Thursday, May 26, 2011

One Dream of a Dream Team

Even though the weather was nasty - scattered storms, cloudy and dreary...even though it was "Check-out Day" in most Knox County Schools...even though we're all so tired  this week that we can hardly think straight...we just had one of the most positive, talented, energetic groups of people assembled ANYWHERE on the planet at our Dream Team meeting! 

Again, I'm reminded that this "Big Dream" is God's vision and regardless of how overwhelming it gets for us, He is One who will make the dream come true - His way - not ours.  We must always be cognizant of the fact that there is no stress on our dream team.  This vision is not up to us; it's not on our shoulders, it's on His.  I'm pretty sure He can handle it!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I was feeling blessed and my heart was full as I made my home from school today.  As usual, I made my way through the Sonic drive-thru for a large cup of ice, a bag of ice, and a small unsweetened tea.  Yeah, I know what's good and I'm freaky with my eccentric  habits!  Anyway, as I paid my $3 and something, I noticed that the total due from the car behind me was less the change had coming from my $5 bill, so I told the cashier that I'd like to pay for the person behind me as well.  Random acts of kindness do more for me than the person on the receiving end, so it was with selfish motives lest you think I'm "good" when I'm really not...

Then the cashier told me something that brought a smile to my face and filled my heart.  When I told her what I'd like do for the car behind me, she smiled and said, "That's great!  You know I was here one day when we had FIVE cars in row pay for each other's orders!"  I couldn't help thinking to myself what would happen if the world "Paid it Forward" a little more often, and "Paid Attention" a little more closely.  We've got to get our eyes off of ourselves and onto the lost and hurting people of this world! 

The Season Ends

The Champions have left the Locker Room.  They won't be coming back.  The team has disbanded.  Many left for the last time yesterday.  One of them never had the chance to say good-bye.  Or receive his trophy officially declaring him a "Champion."  Or read the thoughtful letters written by his teammates stating all the things they love about him.

Although I never received official notification, word on the street tells me that he was suspended for being disrespectful in PAC.  If only I'd known.  I would have taken him back in the classroom in a heartbeat!  I've sent his trophy, his letters from the Champions, and his report card by way of another teacher who was making a similar delivery to his neighborhood.  My gut tells me I should go myself.  My heart tells me I couldn't take it.  My "blog conscience" now convicts me that if I'm truly going to "Chase Lions in Tennessee," then I'm going to have to quit running away and do the right thing.  I'll let you know how it goes...

One of my most challenging students brought me a hanging basket of geraniums today.  She said her granny wanted me to have them.  Funny, because her granny just told me last Friday that M. comes home from school every day saying that she wants to buy this or that for Coach Crawford.  Another challenging, but so incredibly lovable student wrote me a very special thank you note that I will post here soon.  Every one of them hugged me fiercely before they left for the day.

Interestingly, we completed our eleventh novel today.  Just as I closed the book for the last time, the announcements came on the intercom instructing us to prepare for dismissal.  Funny how just as one chapter ends, another begins for all of us. I'm sure there will be more on this as I pack and process this week.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Long Goodbye

Coach Crawford, quatro Champions, and Nick Reveiz
I knew going in that I was only going to stay for two years.  Addie starts middle school.  Two years is long enough to gain an understanding of what it's like to teach in an urban school.  Perhaps my experience will have an impact on test sc-sc-scores (that part kinda hangs in my throat).  Maybe I can make a difference in the lives of my students.

Let's just cut the crap.  The two years passed quickly (in hindsight).  The Champions made a HUGE difference in my life!  My fear now is that I will forget.  I'll walk right back into my "comfortable" life and forget that there are children 10 miles away with hearts as big as Texas, with enthusiasm that would shake Neyland Stadium, with eyes that light up when they "get it" for the first time, with hearts filled to overflowing with generosity to the point of sharing their last dollar to buy something for me, with no one to cheer them on in the game of life, with no bed, with no lunch money, with no one to applaud wildly when they receive a trophy for being a Champion for the first time in their lives.

