18 Mar 2011

Forgive me for harping on...

The mighty media machine has a short memory, moving from story to story as quickly as a hyperactive infant.

Early this year we watched transfixed as Brisbane flooded. We saw the same piece of horrific footage over and over. We heard the victims' personal stories, and sympathised with them over their inundated homes. We watched with admiration the galvanising of the volunteers and the magnificent clean-up effort. Our television were as saturated by the floods as the houses were.

The magnitude of the flooding of Queensland's Capital City overshadowed other areas that were flooding at the same time - the slow insidious filling of the Fitzroy River that covered Rockhampton with water for weeks, bringing Ruby's daughter and her young family back home to live with Mum and Dad when it flooded her home, and the terribly fast flooding of the Avoca River in Victoria that totally decimated the small peaceful community that we call home.

In those first terrible days just after the flood, my husband dropped into our local hardware store in Melbourne to purchase some occy straps with which to secure a load of bookcases to replace those that had been destroyed. We were still reeling from the incredible magnitude of this disaster on our home, and still a long way away from coming to terms with what it would mean to our family. Anyhow, back to the story. As hubby was making his purchase, the store assistant happened to ask him why he was wanting the straps. "Do you really want to know?" inquired husband? "Yes, I really do," responded the assistant. My husband then went on to briefly explain that our home had been destroyed in the North Victorian Floods, and that we had been buying a few bits of furniture that we needed to safely transport home. "Oh, I've had enough of the floods now. I've heard too much about them. I can't be bothered any more." He then charged my hubby full price for the occy straps.

And hubby wiped tears from his eyes and learned not to talk to strangers about what we were going through.

A couple of short weeks later, at the beginning of February, Australian eyes were once again glued to the telly as Cyclone Yasi made its way closer and closer to the Queensland coast. Yasi was so large it would almost cover the United States, most of Asia and large parts of Europe. Its core was over 500km wide and its associated activity stretched 2000km. The flood victims were forgotten, as relief appeals were launched for towns at Yasi's epicentre.

We were still camping on friends' dining room floor.

Three weeks later the Christchurch earthquake occurred. Again, the television broadcasted the horror 24 hours a day. Yasi's victims were forgotten as we followed the death toll rise scarily higher. We mourned with the lost and celebrated as each survivor was pulled from the rubble.

We'd been home in our building site of a home for one week. Friends started asking us whether we were back to normal again.

Two weeks later the Japanese Northeastern coast was ravaged by the massive 9.0 earthquake leaving thousands of people confirmed dead, injured or missing, and millions more affected by lack of electricity, water and transportation. People are glued to the telly, and we learn with horror about the threatened nuclear crisis. We hear that it could be the world's worst nuclear disaster. The victims of the Christchurch earthquake were forgotten.

We were busy meeting with the site managers who are working to erect a portable building so that my husband can return to work. We have now been without an income for nine weeks. People have stopped asking us about the flood at all. They've moved on. Why haven't we?

And that's why I'm raising my problems again. Because while the media need to report on breaking news, sometimes we all need reminding that the people in Rockhampton are still hurting. So are the people of Grantham and the Lockyer Valley. And the folk in Tully and Cardwell. And those in Christchurch. They're hurting at the same time as the Japanese in Tōhoku hurt. And I guess I'm asking you not to forget us. Because I'm still hurting as well.

All this has put me in a difficult position when it comes to blogging. My life is consumed with what we're going through, and all of you have moved on, and on, and on. I'm afraid you'll think I'm whinging if I keep talking about how I feel and what we're doing to deal with the worst time in our lives. Because we're doing really well, but that's all we've the capacity to handle right now.

