... followed by eight inches of beautiful snow!
While all this made for a lovely white Christmas, the combination of ice and snow was more than our poor trees could handle. Large limbs and entire trees began falling from the weight of the ice and the gusty winds, even before the snow added its bulk. If you've ever experienced an ice storm, you know the eerie sound made by limbs popping off trees ... It's a sound you'll never forget. Our electricity began to flicker early in the afternoon, and by 4:30, before the snow even began to fall, we were in the dark.
It wasn't so bad at first. Bethany had spent the morning having Christmas with her boyfriend's family, and with the weather deteriorating so rapidly, we decided to just have her stay with them rather than try to come home. She argued vehemently, begging us to let her come home so she could be snowed in with her parents instead, but we insisted that she stay there for her own safety. (Did you detect the sarcasm in that last statement? I hope so.) Anyway, it was just the two of us snowed in on Christmas Day. We built a fire in the fireplace, and played a rousing game of Dominoes by lantern-light.
As it got later, and darker, and colder, we decided to drag the guest bedroom mattress into the living room in front of the fire. Sounds cozy, doesn't it? Not so much, actually. The only cozy part was the side closest to the fire, which my gallant husband let me have. And because our fireplace is really just designed for ambiance, not real heat, you can only fit about four logs in it at a time. And it only takes about an hour for all of those logs to burn up. So that means you must feed this fireplace about every hour or so, or it goes out. And when (not if) it goes out, it gets really cold.
We made it through the first night okay, and the second day as well. It was still kind of an adventure at this point. We did venture out on the highway late in the afternoon, and were amazed at the number of fallen trees and limbs. There were parts of the main highway into town that were down to one lane. We made it to McDonald's, where we enjoyed some warm food and charged our phones. We played Dominoes again that second evening, although it was pretty darn chilly sitting at the table by this time. We crawled back into our makeshift bed wearing layers of clothing and multiple pairs of socks. We fed the fire periodically throughout the night, but sure enough, it was out by morning.
And by this time, it was cold! We had no way of measuring the temperature in the house at this point, but maybe this will give you some idea of how cold it was. That morning, I opened the cabinet under the sink where I keep the dog food, and reached in to scoop Lacee some food. As I pulled the cup up out of the bag, I did a double take. The white cup I had used for years to scoop Lacee's food had somehow been replaced by a blue one. How could this happen, when nobody ever feeds the dog but me? I tried to remember when I had switched to a different cup, but I sure didn't remember doing it ... not that that necessarily meant anything. I looked at the cup more closely, saw the Summit Bank logo on it ... and then noticed that it had white splotches on it wherever I had been touching it. Then it hit me. It wasn't a different cup! It was the same cup -- the kind of cup that changes color when you pour a cold liquid into it! It was cold enough in the house to turn my white cup blue!
Here's what the cup normally looks like...
And here's what it looked like that morning...
Baby, it was cold in our house!
At that point, we decided to leave. We packed up our stuff, and headed over to Bethany's boyfriend's family's house. They had been inviting us to come stay, and we had been insisting we could tough it out ... until we heard that the electric company was predicting that our power wouldn't be restored until 2013 (literally)! We spent one night there, sleeping on a mattress in front of their fireplace, and enjoyed their hospitality, as well as the lights, warmth and hot showers courtesy of their generator.
As it began to sink in, though, that we really were in for the long haul as far as power restoration was concerned, we decided to head out of town. Bethany begged and pleaded to come with us, but we insisted that she stay with Other Brad's family (more sarcasm). Anyway, we spent the next two days in the tiny town of Briggsville, Arkansas, staying in my husband's grandmother's former home ... which had power. It was so nice to have all the heat, light, and hot water we wanted, simply at the flip of a switch. The wifi was pretty awesome, too.
Yesterday morning, we attended Briggsville United Methodist Church. Counting the two of us and the preacher's family of four, the total attendance was 12. Yes, that's right ... 12. As the service was about to begin, I was asked if I played the piano. Um, no ... at least not for the last thirty-something years. So we sang our hymns acapella. And it was nice. I love singing the old hymns, accompaniment or not.
After church, we decided to take a chance and come on home. We'd been in contact with one of our neighbors each day, and after days of no activity whatsoever, he finally reported that there were Entergy trucks working on our street. We figured that surely we would have power back that day, so we headed home. Unfortunately, when we arrived, the house was just as cold and dark as it was when we left it two days earlier. We decided we would go get something to eat and decide what to do ... in other words, which friend we were going to hit up for a warm place to sleep that night. But just as we pulled the door shut behind us ... lo and behold, our neighbor's Christmas lights came on! After some jumping up and down and squealing (OK, that was just me), we went back inside to find our house all lit up. I went to check the thermostat, and this is what it read...
No wonder the cup was blue!
So, we've spent last night and today just soaking up the luxury of sleeping in our own bed, being comfortably warm, and having an abundance of hot water. I really didn't miss watching TV all that time (there's no TV at Briggsville), but it was kind of nice to watch a movie this evening. Yes, that's how we are spending New Year's Eve ... quietly, just the way I like it.
I could draw all kinds of spiritual parallels from my experiences of this past week. But I'm not. I only have one simple, rather personal, thing to share.
For some reason, my mind keeps going back to that blue cup. I think sometimes I'm like that cup ... I make myself cold and stiff and blue. Especially when I'm trying to get through the holidays without my girl ... or driving back and forth in front of her grave beside the road at Briggsville ... or facing the start of yet another year without her. At times that becomes my defense mechanism ... I feel like if I can make myself cold enough and hard enough, I can fend off the heartbreak. I'm a stoic, from a long line of stoics, and that's just what we do. But is that what my Heavenly Father wants me to do? I don't think so. By holding that cold cup in my hand, I could change the blue back to white. In the same way, if I fully rest in my Father's hand and let Him hold me, my cold, hard heart begins to warm and soften. Then, I can receive His comfort. And then, only then, can He shape me to fit His purpose.
Just because God's purpose was complete for Hannah doesn't mean His purpose is complete for me. I don't believe I'd still be here if He was done with me. In fact, I feel like His purpose for me is just beginning. And so, in 2013, my goal is to be less "blue" and more "white". Less hard and closed up, and more flexible and open. Less focused on me and more in tune with Him. I don't know about you, but I don't want to miss what God has for me in 2013!