Friday, May 5, 2017

Being Ghosted and Finding Closure

Yesterday as I browsed through the "On this Day" feature on Facebook, I came across a post from 10 years ago.  It mentioned a boyfriend I had during graduate school, Hector.  I hadn't thought of him in many years, but reading the post brought up a long haunting question: What ever happened to him?

Hector and I had only dated a few months but I thought things were going well.  I was living in Stillwater, and he was a 2 hour drive away in Wichita, KS.  I looked forward to jumping in my beloved jeep and heading there for weekends, and he made the trip to me many times as well.  We were happy go lucky together, and things clicked right away. I was smitten and clueless, clearly less focused or concerned on the future than he was, and while the things started great, it didn't end that way.

In retrospect, I now see there were very early warning signs I did not heed.  For starters, on our first date Hector came clean that he was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder.  I shrugged it off, he said medication had helped him level out and I had not recognized any behavior that indicated he struggled with the disorder.  In truth, I had very little personal experience with mental illness and I was interested in him enough to look past what should have been "a proceed with caution" warning sign. I didn't ask questions, didn't worry about it and didn't allow it deter me from getting close with him.

And then there was his recent divorce, and 2 year old son.  He did not open up to the cause of the divorce, but it was clear it had been pretty ugly.  Again, 20-something light hearted me decided he wouldn't have joined the dating website (we met via match) if he wasn't ready for another relationship.  I knew sharing custody of his son meant his feet were firmly planted in Wichita but I had no problem with long distance dating and was carefree about where life would take me after I finished my graduate degree.  The reality was he was carrying some very big baggage, and I had not considered what it would mean for a child and ex to inevitably play a role in our relationship.

And the last kicker was some relationship issues he had with his mother.  Hector's mother was a Jehovah's Witness, and he shared some pretty heart breaking stories about not celebrating birthdays as a child. It was clear he was bitter, angry and somewhat shunned due to disagreements with his mother on how to live his life. What little interaction happened between him and his mother was not positive, and I don't think she even knew we were dating. I knew their history was painful for him to discuss so I only got snipets, none of it good.

I wasn't familiar with the term ghosted, until it happened to me.  There I was, head in the sand thinking despite everything I knew about him and his past, things were fine.  And then Hector simply disappeared.  One day he just stopped calling or answering my calls. I never heard from him again and really didn't know why. I was confused.  Then worried. Then heartbroken.  I even checked the obituaries a few times sincerely wondering if maybe he had died and no one in his family knew to contact me.  Eventually enough time passed that I got the unsaid message, things were over.

A few years passed and my curiosity got the best of me. I sent a few emails to him trying to get some closure.  I wrote out silly stories of the reasons I imagined had caused his disappearance; alien abduction, joined the circus, got married in Vegas, amnesia.  I just wanted to know what happened but despite the fact that it has been several years since he ghosted me, he didn't respond.  My curiosity faded, my life moved on.  The end of the relationship had been hard, but now it just felt like a lingering question; why had he handled it so poorly?

Yesterday, after facebook brought old memories to light, I decided to look him up again.  I found him easily, he was still working for a dual language school in Wichita.  I shot off a short email message, just wanted to see how he was and explaining how facebook had reminded me of him.  Apparently, it takes a decade before a coward writes you back. Within the hour, and much to my surprise, he wrote back a simple response.  I took the opportunity and replied with my burning question that was 10 years in the making: Why did you just disappear instead of having a conversation about breaking up?

It turns out closure really isn't ever what you think it will be.  In the email conversation that followed it was clear Hector's version of history simply filled in the holes as he saw fit.  He claimed while the break up was abrupt, he did end things, he recalled a conversation that never actually happened.  He did apologize for not responding many years ago, and admitted he didn't handle things well.  I should be glad for that.  But it was still a surprise for me how differently he remembered our story.  Our conversation certainly didn't clear anything up for me, and I realized even after hearing from him I was no better off.  The biggest thing I learned is that I needed to accept things as part of my story, even when I don't understand them or deserve better.