Dr Rob Gordon is a clinical psychologist with more than 20 years experience with people affected by emergencies and disasters. In this time, he has advised Red Cross and governments on how to help people and communities as they rebuild and recover from tragedies like Ash Wednesday, Black Saturday and the Bali Bombings. A week or so ago, Dr Gordon came to speak to our peaceful town about the Community and Psychological Responses to Disaster. Dr Gordon had many important things for me to hear. Amongst them were the need for people affected by disaster to talk about what they had been through before they can begin to heal. His research finds that the majority of people who have experienced a natural disaster will need psychological counselling, but that many people will need only one session. He reminded us not to work so hard at rebuilding what we have lost that we lose what we still have. Finally he told us something that brought gasps from his audience. He estimated that recovery from natural disaster takes not seven weeks, or even seven months, but actually between five and seven years!! Recovery from natural disaster is not a sprint but a marathon.

When it comes to recovering from the floods that decimated our peaceful community, we're barely off the starting blocks.

I don't know what the future holds for us. Getting my husband back to work is the next step. That'll at least get our days sort of onto an even keel again, as well as generating an income. After that we'll look at filling some of the holes in our walls in an attempt to reduce the number of mice and locusts sharing our home. Twice Jemimah has been woken with locusts landing on her face. Not nice. In common with most of the other kids in our peaceful town, Jemimah is displaying definite signs of stress since the floods. She is having trouble sleeping and becomes more easily frustrated. As her parents we see a need for constant reassurance and attention. The kids, along with their parents need time to process what has happened in their own lives, and to come to terms with the losses that affect us all.

Last week a local volunteer delivered to our front door the lovely patchwork quilt shown in the above photo. It was for Jemimah, and was part of a large shipment of similar quilts that had been delivered to our community by a group of unknown women just because they wanted us to know that they remember and that they care. They couldn't have thought of a better gift. Jemimah takes her quilt everywhere. Occasionally it lies on her bed, but mostly you'll find her wrapped in it in the kitchen as she does school or generally just snuggles. A home is where you feel safe and secure, and this quilt goes some way to help her feel at home again. It is a lovely gift.

Sarah London remembers us too. She recognises the need to inject some sunshine and colour into the lives of those affected by the floods as they begin to re-build and start over, and is asking for donations of granny squares which she will make up into blankets to be distributed to those affected throughout Queensland and Victoria, providing comfort and colour and a reminder that there is always a rainbow after a storm. If you would like to help, you can read more about Crochet a Rainbow on Sarah's blog.

I'm going to try and write some posts on things other than the floods in coming weeks. I want to bring you up do date with the wonderful things that we've been doing in homeschool, and to let you know how we're going with Australianising AO now that we've reached the discovery of Australia. It's going really well, and I would like to tell you more about it. I also want to show you Jemimah's and my current knitting project, and introduce you to Ripple. I want to review Ann Voskamp's new book (am I the only person who does not like it...at all?), and Sophie's Misfortunes (don't like it either), and the new Our Australian Girl series(which I do). I want to tell you what else we're reading, and how St Pat's day went, and what I got up to with Joyfulmum this afternoon. I want to talk to you about witches too. Truly. So I'm going to try and do that.

Don't think that things are back to normal. They're not, but if it is going to take me seven years to recover, then I'll not have many readers left if I don't focus on something other than my own problems sooner or later, and so this seems like a good time to talk about something else. I'll see how I go.

Thanks for caring.


  1. Jeanne...I'm here, ashamed of my worries and listening to YOU. Reading your post and thinking often about you. I haven't typed a word in your blog in a long time, but listening I have been, friend.

    I'm here, looking at beautiful Jemimah, thinking about your husband, about you, and ashamed of the human condition and that guy at the store that, hadn't I known you from this blog, would have been me.

    Whatever you write, whenever you write it, I am listening and I am certain many more are too.

  2. This is my first time visiting your blog and I'm glad I found you. The story of the hardware store clerk is painful to read. Please accept some "rememberance" from a homeschooler in NYC, and accept my thanks for reminding me to stretch my attention span and memory beyond today's headlines.

  3. Jeanne, no way are you all forgotten here. We pray for you all regularly. I can't imagine what you guys are living thru. While I love to read your blog, you are "free" to drop it totally and focus on your self and your family. We'll all still be here praying and wishing you the best when you are feeling up to blogging again. I wish that I was nearby to help. Sadly, a trip to Aus is about as realistic as a trip to the moon right now. Praying.....

