It's been a long time.........

I haven't posted for awhile~life has been crazy. Somehow, blogging hasn't seemed so important with all that has been going in Cedar Rapids.

Thank you to all of you who have called and emailed to check on us. Thanks even more for the prayers. I have to say last week I was drained....exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I am so thankful for my God and the peace that He brings. I am so thankful for my family. I am thankful for our home and will be so much more aware of how grateful I am and will not complain about cleaning it or taking care of it. So manyhave lost their homes and their possessions.

Downtown has been devastated. The Cedar River crested at almost twelve feet higher than ever in recorded history, 20 feet higher then flood stage. Between 6,000 and 7,000 jobs were lost as hundreds of local and national businesses were flooded. Brian's office, 2 blocks from the river was flooded. They have "set up shop" in temporary location for now. The African-American museum lost precious exhibits, as did the Science Station, the Art Museum, and the downtown Public Library. The debris and trash of the cleanup will be enough to fill two football fields 60 feet deep. Early damage estimates are already in the billions. In the state, hundreds of acres of farm land were ruined, and the effects will be felt across the country in the months to come. President Bush declared many counties a federal disaster area and 99 out of 100 counties were declared state disaster areas.
At all of our hotels, there are trailers of workers here for the clean-up.

These are some gracious men who let me take their picture. They "follow the flood." We are thankful for many who have come to help.

Here are a few pictures Brian took when he was able to get into his office. Downtown looks different today with hundreds of disaster relief trucks cleaning up.....

These two weeks have been a blur......

We have been trying to help and volunteer as much as we can. There are so manyhurting people.

More than 4,000 homes were flooded as 1,300 city blocks were inundated with water. Many of these people can not go back home. They have been “displaced”- living with friends, relatives, in apartments, two shelters set up in area schools, and now possibly FEMA trailers. These people have lost everything. Clothing, material possessions, pictures, keepsakes…..everything. My friend has lost eight homes in her family- it has affected her mother, brothers, sisters, and cousins. A piece of history was lost as two of the neighborhoods hit were the oldest in Cedar Rapids- historic Czech neighborhoods- Czech Village and the Time Check neighborhood. Czech Village was home to family residences and their businesses- shops and restaurants handed down for generations from Eastern European immigrants.

One Friday, June 20th, I was able to volunteer in the flood neighborhoods, walking the streets, following a truck filled with garbage bags filled with supplies, passing them out to the residents. It felt good to hug these dear ones, telling them that they are not forgotten, but are being prayed for....trying to help them in some small way. It was heart wrenching to see people's lives on the sides of the street as garbage..

I wish this were the case for just a few homes, but unfortunately, it is the case with THOUSANDS. Street after street......4,000 homes..... So much lost.

We had a lemonade stand to raise money for disaster relief. The kids did great- they raised $84!

We have been going through closets to donate clothing, shopping for toiletries, helping in any way we can.

The biggest blessing that we have experienced is "Mike." Mike is a sweet boy who was displaced from the flood. Actually, he was first displaced last October b a fire. He and his mother have been living with her parents, Mike's grandparents in their home. Well, their home was lost in the flood. So, they are all living in a two bedroom apartment.

We have "taken Mike in", so to speak. We pick him up each day, take him to the pool, m kids play with him, and he even goes to art lessons with them. When m pastor called and asked if we could help Mike have a "regular, fun" summer (this kid has lost his school to the flood, all of his friends are spread throughout the city), we jumped at the chance! What a blessing it has been to spread joy to this family!

God has been good through it all. We have had blessed opportunities to be a family. This is much needed or it gets overwhelming.......

Taking a break at Sonic after passing out VBS fliers to neighborhoods....

A family bike ride........

.....resting at DQ..

The kids first wedding...... We looked pretty good. This was when there was a water shortage and we couldn't take showers!

Ashley's 1st swim meet

Thankful Thursday

Lord, I am so thankful for the sunshine this morning and the sunshine each day this week after the intense flooding.....what a difference it has made to have 5 days of sunshine with NO rain!