I believe the truth is more likely that Hector hit a low/depressive phase with his bipolar disorder, and by the time he had climbed back out the damage was already done to our relationship.  I should not have expected him to be upfront and forth coming with an admission like that, even after a decade had passed.  Its also pretty fair to assume the divorce and his other baggage were things Hector still hadn't fully rebounded from, and he had a lot to get together before a serious relationship would have been possible.  Or maybe he just wasn't that into me and much more immature than I realized. It really wasn't the end of the relationship that had hurt me (though there were many tears!), but more how it was handled.  After emailing with him now, I realized I was holding on to some anger at how he treated me.  It was well overdue for me to let that go, regardless of his admission of guilt or version of the story.  So I gave myself closure, because even though I still don't really know the full story I am ready to stop asking questions.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

No to Kichline Ave, Yes to Madison Ave

Now that we are settled in Bethlehem and getting used to our 3 story condo, I can more clearly see how this location is a good fit for my family.  It took some time, and honestly the condo still doesn't quite seem like home to me.  I attribute that to the fact that I know this is likely to be only a 3-5 year home for us, and I already day dream of the next place.  I have caught myself many times feeling discontent, lacking the grateful attitude I should display for a home that suits our budget and new lifestyle.  I don't really want neighbors so close that we share a wall, and yet I don't hear a peep from either family on our left or right.  I don't like city living, yet we have a great location for both work and school.  I yearn for a yard, but I am so close to the Reger farm that I can visit easily. I despise traffic, but happily make the 75 minute drive into Philadelphia to spend time with my nieces.  I trug up 2 flights of steps but I adore the layout that gives me my own living room and fireplace.  I lost a huge kitchen but I fit my entire family around the table at Christmas (the first time I ever could host a holiday!).  Its hard to keep repeating my complaints, they really aren't legit.
Front door and garage
Back porch and small yard

Perhaps this whole list of wishes and wants doesn't align with what I need right now. I'm overlooking whats in the best interest for my family during this stage of life.  I have taken for granted the fact that God is in control and knows what I need, in times more so than I do. Reflecting, I am glad sometimes God says no to my prayers.

Shortly after the big move from Oklahoma, I was scrambling to do a house hunt.  I had made the mistake of expecting to rent while Chet returned to school, only to find rentals were extremely expensive and hard to find in Northampton county.  Now that I realized buying, even a property we expected to own for only a few years, would give us more space, higher quality and save us hundreds per month, I quickly began to visit properties.  I feel in love with an old home in Hellertown, and quickly made an offer.  It was clear the place needed some love, but it had amazing bones.  I loved the huge glass sunroom on the front of the house, original pillars in the living room and a gorgeous wooden banister. Perhaps the biggest selling point was a huge 1/2 acre yard, unheard of in the area and would help me keep some of my country roots.  I planned to set up the trampoline, a camp fire pit and make a picnic spot. I could easily picture the playhouse we could set up above the garage and the basement storage I never had before!  I looked past the clear need for electrical work, updates, and tiny bedrooms.  I even ignored the poor "do it yourself job" on the woodwork in the garage and incorrect dry wall in the basement. It was also a foreclosure, but I wasn't discouraged because our home in Oklahoma has also been bank owned and the process went smoothly and gave us a great discount.  I think I became a bit blinded to the amount of work the house would need, and the skill set it would require that neither I or my husband possessed. The real estate agent warned me, the cost alone for the inspection and utility connections would add up and foreclosures rarely had the option to request repairs for any issues inspection uncovered. But I was convinced I didn't need perfect, I needed a home. I saw this house as an answer to prayer, we finally had a plan and learned our offer had been accepted. The price was right, the yard was amazing and everything else would fall into place.

Except it didn't.

I was only a few weeks into my new job before my first Lehigh career expo, a very busy day that kept me hopping. I learned that same day in the middle of the event chaos, that there had been a miscommunication with the contracts and the whole deal was off.  Just like that my plan was up in smoke.  I did not take the news well.  Frustrated and frantic, there were tears and stress.  I called Chet and vented... how could this happen?  What would we do now?  We were back at square one with no leads while the timeline to his move to join me in Pennsylvania was quickly approaching.  It was a terrible time to house hunt in the area, prices were high and the options were terrible.  Why God?  I am not a girl who does well without a plan and I had no house, no plan, and no time.

