An important update for locals: The Ider Baptist Ministry Center will accept donations for the Moore, OK area beginning today. The Ministry Center on Dogwood Drive will be our “drop-off” point. PLEASE DO NOT BRING CLOTHES. Items we will be accepting are…diapers, shovels, boots, batteries, flashlights, chain saws, bar oil, gas cans, gloves, safety glasses, garbage bags, bottle water, tarps, snacks, toiletry items and anything of this nature that would be helpful. (See post below) These items need to be in NEW OR GOOD CONDITION. Ministry Center hours to “drop-off” are Monday through Saturday 9:30 until 2:30. Questions can be directed to our church office at 256-632-2425. You can also leave a comment and I will be glad to get back with you.
More than once this week – and once is too many – I’ve sent notes to people I care about whose communties have been visited by the horror of tornadoes. First there was Granbury, Texas where I was privileged to serve Lakeside Baptist Church for a women’s conference and still consider those girls dear friends. Now I’m grieved to the marrow of my bones to learn of the loss of life in Oklahoma where one of our best college friends lives with his family as a professor at OBU. We also have a church member serving out of the Air Force base in OKC. We were so relieved to learn they are all safe but our joy was short-lived after hearing of the loss of the darling school children who in just a few short hours would not have been in those school houses but cuddled with parents and loved ones in safe places in and around their homes. God be near. My heart can’t take it.
After the initial shock the first question we ask ourselves in these times is, “How Can I Help?” Two years and a couple of months ago before our own storm of April 27, I couldn’t have answered that question but now with a certain degree of experience I can give you a starter list of ways you can best serve those who are suffering.
A word about clothing. As well-meaning as clothing collection is it was our experience that we were quickly overwhelmed and had no means of storing or processing the massive amounts of bags and boxes that arrived. While some clothing is needful, no one needs used boy scout uniforms circa 1977 or the cast-off’s from the last Ugly Christmas Sweater Party or a cd of 101 fart noises mixed in a box of mis-matched shoes. (All things received in our own ministry center. But on second thought the fart cd made us laugh wildly in a time when we could barely muster a smile.) Please don’t read this as ingratitude but think practically and give in the same manner. Work pants and shirts. Clean socks. New underwear. Thick work gloves. All great choices.
Batteries: Yes and Amen. We had to drive miles and miles to a store with electricity only to find the battery supply wiped clean. C and D and the big square flashlight batteries are most needed.
Flash Lights: Self-explanatory.
Filled Gas Containers: If you are local to the affected areas then don’t underestimate the value of a 5 gallon container filled with fuel to families working to clean up their homesites and run generators. If you are taking supplies in, take empty containers to be filled and distributed there.
Disposable Ice Chests/Coolers: In our area a local ice company parked freezer trucks with ice available for free but if you’ve lost everything or are without electricity you need multiple coolers. These disposable versions were gold to us.
Non-perishable Food: Think peanut butter or canned soups/spaghettis, etc that can be put in a metal pan and heated on a grill. Juice boxes and packaged crackers are great for kids. Long term people will have to stock pantries from scratch so that’s when canned vegetables, dried beans, cooking oil, sugar, etc. will become more needed. Check with any local churches that are feeding stations and see what groceries they need to prepare meals. Some of them may have a generator and the ability to cook.
Sunscreen/Chap Stick and Bug Spray: I’ve never seen worse sunburns than on those spending extended days outside. And outside also equals bugs. It’s the simple things.
First Aid: With hard work and injury comes scrapes, cuts, blisters etc. One of our most useful gifts from family was a well-stocked first aid kit with band aids, Neosporin, peroxide, bandages and adhesive tape to name a few.
Tarps: Many homes are damaged if not destroyed and need tarps to cover roofs, etc. until insurance adjusters can arrive. There are never too many tarps.
Large Black Trash Bags: A must have for clean up
Chainsaw Fuel/Bar Oil: Luke had to buy a new chain saw because he burned ours up in the first day of clearing. We were grateful for fuel and bar oil. Also, if you are feeling very generous, send chain saws. They are practically disposable when used hour upon hour.