Oh God, I pray for these children!!!  I pray for their parents.  God, help them see that their child needs them to support their efforts at school.  They need cheerleaders.  They need a soft shoulder to cry on, and a willing ear to listen to them.  I pray for their teachers, Lord.  Give them an abundance of patience!  Help them to understand that what they see may not be what they get; that the walls of defense and self-preservation are thick and often seemingly impenetrable. Give their teachers special insight into their future.  Help them to water the seed that lives dormant in each child, just waiting for a teacher who loves them to awaken the possibility that lies just below the surface!  I pray for YOU to set up divine appointments in their lives so that doors of opportunity will open for them that might otherwise remain closed.  Help others who meet them to notice the "Championship" potential in them.  Oh God, most of all, thank You for the privilege You have given me to play a small role in their lives. 

Thank goodness I've been busy.  If I had the time to fully process and THINK about the past week, I'm sure I wouldn't be able to function.  K. will not be at school tomorrow.  He hugged me so tightly today, it took my breath away.  He cried.  He smiled.  I'm changed for having known him.

J. will not be at school tomorrow.  Forever in his memory, I will be the teacher who sent him to another teacher's classroom for the last hour of the school day on his last day of school.  ...Ugh!  Failure!  He was fighting, being disruptive, saying hateful things to other students.  I wanted him to stay with us.  I gave him many chances.  He just couldn't handle it.  When he refused to come into the classroom after recess and instead chose to pout outside, I felt his behavior had to be addressed.  In hindsight, I see now that he was trying to process the changes that are to come.  No more Locker Room.  No more Coach Crawford.  No more... This child is nine years old and has already lost his daddy.  He was stabbed to death.  No more...  So many family members.   No more... God, I could have taken the time to introduce him to the One Father who will never die, never leave him, never fail him as I did today.

Tomorrow several of my Champions will arrive for the last half day of school.  There are no desks, posters, MVPs, Team Rosters, DOLs, or brightly colored student work displayed on the walls.  The Locker Room is bland and empty.  It's the Champions that give life to our Locker Room. Without the Champions, the Locker Room becomes a trailer.   It's the Champions that bring hope.   It's my goal now to keep "hope" alive....forever!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Best is Yet to Come!

Needless to say, Chelcie won that battle of the heart and I must confess to no regrets.  We loaded up the car and headed to pick up Lakirra @ Weigles then on to Amya's house, just down the street from last year's super-Champion, Rudy!  Once we were loaded up with Sam, Addie, Chelcie, Me, Amya, and Lakirra, we were off to Game Time! 

At first glance, the turnout was disappointing, and my heart ached for those with the vision and dream for what could be.  I've been there and I know all too well how it feels to KNOW in your heart that God has a plan only to have our human definition of success define our dream as disappointing at best.  Flashback to Reach Them to Teach Them, 2006 at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church.  What's 500 when 500,000 need our message!

The kids were a little slow to warm up, but were soon nothing but giggles and grins.  With rain showers, cool breezes, and hungry bellies, we decided to stick around to hear our favorite Champion, Nick Reviez, speak, then we'd head out for pizza.  All went as planned until we pulled into the parking lot at Zaxby's.  My phone beeped.  A text from Jackie told us that we were going to have to (get to?) head back to the stadium.  Chicken fingers to go and a change of plans (thank God!). 

Back at the stadium, we met up with Jackie and then things began jammin!  The praise and worship music was starting to take effect and I found myself with hands raised in praise with feet jumpin' up and down like I haven't done in years (inside, I wondered where I was finding the energy and if I'd be sore in the morning!)! 

Then came the moment of Truth.  The Gospel message.  The Good News.  Jesus paid our debt.  He offers us the gift of eternal life.  Do we see our need?  Do accept His gift?  A free iPad for everyone has no value to me unless I accept the gift... Close your eyes, bow your head...raise your hand.            A little hand beside me made it's way to the sky...did I peek?  You bet I did!  My precious son, Sam, had just made the most important decision of his nine-year-old life!  He was Heaven-bound! 

Little did I realize that just two seats away from me, my precious girls Lakirra and Amya were making the same follow Christ!  The prayer wrapped up, those who prayed were encouraged to make their way to the front of the stage.  Sam nudged me, "let's go!" he said, then when I started forward, he stepped back.  Amya and Lakirra both said, "we need to go!"  So off the four of us went to take the hands of people who know Christ as Lord and are willing to lead others into an eternal relationship with Him. 

My eyes filled with tears.  My heart was overflowing.  My soul was satisfied.  My son was saved.

