Sunday, July 31, 2011
Once we were back on the air, we stayed on until after 11pm that first night, churning out the latest information for food, shelter, help, anything people might need to know. To say we were all exhausted, would not even come close, and yet, sleep would not equal rest for many weeks.
Something strange was growing in our newsroom..nobody seemed to know what day it was, and we all had the same look in our eyes..kind of a zombie-like/what has just happened look. Every day since then, we have been wrapped up in that tornado in some fashion. We started in rescue/recovery, to where we are now, rebuilding.
For the first week after, we wrote on a big dry-erase board hanging on the wall: "Today is _______", because we got tired of asking each other again and again, "what day is it?" Time essentially stopped Wednesday, April 27th at 5:13 p.m. Hundreds of peoples from all parts of the city were living in a park rec-room, most of our student interns had to leave, get away from the tragedy..it was simply too much to bear.
Fast-forward to three months later and things are getting better. I no longer have that feeling of panic in my chest like, " where am I?" when I drive down the street to get home. That happened a lot the first few weeks..on the roads I had driven down for months, I would feel lost and then frightened for moments..then I would realize, okay, I know where I am. We brought counselors on our show to talk to our viewers about grief, loss, recovery, patience, feeling lost, you name it, they talked about it.
The reason I wanted to share this, is because if you have experienced these same things, I want you to know it will be okay, things will get better.
"Life is like a train track" comes from one of my favorite preachers, Adrian Rogers. He said we get the good and the bad at the same time some times..and he was right. April 27th started out as the happiest day of our life, since our wedding day..and then it became one of the saddest just hours later.
We eventually did celebrate Bryan passing the bar, but every thing in our life has so much more meaning. We take nothing for granted. Our shelter, food, clothing, everything is so much sweeter. We also have a renewed appreciation for our family. April 27th could have been the day we found out Bryan passed the bar and also the last day we were on the earth. But, thankfully it was not. We are still here, God has something for us to do..so we continue down the train track, with a few scrapes, but still moving forward to a new life.
**the photo is the last thing I saw on the air before the power went out in the studio. I work right in front of the stadium, and we thought the tornado was headed directly for us, we all took cover on the set and braced for the worst.
So much has happened since I last wrote. It may take a while..so hold on.
Here we go: a month and two days after the last post, we had the most wonderful and the most horrible day, all at once. Since February, we had been counting down the days until April 27th: that's when the results of the bar exam would be released. On the morning of the 27th at 8:46 a.m., my phone rang, and Bryan said " my name is on the list! I did it!" We were beyond happy! Eight long years of hard work, moving from family, going back to school to get two new degrees, moving from city to city, working every holiday..it all came down to that moment and we had crossed the finish line! We talked about how to celebrate, etc. and then I hung up the phone, got ready, and went to work. Everyone had been helping me count down the days and when I walked in, we all cheered!! It was very sweet! Of course, we had both called our parents and loved one's with all the good news. Little did we know, less than 9 hours, our world would turn upside down and we wouldn't talk about this remarkable achievement again for almost two weeks.
I knew we could have some bad storms that day, but nothing could prepare anyone for what happened at 5:13 p.m. that day. An EF-4 tornado rolled through the heart of Tuscaloosa chewing up everything in its path. Thousands of homes and hundreds of businesses were destroyed. 43 people were killed that day and hundreds more appeared on the initial missing list. There are very few experiences in life that can compare to what happened to our temporary home. I heard some of the National Guardsman that came to help compare it to "war zone". Our home was spared, and it became a temporary hotel for 6 people for the next few days. Two bedrooms, one bath, and we made it work somehow. Everywhere you looked in our little rental, you would see people sleeping, and food was everywhere. Bryan turned into a chef and kept the food coming. We lost our ability to be on air from the moment it hit until about 6:30 a.m. Friday morning. During that time, our crew stayed out in ground zero shooting stories, and I hunkered down in our one working edit bay gathering everything together and making a game plan for the moment we came back on air. We finally got back up with our first newscast at 1:00 p.m. Friday, and that's when I finally saw what had happened. Going to work and coming home were re-routed beyond the damaged areas, so it wasn't until the first videos rolled that I saw what everyone else already knew...it was catastrophic. And, there was no way we would ever be the same.