Camp Stoves/Coleman Fuel/Grill Propane: Remember again many standing homesites will be without electricity for many days. When we could finally get meat we cooked on a grill until the power was restored. (13 days – ugh)
Sleeping Bags, Blankets and Pillows: People and families sleeping in shelters need bed linens. These were in high demand.
Rakes, Shovels, Yard Equipment: Self-explanatory
Cleaning supplies: Disinfectants, bleach, mops, brooms, shop rags, etc. Many standing buildings/homes are completely coated inside with dirt from blown out windows and doors. We had to wash walls and basically disinfect everything in our house from all the dirt and debris that blew through it.
Rubbermaid Containers: Those sorting through belongings need somewhere to store them. More gold.
Water: Bottled water was good but plentiful for us. If you are local and have means to transport it in then by all means do. However, if you wanted to fill a trailer and take it in from outside then use the space with something more scarce.
Diapers/Formula/Baby Food: Huge need. Remember, no electricity
Animal Food: Because dogs and cats get hungry too.
Hygiene Products: Toothpaste – we brushed in bottled water until the running water was on again. And deodorant. Lots of deodorant. I’ve never felt so stinky in my life.
Femine Products: Let’s just say it’s no fun time to endure the curse. Stupid Eve.
Paper Towels and toilet paper: Because wiping never goes out of style.
Towels and Wash Cloths: Remember bathing may be limited to bottled water and a wash cloth and bar soap. You will never feel more equipped to survive a zombie apocolypse than after living a couple of weeks without hot running water. I’m pretty sure I can live through anything now.
If you are local to the area then your opportunities for ministry will vary slightly from work groups. You will be able to mobilize with faith and service agencies more long term while others need more focused tasks. I will try to give ideas for both.
Food: One thing I did not realize until our own tornado was that Red Cross Meals were actually prepared by the Southern Baptist Mobile Kitchens and packaged in Red Cross containers. These two agencies worked beautifully together here and I’ve never been more proud to be a Baptist Girl. If you are local and can volunteer to either deliver meals or be a distribution point for those you will find yourself all the ministry you can handle.
As wonderful as the Red Cross Meals were, it takes them a few days to be mobilized. This is where the local church is a manifestation of Jesus. In this area, our dear friends at Chestnut Grove Church were closer to the affected areas and so we joined forces and cooked and served meals from there. They powered up with a generator and you’ve never seen a group of people just flat out get it done in Jesus’ Name. If there was ever a shortage of volunteers from the neighboring churches I didn’t know it. Devastated people came. And they ate. And they were filled – physically and spiritually.
Another moment I have to relive again. There was a day early on when Luke and I were working at our own home clearing and boarding and tarping. I remember being tired to my bones and just plain weary at the enormity of what had happened. It was about then a group of children from our local Christian school pulled into the drive in back of pick up truck. They had made sandwiches and had bags of chips, etc. along with coolers of cold drinks. They were simply driving along seeking to bless people as they worked at their homesites. One little boy opened his cooler and pulled out an ice cold Dr. Pepper. If you know me, you know Dr. Pepper completes me and so to be offered this ice cold love was more than I could take in. I cried and looked straight in that child’s eyes and told him that Jesus used him to refresh me and remind me that He sees and cares about the trouble of His children. That darlin’ thing looked so proud of himself. I will never forget it and I certainly hope he doesn’t either. Our small thing can be someone else’s everything. When seeking to serve someone, it doesn’t have to be major to be meaningful. A glass of water in His Name – or a soda in this case - will most assuredly satisfy many a thirst. If you have children who want to be of help, this is such a great way to let them feel they are needed.
There was also a man, wife, and his children who drove down from Missouri to travel our roads with a small grill in the back of the truck who – get this – set up in front of our homes and grilled us a fresh hamburger because they wanted us to have a hot meal. It was only a short couple of weeks that Joplin was hit and I have no doubt they ministered to their own in just the same way. Just when you think there is no hope for humanity you see the best of us emerge.
