As we hunkered down in our homes last weekend, bracing for the worst, Hurricane Harvey took an unexpected shift and unleashed it's fury on our neighbors in Houston. As the horrific events continued to unfold, I felt sick to my stomach. I cried real and big tears for the families caught in rising flood waters. Images of children laying on their kitchen counters, people sitting on their rooftop waving desperately for help, the elderly sitting in a pool of floodwater waiting to be rescued flooded my Facebook newsfeed.
I watched my beach home-away-from-home, Port Aransas, ripped to shreds from the hurricane. The whole little town will need rebuilding, and while I don't live there or even own property in that little port of a town, I feel like part of me got ripped apart too. Seeing the video and pictures of the wreckage was emotionally devastating. It's amazing how places become part of who you are over time.
On Monday, I sent Tommy off to his first day of third grade. As I snapped his annual first-day-of-school picture, I thought about the Houston mothers who weren't sending their kiddoes off to school. School supplies and new school clothes that will be considered one of many losses in their homes. I wondered what they might be feeling and I felt a heavy blanket of ambivalence between guilt and gratitude. Mostly though, I felt grief.
I have found myself uttering small prayers throughout every day as I feel a wave of sadness wash over me. It's so close to home, and it's Texas. They are my people. They are me. And I would need someone to think of me and pray for me because I know I would be crying on a Monday morning that I was supposed to send my child to school and instead was mourning the loss of our home and belongings and our everyday mundane normalcy.
Yesterday morning, I walked outside my door to an absolutely beautiful 75 degree morning, which simply does not ever happen in August in San Antonio. The sun was shining and the sky was nearly clear. There was an autumn-like breeze in the air that caught my breath and I stood in my driveway and closed my eyes. It was so beautiful and lovely and I was standing there outside of my home, with car keys in hand ready to head off to work on a normal day. I prayed for Houston and I prayed that some wife and mom just like me could feel some measure of comfort and peace in the same moment I was taking in the glory of my morning. I felt overwhelmingly blessed and so undeserving.
I've taken so much pride in watching my city and state come together to help one another. There has been an abundance of people showing up, taking care, ready to help and chip in. Our own Texas-based grocery store, HEB, had a disaster relief team in place the moment it was clear for them to get to the affected areas to offer food, supplies, banking services and medical attention. Friends with boats have headed there to rescue those stuck in rising waters. The very company I work for, created a donation station and our customers and employees showed up with water, food, and stuffed animals for the kids to deliver to Houston and the outlying areas.
Churches and schools, radio stations, musicians, banks, stores - everyone is in this. And while what has happened to our dear brothers and sisters is absolutely devastating, what is happening right behind it is glorious. Everywhere you go, someone is helping, volunteering, and putting something together to help everyone. All of it feels so much like the body of Christ I can hardly stand it. People helping others, loving on those in need - it doesn't get more Jesus than that and I see His light in this everywhere.
Our little family is donating, volunteering, and praying together every night. Would you join us in prayer especially for Port Aransas, Rockport, and all the small towns outside of the Houston area that have suffered greatly as well? All of us praying, giving, doing, going - it really does make a difference. Let's keep it up - we have a long road ahead of us to love on our neighbors as we help them rebuild.
Recently, I've been listening to Nichole Nordeman's new album, Every Mile Mattered. She has a beautiful and tender song called "Anywhere We Are," that feels so fitting for anyone who is going through any kind of storm. If you are in need of some comfort tonight, I hope you have a listen and that her words and melody bless your heart and soul in all the places that need a bit of tenderness in all you are facing.