Fast forward a few more weeks and many (many, MANY) more house viewings and I began to look at my house hunt very differently. I had put several other offers on other homes only to be outbid every time.  I saw houses that were too small, flooded, outdated, and bathrooms in pink, blue and purple. But one day I agreed to consider a condo that was updated, had more square feet than the other properties and needed no maintenance.  After a tour it was clear I needed to compromise on a condo. I say compromised because I really wanted a yard and a rancher.  But reality was the lack of outdoor work is much better than the benefit green space would provide us.  We have a much more updated, spacious place now and its perfectly in budget.  Its not my dream home but I think God knew what he was doing when he took away the Kichline Ave house and sent me to the Madison Ave condo.  In the prior weeks I hadn't trusted his timing and his plan and the only thing that caused was stressful times and loss of sleep on my part.  Its a very hard thing to give up control and this was a lesson I learned the hard way.  Sometimes God says no because he has better things in mind.

I drove by the kichline house the other day.  I am not sure if its still for sale but it clearly has not be lived in yet and has yet to be connected to electric and water.  I no longer was blinded by the property's potential and noticed the crumbling sidewalk, broken siding, and run down neighborhood.  I heard the traffic from close by 78 and was put off by a shady looking neighbor.  I looked more closely at that same front porch and this time I noticed chipping paint and old glass.  I remembered my mothers face when I took her for a tour and all the issues she pointed out; electrical sockets pulled from the wall, holes in the dry wall, mold in the basement and the wrong kitchen outlets.  It annoyed me at the time but now I realize she was clearly seeing all the things that would have cost me dollars I didn't have.  God told me no.  It was so hard to hear at the time, but now I am thankful.  I drove home from Kichline ave that day, to a place that's just right for right now and that's just fine with me.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Baby Blues

 It was likely the sentiment of the holidays that brought it back up, or perhaps it was simply the fact that my heart is still broken, but I have relapsed into the baby blues.  A sadness, yearning for another baby haunts me, part pain for the pregnancy I lost and part desire to have another child. Some days it is only a pebble in my shoe, I am aware it’s there but it doesn’t stop me from going about my day.  Other times it’s a rain cloud, hovering over me and dripping sorrow into every part of my day.  Today is a rain cloud day.

For so long I was fine with the idea of only one child; my pregnancy was a nightmare and my emergency C-section was not my plan, but once the urge for another baby came, it may have ebbed and flowed but it never went away.  And the hope that skyrocketed and then plummeted so quickly with my miscarriage broke me in a way I never could have expected. I honestly don’t think I will ever “get over” my lost pregnancy.  I remember waiting in the ER for a doctor after the bleeding started and thinking over and over “This was my last chance”.  That fear became a reality: the baby was gone and no other pregnancy happened.  Eventually, with my job search and big move, I stopped trying.  It no longer was an option for a lot of reasons.  A second child now would be very hard on both my single income budget and struggling marriage.  After only a few months in my new position, I have very little accrued paid sick leave, certainly not enough to take maternity leave.  Time is not on my side, at 35 I am medically considered the dreaded “advantage maternal age”. I no longer have a home with an extra bedroom and all my baby things were passed on or sold for our move across the country. But the facts don’t seem to change my feelings on the topic.  I have tried and failed to rationalize away my want for another child.

Right before the Christmas break I attended a holiday party with my new co-workers.  As expected, we made small talk of upcoming plans and family gatherings.  While telling us of his upcoming trip to Chicago, one co-worker shared how he was an only child and still gives his mother a hard time about it.  He talked about feeling like he missed out on siblings, though he has many people in his life he is close with and would visit during the break.  Of course, he did not know my story nor could he have guessed how much this would strike a nerve.  But suddenly for the first time, I pictured Reagan as an adult returning home for a visit to just me.  No sister.  No brother.  No sibling time.  No nieces or nephews.  This mental picture broke my heart all over again.  Would that really be enough for her?  Would it still be special and fun to come home to just parents? I already had guilt about her lack of playmates at home, now I realized in some ways she would never outgrow that.  So much of the joy in my adult life comes from time with my sister and nieces, what could replace that for Reagan?