That Still, Small Voice...and a Pain the Heart

I'm way too far behind on my blog story to have any hope of ever catching things up to date, but this one simply can't wait.  I must do it (whoop! whoop!) now.  (The "whoop-whoop!" comes from a Ron Clark inspired technique to generate enthusiasm and student engagement every time they hear me say, "do it.."  But I digress...) 

Last week was fun, busy, action-packed, and exhausting!  Tuesday was spent at  the Smokies game in 80 degree heat with pounding sunshine and little breeze.  Wednesday was an ALL DAY trip to Wonderworks bringing us back to school at 6:30PM.  Thursday was Field Day, 2011- another hot and exhausting day in the pounding sunshine.  Friday we FINALLY completed all 14 research papers complete with covers, bibliographies, outlines, rough drafts, and final edits!  To say last week was busy would be putting it mildly!  By Friday afternoon, I was spent.  Totally.  I even posted on my Facebook page that I was too old for this stuff.  Never before had I so looked forward to a weekend with no kids just to catch my breath and recharge for the homestretch of our last full week of school.

Friday afternoon I stopped by West Valley to meet with my new principal, Mr. Nealy.  He was gracious enough to take me on a tour of the available 7th grade classrooms.  I chose a former Science room closest to the back door.  We had a nice chat, and I'm ready to get started.  Already dreaming about 7th grade lessons and 7th grade lives.  Tom and I took the kids to the movies with Chelcie and went to Brixx to enjoy a "date night."

By Saturday morning, I was thankful for a soccer-free weekend and looked forward to working on 7th grade plans, reading some books, and dreaming BIG on Reach Them to Teach Them ideas.  Then Chelcie sent me a text (cue Twilight Zone music). Here's the transcript of our message exchange:

Chelcie:  Are you taking any of your kids to gametime?
Me:  Don't think so.
Chelcie:  Why not?
Me:  No room in car.
Chelcie:  I have a car.
Me:  Who do you want to take?
Chelcie:  Whoever wants to go.
Chelcie:  No?
Me:  No what?
Chelcie:  No you aren't going to ask them!  Why wouldn't you??
Me:  Do you want to call them?
Chelcie:  Fine.  I will.  I literally don't understand why you won't.  This is such an opportunity.
Me:  I have addie, sam and taylor.  Room for one more.  I'll be happy to take someone.
Chelcie:  You know SO many people who would love to drive your kids.  Isn't doing things like this what reach them is supposed to be about?? I'm just really confused.  I thought you were planning on taking them.
Me:  Chelcie, I've been with them all week.  I need a break.
Chelcie:  Really.  Fine.
Me:  I'll try to call one or two.  You pick who.
Chelcie:  You know them best.
Me:  I asked amya.  Waiting to hear back from her.
Chelcie:  (Smiley face)
Me:  I've called charis, amya, and jalen.  No luck so far.
Chelcie:  Well at least you're trying
Me:  Are you going to drive?
Chelcie:  Yes I can/will
Me:  And lakirra...
Chelcie:  None of them can go?
Me:  Left msg for amya lakirra.  No go on charis and jalen.  Wanna call isaiah d.? His mom yelled at me the last time I spoke to her.
Chelcie:  Uhhhhhhh
Me:  Lakirra and amya are coming!
Chelcie:  Yayyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Me:  And you are a pain in the heart
Chelcie:  Sorry (smiley)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day, 2011

A letter to my mom...

May 8, 2011

Dear Mom,

Well, it’s the Saturday night before Mother’s Day, and I know my homework is due tomorrow, but I’m staring at a blank computer screen having no clue as to how to begin a letter to one of the most influential people in my life.

Just knowing you’re there for me has gotten me through so many difficult times in my life.  You are the one person on this planet I can go to when I just need a place to vent, celebrate, cry, be still, or just talk about the details of the day.  Your door is always open and you’re always willing to listen.

God has given you a supernatural intuition to know precisely when I need you.  There have been numerous times over the past few years when I’ve been precariously close to the cliff of despair, but before I fell, you would call or send a card, or share a meal, or take a walk with me, and by the time I left you, I was reenergized and inspired to stay strong.

I remember how excited you were to meet your first grandchild...and how excited you were to meet your ninth!  You have been there to hold, cuddle, feed, and play with each and every one of our babies and to model for Lori, Katie, and me exactly what it looks like to be a loving mother.

