Last post

 It’s hard to think of a good title for this post. Not posting an update about our move and life has literally been waking me up at night so I just need to do it! I am not great at journaling or blogging consistently and I like stories with an ending so this will be the last post to kind of close out our tornado chapter. I know that things will still come up related to this part of our life, but with the move and previously mentioned reasons, this will be it!

I think one of the reasons I struggle to find an ending is because we continue to feel so grateful for the love and support we had showered on us during this time. I hate to say all the ways people have helped us because I am afraid I would miss someone! Most of the clothes we still wear were donated in those first days, the toys that are our favorites were given to us and I haven’t bought toilet paper until just recently (the donated toilet paper lasted us just as long as we were at our rental, can you believe it?). I guess the reason I say this is because I want you to know how much your support has helped us make it through that time. We are just so thankful!

So what have we been up to? Well, we moved! Like I had stated in previous posts, we absolutely love our new home. We did some cosmetic updates to the house but we had lots of help that allowed us to make it happen in a fairly short timeframe. We are thankful! Following are a few pics of the last month:

Our closing with Uncle Curt and Aunt Beth

Our closing with Uncle Curt and Aunt Beth


Move in day with the help of a World Relief group

Move in day with the help of a World Relief group


Doing some decorating!

Doing some decorating!

Drew's first day of kindergarten and Landry's first day of preschool

Drew’s first day of kindergarten

Landry's first day of preschool

Landry’s first day of preschool

Wesley loving on the kittens (or squishing depending on which way you see it)!

Wesley loving on the kittens (or squishing depending on which way you see it)!


Loving this generous gift from a friend :)

A generous gift from a friend🙂

Loving the summer and our new life!

Loving the summer and our new life!

Loving the summer and our new life!

Loving the summer and our new life!

 I am sure there is a scripture that would be fitting for this occasion and the last blog post, but what keeps running through my head is this poem.  Thank you again for your love, support and prayers on our behalf.  This experience has taught us much about loving others, showing genuine concern, pressing into the hurt of others and many other things that we are just blessed to have learned and hard to express.

 Footprints in the Sand, by Mary Stevenson

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
‘You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?’

The Lord replied,
‘The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you.’


Love, the Hodel Family


Playing in the Puddles

We went to our hometown carnival today.  We took our three boys.  Yes, it was fun (and not fun) and so cute (and expensive)!  We have a child that seems to have a lot of fears; fear of the water, going number 2 on the potty and also, an incredible fear of rides!  After a disastrous attempt at this yesterday (yes I purchased the bracelet for unlimited rides and not ONE ride was ridden!), I was resolved to letting him wear his rubber boots and play in the puddles while brother rode the rides.  This actually worked quite well!  He was having fun and I was not at all stressed about him not riding the rides!  But pretty soon brother was convincing him it was a good idea to do the rides and he bravely conquered the huge slide (with dad’s help).  Such a proud moment!  He said that he wanted to also ride the merry-go-round, which in my opinion, looking at the horses now, are a little scary looking themselves!  However, as we walked closer to the ride, he started to really hesitate and I said to Kev “Let’ s just forget it”, remembering how well the puddle thing was going.  But Kev insisted that he needed to do this and took him on that merry-go-round crying.  Lo and behold, he actually liked the merry-go-round and my husband is once again, the smartest man around!  It got me thinking tonight about fear and trust. 

I guess it’s now that we are on the verge of resettling and there’s a lot of excitement and momentum towards that goal that I have found myself reflecting on the past 7 months.  I have often thought about my previously very naïve idea that life just continues on without too many hiccups.  Yes, there are stressors and situations that would come up, but these were somewhat manageable. It’s like playing in the puddles.  There is a day when you see that something big is out there (like the scary ride) and you run terrified from that, you try to ignore it, you play in the puddles of everyday life where you are not stressed and feel content.  But then the big thing happens and you are put on that ride, against your will, and you ride it because it is for your own good.  I feel like that with this tornado.  There are times when I have looked at the future and wanted to throw a big tantrum because I don’t see how this will ever work out.  I liked my little puddle of my white house.  It’s where I felt comfortable.  I liked my naïve life where things were status quo.  But I have learned that life does not really work that way.  If we can trust God and His plan for our life, He will see us through it.  He is there, holding us on that scary ride, and we can trust Him.

