Sunday, May 29, 2011

Though the Mountains Be Shaken…

A few days ago we finally got our internet service back again after a month without it, so I am finally updating this blog.  We are at least glad it was not the electricity that was out, we only had to go without power for 4 days.   With all that said, the reason for it was the tornado that devastated our community on April 27th.  We had left that afternoon for a WeCare staff event for the weekend.  Four hours after we left is when the tornado came through.  Our neighbors called us informing us of what happened and letting us know everyone on our street was fine.  We stayed the night in Atmore and returned home the next afternoon.  Below are pictures of us just arriving home. A few of the neighbors came to welcome us home.
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It was good to see the neighbors were alright and hearing their stories of what happened.  Above, we are taking a walk around the house and checking out the damage. Below is a picture of when we just got home, never so good to be home.tornado 2011 197
Below are some pictures of the trees that fell around our house. The garbage can you see below, was sitting there before the storm and never got hit.  We were spared, but a block away was a different story.
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The tree below was our pecan tree, gave some nice pecans and shade to our back yard. Not any more.  If you look hard enough my truck is in that mess.  But it only had minor damage.
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           With the good help of family pictured below, we had the debris cleaned up and looking much better.  I call them our first responders, arriving here less than 3 days after the storm hit.  We were so glad to have them here and feel the support from home.  They got a lot of work done in a few days, all our yard mess, some of the neighbors and others in the area.  The support of family and friends back in Pa was overwhelming, we can’t begin to repay.  I will post later of all the support we had.tornado 2011 310 They brought some of C.A.R.E.’s equipment(a disaster relief organization based out of Lancaster, Pa), who are now set up base at the church where we attend.  Mom did a lot of cleaning in our house, yard work outside and of course time well spent with the children.  Thanks mom!   Brothers John, with son Alex, Jadon and bro-in-law Elvin did a lot of cleanup even though it might not have seemed that way.  It was a real encouragement having them be here for a few days.
Below are some pictures of people I was able to help with cleaning out some of their personal belongings. The first picture is friends of ours from church who lost their home.  The house moved toward the street 30 yds while they were in the basement.  Robert broke his femur and his wife her ankle.  Their son had minor scrapes.
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Below a young man from CARE (not pictured) and myself were helping gather up some personal belongings of this family before the rain.  An older couple owned this place and they were in the basement when the storm hit.  This place was real close to our home, just a couple blocks away.May 2011 021 Below are a few pictures of the Pleasant Grove area, we wish we would have pictures of before. But you never think of taking pictures of your neighborhood.  Google maps is a good way to see how a property looked before the storm. 
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We have one of those inspirational calendars and this is the verse we had for April 27th, the day of the storm.
Psalm 19:14-16, “Because He loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
So many people’s stories are of being protected and escaping death by a miracle.  When you see the houses destroyed and then you hear how the people survived that were in them is nothing short of a miracle.
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Above on left is what you saw a lot of in the days after the storm.  People finding every way possible to serve.  Drinks, food, gas, and any other supplies you could think of.  The picture was taken in front of our house, we were out cleaning our yard and they stopped and made sure we had plenty to drink and eat.  The men on the picture, above right, were walking the street and stopped to make sure everyone was accounted for in our residence. It gave you a weird feeling being asked that question.   Below, the guys in the blue hats were the search and rescue men, only 10 reported deaths in Pleasant Grove.  Hard to believe when you see all the destroyed homes.
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Above, I couldn’t resist the picture of mom and Ava.  Getting some special attention from Grandma which she doesn’t get as often as she needs being 850 miles away.  And last but not least our children have been a blessing more than ever.  They have been real “troopers” as we had our schedules and lives rearranged in the last few weeks. 
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… “yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.  Isaiah 54:10

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Update of the Last Few Weeks


We have been enjoying a beautiful spring here in the south.  Lots of warm weather and plenty of rain.  With that comes the green grass, azaleas blooming , and of course the itch to work outside.  Here are some pictures of updating we did to the front of the house. 

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Below are some pictures of the back of our house before and after.   The large magnolia tree was taken down and new grass seeded with some rocks and roses.  Small amount of work but it made a whole new feel to the back yard.  Now we can grow some grass and feels a lot more open.

area for patio

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What was once a yard full of weeds is now some nice grass, which means less dirt in the house and a cleaner feel.  Its fun mowing the yard again.  We hope the summer heat doesn’t do to much damage to it.  The projects have been a whole lot of fun and a time for doing what I love to do.  In this situation working with dirt, you can make it do whatever you tell it to.  And in the end you see what has been accomplished.   Its been a perfect spring for getting new grass a good start.

back property

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With spring being here also means it’s time for baseball!  We decided to get Dexter signed up again this year.  He showed a lot of interest in playing ball and we enjoy getting acquainted with more folks in the area.  We have some great people in this community who take an interest in organizing the baseball for the kids.  Below is a picture of the team he is playing for this year, the Pleasant Grove Lightning.