For a while we had hoped adoption would be an option, and perhaps one day it still will be, but for now it is out of reach financially.  We even dropped the idea to foster because though it could lead to adoption, it also might not and I would have to be invested in the primary focus of reuniting families (not adding to my own).  

Opening up about my miscarriage to others has definitely lead me to a support system.  It has sadly happened to many that I know, we share a horrible bond. And this year I have seen a lot of rainbow babies, born to friends who had previously lost a pregnancy.  Though I am thrilled for them, I am starting to feel more and more alone in the fact that there won’t be another baby for me.  In part, I won’t be able to heal by welcoming another child.  I am becoming more isolated in the fact that my miscarriage was my last pregnancy, and I am still left with wanting what I lost.  My mother has assured me that every mother feels sadness and pain at realizing the season of babies is over but my burden feels much heavier and deeper than that.  I am not sad, I am broken. 

The spark in this darkness has come during the times I find myself huddled with another friend sharing tears over similar pain but using the moment to also talk about God.  Though many friends let me speak about my loss, it has been the ones who have experienced it as well that truly understand the hurt. When I share my feelings about the painful experience and also show them God deep inside my broken heart I believe it has allowed me to share my beliefs in a deeper, more impactful way.  It is no small thing to bring Jesus into that conversation, and I hope it leaves a deep imprint on others the way I have allowed God to stay with me. 

My daughter is a real blessing, one that I appreciate all the more now.  And I know she feels loved by her family and has two amazing twin cousins that she will share a childhood with. Being an only child won’t mean she suffers but I can’t deny that she will be missing the unique bond of a sibling and I can’t deny the ongoing desire of my heart.  This is a challenging chapter in my life as I learn to be at peace with what I lost and find appreciation for the family I have.  I still struggle, how does one accept there will not be another baby?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Don't Look Away

I hope you have been as devastated as I by the recent undercover videos in the news exposing Planned Parenthood for selling aborted baby organs and tissue.  My pastor’s passionate sermon this past week bravely discussed a topic that most would prefer to look away from.  And I get that, it’s a pretty gruesome to think of tiny baby parts being sold for negotiated prices, and imagining "clumps of cells” who are denied life but valued for research. But this evidence should be a call to action, not a dismissal of an uncomfortable subject.  My pastor pointed out all the ways the bible supports life, celebrates it and honors it as a gift from God.  Then he gave details about the callous, horrifying way Planned Parenthood casually discussed aborted babies and the life ending techniques that guaranteed the most profit.  I wanted nothing to do with it; in fact I wanted to be as far from those types of choices and actions as possible. It was easy for me to tearfully want to pick up my pitchfork and join the rally cry against this practice but I also was confronted with the realization that I am also guilty in making this a reality. The truth is I am already a part of it.

Listening to my pastor speak this past Sunday, I also remembered for the first time in a long time that as a teenager, I used Planned Parenthood in order to get birth control pills and I also visited their office for the morning after pill.  At the time I was sneaking around in order to engage in premarital sex.  Like many of my friends, I was choosing a sinful path instead of making choices I knew would please God.  And I did it despite what I knew the bible told me, despite what my mother expected of me and despite the risks.  There was no ignorance in my actions and until recently no real remorse either.  I have thought many times how thankful I was to never see any serious consequences for my sinful behavior during the years that I choose to sleep with boyfriends; I never faced an unplanned pregnancy or STD.  But my choice to use an agency like Planned Parenthood also means I ignored their pro-abortion agenda and contributed to their overall mission.  I signed on the line, I played a part, I looked with blind eyes because I wanted to get away with keeping sin in my life.  I can’t point the finger at them without first dealing with my own heart and sinful past.

Sitting in the pew this past Sunday was the first time I ever repented for those choices, even though I have known they were wrong all along.  I had to start with my own past before I could speak out against anything else. 