On this one day, we had gotten the best news of our lives so far, and just hours later, we had survived a deadly tornado, it missed our home by 1/4 mile.
Friday, March 25, 2011
We said goodbye to our dear friend Alex this week. He and his sister Molly joined our family when they were just a few weeks old, that was 16 years ago. Molly passed away last fall suddenly, Alex died after being ill for almost a year. It would be impossible to include in this one post all of the joy they bought to us though the years. From the moment we brought them home, they brought us so much laughter and kept each other company.
I'll share a couple of memories...
When they were brand new puppies, we lived in a very sweet neighborhood where a lot of people liked to walk their dogs. They always looked so happy walking around the block, people smiling, dog's tail's wagging and everyone in rhythm. I got the bright idea to do the same thing with Alex and Molly. So, we got little puppy leashes and hooked them on their little collars and we started down the drive way. Me and Molly, Bryan and Alex, and then......whooooosh! They were gone! We had the leashes and collars..but no puppies! They had finagled ( a mississippi word that does not require proper spelling ) their little selves right out of the collars and we were left looking at two "puppies gone wild" in the street, in the neighbors yards, around the corner, everywhere we looked..it was two short, collie-mutt puppy bullets zooming out of control! I started screaming at them, "Molly!! Alex!! Get back here!" Which of course worked because at just about 6 weeks old they already knew their name, phone number and zip code, right ? ? NO!! I might as well have been screaming "PIZZA! FRENCH FRIES! BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!" Because they had no idea what their names were, we had only had them a few days.. Bryan was smart enough to remain calm and said we should split up and track them down, quickly! ( Did I mention all the nice calm neighbors and their dogs were walking past us laughing hysterically? Yes, the dogs were laughing, too. It's my post and my dogs, so just go with it.) Some neighbors even came out of their house to see what the commotion was all about. Here's what they saw: two fuzzy blur's of collie-looking puppies flying around the yards, darting in and out of the street, followed by one grown man ordering "Alex" to stop and "come here" and one grown woman screaming frantically, "MOLLY, STOP! I MEAN IT! RIGHT NOW! COME BACK HERE!" Again, the dogs heard " BLAH, BLAH! BLAH BLAH BLAH! " We eventually caught them and when I got them back inside their fenced in back yard, I told them both, " I hope you enjoyed that trip! Because you will never get to see the front yard again!" And they didn't unless it was from inside the car looking out the window on the way to the vet.
Here's a glimpse of what they accomplished while we lived on Hemlock:
they used to break into the bottom of the house, pull all the cable out into the yard and crawl back in where it was cool and lay down..and the only warning we had was when the t.v. suddenly turned blue and then we knew they were on the loose; they also broke into our utility shed through a crack in the corner to hang out and we couldn't find them until we would bring food and then they would bust out and it sounded like the building would collapse..or when Alex decided he wanted to help Bryan smoke some ribs and by "help" I mean he hopped up with two front feet on the front of the smoker, took his long collie nose and grabbed the huge rack of ribs from the smoker and ran in the yard..only to discover they were too hot to eat! They also ate the wheels off our grill, the metal off the back door, and the handle off the water spicket..I won't tell you what happened when my Mother picked up a basket of apples in the back yard that Alex thought belonged to me...let's just say he had to go to "jail" for a few days, and when he came back, he was no longer singing tenor, he was officially a soprano.
I told you, there are so many stories..
But this is one of my all time favorite Molly and Alex stories.
