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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

An Unforgettable Day- August 27, 2011

August 27th is a day our family will never forget. It was the day that Hurricane Irene made her landfall in New Bern, NC. It's funny. The joke around New Bern is that you only have to watch out for hurricanes that have "old lady names":  Irene, Bertha, Fran, Hazel, etc. Our good friends, the Ronks, were visiting us at the time. I remember that they could've gone on to their next destination, but instead they decided to stick it out with us. They said they wanted to experience a hurricane because where they are from, Washington state, they experience earthquakes, and they wanted to see what a hurricane was like. The strength of Irene was a category 1-2. We had stayed at our house before with a cat 2 and everything was fine, so we thought it best to stay put. We did all the normal routine things to prepare. We filled our gas tanks, filled bathtubs, bought extra food (boy did we enjoy all that junk food Brian got!), taped up windows, and brought the animals in the garage, etc.  Brian said he wanted to stay up and "experience" the hurricane. The power was knocked out pretty early (around 9pm or so), so we stayed up playing games (Boggle especially) by candlelight till around 3:45am or so. We were all getting so sleepy! Finally, Brian pushed back his chair and said, "I can't believe you call this a hurricane! This is lame! I'm going to bed!" (I'll never forget those words!) Gary walked the dog on dry ground at almost 4:00am. We went to bed exhausted. I woke up around 6:00 AM and I jumped up to see what the hurricane had done. The shade was broken in our bedroom, so we had no covering on our window.  I ran to our window and literally I could not believe my eyes. We were literally in a lake!!!  It was so startling to know all that water had come between 4-6 am!! Seriously, you can see floods on TV, but until you see it for yourselves it's hard to imagine how scary it is. I immediately woke Gary up, and he was astonished as well.  My first sight was the deer swimming out of the woods trying to get to higher ground. Literally, all I could see were their heads! That scared me, because I realized that if they did not sense those flood waters coming then we had reason to be afraid too!! My next thought was the animals!! Gary and I took off running and opened the garage door where they were. EVERYTHING in our garage was floating.  Karolina (our dog) was sitting on the top step crying. We had brought the 2 bunnies in and put them in a dog kennel. One had drowned and the other one was standing on top of the dead one with water up to its neck. The smell of gasoline was so strong. It was so pitiful to see the dead bunny, not that we were so attached to it or anything, but just that it was death, and we realized just how serious this storm was going to be for us and so many others. Gary set the kennel on top of something to see if the other bunny would survive. We didn't have time to try to help it at that point. We ran to the back window and Gary said, "Go get Brian up. Get him up NOW!" Brian and Keri got up really fast and did their best to help us try to assess the situation. It was just sobering. We knew the worst part of the storm had not passed. It was white-capping in the front yard. The wind was blowing fierce. Things were floating by. The rain was coming down hard. Gary and Brian waded out in the water to see if there was even a possibility of getting any of the vehicles to move. Everything in the vehicles was floating as well so there wasnt a chabce of that.  Of course you know Keri and I were worried about disease and such from flood waters, so we made them wipe down w/ baby wipes on the front porch before they came back in! ;-) We all stood on the porch watching the water rise. Soon, the guys made the decision that we would need to get to higher ground on foot. Gary, Brian, and myself made an assembly line to put pictures and home videos in the attic quickly while Keri and all the girls packed backpacks and took pictures in all the rooms. You know, you think to yourself, "What is my most prized possession that I want to take out with me?" There was none of that. We were going to have to hold on to the girls!! We had Kenley, Claire, and Kristen that definitely would've needed to have been carried, and I sure didn't trust Kayla and Kylie's swimming skills to fight that raging water. I did go to my closet and put on mine and Gary's class rings, my wedding ring, and a ring that my Mema had given me when I was little. I looked like a Diva! ;-) And, during all of this, all our parents are scared and calling us trying to see how they could help. We were getting texts and calls left and right from friends as well. We were just about ready to go and we noticed the water started to go down a bit. At it's highest point, it was just one step away from coming in the house. We had over 30" of water in some places. I think too, by the way, that Brian had changed his tune about this hurricane being lame! ;-)  It seemed to go back and forth for a few minutes. All of the above took place in about a 30 minute span, but seemed like a lot longer. There was really only about 20-30 minutes of panic but I remember standing at the door looking out on the front yard feeling pretty frightened and apprehensive about all the possible damage to our house. It was like the Lord immediately reminded me of so many things that I did not understand at the time. He took those things I thought were not good and made them good. He totally had all this in His control! I had no need to worry and really from that point on, I had peace about the whole situation. (except for the future frustrations of dealing w/ insurance companies! ;-) Once we realized the water was indeed starting to go down, I lifted the cover off the piano and just began to play "How Great is Our God." Brian joined me on guitar, and soon the rest of the family joined us in singing praise to the Lord. Finally, within about 45 min the water was GONE.  Once the "EYE" passed and the wind changed, it was like it was just sucked back into the river.
On Sunday, most all churches cancelled for the day.  We had our own worship service. :) We ventured out and started dragging things out of the garage and vehicles to try to salvage what we could. All the neighbors did the same. For days, our neighborhood looked like a giant yardsale!  Our great neighbors fired up their grill and we all chipped in and brought food to eat.  It was really an awesome day.   Neighbors were taking care of neighbors.  No one had cell phones, internet, tvs, jobs, etc. to keep them busy.  We had time to stop and talk to each other. It sure makes you wonder if this was how God intended our lives to be.  Our neighborhood alone had 300 homes with trees on them.  We quickly began learning of all the damage around our neighborhood and our town.  We soon realized how minor we had it compared to SO many.  It sure helped to put things in perspective for us.  There were so many homes that had water inside.  I read an article yesterday, a year later, that there are still over 300 people still not back in their homes.  I sure don't have time to write about all the stories we have heard!
We honestly were so blessed by the whole ordeal.  After FINALLY settling with the insurance companies, we have better vehicles and our house is better off!  Thank you, Lord.  My van wasn't even running at the time!  Yes, there was a lot of aggravation.  Nothing in the garage or any of the vehicle contents were covered but even with all of that loss, we still came out ahead.  That still baffles me.  If our garage had been detached they would have covered everything!  They covered all the playhouse contents because it was detached!  Isn't that stupid!!  I did tell one adjuster if he would give me a saw I would detach it (the garage) for him! ;-) There was weeks worth of clean up.  Gary did so much of the cleanup to save money.  He pulled out and hauled off all the insulation under our house during those hot days.  He said he never wants to touch a piece of insulation again! The mosquitoes were AWFUL.  It was all on the news how bad they were around here.  Dealing with insurance companies can be a pain, but we learned so much.  However, even with all that, God sure used it for good!  We were very blessed by others during all of this as well.  Our families helped us with a LOT of the cleanup.  My parents brought us the motorhome so we had somewhere cool to stay during the power outage and ANOTHER generator to keep our food cool/frozen.  (One night when we were sitting in the motorhome, it started pouring rain! Gary was so concerned about all our stuff getting wet that was sitting outside.  It took him a few minutes to grasp the fact that it already been soaked! haha)  We were without power for about 4.5 days.  Gary's parents came and stayed a week with us and helped us pressure wash, clean, etc.  My daddy helped us with getting things fixed, etc.  My mom brought us meals/food.  Our dear friends, the Tyndalls, let us borrow their vehicles until we found Gary's replacement truck.  My Aunt Clara provided some guidance on how to deal with the insurance companies since she had dealt w/ a flood before.  So many prayed for us during that time.  My brother told me exactly how to act when we bought our van.;-)  I could go on and on and on about how much we were blesssed during this time.  We know of so many people who lost so many things that were valuable or sentimental to them and most of our stuff was just "garage stuff." We did lose Kristen's Bible that she got when she got saved. It was ruined in the van and that hurt her little heart.  Mrs. Keri made her feel better when she told her how her dog chewed up her Bible that she had since she was a little girl.  A couple of months later, Kristen's wonderful Patch the Pirate leader gave her a really nice little Bible to replace the one she lost, and another man from our church engraved her name on it.  She loves it!  Oh, and our bunny that we didn't know if it was going to survive or not, it did!  We thought for sure it would die, if nothing else, from the trauma.  About 9PM that night we went to check on it and Gary told us it was alive.  Keri got her sister to get on the internet for us to find out what to do.  We had to put baking soda on it to absorb the gasoline.  (Gary had a gas can in the garage that spilled out into the flood waters that got on her).  Then we bathed it, and we just held it for the longest time.  We named her IRENE! (until we had to change it a few weeks later when we figured out it was a boy! ;-)
All in all, it was a long, drawn out process, but God turned it for good and for that we are truly thankful!  HE provided all our needs and some of our "wants."  We give Him all the glory! 
Matthew 8:26-27And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.
 But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!
I love that old, old song that my youth pastor, Bro. Fred Carraway, used to sing:  "The Master of the Sea!"

