Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Picnic

KJ and I took the kids down to the "water park" as I am now calling it, yet again today.  When I told Ella where we were going she said, "But I'll lose my shoe!"  I'm happy to report that we came home with all our shoes.  I really liked this shot of KJ and James so I thought I'd share.  I got some REALLY cute pictures of James eating his sandwich that I'll post tomorrow.  At least, I think they're really cute, but maybe it's just because he's mine, and I think he's cute eating sandwiches.  I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful day with your families.



Remember

I was looking at some old military homecoming pictures on the internet today, and then I was reminded of something my dad gave us.  I love old pictures.  They're such a treasure for your family.  Don't be afraid to take pictures of yourself and get in pictures with your children and grandchildren.  They will treasure them one day when you are gone!



Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Case of the Missing Flip-Flop

Thursday was one of those listless kind of days in stay-at-home motherhood for me.  I was trying to just do the next thing but didn't have a lot of enthusiasm about it.  But then KJ called at 1:20 and said he was coming home early because our church was hosting a funeral, and all the available parking space was needed.  It was good to have him come home even if the cause was sad.  Once he arrived I was trying to think of what I should do.  He offered to let me take a nap, but that felt too lazy.  The only time I'm good at taking naps is if I go back to bed in the morning (which I got to do today!).  Otherwise, I just can't make myself.  I have stuff to do, people!  Day time is not for sleeping!  


I then had an inspired idea:  we could take the kids to the park with the fountain, and they could run and play, and since KJ was with us I could take pictures and not worry about anything.  Like I said, it was inspired.  So we began the process of getting ready to go somewhere.  Change clothes and diapers, pack towels and diapers, and get the kids strapped in the car seats.  Just as we almost had it all together, it started thundering ominously.  Oh, no!  I really didn't want my inspired plan for family happiness ruined.  We decided to press on toward our goal.


Upon arriving, we found the fountain had been turned off for its daily filter cleaning, and dark clouds were filling the sky.  I was feeling slightly bummed as you can imagine.



We tried to look on the bright side and enjoy the time we had (Maybe it will blow over!) and walked across the field to the playground.


Thankfully (and providentially) the rain continued to hold off, and the kids enjoyed time on the playground, and before too long, the fountain was turned on again, and we trekked back across the field.



Ella enjoyed running through the water while James stayed on the outskirts and looked on for quite a while before we began to feel fat and heavy raindrops start to fall.  The only snag in our afternoon came at the end as we gathered up all the belongings:  Ella only had one flip-flop.  We discovered the missing flip-flop when we left the playground to go back to the fountain and thought we would find it there, but we didn't.  KJ looked all around, made a sweep of the field before we left, and even went back to the playground to check again.  No flip-flop.  Where was the flip-flop?  Did she have it when we first left the fountain?  Did she drop it in the field?  Did someone pick it up?  Where exactly did it go missing?


When I got home and started flipping through pictures, I found one that helped us determine at least one thing:  Ella did carry both flip-flops across the field the first go-around.  She was so close to our destination, too.



Do you see that flip-flop falling to the ground? 
I happened to take Ella's picture at the exact moment 
she dropped her flip-flop. 

What do you know?

Despite my photographic evidence that the flip-flop was dropped in the field, KJ didn't find it, and by this time we were home and calling it a loss.  It's too bad, though.  Those were the flip-flops I bought Ella in Disney World because her feet were "sweaty in her tennishoes."  Remember those?

So long sparkly flip-flops.
You served us well.
I can't remember how much I paid for you.
Probably more than you were worth considering where you were purchased.

Ella's philosophic attitude?
"It's okay.  I'll just buy some more next time we go to Disney World."

Friday, May 27, 2011

This Week

What a slow blogging week it has been for me.  Sometimes taking care of kids takes up a lot of time.  Obviously.  So, what have we been up to in the past few days of having KJ back home?  Let's see...


My mom brought the kids back to us on Monday.  They had such a good time with B.P. and Debbo.  The rest of the afternoon was pretty quiet.  Mom had purchased new toys on the way home (Disney princess dress-up doll for Ella and some trucks for James), and the kids were so busy playing with their new toys, I laid up in bed and finished a book.  Note to self:  When you have something you need to accomplish or just want a break, new toys can help with that.


On Tuesday life got a little bit more back to normal.  James talked to me in a whiny voice all day.  I was really glad when it was time for his nap.  After the conversation with Ella about us not eating at restaurants very much (see previous post), I remembered that Tuesdays were Family Night's at Chick-Fil-A.  Kids eat free with the purchase of a combo meal.  We met KJ for dinner and had a lot of fun.