I’ve been thinking too about this idea of “things you should never to say to the person in Situation XYZ”.  I will see these types of blogs or articles pop up occasionally and I will quickly read them while praying “please let me never have said any of these things!”.  I have realized in our situation, that in general, people are not ill-meaning.  They simply do not know what to say to someone that has lost their home.  They want to let you know that they care, it often just comes out wrong.  Someone asked us if it felt kind of good to be rid of our stuff.  Well, on one hand, I get where they are coming from.  We are talking about material possessions that we likely had too much of anyway.  And sure, there was probably a lot of paper sitting around that I just couldn’t figure out what to do with.  BUT, on the other hand, we are talking about ALL of your possessions.  So no, it didn’t feel good!  Now I realize this person is somewhat extreme in their life and maybe this wouldn’t have been a big deal to them.  We will likely never know!  When registering Drew for school, I explained our situation and that we were temporarily displaced because of the tornado, etc.  I was kindly told (and it really was in a nice way) that if we were not in our permanent location by the time school started, Drew would be considered homeless.  Well, on one hand, I understand this as I myself have felt homeless.  However, when you start telling me that my son is also homeless, this takes on a new meaning!  So yes, this falls into that category of things to never say!  But I also understand it!  I was listening to a radio program recently that was talking about simplifying your life to prepare for a move.  A person called in that works for the Salvation Army and they will occasionally ask her to move.  If I understood her correctly, the SA essentially owns most of her belongings.  She just has to go where they tell her.  She made the comment about it just being “stuff”.  On one hand, I understand this.  On the other hand, she has chosen this type of lifestyle and did not have her belongings taken in a natural disaster.  I see the quandary that a person who has chosen that life (a life I would likely not choose), would have in trying to comfort me in my situation.  I guess my main thought here is that there is enough grace to go around to cover all of these weird comments.  I hope that I never say something insensitive to person XYZ but I also hope and pray that we can show each other grace in these weird situations of life.

A verse that I have posted previously but that is still just as meaningful to me is Isaiah 43:19 – Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.



This boy loves his tractors!


As Kev perfectly described it, this is a picture that says SUMMER!  I hope you are enjoying yours!

The House

We have had a lot of people asking about our house situation and wanted to put an update out there for our faithful friends, supporters and random blog readers. To cut to the chase, we do have a house! It is hard to put into words the feelings that we have about this fact. It is a miracle, a dream, something that is just amazing, and I will do my best to describe it.

There is a house that has been in the family for many years that we have always loved. The house is an old farmhouse that has been carefully maintained over the years and we love it. It has old barns, pasture and really great old trees. In the days following the tornado, Kev approached his aunt and uncle about the house. I think our interest was a total shock to them! They were amazing though and committed to pray about it and talk with their family about it. Have you ever asked someone to do something that is really and truly great? For instance, if you knew someone that had lived in their house for nearly half a century and asked them to move, do you think it would be an easy thing? We discovered that, wow, Uncle Curt and Aunt Beth (and their kids too), are really remarkable people. They committed to talk, pray, search for other housing, all so we could move into their house. I just really can’t explain how incredibly humbled this makes us feel. To know that they love us and care about us so much that they were willing to do this, it is simply amazing to me. In actuality, we were probably a couple years ahead of them as far as moving, but as our need was there, they said yes, and so we have a home!

