You know, for all the time I have spent living in hurricane-prone areas (Charleston for 5 years, here for 5+) this is the first time I have actually faced a storm head-on! I am going to send the kids off to school today, sit down and have a good cry and then post!
I can't even begin to tell you how blessed we have been through this entire experience! We have seen miracles here daily and I almost hate to have the electricity back and life return to normal! Almost! It has been amazing to see how people pull together in a crisis situation, and I am sure that this is part of God's plan! He does a little house cleaning, and gives his kids an opportunity to serve one another and with one another. And you know what happens when you serve: you start to love those darn people! It's a pretty clever plan when you think about it.
One fabulous miracle we received was great weather. It was unseasonably cool during the week and a half we lived on our breezeway. It was cooler outside than inside. We had a party every night with friends and family! We had our storage of food and water, of course, and ate just as well as we would have normally. Thanks to Amber and Jimmy and their campstove and Amber's ingenuity! Those are two people you definitely want around in a natural disaster!
We had dear friends show up with full dinners, (thanks Kimberly and Janna and Ryann and the Stormin Hormans!) and hot cookies (thanks Shelli and Kathy Powdrell!) and monster cookies (thanks Becky Oliver...how did you do that with no power?) and coolers and drinks (thanks Shelli and Janna and Ryann!)to keep the ice we got from F.E.M.A. and the darling Reeds who just took such good care of us that I don't even know what we would have done without their watchful care! They waited in the F.E.M.A. lines daily for us, and brought us ice and water and M.R.E.s and even took Jordyn, Jessica and I to lunch after we cleaned a yard one day!
I feel like Jared and Christen are even more a part of our family now than ever...man we enjoyed hanging out nightly with ya'll! And we found out we have some other really super neighbors that we'd only waved to previously. We also found out, sadly, that our neighbor behind us died (of natural causes). We met his kids for the first time, though and we are so glad to add more names to the list of people we call friends!
We learned that growing up knowing all about food storage and self sufficiency is something we take for granted, and something that is a completely foreign idea to most people. Boy, are we glad for the prophet's counsel! We learned that partaking of the sacrament outside in the sunshine with fellow saints in come-as-you are clothes can be more spiritually uplifting than sitting in a pristine air-conditioned chapel. We learned that our newly called Bishop has certainly been called of God and that the mantel of his calling rests squarely upon his very capable shoulders.
We learned how much it means to us to know that there are people outside of Texas who care about us and are concerned for our welfare and keep us in their prayers. To have a conversation with ya'll (thanks mom, my first lifesaver!) and know that life was going on in the world was priceless...a life line if ever there was one! Thanks, Cindi, for taking the time to update my blog and facebook to let people know we were okay!
I am going to post some photos for you to see. The landscape here has changed. Everything looks completely different. And just in time for the dying season, anyway. Spring is going to bring a renewal next year like we haven't had in well, 20 or so years! We were the last house in our neighborhood to get power, and it is taking some getting used to that things have pretty much returned to normal now. I keep forgetting to switch on the light when I walk into a room. I can just go to the gas station to fill up with no long lines and no limits on how much gas you can get (I didn't even attempt that until yesterday!) The grocery stores are no longer only letting 5 people in at a time, and their shelves are full of everything...not just hit and miss. Our phone line is finally working again all the time because the power came back on and they were able to remove the generator that was powering the phone box! No more 2:00 a.m. tank changes. Gone, too, though are the bright nights and skies full of stars. I think it only seemed brighter because we no longer had artificial light to compare it to, but the moon seemed like a flashlight shining down directly on us!
I am so grateful for the MILLIONS of phone, electric, gas, tree, workers who've come here to help us! We'd still be waiting for power had it not been for some guys who left their families in other states and came to our aid, working 24-7! I am so thankful that I have a strong husband who is always the first to get to the task at hand and give it 110%! I can't even tell you what a huge help Jessica (my niece) and Jordyn were...total workhorses! Everyone pitched in to do way more than their share!
So, while I missed being connected to the outside world, I sure enjoyed the clearer connection we had to heaven. I know there was death and destruction and that it will take a long time to fully recover. But ya know, it's His world. He knows what is best for us. I'm so thankful that although the method may be extreme, His hand is in all things and He graciously gives us, from time to time, through miracles, a glimpse of heaven!