In graduate school I will never forget the day a friend told me she had recently choose abortion.  I recall our conversation on the walking trail around a lake, where we both shed tears from her decision with every step.  I was adamantly pro-life, a mostly known stance in my circle of friends and yet I found myself surprisingly heartbroken that day.  It’s easy to be pro-life before you have faced a challenging situation that was influenced by a lot of gray area.  This had always been a black and white issue for me, but she helped me truly understand the struggle behind making the choice to get an abortion, even the lure to end a pregnancy.  I cried that day because her child was gone, and I felt the permanence of her actions as a distinct loss, even though I also heard the reasons for her choice. I didn't agree with her choice, but her pain made the entire topic feel very different to me.

Later, days after our conversation, my heartbreak turned to anger.  She never came to me while she was wrestling with the decision, only opening up after the procedure had been done. I convinced myself this was because she didn’t want to face what she knew I would have said, that she feared my reasoning would sway her from finding a way out of her situation.  I was mad she didn’t seek my counsel and denied me the ability to help.  But now looking back, I wonder did she avoid me for fear of my judgement?  Did she keep me out of the problem because I wouldn’t have offered her a solution, just denied her an option?  Would I have said all the right things but done so with a righteous attitude? Would I have been the true Christian friend she needed or would I have scorned her sins that got her here in the first place?

I can’t know her motivation for leaving me out of her decision, but I want to find a way to be the right kind of influence that could make a difference for someone in the future.  I won’t apologize for having an unwavering pro-life stance.  But I do want to be the type of person who would still hear someone’s story and sympathize with their situation in a way that allows me to minister God’s love and influence a biblical decision.  I don’t want to stand in a place of judgement, but I do want my love for God and all the life he creates to influence others to make Godly decisions for their own life.  I want to be a resource that others can come to, not to make choices for them but to help them find God’s will for their life and support them through difficult times.

Perhaps the good news in all of this- for me, my friend and all those affected by abortion -is God forgives.  Recently I applied to become a volunteer with my local crisis pregnancy center and in my statement of faith I wrote “My hope is now to make an impact on the young women in my town. I hope to use my Christian influence and heart of love to help others recognize the path God wants them to choose.  Because of my own struggles with the temptation of sex and sin I believe I can relate to a common path young people choose, and I am open to understanding and listening to stories that greatly differ from my own. Even if abortion is a legal option, I don’t believe God ever would support the end of a life.  As a mother, I know it can be a challenge but I hope to find ways to be equip and support women so they can face those challenges.  As a Christian, I hope to find ways to share God’s love and forgiveness to those in difficult situations.  I believe I was called to serve young mothers and I want to allow God to work through me for his glory. Though my background is not spotless, my soul is thanks to a forgiving God who sent his son to die for my sins.”

I am thankful for my pastor's powerful sermon this week.  I could tell he felt passionately about the situation and though not a popular topic he choose to speak out even if it made others uncomfortable.  I have been planning on volunteering for sometime, his words were the final motivation to get me moving toward that goal.  How can I truly be pro-life if I am doing nothing to support that decision?  How can I be a better Christian friend if I don't seek ways to make that impact?  I wasn't there for my friend in the past, but I can change that in the future. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The real problem with being a working mom

Everyone knows returning to work after vacation is a tough adjustment.  Especially after the long break I got to enjoy in PA this year (almost 5 weeks!).  Even at the risk of complaining about a long vacation, I realized something when I came back.  Yes, heading to a work again was hard.  Yes, the return of the alarm in the morning was a fun suck.  Yes, lazy summer days are certainly more enjoyable. But the worst part of going back to normal life was missing my kid.

My time in PA had allowed me to enjoy all day with her.  Even on days when she woke up cranky, had a meltdown, or frustrated me, I was still enjoying her company all day, every day for 5 glorious weeks.  Admittedly toddlers are not fun all the time (oh the whinning, the endless whinning about everything...) but it was still an amazing thing to really be present with her.  We had adventures. We laughed about small things.  We caught lightning bugs and read books.  We jumped in waves and marveled at the ocean. We took long car rides and surprised friends. We played in the rain. We cheered for baseball, we gasped at fireworks.  We played skeeball and wasted quarters on games. We hugged and snuggled.  We ate the best pizza and the best donuts. We had days with big plans and days with no plans. I answered one million questions about everything from sand to God. I got to just be a mom for a while; no job, no time commitments, no distractions.  Still lots of laundry but hey... that's mom life.  Summer felt like summer used to when I was a kid, carefree and endless.  It really felt like a break, not a rush of a week or two trying to cram in everything I could. 