We are so, so thankful and just in awe of the whole thing. We are hopeful that we will be moving late this summer (August-ish). God’s timing is amazing. You hear people say that and it’s pretty easy to say “yeah, yeah, heard it before. Easy for you to say but what about my circumstance.” I can say this; I hear you. This winter was not easy. There were lots of moments when I wondered what was going on. I wondered about timing. Kev and I talked at length about scenarios related to our current rental house, building and buying. It was really hard at times. But today, I am in amazement as I think about all that has occurred in a mere 6 months. In the midst of this, Kev’s Grandpa passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. I am so thankful for God’s timing as family was able to be with him in the short week of his health decline and passing. The Hodel family was able to come together and not be stressed over details related to an impending move had it happened on my timeframe. Instead, we were all able to enjoy our time together celebrating an amazing man and heritage. We are just so thankful for this time with the Hodel family!

I don’t know that I will ever fully understand why we had to lose a home we loved to a tornado. I do know that what we have learned about patience, trusting God, leaning into your family and church family, service, friendship, and God’ faithfulness, is invaluable. I didn’t ever think that being on the wrong end of a tornado was an indictment from God that we loved our house and stuff too much, but I think He has gotten our attention in learning about things that cannot have a monetary value. We continue to be humbled by the care and concern we have been shown by many, strangers and those close to us, old friends and new friends. Thank you again for your support and we can’t wait to have you come over!

2014-05-05 11.58.15
A precious moment indeed!

2014-05-11 09.30.44-1
Mother’s Day picture fail!

2014-05-06 16.57.40-1
This one is cuter anyway!

2014-05-06 19.11.28
We are almost there!

Update on Life

I have been wanting to post an update on our house situation but waiting for the perfect words to come to mind and then life and other events occur so an update takes a backseat. The tornado in Arkansas affected a friend’s family members and of course, the FamilyLife staff as well. We received the news from someone at FamilyLife that we had recently met only a couple weekends before at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember. We were attending on a scholarship for Central Illinois tornado survivors. The news gave me chills and had my stomach in knots for several hours that day. To think about loss of life because of a tornado and then knowing what all lies ahead of these families in terms of rebuilding a LIFE for your family, it makes me so sad to think about not having one or two or several family members as well. We continue to lift them all up in prayer!

As for our house, well, we do have a new permanent place! It has been in the works since the weeks following the tornado, but lots had to occur. For instance, the house we wanted, had/has people living in it! Kev and I have joked that we are probably the only tornado displaced people that are displacing someone! There has been lots of discussions with family members and lots of looking on their behalf and then last week, we got the news that yes!, a house had been found and so we can move forward! Lots of rejoicing! The timeline still remains unknown as are there details to still be worked out and as it happens, the found house also has people in it that are now looking. I know, it’s just a little crazy. But we are so thrilled to be at this point and I wanted to update our faithful readers, supporters and prayer warriors. Sometime soon, I will have to let you in on the whole story and maybe a picture or two but that’s where we are currently. I realize the details here are somewhat vague but I want to keep it that way until it’s all done so I hope you understand!

I had mentioned previously that we were working on our itemization list. It was not an easy thing and remains something we work on. Basically, as we purchase items on our list, we have to track them and submit them to insurance. This isn’t too bad for the big stuff like furniture but it’s the little things like a swim bag and cheese grater that make the process seem overwhelming. It’s a daunting process and again, that’s where my heart really hurts for those that lost family members. I can’t imagine doing all this while also grieving the loss of a loved one. It is exciting for us though to think about filling a house with items that we love and making a home ours again! Thanks again for your support!


Grandpa Hodel

Grandpa Hodel

You know when you take a picture and think that one day, one day that picture is really going to be significant? That is how I feel about this picture. Always been a favorite but now I am especially glad to have this one. A lot of things I love about my husband are because of Granpda Hodel. His kindness, strength through adversity and thoughtfulness are just some of his attributes that I appreciate. On the morning of the tornado, while sitting in church he had a bad feeling come over him and upon hearing about the storm, he and grandma immediately drove to our house suspecting the worst. It is one of those freaky things about life, but it meant so much to Kev and I to see their car driving up the road. He could remember what a gallon of milk cost when he was 20 and lots of other little details about life that when recounted you think, “why would you ever remember that?” but secretly hope that you care enough about the ordinary things of life to do the same. We will miss you Grandpa Hodel, but know this is not merely an end, but the beginning of an eternity in heaven. We love you!