These guys are doing real good so far this year with 4 wins and no loses.  We have some great coaches who want to make sure the boys have fun playing.  Dexter is in the middle of the group picture and below he is up to bat.  He is having a lot of fun playing and making new friends.

this 1For those of you who have never seen what a storm pit looks like here in the south, the picture below shows what the inside of one is like.  Just yesterday was the first I got to see in one.  We had some tornado watches out for our area and the neighbor thought we should join them in the storm pit. They needed help opening the door so I helped them get in and Dexter wanted to stay with them.  The rest of us never made it in, before we found out the storm took a turn and missed us.   Twice this past week they had put out tornado watches and had the siren blowing.  We usually end up with lots of rain and strong winds.

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The past few months Charmaine has been going through some preschool books with Dexter and Isaiah.  They did a real good job and it helped mom in doing something educational with the boys.  They all found some satisfaction in completing their lessons each day.  Charmaine came up with the idea of having a graduation for them.  Her and Miss Jean ,sitting in on the picture, made some gowns for the boys.  The picture above is the boys receiving their diplomas and below is the “graduating class of 2011”.  I don’t know if we are on to something here or not, the fact of homeschooling the boys.  She had a lot of fun with it and plans to homeschool kindergarten yet.   After that we will have to see how its going and if Charmaine wants to continue on.  We had a fun graduation party with Miss Jean as our honored guest. 

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I had to add some pics of the ladies of the house below.  Ava is doing a real good job of not letting her brothers get the best of her.  Telling them “no,no” at times making sure they don’t overstep their boundaries. She loves to sing along with us or carry her own tune at times.  Us “men” in the house love our mom and sis, we sure couldn’t do without them.

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Record Snowfalls in Birmingham

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  This winter we have had two record snowfalls, early in January we had 3 inches and a couple of weeks ago we had 2 inches.  Everyone says this is very unusual for Alabama.  Back in December there was a measurable snowfall while we were in Pa for Christmas.  So that makes for three noticeable amounts of snow.  We love it, especially that the north is having so much snow and we are missing out on it.  The storm early in January came on a week day and of course I couldn’t go into the prison.  Seriously, it wasn’t possible. There is no treatment for ice and you are looked at in a bad way if you try to get out in it. 

Thankfully we brought a sled from Pa along down with us, cause we made use of it.  We went to the local park that has a nice hill and had some fun sledding.  Had a lot of people wonder where we got that sled.  The things you might see being used as a sled are:  a piece of metal bent up in the front, cardboard, a laundry basket, a garbage container lid, etc.  So no wonder everyone looked at us envious with what we had.  You don’t find plastic sleds at the stores around here.  If you notice the picture on left, that’s the snowman that  we made.


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This would have been Ava’s first time out in the snow.  She loved the rides down the hill,  no fear.  Not sure if that’s a good thing or not.  She doesn’t have a choice but to keep up with her brothers.

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This past fall we picked up 18 gallons of pecans from our tree in the backyard.  Above, we tackled the job of cleaning them.  Till it was all said and done we had about 4 gallons of cleaned pecans. Wasn’t the most thrilling job and were glad when we were finished.  Yea, we had plenty of helping hands!!

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Charmaine has been doing preschool work with Dexter the last 6 months or more.  He really enjoys it and takes pride in his accomplishments. At the end of each book is a test and when he is through with it she takes him out for a “date” to celebrate.

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Isaiah wants to do “schoolwork” so he gets a coloring book and sits down with his brother.  I am proud of my wife in taking the time to teach these basic, but yet so important skills.  It gives them all a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

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Ava wants to join in with whats going on!  “Don’t leave me out”.  It amazes me at how it is so easy to think these small minds are not understanding or comprehending.  But it is no joke,  they have a lot more comprehension than we know.  She doesn’t miss a beat. Thats what the picture above is,if my brothers are at the table looking at books (schoolwork) why can’t I?February 2011 025

I couldn’t resist posting this picture of our neighbor James Horton.  Him and his wife stopped one day and chatted for awhile.  He always has candy in his pocket for the children. He is feeding Ava a piece of chocolate.  They are so kind to our children, and give them a lot of attention.  They don’t have any grandchildren of their own.  Anytime the Horton’s are driving by, the boys will make a run to the street in hopes of Horton stopping with some candy.  We love our neighbors!

