Our Hurricane Irma Experience, in pictures

Most everyone in Florida has stories from this week. Here’s a little bit of ours.

A beautiful Sunday morning. The quiet before the storm…

I took some “before” shots all around the house. I’m so glad I did.

Ava’s room was staged as our safe room. Elijah loved all the mattresses.

Since it was Sunday morning, we decided to participate in Northland Church’s worship service (recorded a week prior). The kids participated with percussion instruments…

(Thank you, Northland Church in Longwood, FL!)

I even got some cuddle-time with my favorite princess before the storm hit. 

By mid-afternoon our first piece of glass shattered: a tea press that I don’t use too often, thanks to hurricane Isaiah. Thankfully, no one got hurt (and we still had power/lights to vacuum up the mess).

Around 5PM we had our first tornado warning. Time to “hunker down” (with our technology, of course).

Watching the PBS documentary “Walt Disney” and checking the hurricane updates that evening after the kids went to bed. 

I had to “get my steps in” in order to reach my daily goal (or was I running for shelter??).

We lost power around 12:15AM Monday morning. The wind sounded like ocean waves crashing on the shore. “Thumps”, “thuds” and “bangs” were heard on our roof for hours.

The next morning, peeking out the back to assess the damage…

And the front. Tree limbs everywhere!

The side yard. There were some really large limbs that fell!

Minimal damage to our roof. It could have been so much worse.

And then we found baby squirrels whose nest fell from the tree, and found someone to rescue them:

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And finally… The clean-up.

Special thanks to my neighbors for lending a hand, a rake, and a leaf blower!

Total labor hours on Monday: (approximately) 6 hours

It was amazing to see so many neighbors helping each other out.

Our power was out for 4 days (which is less than some!). By day 2, Ava and Isaiah ran temperatures of 101.8° and 99° so we headed to Disney for 3 nights, staying at their value resort until our power was restored. 

We are grateful for the minimal damage to the house; for the texts, emails, phone calls, prayers and stop-by’s from friends and family; for the freezer storage that salvaged all of Ava’s blended diet and freezer meals that Laura worked so hard on.

God continues to show His love, His kindness, and His provision through so many of you! Thank you!

Craig’s Top 10 Highlights of 2016

Things/events/times, from one of the hardest years of my life, for which I am most thankful for.

These are things/events/times, from one of the hardest years of my life, for which I am most thankful for.

10. The Braves’ final game at Turner Field.

The gift of time to be able to go to Atlanta and see the final game at the TED with my brother Troy and buddy Tim was an experience I’ll never forget. Thank you, Troy and Lori for the MANY ways you’ve blessed me and my family this year!

9. My family, and their gift of a moving company to help us move while Isaiah was in the NICU.

Need I say anything else about that? That blessing from my parents, brothers and sisters-in-law was HUGE!

8. My church family at Neighborhood Alliance Church.

I don’t know how our family would have gotten through without these amazing people. They have been some of the best representatives of Jesus Christ that I know. I am constantly thanking God for them.

7. The selling of our old house and buying our new house 6 houses away.

This all happened while Isaiah was in the NICU, and couldn’t have been more seamless, thanks to Anne-Marie Wurzel, our realtor.

6. Ashley and Melissa Burton.

I wanted to single out these two, as they have spent hours at our house, allowing us to work, go out on date nights, and just get some respite. I am deeply indebted to you both!

5. The Soul Care conference in August.

This was life-changing! If you are not aware of Soul Care and the benefits you can experience from these 7 transformational principles, it’s so worth checking out.

4. Jeanette Wampach (Laura’s mom).

There is no other person who can come to our house and know exactly what to do as she can. Between her grandmother’s heart and special bond to our kids (especially Ava), her nursing background, and her being retired being able to spend nearly half the year with us… She deserves high praise!

3. Elijah and Ava.

These two mean the world to me! Elijah is the best big brother anyone can ask for. He’s extremely smart and funny and incredibly loving. Whenever he’s away at Papa and Gigi’s house, his presence is missed; he is a force of nature! Ava is the absolute joy of my heart! Her smile and laugh and cuddles brighten everyone’s day. I thank God for these two!

2. Laura.

She is the glue that holds our household together. She has become such a great advocate for Ava, doing tasks that go way beyond her comfort zone, yet she does so with great care. I don’t know how I could do this without her. She is my best friend and my greatest supporter.

And finally…

1. Isaiah.

A true miracle from God! Born 13 weeks early at 2 pounds 3 ounces. He now weighs 15 pounds and is doing quite well. He has been a surprise in so many ways and I thank God for this little life.

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Honorable Mentions

(ONLY because I limited my list to top 10. These (mostly people) have made all the difference in the world and I am so thankful for each)

  • The rest of our incredible families
  • Emily and Ryan Dailey
  • Shelby Griffis
  • Mary Cornelius
  • Ava’s therapists: Liani (OT), Amy (PT), Ana (Oral/Speech), Jen (Deaf teaching), Ruthie (Oral/Speech), Ally (PTA), Victor (PTA)
  • Celebrating 10 years working with some of the most amazing people at Monsters Laugh Floor
  • The World Champion Chicago Cubs (Craig asked his wife to edit this before posting, so I took the opportunity to add this to the list.)

There you have it. Thanks for taking time to read my list. Here’s to a new year and all the God has in store!