An update on life

We have had experiences and life happenings that I have wanted to blog about, but just not sure how to put it all into words. A few weeks ago, Kev came home and I was melting down about the fact that I had not truly baked anything in four months. (Poor man, he endures so much with me and rarely, does he see it coming. Pray for him!) Seeing my desperation, we immediately (well, pretty close anyway) went on a shopping trip and once again, became proud owners of this beautiful mixer.It felt really good to do something normal, like mix up a batch of cookies. Things like making a grocery list and purchasing the groceries, making food for my family, etc., these are the things that you never know you miss until there is an event which keeps you from doing these normal things. It’s hard to describe but I am sure many have had similar experiences and know what I mean here.

There are many days when the boys and I have dance parties thanks to the Go Fish Guys cds from my sister Alissa. We have had some really fun times with these cds! Evidence of this, the following short (20 second) video of Wesley and his dance moves.

Last week, following another melt down about our situation (like I said previously, pray for this man) Kev cancelled his after school plans and came home from school earlier than usual so we could work in the pasture. It felt SO good to get out and do something productive. We started the cleanup of a tree that had fallen over in a different wind storm. It’s amazing how when you are kind of “stuck”, progress and manual labor, the outside air, enjoying God’s creation, working with your loved ones, is such a medicine for the soul.
drew and tree


Some may disagree with me and say this is not typical of grief, or some may say that this is typical of grief, I am not educated enough on the topic to know for sure. I wonder, is it possible that the sadness of what has occurred is just starting to set in? I am starting to think that I have actually been in a state of shock until recently. The suddenness of the tornado, followed by the all the action that must occur, followed by a desperately cold and yucky winter, I wonder if I have just WILLED myself to get through it. And of course, shock could likely also be God’s protection on my heart, His way of getting me through the last four months, I don’t want to discount His provision for me. But as spring tries to arrive, the sadness of the situation hits all over again as we think about life starting again. For all of us, after going through this winter, we gear up for the spring…there is an anticipation of what is to come and the life that comes with that. And I start to feel sad for our “old” life. For our old normal spring anticipation and old things. We have to start the process of buying new things for our house. Yea! Fun right?! In some ways, yes, it is very fun to have new things. And there is an excitement to do this as well, don’t get me wrong! But I am struggling with the feeling that this is being forced upon us. Given the choice, I would take my old house with my old things rather than in a different place with new things. And so the SADNESS, the realization of all that needs to be done in the next several months, can seem overwhelming to me. I want to say thank you again to our prayer warriors, our family, our friends, who continue to ask us how we are doing and pray for us and support us. Truly, you are a blessing to us!

1 Thes 5:24 (KJV) – Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.
or as the NIV puts it:
1 Thes 5:24 – Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.

On everyday miracles and another birthday

In the days following the tornado, we were receivers of items including baby formula and laundry detergent.  At the time, the donations and LIFE in general was too overwhelming for me to deal with so it was very hard to imagine going through all of this stuff.  If you have ever felt incredibly overwhelmed with life, maybe you can relate.  I was trying to process a pretty huge thing and what it meant for our family, and so I was very thankful to have people around me to organize our house and donations.  As the months have passed, I have been able to deal more with the everyday like baby formula and laundry detergent.  Our baby just turned one and it is quite unreal to realize I had just enough baby formula to get us to age one.  Four months of baby formula had been donated.  Of course, there was no way to know at the time that this was just what we would need.  What an amazing miracle!!  And so I have this little, very real, object lesson in my life of trusting God.  I can trust Him to provide what we need for our baby, I can trust Him to provide what we need for us.  When I start to feel discouraged about our situation, I am so thankful to have this lesson to go back to and I hope that I can do it for the times to come as well. 