When we decided to go back to school and move to Tuscaloosa, that meant moving the entire family. So the vet recommended we give Molly and Alex some medicine to relax so they wouldn't be "insane in the membrane, insane, got no brains!"..that was their theme song..to say they were hyper and happy together would be an understatement. So, that's what we did. Remember, I told them they would never see the front yard again, so after giving them the medicine, we backed the car up to the gate at an angle so the gate opened right up into the back door of the car. The vet said it would take a little while for the medicine to kick in, so they were still "super pumped about the move!" at this point. So, when we went to get them, we cracked open the gate and they shot out like two bullets right into the car! They never knew what hit 'em! We had captured them successfully and Bryan got behind the wheel. I hopped in the front of the truck with our cat Precious in her "car" or animal carrier. And we were off to our new lives! About an hour down the road, Bryan calls me on the cell and tells me things have changed drastically! The medicine worked great on Alex..he was calm, laying down in the back being good. It was a different story with Molly..we might as well had given her a giant hit of "e" or "f" or whatever the name of those wild hyper kid drugs are called. She was out of control with eyes blared. Bryan said she was hopping back and forth playing a little game called "front-seat, back-seat, front-seat, back...you get the idea". She also liked to box with her little paws and that was also amusing to her ...she was using the back of the drivers seat to box around on. While he was telling me all of this, Precious was moaning in her "car" like she was at death's door..when I checked on her, she wasn't dying, she was car sick..and you guessed it, she got sick. Then she was furious with me that I didn't immediately pull over and clean it up so she could be comfortable. So, Bryan and I finally found a place to pull over, me with Precious who is wailing, Bryan and his punk-rock Molly, and Alex who is asleep in the back. While Bryan comes to help me with Precious, I look over to check on the dogs...and that's when I saw it. Alex was no longer asleep, he was WIDE awake and behind THE WHEEL! He had both paws on the steering wheel ( I am not making this up..I couldn't, I'm not that smart) and Molly was jumping up and down in the back seat as if she was celebrating, singing"East bound and down, loaded up and truckin'! We're gonna do what they say can't be done!" I calmly walked over to Bryan and told him, he might want to go check on the dogs...I could take over for Precious...How we made it alive to Tuscaloosa , only the Lord knows.
I believe that right now, Precious, Alex and Molly are reunited in Heaven at our home waiting on us to get there so we can all spend eternity laughing and playing together..
And to borrow the words of one of the funniest women ever, "I'm so glad we had this time together".....
Molly Bear Wallace 1995-2010
Alex Handsome Wallace 1995-2011
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Words and Music -Carole Bayer Sager & David Foster
Italian Lyrics- Alberto Testa & Tony Renis
I pray you'll be our eyes, and watch us where we go And help us to be wise, in times when we don't know Let this be our prayer, when we lose our way Lead us to the place, guide us with your grace To a place where we'll be safe.
La luce che tu dai I pray we'll find your light Nel cuore resterà And hold it in our hearts A ricordarci che When stars go out each night L'eterna stella sei Nella mia preghiera Let this be our prayer Quanta fede c'è When shadows fill our day Lead us to a place Guide us with your grace Give us faith so we'll be safe Sognamo un mondo senza più violenza Un mondo di giustizia e di speranza Ognuno dia la mano al suo vicino Simbolo di pace e di fraternità La forza che ci dia We ask that life be kind È il desiderio che And watch us from above Ognuno trovi amor We hope each soul will find Intorno e dentro a sè Another soul to love Let this be our prayer Just like every child Need to find a place, guide us with your grace Give us faith so we'll be safe E la fede che Hai acceso in noi Sento che ci salverà
As Bryan and I prepare for the next step in our journey, we enter it with great amount of prayer. Perhaps the most important lesson we have learned throughout this entire event is: Life is fragile, it can change at any moment, so handle with care and prayer.
We have survived many challenges, and at times, it would have been so much easier to just quit...but we journeyed on.
Now that Bryan has completed his Law Degree, we find ourselves in a familiar and yet scary place: beginning again. So, I guess it's only fitting to take a moment to look back at where we came from.
Since we started out 7 1/2 years ago, we have experienced a lot: we managed to get through 2 college degrees, surgery and hospitalization, working and school and studying, interning and reporting and teaching, finding creative ways to meet responsibilities, all kinds of jobs (from designing Kenny Rogers' shower door to interviewing then Senator, and soon to be, President Barack Obama), taking care of sick loved ones, and saying goodbye to some as they passed away, welcoming brand new one's into the family....just to name a few.
And all along the way, we have been carried by the love and support of our family and friends.... and someone else. One greater than all of us: God.