If you can not deploy immediately do not despair. There will be work for weeks and months and years from now. Our church has been the honored host of work groups from 2011 until present who are still coming to help rebuild homes that have not been completed until now. In the immediate days many hands are needed to help families go through the debris of homes and help them locate something, anything they can recognize from their lives and aid in general clearing/cleaning. As time passes the efforts will become more focused on rebuilding. The most important thing you can do is contact the Red Cross or if you are affiliated with a church – your denomination to learn of relief efforts and the locations from which they are based. Many churches and relief agencies will be hosting and/or coordinating groups into the area. Showing up is good but having a plan and a homebase of operations from someone local who can best direct your efforts is better.
There are many of us whose gift will be financial and by all means, if that is what the Lord impresses upon you then do it abundantly. If I were to give to an organization I would select the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief or the American Red Cross. There is an area on both sites to designate your gift. Also, there are many churches in the area who are doing vital work that can be in the best situation to evaluate needs and administer financial aid. We were blessed with many substantial donations and it liberated us to buy supplies for building projects and provide financial assistance for uninsured families among many other things. The best thing I know to tell you is to google area churches and make a few calls to determine the ministry most prepared to faithfully administer the gifts. I believe by faith no reputable minister of the gospel will receive your donations if they are not equipped to see them distributed properly.
This is certainly no exhaustive list but maybe it is something to get you started in your desire to serve those suffering in the aftermath of a natural disaster. If you have other ideas please feel free to add to these suggestions in the comments. Above all, pray for these. Pray comfort for those who have lost loved ones. Pray shelter and provision for those who have lost homes and possessions. Pray endurance for many long days ahead. Pray Jesus when it seems He is nowhere to be found. Perhaps what I learned most is that during these times of crisis when our faith is its most vulnerable, God is as close as a Dr. Pepper. The suffering may not see Him, but they can certainly know what He looks like when we love like He loves.
I want to say thank you again to all those who sacrificially gave of your time and resources and who continue to do so for our area in North Alabama. We are grateful. We are changed.
When last we visited my family was in the throes of basketball season. We’ve just wrapped that up with Elijah finishing his year with the 9th Grade team and Sydney going to the Area Championship game with her 4th Grade Team. Even though they didn’t come away with the win, she scored! A point! I was so proud of her and her darling team mates who worked so hard this season. So proud I’m not even going to rant about what should have been a three day Area Tournament being scheduled over an entire month because there is someone somewhere who greatly enjoys sitting on hard bleachers and eating Cheez Its for supper.
Here’s Syd lining up to take her famous shot. And by the way, this is the same hair look she tries to get away with wearing every single day to school. It’s just not fair that I finally got my girl and she would rather wear Under Armour than Justice. I’ve made an agreement with her she can dress like she just rolled fresh from a locker room 1-2 days per week dependent solely upon my mood (i.e., whether or not I feel like arguing about it) but otherwise she will look like a girl if it kills us both.
Look at that form! That air! She gets it from watching Luke preach.
Here is where I must mention these photos are not my own but those of a photographer (Thanks Priceless Photography!) who shared them with us on Facebook. I have scads of pictures of my own but they are still safely tucked away on the camera card in my camera which Elijah has commandeered to make a film short with 7 or 19 of his closest friends. It stars a dinosaur, a Sasquatch-like rabbit, and may or may not involve a staged break-in of my home or at the very least a Harlem Shake. Wise Lisa wants to take my camera back and homeschool. But the Other Lisa – the one I defer to most – makes the kids lots of snacks and locks herself in her room until the director yells, “Cut!”
Production resumes Thursday.
Suddenly Cheez Its and bleachers don’t sound so terrible any more.
We just returned home from a long weekend in the mountains where we took a couple of days with Luke’s parents and sister’s family to spend a little time together and unwind from all the busy. The kids’ Christmas break was entirely too short (we don’t even get a full two weeks in our county..grr!!) and basketball season has about been the death of us. Between my two that are playing elementary and high school it takes us somewhere every blessed night of the week. I love watching my kids play sports but really, I’m done now.