We toured the downtown area last night and it was devastated. I didn't have my camera so I am going to try to go back tonight for pictures. It is amazing to see hundreds of trailers with "disaster relief" all over the downtown. Clean up began yesterday and the crews were still working at 8 PM last night when we were there. All I could do was cry. It is so sad to see your beloved city in such a state. Words can't begin to describe it.

I am so thankful, Lord, that I know You and have a relationship with You. I thank You that I have You to lean on and depend on. I thank You that You fill me with peace and comfort. I thank You that I have a hope and a future with You.

I can't imagine what it would be like to endure these heartaches (any heartaches or trials of life) without You. I am so thankful for m relationship with You, Christ. Father, You are the Father of all comfort and the God of compassion who comforts me in my trials. You are my Jehovah Shalom- my PEACE.....I am so thankful that I don't need to be strong because when I am weak, You are strong. I am thankful that You are my strong tower, a shelter over me. I thank You that You are my rock and fortress.

Lord, I pray for all those who do NOT know You at this time. I pray that they would turn to You in their grief. Lord, let them seek You. Draw them to You, Lord. Ease their pain as only You can. Lord, I pray that You will bring/surround them with Believers- Jesus with skin on- to comfort them and bring them a Word from You. I pray that we as Christians will not miss this opportunity to love them and help them and "to give them a cup of cold water in Your Name."

Please scroll down to WFW and WW pictures below to see flooding pictures.

Wordless Wednesday......cedar rapids flooding

They say "a picture is worth 1000 words..."
Even though I have been writing about the flood, until you see the devastation, you can't even imagine it.....
All pictures are from The Gazette website. Visit there for many more.

Word-filled Wednesday

This has been the hardest week with the massive flooding here in Cedar Rapids. It seems like last Wednesday was months ago.... Mani of mu posts this past week have had to do with the flood. I am so thankful that I have m God to lean upon! With Him, there is hope.

Please visit Amy for more WFW. Blessings!

Lord, we trust in You......Cedar Rapids flooding

"My God is changeless in His love for me and He will come and help me."-Psalm
59:10 TLB

This was the quote in my daily flip "calendar". I knew God was speaking directly to me on the morning I read it. It was the quote for June 13, the day the flood waters were high and my emotions were low. This little flip calendar is a "Mother's Prayer for Every Day of the Year," an inspirational quote of the day. Most of the quotes are little prayers dealing with motherhood. On Friday, however, it was a verse from Psalms that I needed to hear. When I looked this verse up in my bible, NLT, it sounded very different, and may not have spoken to my heart the way the TLB translation did.

God is a ever-present help in our times of need. When we come to Him, get still and quiet before Him, we can hear the gentle whispers He is always speaking to our spirits. God is always present- He never leaves. It is us that allow fear, doubt, worry, distractions, lies of the enemy, fleshly desires to drown out His sweet voice. He has already spoken so much to us in His Word- verses of hope, encouragement, love, peace.....

But, how easy it is for me to turn on the TV, watching more of the news coverage than to open my bible and pray His verses and promises. But, that is exactly what I need to do in times of trouble and trial. I must choose to quiet my heart and the voices all around me and listen to seek Him with all of my heart, mind, soul, and STRENGTH.

Jesus tells us that we will have trouble in this world. Because of the sin that Adam and Eve brought into the world, we live in a fallen world. This is a world where there are floods....a fallen world where the waters flood over their boundaries....a fallen world where homes are destroyed....a fallen world where there is cancer. There is disease. There is heartache.

If that were the end, then all would be lost. Our lives would only be as meaningful as what we could manage to do with them in the blink of an eye that we are here. But, praise God, Jesus said, "TAKE HEART, I have OVERCOME the world." Jesus has overcome the sin of this fallen world. This brings hope. This brings security. This brings comfort.

We may have to endure trials of all kinds here on this earth, but there is a day coming when He will wipe away every tear. A day when there will be a new Heaven and a new earth. A day when we receive our perfect bodies free from disease and injury.

And today, we have the peace that passes all understanding. No matter what we are enduring through, Jesus gives us rest. He says, "Come to me all you who are weary and burden laden and I will give you rest." Jesus restores our soul. He leads us beside still, quiet waters. He fills us with comfort. He brings hope of a better today.