It's abundantly clear when looking at every single thing, He walked along with us, giving us help and health, necessities..like jobs..not always the exact ones we wanted, but a way to make it..even though our country has gone through some of the most challenging economic times since the Great Depression. In Bryan's words, "We have never gone hungry, never had our power turned off, always had cars to drive, health insurance, clothes to wear, shoes on our feet....when so many around our country, our world....our own street, do not."
Please do not think we believe we are "special". I want to be crystal clear...we are not special or set above anyone else. There is only one reason we have been brought to this place...God blessed us. He opened doors, cleared the way, and carried us. For all of this, we are humbled and grateful.
It's not over, we have only reached one more goal. We still face a Bar Exam, a new job somewhere, finding a new place to live...so many questions without answers.
I wish we could see the future inside some magic ball, like that huge crystal ball in the Wizard of Oz. Then I would know how everything turned out. Like, where will we live and what will our children look like?
But, only God knows the answers to those questions. So, we have to put our trust in Him. That's why the song "The Prayer" means so much. I pray "He'll be our eyes, and watch us where we go. And help us to be wise, in times when we don't know. Let this be our prayer, when we lose our way. Lead us to the place, guide us with your grace, To a place where we'll be safe."
I pass this prayer along for all of you, too.
Praise God for sending us his only Son, Jesus, to love us and save us.
In His name,
Saturday, October 23, 2010
We all do it..you know, it's that moment when you look back at where you've come from...then wonder..."what's ahead?"
Seems like I've had a lot of those "moments" since this latest change in our life.
To catch you up, in June, I took a new job in Tuscaloosa which means, I'm only home on weekends..or 8 days a month. So, that gives me a lot of nights to "think"..while my family is in South Alabama..I'm miles away missing them very much. Add to that I am approaching my 43rd trip around the sun. And as I warned my co-workers last week, "I have decided that as I get older, my clothes will only get shorter and tighter as I stick it to old age!" Don't say you weren't warned!
43 years...that's the same age my Mother was when she had me..except she also had a 17 year old, a 15 year old and an 8 year old..needless to say..her hands were full!
Maybe that's one of the reasons I'm starting to see things in a way I never have before.
Maybe 43 is a tipping point because in 7 short years...I will be half a hundred!
Or, maybe, 8 days a month has shown me how incredibly blessed this Mississippi girl truly is to have this Man in my life, my family who loves me, friends like you, and my furry kids to hold.
Whatever it is, my heart is changing. The things I used to long for no longer seem as important.
I know when it started...I was praying one morning as I started the walk across the parking lot behind Bryant-Denny. "God", I said,"I want my heart to be like Yours, my desires to be like Yours, show me what it is because wanting something else isn't what real happiness is..so please, change my heart."
It wasn't over-night but instead, it was very subtle. The change was revealed to me in moments day after day. For instance, when something would happen that would normally have hurt my heart, instead, I didn't care! I feel like some kind of chains have been removed and I am free.
But then, that has created sort of a question mark..wondering, if my heart is changing to be like His, what will that mean? I'm a control freak, now please, do not confuse that with neatness. I just like to know what's happening, or what's going to happen so I can manage every second of it and make it work out perfectly until my hair falls out or my teeth are ground down to little nubs!!!
So..with only 36 days left until Bryan finishes school, there are more and new question marks.
And even though I don't have a lot of answers, I do know a few things.
First, never judge someone when they say " I would love to become a ____________".
Because, only God knows why people have different desires. How boring would it be to live in a world where everyone is the same? Everyone's gifts are special and deserve to be discovered..and you, if you are a real friend, should encourage them. We have had many, many people encourage us throughout this journey.. you know who you are, and we love you for it.
Second, money can not buy anything that makes me happy.
Here are a few of my favorite: Bryan's love, smile, hugs and never-ending support, my mother's laugh and the way she cooks butterbeans, my sister's wicked jokes/late-night texts ( she's sneaky..don't let her fool you), my mother-in-law's warm-eyes and endless bags of goodies, my father-in-laws's awesome chocolate oatmeal cookies and the ability to help Bryan fix anything, friends that laugh at my bad jokes and snarky comments.