  4. Ah, but a friend loves at all times.

    While doing the morning dishes I noticed the goldfinches changing their drab winter coats for their bright summer garb. This roused prayers for you and your countrymen as your lives move from the shadows to the sunlight (and a smile crossed my lips as I remembered your favorite color was the same as their winter covering).

    Each year I return to my mom's farm and wince as we drive past the little port beside which I grew up. It was devastated eighteen years ago by a great flood and the town was never rebuilt.

    I think of Laodicea and Colossea, lying underground after so many earthquakes. Someone asked me just two days ago how we can prepare for such disasters. All I could answer was that our hearts need to be prepared first. God's word is full of forgetful people and the call to remember. We can only pray to not be counted among them. (Realizing those kind of words might cause you to want to strangle me).

    I do find myself calling my sister to ask her if it would be all right to write about such-n-such as so much seems trivial in light of everything - it then becomes simpler to not blog at all. The writing is an exercise I miss though and hope my friends know my heart as we know yours.

    Much love.

  5. I'm only one reader, but I started reading your blog because you write about YOU. I think you should keep writing about what is going on in your family, and your life. If that means seven years of flood-recovery posts, then so be it. I'll still be here. reading. and praying.

  6. Jeanne, please don't feel that you need to write of other things, when your life is awash with the effects of this disastrous flood. We who love you love you not for mere well-fashioned words but for the heart from which those words pour. Most of all, I want to know how I can be praying for you and your family---my own heart desires to share the burdens of yours. So, please continue to keep us connected to your spritiual and tangible needs, when the media would rob us of them.

    Oh, and it's no secret: I don't dig much of what Ann writes, although I rejoice with her in Christ and look forward to the day when we all receive our inhertiance in Him! ((I just hope I rather get a spot near you & Richelle)) ;D

  7. I haven't forgotten. I've been waiting to hear more about your rebuilding and how live has changed. It's true, though, that when the disasters happen far away to people we don't know that it's hard to remember for long. I guess it's true what CM says, that we need the stories and the people to bring events and facts alive for us.

    Don't worry about talking about it too much. I think you have a long way to go before you begin to loose readers on account of your content. :)

  8. Please do talk here about how you are going with your recovery and rebuilding efforts. I want to hear, and to remember.

    It is a dream of mine that when disasters are over and forgotten by our fickle media that I will be able to help those families in need. I want to get a big bus and drive to those areas and bake and make cuppa's and my boys and I will labour in whatever way is necessary and needed. Of course having a 2 year old right now means I am a few years off making this dream real but I recognise the seasons.

    In the meantime I still want to know how you and others who are recovering are going. Keep blogging as your heart leads you!

    Best wishes
    Jen in NSW

  9. http://homeschoolblogger.com/a4givensinner/757180/

    I read this post this morning soon after reading your post and wanted to say that I can bet that your followers here do not want you to fade away in isolation. Please share your grief, your sorrows and your joys, and we will try to show we care and we will keep coming back so our friendship doesn't fade away.

    Best wishes
    Jen in NSW
    (only a recent follower but really relate to your journey)

  10. Jeanne, you are not forgotten; talk as much as you need. You & Ruby are much in my thoughts & prayers but the Lord has said He would shake the foundations of the world & there is a great shaking going on all over the world just now. Turn your eyes upon Jesus; Look full in His wonderful face/And the things of this world will grow strangely dim/ in the Light of His glory & grace. Hold fast to Jesus. The ride is a little bumby just now & the only place any of us can find peace & safety is in Christ our rock.

  11. I think there is such a thing as survivor's guilt. That's the guilt you feel when your home hasn't been inundated, or you haven't lost a loved one, or you don't currently have breast cancer. You wish there was something you could do, words you could say, to make it better for the sufferer. But all you can do is listen, and reach out, and send love in whatever way you can.

    It would be a kindness in you to let us listen to whatever you want to share.