I really love the pictures of the kids peeking around the corner at the cow.  They liked him, but there was no way they were getting any closer.



When we got home we walked to the entrance of the neighborhood for a Homeowner's Association meeting.  (Woo-hoo!)  The general consensus was we should definitely build a playground and picnic area with the money we've been adding to the coffers over the years.  I wonder how long it will take to materialize?  A neighborhood playground will be bliss.  Our backyard is already like a neighborhood playground anyway.  That would bring us to Wednesday.


I learned that if you turn on the sprinkler, 
they will come.  It's summer in my neighborhood, folks.

KJ came home from work early yesterday, and we decided to take the kids to a park with a fountain to play.  It's such a great place.  There's a huge fountain for playing, and then you can run across a field to a playground.  Running across fields makes little boys tired.  Plus little boys really like running across fields.  My kids are clamoring for my attention so pictures from yesterday will have to wait.  But I just wanted you to know we were alive and kicking 'round these parts.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ella-isms

"Mom, I was thinking...  We don't really go to restaurants much."


"Yeah?"


"So, on this hot day, I thought we should wear short-sleeves and go to a restaurant and eat outside."


"Okay.  Why don't you call Dad and tell that to him?"


* * *

"Mom, I'm cleaning my room."

"Great!"


"I thought it would make you happy."

Monday, May 23, 2011

I agree with this.

The truth that the arts give us, we might add,
is rarely new information; it tends to be a 
bringing to consciousness of what we 
already know but to which we have become 
oblivious in daily living.

Leland Ryken, The Liberated Imagination

Anniversary Weekend

I have had best anniversary weekend EVER.  

I left my children with my parents on Friday.
They had a lot of fun doing THIS.




I left Saturday to pick KJ up from the airport.  It was so good to see him and to be together again.  It made celebrating seven years together so much sweeter, having been apart for nine days.  We spent the afternoon together at the Galleria and attended a wedding and reception Saturday night.  It felt unbelievably good to have a child-free day together yesterday.  Getting ready for church was so much easier and being able to spend the day together having fun and with uninterrupted conversation was pure bliss.  It's hard to remember that our lives used to be like that...doing what we wanted whenever we wanted, just the two of us...  We had a really great day and night together, and KJ is staying home today to meet the kids when they arrive home from their grandparent weekend adventure.  Of course we can't wait to see them, but we also look forward to sending them back sometime.



Here's to a great weekend.
It's been a very happy seven years.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Tooooomorrow, Tomorrow...

I get to pick my husband up from the airport!  Tomorrow!  Hooray!!  And he'll back in the land of the free tonight, and we may chat about inconsequential things for as long as we want.  I can't wait.  Meanwhile, here's the tale of our 6th year of life together.  KJ pointed out last night that since we've met, we've spent more time married than not.  True.  We knew each other for 2 years and 9 months before we tied the knot.  And this is starting to make me realize we've spent  most of the last decade together.  Oh, my.  Life is indeed a vapor.  I love you so, KJ Pugh.


Just for Fun
This was taken on KJ's first trip to Arab.
It was his first time to meet my father.

Oh, that shirt...
Maybe I should post all the pictures I have of him wearing it.
That would be fun.
He's always so offended when I make fun of his "vacation shirt."

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ella Quotes

There have been a few moments this week when Ella has said something, and I think, "Oh! I have to remember to tell KJ."  I really need to write things down immediately at that point because you know how it is...things leave your brain so quickly.  I know these things would mean a lot to KJ if he had been here.


"I know who else we can pray for.  Daddy!!!"


"I need to keep the ring of power safe."


"Daddy's coming back for Father's Day."


There is one more on the fringes of my mind that I know he would have loved to hear.  I'm sure it is related to something they do together or something he really likes.  Maybe it will come back to me.  But tonight is the second time this week I've heard Ella reference "the ring of power," and I thought it was worth recording.  


You have a daughter, KJ Pugh.  You have a daughter.  She's not just mine.


Five Years!