And so, just like that, our baby Wesley turned one!  Hard to believe all the change that has occurred in the year since his birth but to say he is the best change of the year is an understatement!  We love you Wesley Kent!


Counting My Blessings

I’m not going to lie. It’s been a hard week. The winter is relentless with its cold temperatures, snow and wind. One night this week we woke multiple times to thunder and cracks of lightning, the next night to be awakened by wind screaming in our windows. It is really hard for me to not think back to my white house with its new windows and warm fireplace. I guess for better or worse, I have been trying not to go back there in my mind simply because it’s impossible to visit physically. Maybe I have felt a bit like Lot and his wife as they left Sodom and the order was to not look back or else you turn into a pillar of salt! And so I have really tried to not think back on that place. But last night it was hard, really hard, to not think back to our cozy bedroom with its new windows and sanctuary from the elements. To be really honest, this morning when Drew asked me “why is it so windy Mom?”, the thought actually crossed my mind, because God doesn’t care about us. Lest anyone become worried about my mental state🙂 if we are all honest with ourselves, there are times in our lives when we wonder this same thing.  Of course, I realize I am blessed beyond measure but  decided that it would be beneficial to count my blessings. Following is the beginning of my blessings and certainly not exhaustive! But just a few listed as they come to mind and as I have time to write.

We are blessed because God loved us so much He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us on the cross, so that we have a home in heaven for all eternity! Pretty awesome blessing! I don’t think that home is ever going to be blown away by any tornado! I am blessed because God has placed a wonderful man in my life. For you Kevin Hodel, I am blessed and thankful! We are blessed because we have three wonderful sons. Wesley with his constantly running nose and big blue eyes. You capture the hearts of most people you meet and for you, Wesley Kent, I am thankful. Landry with his joyful spirit and happy heart. Last night as he got out of bed one too many times to sit on the potty, he says to me, “Mom, you are my best friend.” For you Landry Jay, I am thankful. Drew with his soft heart and inquisitive spirit. It is in the quiet moments that he says to me, “Mom, is this house going to blow away too?” For you Drew Kendall, I am thankful. Our parents, siblings and extended family – what a blessing they are to me. Always available, only a phone call away, for you family, I am thankful. And to the friends reading this post, I am blessed by you. This blog has been a blessing to me actually! It has been a great outlet for me to offer a glimpse of sorts into the happenings of our life and so thank you for reading! It has also offered a therapy to me as I am able to write out my thoughts…I can sift through those things I wonder about, know to be true and serve as a journal of sorts as well. It’s a journal I don’t mind sharing so please do come back!

Psalm 55:22 – Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
Isaiah 43:19 – Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

On Itemization and Birthdays

What would you do if you had to write a list of all the contents of your house?  Outside of the biggies and obvious things like furniture, could you list every child’s toy, pair of socks and kitchen utensil?  This is our current job.  To list, as thoroughly as possible, the items of our house in order to start the re-establishment of our home items.  I will tell you quite up front that Kev has been spearheading this process.  I sat with a dear friend in the first couple days after the tornado and tried to imagine my kitchen while she filled in the spreadsheet and looked up the value of items on the internet, but since then, Kev has become the champion of this project.  I became somewhat determined to do my part earlier this week, to try and list the kids clothes and toys and my own closet but it was really hard to do.  This was in part because it is just really tedious (I cannot tell you how extremely tedious) but largely in part because it is just really sad.  It was surprising as I was starting to think that things were under control and maybe, just maybe, a new normal is being established.  I felt like maybe I could handle this job of itemization.  But then these old memories resurface of these old things and a little dark cloud settled in my heart and mind.  I miss my old house and the familiarity of the things on this list.  I feel sad that more snow is on its way and I am just willing, just wishing, so badly that February would continue its way out and March would be here with its 50 degree weather and sunshine.  I want to make it through the heart of February and wish that little dark cloud good riddance once and for all! 