Here are a lot of the pics we took from those few days.  You have to see these!  It's still amost unbelievable when we look at them.
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Here are our video clips.  Even these do not do justice to what our eyes were taking in!

Keri also blogged about the event here, here, and here.

We so enjoyed our visit from the Ronks! It was so fun to get to know Baby Claire and have so much play time with Kenley! We appreciate their friendship so much. We felt bad that their visit was somewhat overshadowed by "miss irene," but it was an experience we will all never forget! :-) Here are some of our memories while they were here. (i stole some of your pics, Keri!)
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Monday, August 20, 2012

Jr. Camp 2012

Jr. Camp was awesome as always!  The theme was based on the verse Hebrews 10:24:  "Provoking Others".  Gary had the opportunity of speaking 4 times and I taught one class.  We did the music as well.  Kristen was an "official camper" this time and Kayla was a teen helper.  We took 6 kids from church and some extras (jacie, kuhn family, and hailey paschal).  We had a great time watching the children have fun and make decisions for Christ. In the future, we hope to influence folks to attend family camp settings as well.  We are thankful for how God used this week.
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kristen turns 9!!-June 12, 2012

June 12, 2012----Kristen Blaire is 9!!! 8:37 am!!
sleepy head! ;-)
She wanted to go ice skating for her bday so we took her to Wilimington!  She had a blast! 
She forgot her jeans that I had laid out for her so I gave her mine and rolled them up and tied a scarf around them!  haha

None of the girls had ever been to a Japanese steak house before, so that's what she chose for her meal.  They loved it and our chef was great!

onion bday cake!

pepper sprinkled on it made fireworks!

Kylie tries to crack the egg like the chef

another bday cake made of rice!

It was a wonderful day and we enjoyed spending it with our precious Kristen.  She is a joyful ball of "spit fire," and has a heart big as gold!  We love her so much!