Here's a link to last year's recap of our fifth year of marriage.  Warning:  it's long!  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What We've Been Doing (and 4th Year re-cap)

KJ has been disconnected from the internet for four days.  Can you imagine?  No, really, can you?  What is the longest stretch you've been without it in the past five years?  I know that when he arrives in-country again on Friday he is going to want to know (and see) what's been going on at home.  Telephone communication has been minimal, as well.  The approximately 24 minutes we've been able to speak to one another on the phone in the past four days has cost us over $50 in calling cards.  Yes, calling cards.  (And used from a pay phone no less!)  So, needless to say, communication has been very cryptic, and we've tried to stick to the main points.  


I took KJ to the airport Thursday morning, and by early Friday afternoon, I was a wreck.  This was mostly, if not entirely, the fault of this little boy who was running rampant through the house.



All morning he was busy doing things he shouldn't, and then, not too long after I sat down at the computer, I heard something hit the ground.  It was him.  He was face down on the floor, and I'm still not entirely sure from whence he fell.  I only know he was climbing.  At first I thought he was okay, but then he climbed up in a chair, and I saw blood trickling from his eye.  I lost it.  I began crying uncontrollably, because KJ was gone, and I didn't know what to do, and James wouldn't be still so I could exam him.  I was finally able to look at him closely enough that I could see it was a cut right next to his eye and not his actual eye that was bleeding.  My nerves were at fever-high pitch, and after talking to his hysterical wife on the phone, unbeknownst to me, KJ called in reinforcements.


I was able to rest my overwrought nerves for a little while, and then David and Hillary arrived and let me go out for a walk.  Then they made dinner, and we watched Tangled, and things felt better.  Much better.  Much, much better. (Name that movie.)

Chicken a la Crescent?
Dinner Success

Dinner truly was a success; it was delicious.  The kids played in the backyard and on the deck, and it was a peaceful end to a day that hadn't started out the best.  Thank you, KJ, for calling in the troops, and thank you, David and Hillary, for keeping me company this week.  My nights would have been lonely without you.  (And here's a summary of Year Four!)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Hey, you're pretty."

I have a reputation these days of whipping my camera out for any and every situation.  I can't help it; I love it.  I really love taking pictures.  It's fun.  

But I'm not the only one in our family who does this.  KJ has his own moments as well.  From the earliest days of our marriage, at the seemingly oddest of times, I'd hear, "Hey.  You're pretty.  Let me take your picture."


It feels good to be so loved.


I guess I'm feeling reflective since KJ is away, and we're approaching our anniversary, but I started noticing a difference in the pictures KJ took of me in those moments where he made me feel so loved and cherished as opposed to pictures taken in other moments and by other people.  Maybe there's no fear looking at the one who knows you best and still loves you most.  


At the beginning of our marriage I had a bit of fear when the uglier side of me came out.  What is KJ thinking about the worst parts of me?  Approaching the completion of seven years of marriage, I still don't like having to confess my failings.  I don't want to disappoint my husband.  But there's not a lot of fear.  There's freedom to be found in being honest with one another, or as I have oft-repeated to KJ, in being "real."  We've found the healing that comes from "confessing our sins" (James 5:16).  


I'm so thankful for KJ, so thankful for the faithful way he has loved me the past seven years and for the security and confidence I have in his love.  I can't wait to celebrate with him this weekend.  Most of all, I'm so thankful for the picture KJ's love paints for me of the gospel and the faithful love Christ has for me, a love that makes me beautiful.

This Morning

I'm feeling a bit tired this morning.  I stay up too late sometimes.  (I'm sorry, Mom.)  Also, I've been waking up earlier than I have to, and rolling over and going back to sleep doesn't come naturally to me.  If I wake up, my mind starts going with a million thoughts about the day.  Also, my husband is gone, so he's not here to say, "Let's go to bed."  I really do need to try to go to bed earlier tonight.  Maybe making this a public goal will be good accountability. 


Yesterday we had a quiet day.  I've appreciated so much the people who have surrounded our family while KJ is away.  It helps keep the sadness of missing him at bay, though we will be so happy for him to return home and have life return to normal.  But my day was quiet, as the kids spent the afternoon and evening with KJ's mom, while I prepared and taught a Bible study with some girls in our church.  It was a very peaceful afternoon for me, and the kids had fun with T.  I've been enjoying time with friends at night re-watching some favorites.  Have I mentioned I really like BBC's new Sherlock?   I think I have.  I think last night was my fourth time through the first episode (We've shared it with a lot of friends.). 


