Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Since we spend a lot of time in the car with the kids (45 minutes each way to their house, and 25 minutes each way to church, etc, etc, etc) we have CD's for the kids to listen to. Some are children's Bible stories with songs, and some are CD's that Randy has made so that he can practice his songs that he will be singing in church, and then there are some with our favorite songs and hymns. As soon as we get in the car, they are yelling out their favorite song for us to put on for them. If we don't put it on soon enough, they sing the songs themselves.

When we get a new CD, by the second time through, the kids know all the words, which CD it is and the number of their favorite song. One CD has some Christmas songs that Randy was practicing and following them he added some other songs. Immediately following the 3 songs that the kids like to sing along to is an organ version of "O Come All Ye Faithful". The other day Charlie surprised us by singing along to this music - after all it has been 7 months since we sang it at Christmas time. Then we had to burst out laughing when he continued at the top of his lungs "oh come let us ignore Him, oh come let us ignore Him"!

This last weekend, Randy sang a song titled "There is a Friend". After listening to it over and over while the kids sang along, I asked the kids who the "Friend" was that the song talked about. "You and Mr. Randy" said Marquel. When we were able to compose ourselves we explained that it really meant Jesus.

You can listen to the song at - click on the title at the right hand side of the screen. You might want to listen to Christy's "Amazing Grace" also - - that is Annie's favorite!

We like to think that through the songs, they are learning lessons that will stick with them throughout their lives.

Until next time . . .


Thursday, July 19, 2007

FEMA's Expensive Ice!

After spending 2 years fighting with FEMA to fulfill their promise to Turk (which is still on-going, by the way), I heard the most disturbing news -

Following Katrina we heard that FEMA had purchased truckloads of ice, trucked it all to the Gulf Coast, and then (partly because it was several months following the storm) they did not use it. The news story at the time caught our attention because they were sending it to Fremont, Nebraska, a small town that we are quite familiar with as Randy's sister and nieces and nephews live there. The ice would be stored at a facility in Fremont.

FEMA had bought 224.3 million pounds of ice at a cost of $24 million (that is over $9 per pound!). The ice has sat around for almost 2 years at a cost of $12.5 million. Now the ice has been disposed of at a cost of $3.4 million. TOTAL COST: $39.9 MILLION!!!

Add this to the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on mobile homes that are rotting away in a field, the Billions of dollars that have simply disappeared, etc. etc. etc, and all we can do is shake our heads.

In the meantime, we continue to depend on the generosity of friends to help the Thornton family survive. The lawyer at Legal Aid is still working to get Turk the benefits that FEMA promised. It is so frustrating to hear these things while Turk struggles to provide the basic needs of life for the kids; simple things like soap and toilet paper (not to mention paying the rent!)

Now you may be thinking, "why doesn't Turk get a job". Here is the answer: Turk is 69 years old, he is living on Social Security and Social Security Disability (SSI) due to a serious injury that he sustained. The SSI prevents him from having a job, but it does give him the added benefit of qualifying for Medicaid. In New Orleans, his share of rent (which he split with 2 grown children) was $200. He had a lifelong collection of belongings - everything he could possiblly need and more. He was able to do his Paralegal work and earn enough to live comfortably.

Because the kid's mother chose to go back to New Orleans and leave her kids with Turk, she is not available to contribute to their support. Due to her alcoholism and mental illness, we prefer that she NOT be involved with the kids!

Now Turk is without any income except the SS and SSI. If he chose to give up the SSI, he would also give up Medicaid for himself, Medicaid and Food Stamps for the kids, and he would have the added cost of child care while he worked. When you stop to put these figures on paper, it becomes clear that he would have to have a VERY good paying job with insurance benefits in order to even offset what he would lose (and, oh yes, he would still have his disability to deal with).

In our opinion, it is much better that Turk can be at home with these kids who require much more time, attention, love and guidance than "normal" kids. Unfortunately, he falls into a crack in our system. All he needs is a way to survive - and that is all he desires. As long as he has the kids with him, he is happy.

Why aren't we all screaming about the injustice of all of this? What can we do? I want your ideas!


Check out the news stories mentioned at:
FEMA website:
CNN website: (scroll down about half way on the page)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Books are on their way!! & first Book Signing!

The first batch of books are on their way! Yeah!! I have a UPS tracking number, and they should be here on Friday, July 20th.