  12. I was only thinking last week about the CC earth-quack wondering if all the bodies had been found and of all those families will love ones still missing. Of course it was no longer "news" and as a result I wasn't able to find out until Prince William toured the area and it came back onto the news.

    From one survivor to another (mine was of fire) - you do recover and get one, but once in a while you remember and it brings tears to your eyes. I was 16 during the Ash Wednesday bush-fires that it still has an affect on me today - almost 30 years ago. When I watched the Black Saturday fires I was in tears and after speaking with my brothers I found it wasn't just me, it really has had a long term affect and there isn't much I can do about it.

    So I completely understand - and feel your pain and hurt.

  13. Sweetie
    You just talk away about your devastation, you need to{{{}}}
    I've also had the same thoughts as you, how quickly the media has moved on, and was neglecting parts of Qld & Vic, when Brisbane overshadowed. How we never hear the follow up stories.

    btw - you aren't the only one who isn't thrilled with AV's book. This lady caused a furore by her opinion.
    I've also had private emails, stating unimpressed opinions, coming not from the above angle, but other angles.

  14. I am thankful you write, and I have been waiting to hear of an update. You are right, the news doesn't give us what we need to hear, so we are dependent on bloggers such are yourself for the real news.

    You don't write for us, you write for yourself. Writing is healing, so write. If you need to write about your disaster everyday, then do. If you have to live through it, we readers can walk with you and share the burden.

    I know you probably don't like to ask, but I would love for you to put a list of books you lost or toys your kids lost in case readers want to send things.

    I also think it is good for your to write about how you homeschool through disaster, it encourages others who are facing traumas.

    You are loved, you are supported, and we readers need you to know that!

    Praying in Washington, USA.

  15. Oh dear Jeanne we have not forgotten you, your blog is yours so write about what is going on in your world, good or bad that is the whole point, we want to hear about how things are going for you!!

    And I agree with the above post about letting us know what you need, I would love to send you a beautiful package of books, I just need to know which ones you need ( and also an address which you would have to do by private msg on facebook). Please let us love you in the ways that we can!!! :-)

  16. Jeanne:

    You're not forgotten here, but it is so easy to forget. Media saturation, and the chasing after the next "big thing" is a dangerous aspect of our culture. We need to remember that these "big things" are affecting real people, and this "horror movie" (as Skyhooks would call it) that we see on our nightly news stars real people with real pain.

    You're not forgotten here. You're in my thoughts and prayers. But I need to be reminded. Please continue to use your skills in writing to let us know, and let us not forget.

  17. Dearest Jeanne, thank you for writing this. Prayers have not stopped here for you and your family and your Mum also.

    Love you! xxx

  18. Prayers for you there Jeanne.
    The media sickens everyone with the hype and repetition, but in each of these affected areas there are ordinary people remembering and caring and moving along.
    Thanks for your thoughts for us. The boys and I particularly think of you having so recently visited your beautiful part of the country.
    Major flooding is about a twenty cycle here in CQ so many have been through the recovery cycle many times.

  19. Please don't stop writing about your situation and all you have been through in the flood. You have been through a loss.

    I know the hardest thing about losing a loved one is that everyone rallies around for a few weeks and then one by one, everyone seems to drift away. It is then that you feel all alone and feel that no one cares about what you are going through. You are still picking up the pieces and trying to go on with life without your loved one. But you feel forgotten about.

    I can imagine that this is a lot like what you are going through with what you have been through in a flood. The media jumps all over the place...

    I love the pyschologist's advice. It is so important to keep talking about it. This blog is an extension of YOU, so please keep osting about it. xoxo

  20. Dear Jeanne,

    With news of each disaster I think of all those before too, not at all forgetting, but knowing that the pain continues for those reported in the media and those not ... families of trapped miners, soldiers, people missing for many reasons. I have found it hard to write too, with all these reminders of the temporality of this life. I take courage knowing the Lord will return.