I remember when I was teaching my very first class of second graders and didn’t have enough parent chaperones for our field trip to the Apple Barn, so you came along as “Mrs. Crawford’s mom!”  At A.L. Lotts, you’ve stood in for me when I couldn’t be “Mom” because I had to be “Teacher” so that Sam and Addie never had to feel that no one cared about them.  You’ve supported my efforts to “change the world” through Reach Them to Teach Them and you’ve been there to share my joy as God has opened the floodgates of Heaven and poured His blessing down on our dream.

I’m grateful that God in His infinite wisdom found a mother for me who loves me, prays for me, and puts up with me.  Our family has been divinely blessed.  We’ve had many more smiles that tears; many more good times than bad; and much more health than sickness.  Through it all, we’ve been able to count on you to be the glue that holds us all together.

I’m learning from you to hold my tongue when I want to lash out and say things that I’m sure to regret.  You’ve shown me how to look for the good in things when the bad seems to be the most obvious.

You’d think that at 45 years old, I’d feel like an independent adult, but I know I still have so much more to learn from you!  Thank you seems painfully inadequate to express my gratitude for the sacrifices you’ve made for me, and for the unconditional love that you’ve generously poured into my life and the lives of so many others.

I’ve always been proud of my mom.  In fact, as proud as I know she is of me and my family, I’d have to say we’re all prouder of her!
My words have been many, but I really only needed four to say how I feel about my mom:  I love you, Mom!

NJHS Induction Speech

I am honored to be here celebrating your success tonight.  As a former faculty sponsor of NJHS, I know how difficult it is to be selected for membership in this prestigious organization.  Tonight’s ceremony is evidence of your success.  Your name in this program is evidence of your hard work.  I say “evidence” of your success because YOU are a success long before you receive the recognition for it.

Every day you show up for school ready to learn, every day you faithfully complete your homework; every day you volunteer for community service, every day you take on additional responsibilities to strengthen your leadership skills, every day you see a need and use what you’ve been given to help meet that need...YOU ARE A SUCCESS!  Just because others don’t recognize your success every day, doesn’t diminish the significance of what you’re accomplishing on your way.  Tonight is your night of recognition.  Your parents, friends, and family members are here to celebrate your faithfulness to the process of succeeding.  I’d like to encourage you tonight to continue that process. 

For the past two years, I’ve been “on leave” from West Valley Middle School and it sure feels great to be back!  I’ve been on a bit of an adventure and I’d briefly like to share with you one of the reasons why I left and something I’ve learned from some pretty amazing 4th graders!

Five years ago, I was give  a huge dream to change the world.  You see, I was teaching 8th grade here at WVMS, but ten years ago, I taught third grade at A.L. Lotts, so I had some of the same kids in my 8th grade class that I’d as 3rd graders five years earlier.  You may be able to relate to this...Do you remember how excited you were to come to school when you were in elementary school?  Do you remember going to Target or Walmart when the new school supply list came out to pick out your stuff?  Do you remember how you could hardly sleep some nights because you couldn’t wait to get to school to participate in some special activity your class had planned?  Remember Fun Day and recess?  Ah yes, the good ol’ days, right?  I used to get my third graders so pumped up about school that they’d be foaming at the mouth by the time they got off the school bus!  Those were the good ol’ days for me too.  

When I started teaching 8th grade and got reacquainted with my former students, I couldn’t believe how much they’d changed.  No longer did they look forward to school with eager anticipation.  Now, it seemed like they just endured it.  Most were successful students like you all, but they had lost their passion for learning.  I tried to figure out why.

Part of the reason for their apathy was due to the fact that many of their teachers were too tired and burned out to bring passion to their classrooms.  Many teachers loved their subject but didn’t much care for their “subjects.”  Some teachers had just lost sight of the reason they chose education as their profession.  I wanted to change that and remind them that the only thing that REALLY matters in their classrooms is their students.  As a result, I started an organization committed to the power of influence that teachers have in the lives of their students.  Now over 1600 teachers come to an event at the Tennessee Theatre to be “inspired” to use their position to positively impact the lives of their students. 

A few years ago, a radio talkshow host was speaking at this event and he put up a picture of a swimming pool on the big screen and he asked the 1700 teachers in the audience, “How do you teach a child to swim?  What’s the one thing you HAVE to do in order to teach someone to swim?” ...Get in there with them!