For now, they are only available at (click on the "Buy the Book" link at the top of the page). They should be on any day.

I will be sending them out immediately! Thank you for your patience - I hope it will be worth the wait.


St. John Lutheran Church
Boerne, Texas
Sunday, August 12th
Following both services

If you would like specific service times or address - go to

See ya there!

If you would like to schedule a book signing and presentation to a club, group or organization, contact me at

Have you seen an Angel lately?

We have had so much rain this summer! Randy's sister Deb came to visit a couple of weeks ago. The only day that it did not rain we spent at Sea World, a special treat for Charlie since the girls would be going to summer camp.

One day as it poured down rain, the sun was shining at the same time. "Look at that Charlie!" Deb said, pointing out the window.

"Wow!" Charlie exclaimed. "I'm going to have to tell the people at church about this!"

His comment made us smile to ourselves. The people at church have been so open, warm, welcoming and loving to these kids. They say hello, they give high-fives, they give hugs and smiles, and they have been generous with gifts of clothing, toys, household items and money. If a five year old boy (and his sisters) understands anything, it is that "church" is a place where they feel loved and comforted. They may not know or remember all the names, but they know they are in the company of loving, caring friends. If for some reason we do not have the kids at our house for the weekend, they are most disappointed that they will not be able to go to church with us.

So, if you think there is nothing that you can do to be an "Angel" - well think again!


After the fiasco on Wednesday, I went home and got on the phone. After several phone calls, I found an eye doctor's office where the man who answered seemed very knoweldgeable, assuring me that they would accept the Medicare and Medicaid, no problem. Crossing my fingers, I took Turk to an appointment on Friday afternoon.

The office was pleasant, they turned on a movie for the kids and had stacks of books for them. I was pleasantly surprised when they called Turk back to see the Dr. after waiting only a few minutes. Looking at Turk's blue eyes, the doctor asked Turk what his nationality was. Turk explained his Creole heritage. When Turk re-emerged, he was grinning from ear to ear. Can you believe it, the Doctor was from New Orleans! The Doctor came out a few minutes later with Mardi Gras beads for each of the kids.

Turk sure will be glad to have his glasses - - and I sure was glad to find another "Angel"!

I have a page on the website dedicated to "Our Angels" - be sure to check back often for updates. (to get there - click on the link - then click on the "Our Angels" button at the top of the page)

Until next time - -

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Tuesday, July 10th, I received my first copy of the book! The first batch is being printed now, and I should have them to sign and send out within 2 weeks. Thank you to all for your patience.

Wednesday we went to the Thornton's and I showed Turk the book. He immediately sat down and began reading. "This is the part that brings water to my eyes" he said, and read aloud:

"Our journey over the following months has changed our lives forever. . . We will never be the same. We have learned so much about other people, about compassion and respect, how others think and live, trust and not being too quick to judge those around us."

Turk went on to elaborate on how he felt as though everyone assumed that he was a criminal. From the police officers at the large shelter who hung over them as they tried to sleep, to the church sponsored shelter where they were instructed to "hand over all your weapons right now!"

The hurt and trauma that was inflicted after being evacuated seems more raw than what they had to endure at the convention center in New Orleans. It came from those who made assumptions and from those who tried to help in a misguided way.


Since we were in town yesterday anyway, Randy took Turk to get his eyes checked and new glasses ordered, while I stayed at their house with the kids. Five hours later, Randy and Turk came back, looking very tired and frustrated. After going to 4 different places, they had accomplished nothing. They had heard different reasons for rejection at each optical place.

For us to navigate the Medicare and Medicaid issues is impossible, and it seems to be almost as impossible for the medical community. One place went so far as to tell him that he would have to pay his $100 deductible. I guess they figured in this way they would get paid the going rate instead of settling for what Medicare and Medicaid would pay. I suppose most people fall for it and pay out of their pocket.

So today I made some phone calls until I found an optical place that seemed to know what they were doing. He explained that they would submit the claim to Medicare and then Medicaid would cover the difference. I was glad to find someone who knew what he was doing, and so we will try again tomorrow to get Turk some glasses!

Turk has commented many times that he could not imagine where he would be now if we had not come along. And in all honesty, we can't imagine what they would have done either, except that we believe God was watching out for him and his family.