Today's big goals are to make it to the grocery store, have fun with my kids, and rejoice in the Lord always while I'm doing it.  I think those goals are pretty attainable if I relax and just take whatever the day may bring.  Ella has been great while KJ has been gone.  James is sweet, too, but he's in a more challenging stage.  I'm having to learn new ways to discipline and teach him obedience.  He's running into everything, falling down, bumping his head, and arching his back and crying when he's told, "No."  But that all comes with the territory of a 19 1/2 month old.  


Ella is ready for breakfast, so I better get going, and HERE is a little summary of my third year of married life.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Memories

Here is my post from last year about our second year of marriage.  I'm so thankful for pictures.  I sat here this morning looking at that tiny little kitchen in our first apartment, and thinking, "Wow, I really lived there and washed dishes there.  It's almost like remembering an entirely different person, that Lynn before she was a mother.  I was just Lynn, the wife of KJ's youth in those days, spontaneous, care-free.  :)  Perhaps in another 20 years she'll make a reappearance.

There are also so many more pictures to look at from 2005 and remember, but it would take more time than I have now to post them all.  But how could I miss out on memories like...

the Pugh family workout the day before Katie's wedding.


sweet grandparents.


the Morgan's Kentucky farm
(or...the Shire).


All those memories will have to wait for another year, though, because life is busy this morning.  We've been keeping busy with friends and family while KJ is away, so there's lots of activity.  That makes it easier.  The kids have a playground date with T this morning, and I have a morning jog that's calling my name.  Happy Day, everyone.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

That Time of Year

I'm really missing my husband.  So much.  SO much.  


Last year I wrote a few blog posts about the highlights of our married life.  Here's the link to our first year.  We'll be celebrating seven years of marital bliss next Sunday.  I love my husband.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

This and That

Ella woke up this morning running a 102-degree temperature.  She crept into our bed at 4:30 a.m., whereupon KJ took her back to her bed.  We didn't know anything was wrong at this point.  At 6:20 she was back in our room, and she had taken off her pajamas.  


"Ella, what are you doing without your pajamas?"


"I was so hot."


"You know you don't need to get up this early."

"I was just so hot I didn't know what to do."


I still didn't know anything was wrong with her, except for the fact that it was an hour earlier than she usually wakes up in the morning.  She crawled in our bed (without pajamas), and I got up to get her some Benadryl (because she has been coughing and stuffy, not because I wanted to knock her out).  When I gave her the medicine my hand brushed her cheek.


"Ella, you are really hot!"

"I know!!"


She'd been trying to tell me the best way she knew how.  It was then that I took her temp.  I'm pretty sure she probably has what James had.  I'm not sure if James ever had a fever.  I thought he felt warm a couple of times, but it wasn't high enough to make me want to go through the wrestling match of trying to take his temperature.  Today has been a relaxing, movie day for Ella for sure.  She's a precious girl.


In other news, look at my boy on Monday after I turned on the sprinkler in the backyard for he and Ella.  He's the cutest boy on the block.  Hands down.



Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Mother's Day Babies

I wasn't able to go to church Sunday morning,
but I was able to photograph my girl before she left.


She's lovely.

And this boy...


You can see the dried snot under his eye 
if you look closely.

Now he's passed on his sickness to his sister.

I'm afraid his father might catch it, too.


As for KJ, he's going to be doing some travelling soon.
I miss him already, and he's still here.
I'm going to have to pretend he's not leaving,
because it makes my heart hurt.

But my Mother's Day was nice and quiet.
I got to go to the library by myself.
I checked out a big stack of action/forensic/mystery books.
I thought they might keep my imagination occupied while my husband is away.
I think I will also have company a lot; that helps.

You can pray for KJ as he travels,
but you can also pray for him this afternoon.
He's taking James back to the doctor for a check-up.
Here's what it's like taking James to the doctor:

He's happy until you start walking down the hall 
to the examination room.  Then he begins crying and screaming.
And that usually doesn't stop for very long until he runs out of the room at the end.
I'm going to get my hair cut and highlighted while KJ experiences this. :)
After all, I've taken James for every other visit.
Oh, dear.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Mothers

This Mother's Day, I remember and am thankful for...



  • my mother's voracious love of reading and how surely that had its effect on me.
  • 25-cent Nancy Drew books at the used book store.
  • a mom that let me read Nancy Drew books out loud to her.
  • handmade dresses that appeared like magic in my room on Sunday morning.
  • boundaries...though I may not have liked them at the time.
  • making me wait to get my ears pierced, believing that if you grew up too fast you didn't have anything to look forward to later.
  • making my 12th birthday fun and special.
  • a mom that stayed up finishing my science homework so I could go to bed.
  • someone to remind me to relax when I get too uptight and take myself too seriously.
  • homemade birthday cakes even when we wished for "real" (i.e. store-bought) cakes.
  • help with dioramas. 
  • a handmade wedding veil, even if it only survived the first part of the ceremony.
  • help with my babies.
  • someone who drives two hours just to plant flowers with my girl.
  • someone to give my girl a dollar (or five) every time they part ways.