None of the above comes with a price...it all comes from the heart.
So, for my 43rd trip around the sun, here is what I am wishing for:
More time to love, laugh, hug, share, smile, pray...
And I'm sharing my wish with all of you...because another thing I have learned is: life is sweeter when it's shared with friends.
Blessings to you,
Sunday, September 26, 2010
That's how long we have until Bryan finishes law school! 7 years ago we started a new chapter and now we can almost see the light at the end. Sometimes I wonder if that light is a train running wide open to run over us, because life has thrown us so many challenges.
For example, in the last week, our washing machine died, a rather expensive "hose-thingey" went out on the pick-up, and the brakes on my car became hysterical and refused to work.
So, that meant Bryan had to spend his weekend replacing/installing another washing machine, replacing the "hose-thingey" and putting on new brakes on the car.
It's hard enough to do those things when everything goes smoothly..but of course that didn't happen. Here's a glimpse into what actually happened.
The new-used washing machine uses more water and the pipes in "This old House" couldn't handle it and our laundry-room temporarily turned into a water ride at a theme park! It also sent a lovely shade of black water into our bathtub and filled our kitchen sink with even more mysterious water. So, here comes the Roto-rooter man..TWO HOURS LATER! Thankfully, it fixed the problem and now everything works like a charm! Bryan also manged to fix the truck..with the help of his Dad, and he replaced the brakes on the car. He says it's a good thing he went to Law School because he wouldn't make a good mechanic..but I think he's doing great! I told him to just keep putting a band-aid on everything and in 66 days we can start over.
Even though it seems over-whelming at times, it could be worse. Our problems are just mechanical..not something that is life-threatening. We survived one of those episodes last year...and have had several throughout our 17 year marriage..not with us specifically but in our family. And God saw us through and put a band-aid on us to help us heal. Seems like He's always whipping out a spiritual band-aid to carry us through the rough times. And believe me there have been many..I remember one day , about ten years ago, that day was so difficult..I just laid in the bed and thought " breathe in and out" and that was my job that day. Thankfully, things got better....it wasn't over night..but it got better.
So, now here we are, a decade later, having survived so many trials, and looking forward to a new future. For the first time in a long time, I'm excited. It has seemed so far away..the twists and turns we could never expect ...but God carried us through..sending us "replacement parts" along the way..literally and spiritually.
Hope you don't have any "b00-boo's" this week, but if you do...go to the "Healer"..He has a band-aid big enough to cover it up and help you heal, too!
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Hope....seek...pray....those little four letter words.
I've been doing a lot of hoping, seeking, praying and waiting..for many years now.
Someone should really take the two words "overnight success" out of the English language because it's really not true..at least not in my case.
When I think of four letter words..they're usually the ones my Mother would threaten to wash my mouth out for saying..you know the one's I'm talking about?? I have to admit..sometimes they pop out in the middle of a crisis..I'm human.. what can I say? At least I'm honest about it.
But during my Bible reading lately.....I realized that God has his own set of four letter words like love, hope, pray and seek...and ..WAIT. But-- His words give me a five letter word "peace".
Yes, I do worry and fret ( another four letter word) but everytime those feelings well up in my stomach..I remember His words.."I have a plan for you" , "is anything too big for Me?"..and it brings me peace. (I wonder if He chuckled when He said "is anything too big for Me?" ..because if I were Him, I would have laughed at that one..you know..being the CREATOR of the universe and all!)
Bryan and I have sailed through some pretty big storms in our time together..many of them were not even ours but we were right there with our loved ones..hanging on until it passed.
Right now, there are many people who are in the middle of their own "storm"..earthquake victims, flood survivors, people living with cancer, soldiers on the front line, people I meet in the check out line at Fred's...people every where I look who , like me, need some "Jesus with skin on" and a whole lot of that first little four letter word in red at the top of the page.
Just some random thoughts from this Mississippi girl looking for the gold at the end of her rainbow...for now, I'll just keep on "hoping, seeking, and praying"....and you do, too!
*photo by Noelle George..thank you for sharing your picture with me.