"I will take refuge in the the shadow of your wings until the
disaster has passed."-Psalm 57:1

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you b name;
you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you
pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.- Isaiah 43:1-2

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His
great mercy He has given us new birth into a living HOPE through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can
never perish, spoil, or fade..." -1Peter 1:3-4

Father, we praise You and thank You. Lord, You are the same yesterday, today and forever. Lord, we put our hope and our trust in You. We come to You, Lord, who daily bears our burdens. We cast all our care on You. Lord, help us during this time, strengthen our faith. Lord, in our weakness, You are strong. Praise You, Jesus. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

Cedar Rapids Flooding- Miracles Abounding!

Thank You, Father! Lord, thank You for Your mercy, Your goodness. Lord, I thank You for all of the miracles that we are witnessing during this flooding and for all of the miracles I am sure we will see in the days to come. Lord, thank You for Your outstretched arm......

Even though this has been such a trying week, we are beginning to see such glimmers of hope. When we got up Sunday morning, "things" did not look very good. But, by lunch time we had lots of good news and we are beginning to see rays of hope.

Flood waters were not supposed to recede until later this week, but have gone done significantly today. This is SUCH a miracle! Thank You, God! This means that clean up can begin. For so many, the "fear" is the NOT knowing, so just the fact that we are beginning to KNOW, even if it is heartbreaking, is better than the unknown. Now, we can roll up our sleeves, help one another, and begin cleaning up.

Pictures by Steve Graville of the Gazette
Another miracle has been the incredible outpouring of love in volunteering and helping neighbors. 23,000 had to be evacuated, but the shelters had only about 500 people. Neighbors and families opened their homes and arms to people needing a place to stay. Many businesses also paid for hotels and temporary apartments.

Thousands of sandbagers turned out to sandbag the water well and Mercy Hospital. At times, there was such an outpouring of volunteers that some had to be turned away!
Our church had a call for volunteers during services. Baskets containing the volunteer forms were completely filled.
This flood was 5 on a scale with 6 being highest. Katrina was a 6. The death toll has been 3, and we're not even sure if those are flood related deaths. That is amazing! Thank You, God for Your protection! There have not been any reports of looting.
Please continue to pray! For more miracles to praise God for, please visit Beth at A Mom's Life!

Cedar Rapids Flooding...the mourning begins....

O Lord, You are our God. We trust You. We believe You. No matter what our eyes see, we believe. You are good. You are gracious. You are our God.

Now the questions begin. My own children are asking, "Why did God do this?" I know there are many who ask, "How could God allow this?" So, now, I am praying for wisdom to talk to my children and anyone who questions.....

I only have a few moments right now, so I am going to share just a few thoughts I have had this morning.

There is such a "trickle down" affect of the flooding. Because water levels are critical, many businesses have been asked to close- car washes and laundromats. Many restaurants have closed or are serving on paper plates and not serving water. Let that sink in. Imagine if this were your family business and you depended on business to live. Because this is the weekend, many of these businesses earn most of the week's profits on the weekend. These are areas of the city that weren't flooded, but because we are only operating at 25% capacity, we are in a critical situation with conservation.

With the flooding, there were 1,000 city blocks that were flooded. I did not put in an extra zero- that was one thousand city blocks. The whole downtown area was affected. We have two hospitals (Mercy was flooded), but also the downtown area is the "hub" for the medical community. Most doctors offices- ENTs, family practices, eye clinics are all located downtown. I was thinking about our doctor's office this morning. My kids have appointments later this month, will the office be open?

Cedar Rapids has a beautiful downtown and there has been much money and energy poured into renovating the downtown area. The federal courthouse is downtown. There were new high-end apartment high rises built, parking garages, convention center, restaurants, museums, brand new YMCA building....

The waters have gone down today. One ray of hope was on May's Island. It is a little island between 1st Ave. bridge and 2nd Ave. bridge that hosts many picnics, celebrations, band concerts. Some of the water has gone down and the trees are still standing! Thank You, God!

Many neighborhoods still have 4-12 feet of water. The current is so strong that boats can not get to the homes yet.

The impact affects us all, even in small ways. Interstate 80 has 2 hour detour around the flooding. I-380 has a 3+ hour detour around flooding.