    I have been reading your blog and missing your frequent posts, but have not thought that your trial was over ... just that you're too hurt and busy, or lost for words, to write. I do want to hear about your struggles and triumphs, rebuilding and missing what can never be rebuilt, along with the other topics you mentioned. Please keep writing from the heart, even though it's hard.

    Regarding locusts bothering Jemimah at night ... perhaps a bed net would help her feel a little more sheltered, until this time passes. I wish I had one to send.

    With love, Vanessa

  21. Vanessa, That is a marvellous idea! I shall look at getting a mosquito net next weekend. Thanks, so much!

  22. Still thinking of and praying for you. Our church sent a group of volunteers to Charlton 2 weekends ago. I wonder if you met any of them? Please keep telling us about what you are going through. You probably need to as part of your recovery and we are happy to listen. I do care very much and would love to help you.

  23. My first visit to your site...can't imagine what you're living through. Today a friend of mine in Japan posted this link http://www.japanquakemap.com/ on her Facebook page for an earthquake map. Turns out there's one for Japan and one for Christchurch. Just thought you might be interested. It is a phenomenal tool.
    Thanks for the info. I'll add Christchurch area to my prayer list.

  24. I haven't said much recently, but do know that I am thinking of you and the difficult time you are having. I am thrilled that you were given that quilt as it seems to be a great comfort.

  25. HI THERE in north victoria I don't comment but I check in on you weekly and pray for you more often you are not forgotten many people NEVER comment but we still care

  26. A beautiful post today Jeanne. I have been wondering how your once peaceful family is going and coping in these ongoing weeks. Thankyou for giving us this update.

    Daily life continues, even amidst disasters. I look forward to hearing of your daily adventures and your ongoing recovery - as individuals, as a family and as community.

    My prayers are continually with you. xo

    And I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Ann Voxkamp's new book. :)

  27. Hi Jeanne--sending thoughts from Canada. Yes, the media tends to give us a collectively very short memory. I think it is somewhat the same for those who have gone through a death--after the funeral and everything has died down, expecting that now it's just time to get things back to normal. Thanks for the reminder that "normal" can take a very long time, if at all.

  28. Jeanne,
    We have been praying and continue to pray for you. I know I can't begin to imagine what you have suffered or will continue to face to get back to what was "normal" for you. What a record this will be of your struggle and His faithfulness. Continue to share what needs to be shared....the readers who truly care about YOU will continue to read and pray. May you continue to glorify Him. God's richest blessings be upon you!

  29. See how much we love you, Jeanne! Everyone else has written so eloquently that I can only add my small comfort. The girls and I pray for you every day by name and for the rest of your country, too. I am glued to my blogroll to see if there's an update from you, because your honest posts keep me connected to you. (However, if it is best for you and your family to take a break from blogging, by all means do so. I'll still be here when you come back.) with much love, Ellen

  30. Hi Jeanne.

    You, your family and your town are still very much in my thoughts and prayers.

    It will be a long process of recovery, and very tough too. I think of "life stress" scales (like Holmes and Rahe here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_and_Rahe_stress_scale ) and you and your hubby (and many of your townsfolk I'm sure) would score way off the scale! I think you are all doing remarkably to be facing each day as it comes, counting your blessings, and making time to enjoy things together.

    I think your blog will be a blessing to people whatever it contains - flood recovery or new books or homeschooling or whatever. I'll certainly continue to read!

  31. Jeanne,

    I admit it is hard to remember the struggles of others when they are not before you. But keep talking about it. It is likely to help you and to help those who need to know that they are not alone in their struggle and to help others to keep in mind and prayer you and others like you.

    I find that I often read about the plight of orphans and can not relate it to many - even my family can only handle so much. But I can pray and I sometimes need the reminder of how great the need is.


  32. Hi Jeanne,

    I'm not sure if one ever really recovers from such huge losses, but I am sure that the pain will ease slowly over time as life brings you things to smile about.

  33. ((((hugs)))) dear and know that you are not forgotten. I stand her ashamed of the fact that I have not been visiting and commenting more, so busy in my own life and what seems to be my own worries. Write about it as much as you like and I will read it without thinking you are whining the least bit.