I'm also thankful for...

  • being completely loved and accepted from the moment KJ spoke my name to you.
  • having a loving and affectionate husband who loves Anne of Green Gables, Andy Griffith, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.  (I think we know where he got those traits.)
  • being put on your family cell phone plan before I was even a Pugh so KJ and I could talk freely during a semester apart.
  • my first set of Scripture plates.  I still love them.
  • Marriage 101 e-mails during our first year.
  • free baby-sitting so KJ and I can go on dates.
  • magical memories for my daughter.
  • helping me play the "glad game."
  • Love, love, and more love.
I'm so grateful for your lives.
Your children call you blessed...

and that gives me encouragement that one day
it will "happen to me," too.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Motherhood

I've been thinking a lot about motherhood the past couple of days.  Not surprisingly, posts about mothers have been popping up in the blog-o-sphere, and I spent a lot of time yesterday afternoon thinking about my own experiences as a mother and the ways I've been impacted by my mother and my mother-in-law.  



I thought about all the things I've heard and read about what motherhood is and means, but I found it hard to fit my experiences into those categories.  I don't think the categories are wrong, but everything looks and feels different when you're in the midst of it.  What I thought about the most was of a study I'd heard about taken by parents of young children who were all really miserable, yet all recommended having children to other people. It made me laugh at the time, because as a parent of young children myself, I could understand what these people were feeling.  Parenting is overwhelming and hard, yet simultaneously richly rewarding.  


I asked myself the question:  What makes parents recommend parenting to others when it's such a hard job?  Since I'm a mother, and it's Mother's Day weekend, I'll answer the question from my perspective as a mother (and since that's the only perspective I really have).  I think the hardest thing about mothering is the constant self-giving.  All of a sudden your life is not your own.  I never realized how much my life revolved around me until having Ella.  I could no longer eat, sleep, shower, or even go to the bathroom on my own timing.  Nearly five years later, I get to eat and sleep when I want to, but there has yet to be much privacy in the other areas.  At the root of all this self-giving is love.  I choose to love those children when they're sweet, adorable, and delightful (and they are so much of the time!), and I choose to love and do what is best for them when they're disobedient and having a fit of temper.


Love makes you get up three times in the night to nurse and rock back to sleep, makes you walk the floor singing Jesus Loves Me over and over for thirty minutes until the crying subsides, helps you be resigned when you miss out on events and activities you would have enjoyed, makes you endeavor to control your own temper when faced with repeated disobedience, makes you cook dinner when you don't feel like it, and give your child your attention at the one-hundredth request to, "Watch this!"  Love changes you.  And in the end, the very self-giving that isn't natural and that we tend to avoid, gives us our greatest joy and satisfaction.  And in my life, motherhood is the tool God is using to make me like His Son, to teach me how to love.  It makes my life rich and deep and forces me to come face-to-face with my inability to fulfill my duties apart from Christ...and that's not always fun but always good in the end.


I really am grateful to be a mother, and this Mother's Day, I'll be celebrating by staying home from church with a sick little boy.  (It's all about the giving and the sacrifice!!)  I took him to the doctor this morning because his breathing didn't sound good at all.  He has an upper-respiratory infection and a touch of croup.  And so, I'm thankful, and the joy really does run deep.


P.S.  KJ just informed me that I'll be missing his Sunday School lesson
entitled, The Secret of Contentment.  

That's too bad.  I could have used that lesson.
Oh, but wait, maybe I'm learning it by being content to 
stay home with my little boy tomorrow.

Yes.  Maybe so.





Friday, May 6, 2011

Dropping a Nap

In addendum to something I wrote in my previous post, I really don't think one nap is cutting it for James after all.  It is 10:03 a.m., and he is only beginning to stir in his room.  The past couple of days have been really hard on him.  He is able to stay awake longer, which is making two naps be at rather awkward times, but he is not sleeping long enough for one nap to be enough.  Yesterday I put him down a little after noon, hoping he would sleep at least two hours, but he woke at 1:35.  He was so dreadfully tired that I let him take a short nap from 4:30-5:30 p.m. and put him to bed closer to 9:00 last night.  I thought he would wake up around 8:00, but no.  Here we are at 10:00.  Poor boy.  


