Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ever blessed....

For those who might live in a tunnel and haven't heard the news, we had record breaking rains in our area last weekend. It was somewhat frightening to have a real threat of a tornado, rising waters and flooding. As I began gathering all the essential supplies, in the event we needed to run to the safe place in our home, I went through my mental checklist, shoes...check, bottled water...check, flashlight...check, waterproof matches...check, crank radio...check, snacks and lollipops for the boys...check, first aid kit...check, and the list goes on and on. Fear is not a normal emotion and I don't like to feel it. When the tornado came through Nashville in 1998, I was in a nearby area working. We shuffled into our neighboring interior office space for cover. We were safe...thankfully. For months after that day, I felt fear. If a storm was coming, Daddy Brown would find me huddled in the closet almost in tears. I was paralyzed in fear for a long time. Something that still crosses my mind when I hear tornado warnings and watches being issued.

This week has not been about fear for me. It has been about the spirit of all the volunteers that have showed up with a servant heart to help in anyway needed. My heart aches and breaks for the people that have been devastated by the flooding. My parents had water enter their basement. Thankfully, my sister was there when it happened and was able to move anything that would be damaged out of harms way. Tutu Nani, the Brownies and I drove to some of the areas that were hardest hit this week. We delivered cleaning supplies, water, Gatorade and cash to those who have lost all of their worldly possessions. Just think about having to start over. Seeing your precious belongings that you have worked your entire life, displayed as trash on your front lawn. We visited a friend that my sisters and I went to school with. Her mother-in-law's home was in the middle of one of the hardest hit areas. As we drove down the road, I began to tear up. Her street looked like a scene from a movie. It looked like something we would have seen in the rebuilding stages of Hurricane Katrina.

As we found her mother-in-law's house, we parked and I got out to find our friend. Her mother-in-law was crouched in the front yard trying to salvage 25 years worth of photographs and precious antique lace that was made by her mother. Lace that was to be passed on to her grandchildren. My voice broke several times, my eyes watered and we embraced her. However, I wouldn't let myself cry. I was there to listen and lend encouraging words. We walked into her home. Drywall and insulation had been ripped from the studs at least 4 or 5 feet high from the ground. Her clothes were hanging over the backyard fence to dry. To my amazement, there were at least 15-20 people working in her home to remove the debris. As we talked to them further, they said these people were a gift. They were volunteers that had showed up to help and most of them, they didn't even know.

As we stood in the street looking at the devastation, a construction crew came walking down the street. The crew chief asked, "We heard there is an elderly man that lives down here and doesn't have anyone to help him. Our labor is free and we are here to help." My heart swelled as they shared story after story of volunteers showing up to help clean and clear out homes. Volunteers that brought sack lunches, hot meals, bottles of water and ice. It was amazing to me. As we were leaving, we saw a family camping in a tent on their front lawn. Because of all the debris on their lawn, you could have driven by without even noticing.

This experience has made me feel eternally thankful and grateful. I have a roof over my head and I have a belly full of food. I was able to put my babies to bed in a warm, dry home with clean clothes and a fresh bath. I don't have to worry about my next meal and I don't have to worry about where I will lay my head tonight. I'm counting my blessings. The Lord is Supreme. Even in tragedy, his people rise up to help their fellow neighbors. No one knows what the next day, hour or even minute will bring. Live in the now. Not in the past and not in the future, but in today, in this moment. Hug and kiss the people you love. Heck, hug and kiss the people you don't care for. They may need it more than you know. Show up and play in the front yard of life. You may be surprised what it holds for you. You may be enlightened in the people that your life's path will cross. You may be an encouragement for someone who sees no hope. Through this tragedy, I find myself thankful. Through this volunteer spirit, I find myself grateful. Through his love, I am ever blessed.

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