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The picture above shows the good help I have around here. I did some tree trimming one day and told Dexter that I need his help and showed him what needs to be done.  Cleaning up the pieces of wood I had cut for firewood, explaining to him what we will use if for, campfires, smores, etc.!!  Either way he gave me some good help and in no time it was all cleaned up. He even had it all nicely stacked when he was finished. 

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“It is no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in TRUTH”, I remember growing up and seeing that plaque in the house. Never really understanding the meaning of it.  But now as we see our children grow up it makes sense. May our lives as parents be an example of godliness and walking in the TRUTH.  So that the next generation, our children, would be pointed to a relationship with God, Jesus Christ our Redeemer and Savior.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

january 2011


To any of you who follow this blog, it is long overdue for an update. There are no excuses for the delay and the “slower” lifestyle we are enjoying should be more reason to have time to keep this blog up to date. 

Our winter is moving by real fast and I am having thoughts of getting the garden ready for planting.  We did enjoy the time we had with our families and friends over the holiday’s.  Being there for the Christmas and New Year came and went to fast. Always plenty to do and so many people show us kindness with invitations for dinner, wanting to stay connected and hear what’s going on in our lives.

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This picture is priceless, grandma spending time playing candy land.  This was the same game I grew up playing with and never dreamt my sons would be using it.  Mom was so kind in opening her home for us again, we stayed there while we were up for the holiday’s.  We always enjoy the time and the children some much needed time with grandma. 

Below, the picture shows Dexter getting a pony ride and Isaiah walking along side. Rebekah, a cousin, is the one giving them the rides.  We always have to pay a visit to “the farm”, the boys could spend endless hours there and never get bored.  This is where I grew up for about 20 years of my life.

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We also got a chance to do some sledding, Dexter and Isaiah are in the middle with cousins Courtney and Jordan along with them.  They were moving alright, their expressions give that away.

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Our latest family happenings has been celebrating Isaiah’s 3rd birthday, this was on January 24th.  His birthday was over the week of the WeCare crusade, so with all that business we never did get to invite friends for a party.  But he still made sure to soak it all up.  Through the day he would at random ask mom to sing “happy birthday” and even started it once on his own. So he was loving the occasion.  But that is Isaiah, he enjoys the moment.   When we tell him “good job” for something he will agree, “yep”, for what he did.  No sense of pride, just an innocent agreeing on what he accomplished.

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   He was thrilled with his gifts, some came from grandparents, cousins, and of course mom and dad. Actually the one tractor came from Ben Fisher who was staying with us for the week of the Crusade.  3 years old, its hard to imagine.  He was born while we were still living in Strasburg.  I had to think of where all we lived in his life time already, we would have had 5 different address’ in those 3 years.  It makes me wonder what the next 3 years have in store.  If only God would just let us know what He’s thinking.  Right or not?  No, but I am thankful for a God who does care and gives guidance for the future.


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Another one of my wifes cake designs, sure does a wonderful job. The baking department at Publix can’t compete with that. The picture is not the best but it is a horse and the #3 is for 3 years old. 

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When you look back in time (even only a few years) and you notice how much can change.  From a helpless son in his dads arms, to a little helper for mommy and daddy. Now he loves to help mom in the kitchen it can be making donuts (like the picture shows), setting breakfast table, and even helping clean off the table.  He is on this thing where he wants to help in the kitchen, thank God for a patience mom who loves his help.  The picture in the right is his first hunting trip with dad.  He kept begging to go with me and this day was a warm afternoon, his older brother was sick, so it was his opportunity.  He did great, kept looking through the binoculars trying to find deer, and he kept quiet.   We didnt see anything, but had a good time anyway.  His comment was that the deer were scared of us, thats why we didn’t see any.  We had a good story to tell mom when we got back. We didn’t bring the meat home but we tried our hardest!!


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In the early part of January, the boys and myself decided to join the “rednecks” to watch the monster truck show.  It was close by and we found some tickets for cheap, so we couldn’t resist.  Had a lot of fun, if only I could get these guys to sit this still in church!  Mom and Ava decided they would go shopping instead of join us, the noise would have been to much for Ava.

My goal is to try harder and keep this blog up to date.  If thats not happening someone needs to comment or email and remind us the fact.