I sent Ella off with KJ this morning to help pack bags for tornado victims at the school with a friend.  It was really kind of fun sending her off, and with James napping it's been a quiet morning.  Maybe starting school wouldn't be so bad after all.  :)  It would make me miss her and be really glad when she came home again.  There's James wake-up call.  Time to run.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A New Morning

Yesterday being a rainy day, the kids and I didn't leave the house.  Come to think of it, we didn't go anywhere on Monday, either, and it was sunny then.  In fact, we haven't left our neighborhood since returning from church Sunday afternoon!  I'd say it's time for an outing.  I'm glad the kids are still sleeping as of now so I can have some quiet time to figure out the day's agenda, or at least the morning one because we'll need to be back for James' nap.  


Speaking of James' nap, I think we've finally officially made the move to one nap a day.  It's been a little hard on him, because he's not always sleeping as long as he needs to, but he's been asleep for almost 12 1/2 hours so far, and I haven't heard him yet.  So I'd say he's making up for it at night, wouldn't you?  I really dreaded as well as looked forward to moving to one nap.  On one hand, there is more freedom to be out and about, and I don't have to worry about trying to put him to sleep at church on Sundays.  On the other hand, I only get one break from keeping up with his antics when we're at home all day together.  But he's really been quite good and cheerful for the most part. 


But back to today's agenda:  Shopping.  Our elementary students at our church's school are putting together bags of toiletries and such for those hit hardest by the tornado last Wednesday, and one of the teachers thought Ella might want to help.  They're going to try to include a few things that will be fun for the children receiving the bags.  Ella is excited about shopping for this, as am I.  It's nice to have a specific need to meet.  There's part one of our shopping expedition.  Part two involves purchasing a gift card for a couple in our church whose house was hit by the tornado.  Thankfully, their home was not reduced to rubble like so many were, and they were able to salvage a lot, but their lives have still been completely uprooted.  Their house itself was not salvageable, and they are moving into an apartment for now.  I also have a wedding gift to buy, but I think that may be too much for one trip.  If you've ever been shopping with a child under two, you know what I mean.  Attempting too many stops always ends up in misery for everyone.


Today marks one week since the tornado swept through our town.  It seems like it's been a very long week.  I went out on Saturday to take some items to a distribution center, and since I hadn't been out yet I drove to the main intersection where I could catch a glimpse of what had happened and what was happening now.


For those of you who are familiar, 
this is looking right across the street from the mall.

It was hard to completely take in what I was seeing, but even more than the destruction, I was impressed by all that had been done to have things moving along again.  I really didn't have to wait at red lights any longer than normal (and for those of you who are familiar, you know that's a long time on this strip), and I was surprised to see you could actually drive through here, though of course the entrance to 15th Street, was still barricaded. 




Looking at all the destruction, I could only imagine the grief, shock, and loss being experienced by the people who lost homes, businesses, and even friends and family.  Those are terrible things to contemplate.  But what I didn't take pictures of, were the many, many people who were passing out free water, grilling hamburgers and hot dogs, and offering words of encouragement.  I saw electricians from other states and restaurants who set up stands giving away food.  Watching all of these people working together for the good of others and our city was such a beautiful thing.  It made me think of something I'd read a few weeks earlier:

Don't most, if not all, of the greatest virtues surface in response to evil
and suffering?  Think of your favorite books and movies.  Take
Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, Amistad
Star Wars, or The Lord of the Rings.  The virtues and 
camaraderie, the courage and sacrifice central to these stories
simply would not exist without the context of evil and suffering.

Do you agree that some great goods such as courage and sacrifice
and compassion materialize only in the presence of evil and 
suffering?  If you do, then you recognize that if God allowed less
evil in the world, there would also be less good.

If you could snap your fingers and remove all evil and suffering
that has ever happened, would you?  If you did, then Frederick
Douglass, Soujourner Truth, Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman,
Susan B. Anthony, and William Wilberforce would just be names.
Without his deafness, we don't know whether Beethoven would
have written symphonies.  Had John Bunyan not been unjustly
imprisoned, he almost certainly would not have written 
The Pilgrim's Progress.
- Randy Alcorn, If God is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil

The suffering has been great here, but I saw a lot of good being done on the streets of our city Saturday, and I've heard of much more, and that is an encouraging thing.