm convinced that NO it does not get any easier. It becomes different, but not any easier!
Hailey Owens. It's a name you may recognize.
Zane and I were sitting in the living room on February 18 when all 3 of our phones (Zane has one for work) set off that shrill warning alarm. There was an Amber Alert for a 10 year old from Springfield, Mo. That's way too close to home! Oh, poor girl and her poor family! Lord, help her to be ok. My second thoughts were my own daughter: Is Lacey ok? Was this little girl close to MSU?
If you have followed the story, little Hailey was kidnapped and murdered! My head hurts, stomach sick, and heart broken for this little girl and her family.
This incident is hitting me harder than most. Let's face it, in this sick world, kidnappings, crimes against children are becoming more and more frequent! I'm not sure what this is hitting harder. Yes it is close to home, but the incident in Golden City was closer. Maybe because it wasn't a school incident or that she had a cell phone or that she had tried to do everything right and do the things she had been taught! Or maybe it was that fact that she was out playing with friends in her neighborhood on a pretty, early Spring day. She had no cares in the world and was living the life of a 10 year old,
Long gone are those days...
I remember when Lacey was 10. We lived a few blocks from her school and in a neighborhood full of kids. At first I was scared to death to let her out of my sight. I lectured her on "stranger danger". With Lacey that was hard because she never met a stranger and was eager to talk to everyone! How do you balance that? How do you not take that away from a child but keep them safe? I quizzed her on what to do, she had "safe houses" she knew to get to in case there was someone after her and she had a cell phone. Eventually that lulled me into a false sense of security. I wanted desperately for Lacey to have a care free childhood, to play outside from dawn to dark, to enjoy neighborhood kids and games and riding bikes.
Long gone are those days...
That is really depressing... I pray for God to protect our children. I pray our world will turn away from evil.
I'm sick of being sick. When we came home from Haiti, we were exhausted and had the usual "recovery from Haiti" sickness. Add in the crazy "75 one day, 10 the next day" Missouri weather and you have Lori suffering from severe bronchitis. Or if you read my first blog, maybe it was Zane coughing on me at night!! :-)
Since a week ago Friday, when this hit me like a brick wall, I've sat in my recliner being miserable. All around my recliner looks like a small pharmacy. As I sit here coughing to the point of blacking out, I wish I was anywhere but here.
I've tried to go into work sporadically to stay up on my work, all the time sanitizing myself to death in order to not spread back to my Dad, who is recovering from pneumonia. I went to the car lot. I went to church one of the Sundays and youth group that night. We took a family day to Tulsa yesterday. Other than that, I've sat in this chair.
Today I was working on the newsletter. Kym has an article for this month so I was placing it in and adding in pictures. As I sat there feeling yucky, head heavy, chest stomped on and body weak, I read Kym's article again. Her words brought back our day to day life in Haiti. Looking thru pictures brought a smile to my face. They both brought about a strong desire to be back in Haiti.
I text Kym, "let's pack up and go to Haiti. I need some hugs, love, warmth, and peace". I sent and then laughed to myself. (I do that a lot in my little office. I'm probably the "crazy lady" in our office complex!) "Peace in Haiti?" Who in their right mind has said those two words in a sentence and meant it as a good thing? Ha!
My love for Haiti and the feeling I get while I am there is indescribable. The heat, the smell, the noise, the foreign words, the chaos... all sound and feel weirdly refreshing and peaceful right now. I'm sure at the time all of that would be driving me crazy, but for now I long for that crazy chaos, hugs from my sweet babies and a peace in my heart! .
Today was a big day in our family! One filled with stress, pins & needles, sick, nervous stomach, relief, disbelief, and excitement. That's a lot of emotions packed into one morning and afternoon.
Let me start from a few years ago. Without going into a lot of detail, I'll just say our little family hit a rough patch financially. We had to have help. At that time, especially, it felt like we would NEVER crawl out of that dark hole! That feeling has stayed with us up until today. It has/had some sort of stranglehold on us. We have worked to try to dig out, but the more we dug the bigger the hole became and more dirt was added in on top of us.
We have 2 cars, one ours and one for Lacey. Both were constantly breaking down. They were costing more and more. It was time to trade them for "new to us" cars. That scared us to even think about the process. After much freaking out and prayer, we are the owners of 2 new Kia Souls. After the purchase of new cars, we received a few other blessings!
Although the new cars are great and appreciated, the real excitement for me was the fact that I feel like we were able to crawl out of that hole and jump over a HUGE hurdle!
Lacey had left on a trip for the weekend and did not know we were able to get the cars. It was better than Christmas morning to be able to call her up and ask which color soul she wanted to drive! It was so good to see the relief and smile on Zane's face.
For today, everything is good and right and a blessing. I know tomorrow may be different so I pray I'm able to hold on to pieces of these feelings for the days to come!
For some reason the last two nights of sleep have been interrupted at 4am. I'm not usually a very nice person when this happens. I've always been told to try praying during that time. I have done that. In the right frame of mind I find it to be great, uninterrupted, quality time with God. I feel refreshed and rejoice in the time spent praying, praising, and reevaluating. That was not the case this morning.
Zane is sick and kept coughing on me. I was irritated. Sophie, one our cats, was sleeping next to my head like she does every night, but she was completely stretched out and sleeping sideways. If I got too close to "her space", she would stretch out further and kick me in the head. My back was hurting and I could not get comfortable. I had been sleeping off and on and I WAS GRUMPY!
I'm not sure what woke me at 4am. All I remember is a loud voice (in my head) saying "Be grateful"! UGH! Be grateful for what? My thoughts immediately flashed to sitting in the gazebo at the hotel in Haiti. I'm not sure why! My only real thought was the warm breeze we had each night.
"BE GRATEFUL"! For what? My next thought was Junior. "BE GRATEFUL"! For what? This kept going for several minutes. I saw little snippets of memories, all from Haiti.
Maybe because I was grumpy, God was telling me to get over it, I don't have it so bad. I may be irritated, but I have a nice, comfy, warm bed I'm sleeping in, I have covers and pillows and a warm house. Maybe God was preparing me for this cold, snowy day by reminding me of a time, a month ago when I was complaining about the heat. Maybe God just wanted to tell me to "Shut Up and BE GRATEFUL!"
Be grateful today! Your life is not as bad as it could be! Be thankful for what you do have and don't worry about the things you want and don't have!
Now that Lacey is off at college, I find myself with way too much time to think. For me, thinking leads to worrying and worrying leads to worst case scenario. So I thought maybe blogging and putting some of my thoughts down might help myself. You never know, at some point I might come up with a clever thought or idea in the process!