Next week would begin the city's 2 week celebration of the 4th of July- the Freedom Festival. There is the BBQ round-up, festivals in the city parks, parades..... This is such a huge thing for the city- bringing visitors from several other states. School bands and dance companies that have been practicing to perform for months.... These celebrations have brought the community together, making wonderful memories for our children.

Just starting to get a feeling of what kind of impact this will have on our city......

"He gives strength to the weary."- Isaiah 40:29

"Praise be to the LORD, to God, our Savior, who daily bears our
burdens." -Psalm 68:19

Please pray for the communities that are down river. This is just beginning for them. Coralville, Iowa City, cities in Illinois, Missouri.....

Click here for more news information. Click here for photos.

Cedar Rapids Flooding- Updated at 8 AM

Slept late this morning.....up at 4 AM yesterday and didn't go to bed until after 11PM...

Brian got home after 11. He was tired- such a long day him.....

The film footage is unbelievable. It is so sad. Watching people being rescued from their attic windows. KCRG reporter went out on boat tour with fire department. It is unbelievable. It really looks like Katrina footage. Stop signs are flooded. The boat ran into a flooded car.

The water has flooded 100 city blocks. Mercy Hospital is flooded. They had to evacuate some patients. They went to a generator for power. St. Luke's (also downtown, but on higher ground) still taking patients.

We still have water usage, but under restriction. No mail service, no bus service. They are asking people to stay off roads.

Praises- thank You, God for Angel Flight flying flood victims for free to other cities/states; thank You for all of the volunteers helping; thank You for the rescues..... thank You, Lord, for the clear skies- dry skies. No rain predicted until Sunday. I am believing that You will dry those clouds and the storm will "fizzle out" before it gets here.

Cedar Rapids Flooding-updated at 9:45 PMAs I sit and write, the thunder rolls. It reminds me of a book I love, "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry." When I wrote earlier, my mind was all over the place. I completely forgot to pray for Brian. Right now he is stranded. He was traveling yesterday (was in Southern Illinois). He and a co-worker thought it would be faster to drive than to wait for the company plane to come back for them from New Orleans, so they made it as far as the airport, which is right outside of Cedar Rapids. Right now, because you have to cross the river to get into town, the only place to cross is I-380- all other bridges are out. So, the traffic was at a stand-still- no movement. He has not moved since 5:30 PM. All hotels were full. Nowhere to go. He is waiting it out, hoping that the traffic will start moving by 10 PM. There is a mandatory curfew which started at 9 PM. So, hopefully traffic will lighten up so that these stranded motorists can get through....

I went to the neighborhood drugstore earlier this afternoon to stock up on bottled water. Right now we are on a mandatory water restriction which means they are asking people not to use dishwasher, washing machine, showers, NO baths, don't flush toilets, etc. Only use water for drinking water. We are hoping that we do not lose water or power, but are preparing in case. Anyway, they were completely out of water. Found gallons at the gas station. Tonight I went to Target to stock up

Please, please, please continue to pray for us. Thank you for all of your encouragement and prayers, dear sisters. I will not email or comment back, but will continue to update as long as I can. We are preparing for loss of power in the next day or two. Right now we are under an mandatory water restriction. This is horrible. All day I have been watching and praying. It reminds me of Katrina when I watched the coverage. But, now it is my town and it is unbelievable. It is so much worse then what they expected. Neighborhoods under water. Water to the rooftops. The downtown is devastated (the river runs through downtown). My husband's office is there and watching the news, the water is at least 4 feet deep. Motor boats rescuing people that did not evacuate quickly enough. The science station is gone. The downtown public library gone. A furniture store that is downtown has furniture floating around inside. There is an old theater, a landmark, in town that was beautiful- the basement with props and vintage costumes are gone. The waters are still rising and not expected to crest until tomorrow morning. There are storms off and on. They are breaking records by 10 feet! And, more rain tonight.

It is not just the river water, but it is the flash flooding flooding the creeks.

9000 people have been evacuated and the shelters are filling quickly. Where do the people go? They have no homes to back to.

As the broadcaster has just said, "the water has taken over."