So the respite was just what we needed. My mom-in-law’s love language is food which is normally a good thing except Luke and I have been playing around with Weight Watchers. We’ve been starving since January 2nd and so we ate food glorious food and chewed the legs off the tables for dessert. It was much more tasty than the oranges we’ve been eating every day because they are Point Free. I don’t see how any food can be free if you eat twelve a day but if nothing else, there is enough Vitamin C in our collective systems to ward off a cold for the next seven years. We might be chubby, but our noses are clear. We are not weighing until next week when hopefully we’ll have shed what we gained in those three days. Can I just say here that it makes me so mad that I get 25 points a day and Luke gets 44? It’s also been a little difficult explaining to him that he can’t save 30 points until 9 pm and then eat a huge bowl of ice cream. ”That’s stupid! I still have points left! This diet doesn’t work!” Yes, it does. Just ask Jennifer Hudson and her team of chefs and personal trainers. At the rate we are going, I think we belong on Team Jessica. (On a side note, if you are on a health kick too then check out Skinny Taste. I’ve tried several recipes, loved them, and they all have WW point values.)
Not only can my MIL cook but she’s the queen of discount dinner tickets. She scored ridiculously cheap seats to the Dukes of Hazard at the Smith Brother Theater. Y’all go to Les Mis on Broadway, we go see Bo, Luke, and Daisy in Gatlinburg. If you can overlook the hideous wig Bo was wearing and not one, but many girls wearing pantyhose with shorts, then I would say the production was delightful. Boss Hogg and Roscoe were well-played. At one point “Charlie Daniels” played the fiddle at the Boar’s Nest and gave a rousing monologue on the Bible and the 2nd Amendment. By the end I wanted to say the Pledge of Allegiance and shoot a firearm that held more than 7 rounds. And grow my own garden. And build a bunker. Sawyer texted me at this point and said, “All you have to do to get a room full of rednecks riled up is talk about God and Guns.” My kid is fantastically intuitive.
No trip to the mountains would be complete without the go-kart track. I opted to take a few pictures rather than ride which was the wise choice considering Luke is still limping from being spun out and t-boned by his loving children. These are a few of my favorites:
Syd in the lead. It could be they were lapping her but we’ll stick with Story #1.
Cousin Matthew. You can’t curb his enthusiasm.
Sam. He has the eye of the tiger.
Luke still smiling before his injuries.
Elijah. Just waiting. Patiently. Verrrry patiently.
Papa showing the grandsons who’s boss.
The colors in this picture make me happy. The people aren’t bad either.
We traveled home on Monday which was a wonderful diversion from the Inauguration on every channel. On our way we stopped and ate at The Apple Barn (If you’ve never eaten one of their fritters, I will pray for you) and was proven wrong for every time I’ve said my kids can’t shock me anymore. The waitress was rounding the table and reached my son 15 year-old son Elijah to take his order. To give you some context, he is not full of mischief. He is not one who likes attention. He’s calm, dry-humored, and steady on. It was this boy who looked at the waitress with a perfectly straight face and said, “I would like the beef livers with a side of bartle doo“. ”With a side of what?” she asked. ”Bartle doo”, he calmly replied. ”Bartle..what is that?!” she asked. ”It’s okay, I don’t guess y’all have it here”, he said all while we couldn’t decide whether we were going to fall out of our chairs in shock or from laughing like maniacs. I felt so sorry for the poor waitress but she was such a great sport. We told her about Ed Bassmaster and explained the uproar as best we could and left a healthy tip. And then we re-introduced ourselves to our son because obviously we’ve never known him before now. And maybe you are thinking the same thing about me now that you know we are secret Ed Bassmaster fans. Only the moms of teenage boys will understand.
And now here we are back in the groove of life as we know it. We got home just in time Monday night to make a 7 pm basketball practice which thrilled me to the uttermost. I’m missing my leisurely mornings in the pj’s but having a few days away made it easier to face the work week in pants that button and shoes that aren’t lined with fur.
To which my coworkers are saying, ‘Thank You’.