Well, that got me thinking...What would happen if I “got in there with” the most challenging students in our city?  What would happen if I left this amazing school with incredible kids and supportive parents and went to a place where I could truly make a difference?  Hallerin’s swimming pool speech got me dreaming about not doing what is comfortable, but doing what is right...

But I’m like you...I DO my homework, so I met with the Director of Knox County’s Urban Schools and she shared a story with me that convinced me to “jump into that pool of uncertainty” and pray that water would be in it.  (Share story)

After that, she had me hook, line, and sinker!  EVERY student matters.  EVERY person matters.  Honor Society Inductees, YOU MATTER, and so, as recognized leaders in your school, my challenge to you is to leave this gymnasium tonight committed to the goal of ensuring that everyone in your circle of influence is positively impacted by knowing YOU!  I’d like to close by sharing a story about how powerful our actions can be in the lives of others.

Frog Lesson

A group of frogs was traveling through the woods, and two of them fell into a deep pit.  All the other frogs gathered around the pit.

When they saw how deep the pit was, they told the unfortunate frogs they would never get out.

The two frogs ignored the comments and tried to jump up out of the pit.

The other frogs kept telling them to stop, that they were as good as

Finally, one of the frogs took heed to what the other frogs were saying and simply gave up.  He fell down and died.

The other frog continued to jump as hard as he could.

Once again, the crowd of frogs yelled at him to stop the pain and
suffering and just die. He jumped even harder and finally made it out.

When he got out, the other frogs asked him, "Why did you continue jumping? Didn't you hear us?" The frog explained to them that he was deaf.  He thought they were encouraging him the entire time.

Two lessons:

1. There is power of life and death in the tongue.  An encouraging word to someone who is down can lift them up and help them make it through the day.

2. A destructive word to someone who is down can be what it takes to kill them.  Be careful of what you say.  Speak life to those who cross your path.

Special is the individual who will take the time to encourage another.  May your words be a blessing to someone today.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Sharing Dreams

Whew!  What a great week!  Still having a hard time processing the fact that I will not be back at Sarah Moore Greene next year.  There have been innumerable moments of greatness in our Locker Room.  I've been allowed to see into the lives of some of Knoxville's most precious, innocent children.  I compare the process of leaving with what happens when two different colored pieces of construction paper are glued together, then pulled apart...a little bit of each piece is left behind on the other.  I know I'll never be the same, I just hope I never forget and I'm afraid that I might.

I had the opportunity to share some of my lessons learned with the WestKnox Kiwanis Club last Tuesday.

Sherry Storms gave me the opportunity to speak at the National Junior Honor Society Induction Ceremony on Thursday evening.

I spoke with Jack Nealy on the phone Friday morning and he challenged me to change grade levels when I return to West Valley in the fall.

I have a lot on my mind, and no time yet to process...

Monday, May 2, 2011

Life GIvers

I had initially titled this post, Life Savers, but then I had a change of heart.  There are people in this world who add to life and those that subtract from it. Then there are those who neither add, nor subtract, they just...exist.  There really is no way to save life, is there?  We are given 529,600 minutes a year - if we don't die.  (Random documentation:  Osama Bin Laden was killed by US Navy Seals last night.  People rejoicing in the streets).  We can't save our 529,600 minutes; we have to spend them.  It is what we spend them on that determines the value of a life. 

Forgive me, as I process this as a write it... We can chose to spend our minutes stockpiling material wealth, but the wisest and richest man who every lived (King Solomon) said that it's all meaningless.  He would know, right?  We can spend those minutes "investing" in others and sharing the love of Christ with them.  But all that happens AFTER we lose our life in surrender to Christ.  In Matthew 16:25 Jesus states, "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it."  Kinda crazy, losing what we never had to begin with in order to find what we tried to save, but couldn't.  In light of today's experiences, it is starting to make sense to me.  Scary, no?

Jesus Himself said, "But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matthew 6:20)."  God is teaching me by humbling me.  He is making sure that my life is completely dependent on Him.  I do not want to disappoint Him, but I do.  Sadly, I do.  I feel like Paul felt when he wrote the words,  "18 I know there is nothing good in my sinful nature. I want to do what is good, but I can't. 19 I don't do the good things I want to do. I keep on doing the evil things I don't want to do. 20 I do what I don't want to do. But I am not really the one who is doing it. It is sin living in me.(Romans 7: 18-20)."  Kind of sounds like something I'd say... a little rambling, kinda confusing, but if you hang in there with it, it starts to makes sense.

