Joplin, Missouri

My city.

As I caught myself calling Joplin that, I realized that Joplin has always been a part of my life.

When I was a little girl, and we’d come up for camp, my Mom and I would come over from Wyandotte with friends and eat dinner at a Mexican place called Raphael’s.

When I was a teenager, my friend Phil and I would come over and hang out at a coffee shop on Main Street, when Main Street was still the “main drag.”

When I moved to Tulsa, my brother and his wife followed shortly after by moving to Joplin, and I’d come over on weekends to see them.

When I moved to the area to be close to my family, I realized that there was a place in my heart that had always thought of Southwest Missouri as home.

I was born in Arkansas, and my heart lives in Texas, but Missouri is just as much a part of my life as those other places I’ve called home. Living here for the past (almost) 6 years, I’ve never really called Joplin home. I may have felt it was, but I never really said it. Home was Dalhart, Texas, a place I loved from the moment I laid eyes on it.

On Sunday, May 22, 2011, something changed and Joplin became “my city”. We don’t live in the city limits of Joplin. We live in a small town near Joplin, but we shop in Joplin, we eat in Joplin, much of our life is centered in Joplin.

So, when a tornado ripped through my city on May 22nd, my heart started breaking. Right in the middle of a month that had already broken my heart with the death of a man I admired above so many others, another heartbreak that tore apart a city I love shook me to my core. I’m still trying to make sense of the month of May 2011, and I have a million questions that will probably never be answered. May 2011 has changed me. There is a point in every day since May 18th where I am caught unaware by grief. Sometimes I grieve the death of my friend, sometimes I grieve the destruction of my city, and sometimes I don’t even have words to describe my grief.

In my heart, I’ve taken ownership of Joplin, as I know many others have. This is our city. Carthage, Oronogo, Webb City, Carl Junction, and all of the others in between have declared this city as OUR city.

Joplin is my home. I don’t live within its city limits, but it is my home. Every day, I hear new stories from survivors, people who shouldn’t have lived, but by the grace of God, they did. Every day, I’m reminded that my city was broken, but I am also reminded that my God reached into the midst of a monster to save a life of a friend, a colleague, a family. My family. My brother. My sister-in-law. My nephew. My niece. My God redirected their paths to keep them out of the storm, as He did for so many others.

Joplin is my city. Since May 22nd, I have thought of Joplin not as Joplin, Missouri, city I shop and eat in, but as MY City, place I call home. The road ahead for Joplin is long, and as so many have said, the news people will leave, the relief workers will go home, and we the citizens of Southwest Missouri will be left on our own to rebuild a city that will never be the same.

As I watched yet another video filmed in the aftermath of the monster, I was reminded of the words of a Joplin pastor who declared that in Joplin, the Cross still stands. I was reminded that the chapel was one of the only two places in St. John’s hospital undamaged by the storm. I was reminded that my God was in the midst of the tornado guiding and directing people into the places that would keep them safe.

My city. No longer just a place to shop or eat, Joplin is my city. In my heart, I think it has always been my city. I think the years of visits and quick trips over to town have embedded Joplin into the fabric of my life. Joplin will recover. My city will rebuild. The breaking of our hearts will begin to subside and be replaced with hope for our future. Our city will stand, and in the midst of our city, my God still walks, bringing with Him peace and comfort, hope and joy, a future.

Review: One of Our Thursdays is Missing

Last night, I finished reading One of Our Thursdays is Missing. I recently reread the whole series, because I knew this next Next would be out and wanted the previous novels to be fresh in my mind as I read this installation. It was a fun to reread the previous Nexts and I hope to repeat the process soon. It also helped that we spent the past weekend following Jasper Fforde around Missouri. I’ll talk more about that later.

One of Our Thursdays is Missing is unique in that it is not written from the perspective of the real Thursday Next, but is instead from the point of view of the written Thursday Next. This is the written TN we first met in First Among Sequels as the star of The Great Samuel Pepys Fiasco.

By the time I reached page 183, I was calling this book Fforde’s masterpiece. It was insane, ridiculous, and fantastic; all of which was increased by the sheer absurdity of the Bookworld. I loved it! As to the description of “masterpiece”, I’ll need to read The Fourth Bear again to verify if that is completely true.

It takes a little more concentration than some of the other books in the series, simply because much of the action takes place in Bookworld, and it takes some careful reading to understand what exactly it is that you don’t understand.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so there isn’t much in this review in the way of the actual content of the book. However, I will give the advice that if you are planning to read this book, I strongly recommend reading the first five books. While this book doesn’t address many of the issues presented in the previous book, there are times when prior knowledge of Thursday’s adventures (that is, the Real Thursday) is helpful.

As for the other, that is, as for the fact that Stan and I recently took a weekend trip that was basically planned around Jasper Fforde’s US tour schedule, there is much to say. Perhaps I should write a separate post for that.

The book, One of Our Thursdays is Missing, is well worth the time and effort, and gets my highest award of 5 Mario stars.