Thats an old school candy cigarette in case you were worried.
And when I say miss her, I mean really miss her.  She is growing like a weed, absorbing so much each day.  I couldn't believe how much I learned about her in those 5 weeks of undivided attention, play time and travel.  Did you know how funny kids are at this stage?  I mean laugh out loud, they didn't even mean to be funny, pee your pants, snort laugh funny.  I saw glimpes of this from her before but while on vacation I laughed at her every day.  Really laughed.  She is clever.  And so thoughtful.  I felt like I could see her mind processing things sometimes, rolling them around to make sense.  I learned that she was dreaming now, both from having to comfort her after nightmares and her telling me about her dreams when she woke up a few times.  How amazing is that? I learned she talks in her sleep, sometimes even yelling at me! She could spend 5 minutes making up an elaborate make believe story sounding so real you'd think it was all true.  She invented a freckle store where she buys the new freckles that have shown up on her checks and arms.  She makes  up words.  She wants everyone to be playing and together, gathering family members from different rooms and places to beg them all to play her games. She made us be silly, in turn finding silliness in everyone.  She was the life of our party, and she has redefined our family dynamic. 

Vacation gave me unique ability to learn so much more about my kid.  I always knew I loved her, but I also realized I liked her too. I like the way she remembers small details.  I like the way her imagination is always going.  I like the way her heart bleeds for others.  I like the way she values friends.  I like the way she lights up about beach days.  I like the way she sounds when she really gets belly laughing.  I like how she is equal parts tom boy and girly girl.  I like the face she makes when she is in deep thought looking out the car window.  I like the way she needs to be sitting on me not with me. I like the way she takes her time when making decisions.  I like the way she is quick to give a kiss, even when you aren't expecting it.  I like the way she remembers song lyrics, or makes up her own. I like that she is happiest when the whole family is staying together.  I like that she is not too keen on sharing Daddy as a sweetheart for me and her. I only get a glimpse of those things now, while on vacation I got to watch them closely every day.  In some ways I don't think I even appreciated it as much then as it was happening as I do now. I certainly didn't expect to miss them. 

Now that we are back to a work schedule, I see my daughter for breakfast and a few hours in the evening.  That's it.  And most of that time is all about business.  Get dressed.  Eat your breakfast.  Get in the car.  Stop that so I can cook dinner.  Pick up your toys.  Put away your shoes.  Get ready for bed.
That's not quality time. 
That's not enjoying really BEING with her. 
That's not the mom I want to be, the only mom she sees that day.
I loved being on vacation, it allowed me to a different type of mom for a little while.  But I am a little lost on how to be that same type of mom here where my job and day seem to demand my attention. 

In some ways this is fixable, I need to be better at being in the moment with her.  I need to be intentional about seeing the joy in everyday life, and see less of the dirty clothes on the floor.  But the other part of it is trying to find a better work/life balance.  I am not cut out for stay at home mom life all time, but honestly I want to be home more.  I want more time with her before these early days slip away.  So many are gone already.  So many were lost to work commitments and office hours. 