Today was a field trip day for the Champions.  Out of my 14 students, only 6 were permitted to attend the year end Behavior Award Trip to the movies.  We went to see Disney's newest "African Cats."  Incredible piece of cinematography and storytelling.  Several moments were blog-worthy, but one of the most insightful comments was made by a little girl whose father is in prison.  There are many children living in her home and DHS has been called on numerous occasions regarding the physical safety of the children.  At one point in the movie, a young lion was faced with ensuring her survival by staying with the pride, or putting herself in harm's way by staying by the side of her weak and dying mother.  The little girl beside me leaned in close and whispered, "I'd stay with my momma!" Really?  REALLY?  In spite of all she's been through, Momma still wins.

Another heart-breaker moment.  I was leaving school and noticed a little girl holding open the door to the outside, holding her eye and crying.  Another staff member spoke to her, then went through the door.  When I realized she was crying, I had to ask her about it.  I said, "What's the matter, Honey?"  No answer.  "Are you okay?"  Again, no answer.  "Are you hurt?"  I gently pulled her hand away from her eye and noticed a big, red mark on her forehead.  "What happened?"  "My momma hit me..."  "Where's your momma?"  "Over there."  When I looked toward the parking lot, I noticed a large woman with her back to me walking toward her van.  I decided to try to defuse the situation by speaking to her momma in a non-confrontational way.  I made an innocuous comment about the warm weather and headed to the safety of my car, still at a loss for the appropriate action to take.  I'm STILL at a loss... I will pray for this little girl.  If you're reading this, will you pray for her too?  I don't even know her name, but God does.

My "Life Givers" today were Jackie, Mom, Chelcie, LeeAnn, Windy, Desiree, Tee, Summer, and Kelley.  Tomorrow, I will look for moments to give life to those who cross my path!  

Yeah, It WAS that BAD!

Update time yet again!  Someday I hope to have moments of downtime to reflect and process so that my writing  will have some sort of common thread throughout, but for now, I write for the purpose of documentation purposes.  Here's a synopsis:

Last week we had some wild and crazy weather - Monday, a HUGE storm pounded us, but hit UT campus particularly hard.  Musta just been a warm-up, because last Wednesday brought national news making tornadoes and severe thunderstorms unlike any I've ever seen!  The kids did absolutely great through it all.  I was particularly concerned about Sam because he's been terrified of storms since he was a little boy.  Warnings were abundant throughout the entire day.  The superintendent made an announcement that "No teacher was permitted to leave the school and students would not be dismissed from the building in the event of inclement weather."  This sent the teachers into a near panic attack - "They can't force us to stay here!"  "I live in another county!"  "I've got kids too!" "I have to let my dogs out!"  ...Not exactly the calming effect we needed under such circumstances.  As it turned out, students were dismissed on time and no one was required to stay beyond the contract day.  Another morale blow however was that one minute prior to the end of contract time, the principal made an announcement "per the superintendent that all teachers in the building must send an email confirming that we didn't leave early."  Not exactly a "warm fuzzy" for some already aggravated teachers and staff. 

I headed home amid radio warnings of eminent severe weather.  By the time I got to Papermill, a tornado warning was issued.  I called Chelcie and insisted she get home immediately.  She headed to the UT library to "study."  I really, really wanted her home with us, but she's an adult now so I have to let her make her own decisions. 

We had heavy rain and powerful wind, but nothing compared to the hype...until about 8:00.  Once Addie and Sam were tucked soundly in bed, the hail started, mildly at first, but increasing dramatically until it literally sounded as if angels were pelting our house with baseballs!  Power went out about 8:15, but was back on about 10.  We all retreated to the basement and I kept in close contact with Chelcie via cell phone.  We got hit with three pretty intense rounds of rain, hail, lightning, thunder, and wind.   Thousands of people had roof damage.  Many lost windshields, and cars were dented all over so they resembled golf balls!  It was a wild and crazy night to be sure, but we were all dry, safe, and together.  None of us cared about the cars and still don't.  So what if they're dented?