Thursday, April 28, 2011


There are times when a single word is used to denote the status of something really simple, like apples, or a visit from neighbors.

Then there are times when the same single word can change lives. Turn stomachs upside down. Cause hearts to skip beats.

I really learned this nearly six years ago when Hurricane Katrina changed the landscape of where I was born, raised, and learned how to be who I am.

And today I’m reminded of the power of the word "gone" as devastating tornados have ripped through so many states, including Alabama.

The city where my sister and her family lives has been almost completely decimated, and “gone” is the word I keep hearing in the news and reading online in references to the landmarks that have been the site for so many sweet memories Kim and Steve have made since moving to Cullman.

“Gone” is the word that was used to describe my little nephew’s barber shop after the first tornado hit Cullman yesterday, and “gone” is the word that is being repeated over and over as people worldwide comment on videos, photos and reports from Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and other states as a “super cell of tornadic activity” roars its frighteningly massive way across half our country.


A great description for a bad headache, weird noise in the night, that strange thing my hair sometimes does for no reason at all… Not so great when it comes to people’s homes, workplaces, creature comforts, transportation means, roadways, and livelihoods.

I still hear an empty echo ring in my own voice when someone asks me about “that library you always loved as a little girl – the one with the winding staircase,” and I have to shrug and tell them the status: “Oh yeah. That was the Gulfport Library. It’s gone.”

Same for Beauvoir.

Same for my grandparents’ original house.

Same for too many of my beloved Gulf Coast landmarks to even count, really.

I hate in a big way that now it will be the same for my sister and brother-in-law, and the sweet community they have been wrapped up in while they were growing their beautiful family. I also hate that there will always be an amount of fear for me when another storm heads to the Gulfport and Biloxi area, just like my nephew might have some adjusting to do when it rains in Cullman. (My fingers are crossed against this, obviously, but you never know.)

For the most part, I really hate the “gone” of it all. Post-tragedy, things are so messy, then so bare. They’re icky. They hurt to look at. They put a scar on something you didn’t even know the depth of your love for…till it was gone.

What I don’t hate is that “gone” now also applies to that tornado cluster on steroids. And the monster that was Hurricane Katrina, and the terrible earthquakes and tsunamis that so many of our international brothers and sisters have suffered through.

Those disasters were hellacious, but they are gone. We’ll have other scares in our lives, but those times, on those dates, with those circumstances can never come back.

Similarly, who I was on August 28, 2005 can never come back.

In some ways, that’s a little sad. The innocence of thinking Hurricane Camille before I was born was the worst thing that could’ve happened to my home was kind of nice.

But am I glad my ignorance for how it feels to see your hometown rubble from afar is now gone? Absolutely.

Do I miss the unintentional lack of empathy I had for people who went through natural disasters? No way.

I’m glad that is gone. I’m glad I can look at the shock and horror of what has happened to Tuscaloosa, and Smithville, MS, and north Georgia, and know a little of how those people are feeling. I’m thankful to know how to pray. I’m thankful my fellow Mississippi Coast natives – and so many others who’ve dealt with this mess – know what to do, and how to help, and even what to say or not say.

Gone isn’t always great, but it also isn’t always bad.

What can never – should never – be gone are our prayers for these disaster-ridden times and people.

Because there will be a day a few years from now, when everything is for the most part cleaned up, that some Alabama 34-year-old will go home to visit her parents, and desperately long to drive up to something that is now gone.

So let’s keep our empathy intact.

Some things, in spite of nature and time and forces stronger than us, will never be gone. They can't be, if we don’t let them leave.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Quite A Lot.

My nephew is the youngest history buff I've ever met, and is a huge fan of "usin' army men t' set up battles," as well as dressing for the occasion.

The kid loves hats. Cowboy hats. Abe Lincoln's top hat. Army hats.

(I could go on and on, but if I did, I might steal thunder from the overflowing toy box in his room that's pretty much reserved specifically for hats.)

Yesterday, while my brother-in-law was working on something for Caleb's room, Caleb rushed downstairs to where my sister was and said, "You might wanna come up here and see me."

At this point in the story, I wondered where it was going. I mean, did he have a special job to help with his dad's project? Did he have a battle set up? What exactly was there to see...about HIM?

When my sister went upstairs, she found out.