Lord, as I sit here in tears, I am just devastated. This is so terrible. Lord, I trust in You. I know Lord, You are Sovereign. Lord, I pray that as we walk through this trial, Your glory will reign. Lord, may those who don't know You come to You in this time for comfort. Help this community, gracious Lord.

I will update through my blog as long as we have power. I do receive your emails and am so thankful for them- they are a great encouragement. Thank you, my sisters.

Thankful Thursday

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise;
give thanks to Him and praise His Name. For the Lord is good and His love
endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations."- Psalm

Lord, I come before you this morning with a heaviness upon me. I know that in these times, with these feelings, I need to lift my hands and praise. It is funny, I almost forgot this is Thursday. I usually post my TT late Wed. night, but You knew, Lord, I would need to "encourage myself in the Lord" as David did. I choose now to encourage myself in You.

Lord, even now, as I hear the thunder, I know that You are in control, Sovereign God. I am thankful that You are with us, even in scary times. You are walking with us as we go through the waters. You tell us in Isaiah, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with; when you pass through rivers, they will not sweep over you." Lord, I am thankful that You, as You watch over us, never sleep. Your are "the shade at my right hand; the sun will not harm us by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep us from ALL harm- He will watch over our lives. The LORD will watch over our coming and going both now and forevermore."

Lord, thank You that You are our Protector. You are on our side. "...the flood WOULD HAVE swallowed us alive; the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away." Lord, I am believing the flood will NOT overcome us. You are on our side. "If God be for us, who dare be against us?" Lord, even now, as the lightening and thunder are coming stronger, and it raining, even gently, I am pleading Father, cease the storm. Quiet us with Your love. Quiet our hearts, but quiet the rain.

I am thankful God, that You are the King of kings, Lord of Lords. I am thankful that You are Lord, Almighty. You are STILL in control. With tornadoes, earthquakes, droughts, famines, floods.....You are still our God and we are still Your people. I thank You that You are Sovereign God. I thank You that You love me. I thank You that Jesus reminds us, "In this world you WILL have trouble, (He doesn't stop there), but take heart, I have overcome the world." Jesus, You have overcome this world. We have hope and a future. You are Jehovah.

As the thunder continues to get louder, the house shakes.

Please pray for our community. Please pray for our family as Brian is traveling on business. I pray that he has an office to come home to as his company is located downtown where the flood is. There is a mandatory evacuation down there and the flood waters are expected to break the all time record. Not only are people losing their homes, but businesses, which are vital to families, are in danger, too.

Thank you for all of your kind words and prayers.

Do not be afraid. Be strong and courageous. Trust in the Lord with all your heart.

Floods in Iowa- please pray for us!

You may have seen the terrible floods in the news yesterday and today. Here is picture from my community. The story can be read here.

Please be praying for these communities. We have been ravaged these past few weeks with dangerous weather- tornadoes, wind, flash flooding, and now a 500 year flood. You may wonder what a "500 year" flood is. The chances that the town will flood are 1/2 of 1%, or a chance of a flood is about once in 5oo years. Many of these communities are still reeling from the F5 tornado. An F5 is the worst possible tornado. Many towns and the downtown areas of cities near the Cedar River are being evacuated.

Please pray for God's mercy. The forecast is for more rain. I know with God, all things are possible and He is mightier than any weather forecaster. Please pray that the rains pass us by. Please pray for all of the hundreds of people who have lost homes all ready- praying for their comfort and a strengthening of their faith. Please pray for the safety of people and especially all of the volunteers desperately trying to help. Lord, help us come together as a Church, reminding the world that Jesus said we would have trouble in this world, but to take heart because Jesus has overcome the world. Help us, Lord, to be Jesus "with skin on" to all of the hurting people. Lord, help us to be united together, one body and one voice. Help us to be salt and light in these times of trial. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.

Those shoes!

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Look at all of those shoes!!!!!!! Hmmm.......used to make me mad, until God used them to teach me a lesson! Please visit me at Laced With Grace today to read how God taught me a valuable life lesson through these messy shoes. And, as always, I appreciate your comments!

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Wordless Wednesday

Nice shot Mom! Dunked by his own mother!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hmmm..... an old-fashioned dunk tank! Haven't had this much fun since Alice got in it on the Brady Bunch!
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