How do you survive a disaster? I don’t know.
I had a completely different post ready for this week, but a tornado swirled through our Dallas area, leaving devastation in its wake. It traveled our I-30, turning vehicles upside down. Bodies strewn. My tires touch that I-30 weekly.
The warm weather we were experiencing has turned to rain and chilled air.
And my heart is shivering from unbelief and fear and concern.
I’m thankful to be safe.
I was near the area when the sirens began blaring … driving home with my girls from a Christmas family gathering. My hands shook, my body trembled. Lightning lit the sky, one after another. No rain. When the sky brightened, the girls looked for tornadoes, as I drove.
But tornado warnings are a common, so common, occurrence here in Texas. You mentally blow it off for the most part—time after time, hiding out in the bathroom, and nothing happens—until something like this happens.
I have a dear friend who survived the major tornado in Wichita Falls, Texas, over 25 years ago … as a child … and you can believe she takes warnings seriously. When your entire house is missing except for the four walls of the tiny closet you and your three family members are standing in … you take it seriously.
I just learned that our pediatrician’s office in Rowlett, Texas, was destroyed.
Our dentist is there. Our daughter volunteers at the hospital there each summer. I have two cousins that work there at the cancer center. It’s real.
We have dear friends we haven’t heard from. I’ve heard their neighborhood was damaged. I pray they didn’t lose their home. I pray they weren’t hurt. But they weren’t at church today. Maybe they are out of town. I’m trying to find out.
**update … they are fine. Their home was damaged but not destroyed. However, the homes one street over were demolished.
Since my early 20s, I’ve witnessed an airplane crash—B-52 on the air base, preparing for an air show. I was inches from being at a base hospital that was terrorized by a gunman, this is the hospital where we had doctor appointments, picked up our prescriptions, etc. The gunman killed and injured so many. Bloodied the walls. So a tornado … why should it surprise me? But like all else, it’s always something that happens in other states, other cities. But wow … this hits close to home. I was little more than a mile away from the destruction, as a crow flies, that evening. Traveling the same direction for a time, a lake separating us.
What do you do in the aftermath? This is the best my heart’s got.
The only thing that comes to mind is an event that took place Christmas Eve. My daughter came to me in tears, holding a cherished childhood book called You and Me, Little Bear.
She was clearly hurting.
I said, “What’s wrong?”
CAST YOUR CARES
She melted into my arms and sobbed, “This is my last Christmas as a teenager.”
Tears pooled in my eyes. She’s afraid. Change is coming, change has come, good or bad, and there is nothing any of us can do about it. We can’t reverse the clock. We can’t grasp hold of the past. We are helpless.
She handed me a letter. I opened it and read these beautiful words:
“This has been a great year. I’m almost 18, getting ready for college, but these times, I’m always going to remember. I love you and thank you for picking me, for raising me a Godly girl. My last Christmas as a teenager. But no matter how old I get, I will always come home. I need my momma. I love you.”
CURL INTO THE ARMS THAT LOVE YOU
I asked her if I could read her bitty baby book to her, the one she held, like when she was little. She nodded.
We sat on my bed, legs out straight, and I wrapped her in my arms. I read what I wrote to her so many years ago:
She smiled and said, “You were a writer even then.”
We giggled. More tears. I read. We looked for the hidden crickets amongst the sweet pages like we always did way back when. I closed the page and said, “You will always be my baby. Wherever I am, you will always have a home. And nothing will change until you are ready for it to.”
So … with all that said … I ask you to pray for Texas. Change and heartache come … that’s a real and unavoidable part of life. But there is relief in sharing the pain. Let yourself cry. Cast your cares on the God who loves you and on family and friends who love you. Focus on what is salvageable. Curl up in the heavenly and earthly arms that ease around your shoulders. Go through the motions, but still your heart until you are ready to take on the change.
I honestly don’t know. But this I know—
“Love covers over all wrongs.” —Proverbs 10:12