Right now I think about lightning bugs.  In PA, for the past two summers she ran around the yard, made makeshift bug jars, and roped the whole family into chasing around little bugs that glow.   But in Oklahoma I have never done that. 
Maybe its the heat.
Maybe its the timing.
Maybe its killjoy of not sharing it with my Reger family.
Maybe its the lack of plush green grass in our yard.
Maybe its that my effort is different here.
Maybe my attitude changes when I am on red dirt soil.
Last night I had my normal routine of sneaking away at 8 pm for some "me time" after a work day.  Daddy did bedtime and feel asleep with her, I was happy to settle for a goodnight kiss and do my own thing. It had been a hot day, Reagan had been cranky for no reason during the short time I had to spend with her that evening so I didn't even care about missing story time or snuggles. But as I sat watching my shows on the DVR in my bed something kept catching my attention from the corner of my eye. I realized it was a lightning bug flashing through the windows of my porch door.  It was like God was sending that little bug right to me, reminding me they lived here too.  Here where I worked, here where I had a more demanding schedule, here where it was harder to take a minute to even notice a little flash in the evening air. Lightning bugs still glow and fly on Oklahoma summer nights.  Lets go catch some tonight kid. 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Our Hope for a Tornado Shelter

This week I launched the start of a go fund me campaign to hopefully raise funds to install a tornado shelter at our home.  It's a pretty big deal to this yankee.  Typical southern attitudes toward tornadoes are pretty calm, its a normal weather pattern down here and something the locals have grown up dealing with.  I have heard people reguarlly joke that when they see a tornado coming they go outside to watch and photograph it.  For me, it's an unpredictable and scary time that starts with me plastered to a TV new channel and ends up with me crouched in my closet, panicking and calling my mom.

Last year was a terrible year.  Major tornadoes wiped out several towns, one about 30 miles away and another about 60 miles away from our home in Stillwater.  I told the story here: 60 Short Miles .  Many lives were lost, several were only children.  Driven to action by shear heartbreak, I reached out to friends and family asking for a quick response to financial give to help purchase supplies to donate to those who had lost their homes.  And respond you did, I received hundreds of dollars, which turned in supplies that safely landed in the hands of those directly effected by the storms.  See photos and details here: My Hands Were Your Hands.  Not all families support each other in this way, and I am so thankful that I was brought up in a home that taught me to give and support others.  And not just my family, but my home church and friends have always had my back when I needed them.  I am grateful to have built relationships with others I can lean on, others who I also support! 

Last tornado season more than once I threw a bag of stuff and Reagan in my jeep to go to a safe place to wait out a storm.  We also spent time inside our neighbor's shelter as we watched the clouds swirl around us.  We have been lucky, the only tornado on our property was in 2011 and only did tree damage.  My blog post with pictures from that week is here. One large tree was torn up by the roots, falling along side our home and thankfully not through it.  Chet and I were both home at the time, I was 20 weeks pregnant and terrified.  The power had gone out, so we went outside to look at the sky when we heard it coming.  Chet told me to run and we both took shelter in the closet.  I remember calling mom as I sat in our closet crying because I couldn't get my sneakers to fit on my swollen feet.  We had been watching the news show coverage of other tornadoes about 30 miles away, we had no warning a tornado had touched down less than 3 miles from our home.  We had no place to hide.  My facebook album of the pictures I took are here.  Our neighbors fared much worse, with significant damage to their homes and property.  See my facebook video of the damage to our neighbor's properties here.  We later learned it was an EF2, somewhat small on the scales but significant enough to do major damage.  It was close call for us, and nothing will prevent that from happening again.  This time I don't want to rely on luck, I want to be prepared. 

As each storm season passes, so does the fear for a little while.  The news slowed and then stopped the story lines of loss and destruction and life moved on.  But as Oklahoma starts to warm up, we don't often call it spring here.  This time of year is known as tornado season. 

This is the part where I ask for help.  We would love a storm shelter at our home.  We have added this to our long range plans but tornado season always flares up the urgency for it.  I currently don't have more than a closet to protect us and frankly that's not enough.    Tornado shelters are expensive to install, and though we will also be contributing to its cost we just can't fund it alone.  I hope you will consider helping us out, in any amount.  This will keep us safe.  This will bring me peace of mind during a storm.  This will provide a way to protect Reagan.  This will allow us to survive a tornado. 

If you are interested in helping us fund a tornado shelter please make your donation on our go fund me page "A Tornado Shelter for the Skimbo House" website.  Please join me in praying for a safe tornado season for Oklahoma, and healing for those who have already faced loss from previous storms.  And if you can, help me keep my family safe for future storms.   
Thank you.