Complicating the itemization process is that we have only recently come to the best understanding of what this list is supposed to do for us.  Kev has had several conversations with our adjustor, and we have decided that because his understanding of this whole insurance process is obviously so much better than ours, that he was using terms that he meant in a certain way, that we heard in a different way.  After seeking much clarification and counsel, we are finally at the right understanding of our itemization list (we hope and pray anyway!) and it is has given us a renewed zeal for completing the task.  Basically, this process is not for the faint of heart!  What can I say other than I am so thankful for my husband who is willing to do have the hard conversations, think through the process in a practical way and continue to plod through the hard parts!

One of the bright spots of our February is that we get to celebrate our Landry Jay turning three!  He is a fun-loving, trouble making, joyful 3 year old and we love him!  He is a bright spot in our life as well as to many others!  We love you Landry Jay Hodel!


Happy birthday to you!


Best picture of Landry with one of his presents – new “underwears”.  Yes, he is actually potty trained (well kind of) and momma takes a big ‘ol sigh of relief!


Curious George, where you are, there you will also find Landry.  Standing up, sitting down, with a paci and blankie or not, we don’t care.  As long as Curious George is there, we are happy! 



I have been wanting to write a few of our recent (mis)happenings just for the record or those interested I suppose.  Is this the coldest and longest winter ever or is it just my imagination?  Of course, what is a winter without not one, but two polar vortexes?  Or is it vertices?  I am not sure.  Anyway, a plural use of the term “polar vortex” is never a good thing.  Many people have checked in on us and offered to let us come stay with them for a day or two.  For those of you in this category, many thanks!  We did survive the second round of cold thanks in part to this dandy heat helper (and also a couple afternoons at Mom and Dad Hodels’).    

2014-01-23 16.42.11

Yes, we were warned of the danger (thanks Mom!) but desperate times call for desperate measures!  This really cranks the heat and we vehemently warned our boys to not go near it (I keep a very close eye on Wes when he is around) and since our house isn’t exactly air tight🙂, we feel pretty confident there is plenty of air displacement around to keep the air fresh, especially on those really windy days.

We did have another well issue.  One cold day, we thought we had run the well dry again.  Kev called the water guy and made plans to meet him after school.  It turns out we were very close to needing water, but Kev discovered lack of water was not the issue as there was water present when he climbed into the well to prime the pump.  It would appear there was a frozen pipe in the well!  A trip to the farm for tools and one to the house for my hair dryer and we had water back.  The next morning, we had no pressure again!  It would appear this issue was with the pressure tank and something about there needing to be more water in it.  All I know is, my husband is very good at trouble shooting and quite handy with all things house.  He was able to fix it in good time.  

Aside from our house issues, we have made good progress with a permanent housing situation.  I was telling a friend recently that our life right now feels measured in big decisions.  Big push and sigh of relief to find a house within a week of the tornado.  Our initial conversation with our hoped for house’s current owners was well received!  Sigh of relief and lots of praise to God for His plan continuing to unfold!  Another conversation this week with them and yes, things are still moving forward.  Again, answered prayers and many sighs of relief!  Yes, maybe this is all within our reach but still LOTS of questions to answer and details to work through in terms of time line for possession and move in.  We have talked through different situations about housing since this house hasn’t been without its inconveniences and right now, it seems to make the most sense to continue living here.  I mean, if we can live here through 2 polar chills, I would think we can live here for a while longer!  And so we wait to see how God continues to write the story for us.  We are praying for patience.  

It’s been interesting to think about resettling again.  While part of me (most of me!) is very excited for this next chapter of our life, there is also a small part of me that is nervous about setting up a home again.  I have this fear of another tornado taking that house too.  I see pictures of friends’ children enjoying their homes and it feels so weird…to feel safe and secure and thriving in a place.  Maybe I can be like that too one day.  Not living in a fog and just going through the motions in a HOUSE…but safe and secure and thriving in a HOME.