There stood a beaming Caleb, loaded down with three play guns, other weapons, a vest from the French Revolution, and a hat from a battle I didn't catch specifics of.

When my sister commented on Caleb's outfit, he grinned and stated, "I've got quite a lot on."

Aside from being adorably quotable, isn't that exactly like me? (Ha... Really! Ha!)

I want my playtime when I want it, I love the things that make me uniquely rebekah, I do what I need to do to get by, but dadgummit, when it's time for the attention meter to be fed, puh-leeze come upstairs and comment gushingly when I've taken on "quite a lot!" This type of load doesn't need to go unnoticed! And especially not when I feel it's time for some credit.

While I'm not particularly proud of this self-realization, I do hope it'll help me be more aware about how I'm setting up my "battles" and what I am putting on -- and not just clothing-wise.

Long day at the office? What attitude am I choosing to wear?

Too tired to work out? Where's that self-discipline hat?

Exhausted from that person who always seems to withdraw more than she deposits? How about the perfume of kindness?

With any luck, foresight into these things will help me be prouder to show off the "quite a lot" I've got on when something big's occurring, instead of needy for the notice because I'm overwhelmed.

What's the plan?

My friend Jane is brilliant.

Not just because she's earned her doctorate, or is uncannily discerning, or has made excellent relationship choices, or continuously shelved her own needs to honor her father and mother in the most optimal and sacrificial of ways.

My friend Jane is brilliant because she is a planner.

From the moment our friendship developed in our early 20s, Jane had a plan. I'm not talking for the next 5 to 10 years (though we'd be nuts to not recognize that of course those did and still do exist in her world); I'm talking about a plan for Errands Saturday. A plan for dinner on Tuesday. A plan for Christmas and birthday shopping. You get the idea.

Some people look at me and think I'm a planner.

A little clarification for those very kind people: I'm not. By nature I'm not, I mean. I have learned -- the very hard way -- that it pays to plan. That doesn't always mean I do it, though.

I'm, by nature, the farthest thing there is from a planner. In most things that are rebekah, I prefer to -- wait for it! -- play it by ear.

If I had a nickel for every time Jane asked, "What's the plan?" and I responded with, "Eh, let's just play it by ear" in the year 2000 alone, well, I'd have bought a new car in 2001. (Jane, however, would've saved diligently, researched investment options, and would likely be living out the retirement part of her plan before she turns 35.)

It's no secret to Jane or to me that these personality traits are likely part of our DNA, or that we both dream of achieving a fabulous balance between the two. We've been laughing about this for a while, and have gotten closer to The Mystical Balance each time we revisit the subject.

What has been a secret to me until just now is the Scripture that points so directly to my sweet friend's natural tendencies:

"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.'" (Luke 14:28-30)

There are many ways I've tipped my hat to Jane over the years, and for many reasons. Today, I salute Jane via the blogosphere for her wisdom of being a planner, and for her patience with me as I continue my struggle to learn what is a rare artistry in this age of instant gratification.

So, I guess the next question to ask myself is... what's the plan?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A heart full of gratitude.

Today, I'm thankful for:

1. Love. It's in the air, not only with several dear friends getting married and planning weddings, but just all around. ::happy sigh::

2. Sunshine! It's amazing what a little Vitamin D can do for ya.

3. True colors. Even though they're not always pretty, they're certainly valuable, and teach us many lessons (that hopefully enrich our lives).

4. Modern medicine. I'm counting on it for small(ish, relatively speaking) things, like a non-coma-inducing fix for my nagging headaches, and for massively large things, like cures for the nasty monster that is cancer, and for proactive genetic indicators for dear friends whose parents suffered from frightening diseases.

5. Time. It's a valuable thing, and I learn that more with each day, not to mention year.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thankful Thursday.

I have many things to be thankful for this Thursday, but I'll try to narrow it down to just five. :-)

1. Help. It's so nice to get a little help when you need it -- even when you don't know you have access to the resources.

2. A finished product. Instant gratification is rare, but even slow-cooked gratification is lovely. And I'll take all of it that I can get!

3. Peeps. I mean, I do love my friends and family, but I find it hilarious to repeat the little play on words each Easter season. :-)

4. Technology. I'm an addict.

5. Light, love and letting go. That is all.