    Btw, I look forward to the Voskamp review as I have been on the fence about getting it.

  34. I am so glad you wrote this post! I have only been online for a little over a month and, quite frankly, still feel very much out of the loop. Please know that I *want* to hear about your experience and how you are coping. These are the stories that hold us up through our won difficult times.

    As for AV's book, I look forward to hearing your opinion. I enjoyed reading about her journey, but I can see why people wouldn't like the book. I wouldn't say it will be a classic, as some have said. Anyway, this isn't the venue for a review, is it?

  35. Quickly, as that is all I am online for nowadays... no you are not alone with the AV book. Whilst I haven't read it all the way through I've read excerpts and snippets and don't like what I read. And no, it's not just the writing style either. But that's for another time.

    I have been thinking of you and praying for you as the Lord brings you to mind- which is most often when I see you on FB. I don't think you're whingeing and it is good to hear more about it. Naturally the media has to 'move on' but people's lives do not move on quite so quickly.

    I know from personal experience as a few years ago we had experienced some personal tragedy but not of the natural disaster kind- but it is one that COMPLETELY changed the face of our homeschooling and our family. We still feel the ripples of it each day and probably always will for the rest of our lives. During the time it was all happening I wanted to blog but found that I seemed to be incoherent. Others seemed to think I was going loopy or getting into strange doctrine. I wasn't but I simply wasn't able to convey the pain in my heart as well as the lessons I was learning into words on a public blog. Because of the nature of my pain I didn't wishe to share details publically and felt that I was alone and had no one to share with. After a few months, people would ask me how the situation was and if it had improved. They had been praying and wanted to hear of God's victory. But these things happen in His time... which is not our time and I felt small not having anything positive to share in response to their question.

    Hence I have pretty much dropped off the face of the Internet world. But you can write about the disaster - so please do. It is not boring... it is part of your life and is important to you. It's important that those not directly affected not forget.

  36. Jeanne, as I am sure you will, in time, make everything beautiful and a reflection of your stylish self, I look forward to seeing how you recreate your home.

    Just imagine the "beautiful (fill in the name of the room/space) on a shoestring" posts you can do. (and I know you could make just about anything look beautiful.)

    As for the pain - the rebuilding of other parts of home life, speak away! While not everyone will relate to your specific challenges, every one of us can relate to pain and loss, and stand ready to cheer for you as you work through things.

    Are bloggy friends real friends?

    It's just like real life, isn't it. Some are around only for the fun stuff, some stick by you no matter what, and are closer to you for the sticking. :)

    Say what you need to say. We'll still be here ;)


    (Mrs BB)

  37. Lifting all up in prayer. In our Sunday school class, someone mentioned praying for Japan. I spoke up and said lets not forget those who are still trying to put their lives back together all over the world. I spoke of your blog. Sadly, many did said they had forgotten Australia. Not now, we prayed and placed Australia on our daily prayer list. Many prayers your way. Blessings.

  38. I am so thankful you "harped on." I had just linked over to your blog from another and was explaining to my 10 y.o. dd that you are in Australia, at which point my hubby piped up and asked what was going on with you guys regarding the flooding. So I started scrolling down to see if you had an update - and again, I am so thankful you did. It brought tears to my eyes too the way your husband was treated by the store clerk - simply shameful!
    Unfortunately our lives do get busy and with more disasters striking, we too have forgotten about the previous victims - thank you for the reminder! The reminder to not only pray for you and them (because that is all I can do for you from Texas!) but a reminder to be thankful for my own life and not get caught up in the "cares of the world."
    I WILL certainly be praying for your families continued healing; mentally, emotionally and physically! Please keep "harping on!"

  39. I am sorry that man in the store said that to your husband. Not very nice!

  40. J's mom!! You cannot believe how happy I am to hear from you!! I have been praying for you, my friend. Where are you!? Let me know how I can contact you...please!!!!!!!!!


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