Here Comes the Sun

My beloved family and friends,

First I want to thank Jan for updating on my behalf and all of you for the outpouring of sisterhood.  My goodness. You girls have tweeted and texted and blogged and Facebooked and mailed your love and concern for my personal family and our community and I want you to know gratitude is too weak a word for how I’m feeling toward all of you.

Secondly, an update albeit not a quick one.  So many of you are asking questions about the state of things here.  As Jan has already shared, my road and many others in the county are total, utter destruction such as the mind will not truly let you take in.  Just when I think I’ve been somewhat desensitized, I’ll take another path where I’ve not yet been and experience a fresh explosion of shock .  And indeed, the best way to describe it is that this place looks like many, many bombs have gone off for miles.   My personal home is damaged but not destroyed.  I feel lame even mentioning it when people I love all around me have suffered unimaginable loss and are even still trying to salvage what few personal belongings they can dig from rubble or retrieve from tree limbs that somehow escaped being blown to the ground.   

We are now in Day 8 of the power outage that began last Tuesday when the first round of storms hit Northeast Alabama.   Thanks to my Dad and neighbor whose home was leveled, we have borrowed generators that give us limited electricity until it is restored.  Thanks to my brother in law, they are wired so we don’t burn the house down.  Hopefully the outage won’t last much longer but as of right now we do not have power poles much less any line strung on them. It’s going to take some time but you will never hear me complain of anything so trivial again.  That’s not to say I won’t rejoice when I can plug in my refrigerator and washing machine at the same time.  

Luke and I finally got the kids back home.  They were so traumatized after the storm so we took them to their grandparents in Georgia to give them some normalcy until we could get our heads on straight.  We cleaned just enough of our mess so they would be safe and from that point forward we’ve pretty much put it on the back burner while we try to mobilize our own church members and coordinate volunteer groups who have come to our aid.  Our church has teamed up with another which is closer to the affected area.  They have done a beautiful job as a center of great relief for the hungry, tired, weary, and needy.  It’s been a joy to serve alongside you, C. Grove though our efforts in no way compare to the heavy job you’ve taken on as command center of this great Kingdom Work.  

I can not say enough how much I  love my people.  No, I didn’t grow up here but I’ve never wanted to belong anywhere like I do this town.  The night of the storms, it wasn’t the government who cut through a ridiculous amount of debris to reach us.  It was our friends who are on the rescue squad.  In the fire department.  Familiar faces who love us and weren’t going to rest one second until they could come and take us home with them and give us a safe, warm bed for a few days while we regrouped.  There was never a sweeter sight than these faces as we emerged from the basement crawl space in total shock as to what had just happened around us.  I’ll never forget that night as long as I live.  That’s a good thing.      

I can’t say enough about the work of the Southern Baptists whose Disaster Relief is in full force providing much needed support.  Four very special visitors from WMU came to visit my family. I don’t know how we rated such but I’ll never get over that you took the time from your work to support us.  I’ve never been more proud to be affiliated with the SBC. 

I want to publicly thank Devan, Michelle, Mendy and their team from Redemption Point Church in Ooltewah, TN.  They served two families but the one that is most tender is that of my neighbors who died.  Imagine being a woman whose mother and brother share a home on one side of her and her daughter and family live on the other (I think I have that right).  Imagine all of your homes being leveled in one 2 minute span of time and then learning your mother and brother both died.  Imagine then having to attempt to dig through tree trunks and metal and vehicles and food from your kitchen cabinets to try to salvage anything you can and helping your daughter do the same knowing the heart-breaking task of finding your mother’s and brother’s things is still ahead of you.  Mendy and her team gave this woman a head start on this very emotional task and we will continue to serve her until the job is done.  She is just one of many, many, many who have suffered staggering loss. 

I also want to thank our own Mary Snyder for loading up her vehicle and bringing supplies to my church today.  Another couple from her community brought coolers full of McDonald’s cheeseburgers which were met with great enthusiasm by those who have been eating peanut butter for a week.  For more than all of that, Mary, thank you for making me laugh.  Girl, I needed that.  You were refreshment for this tired soul and I love you so very much.

My sister in law LB and her bff’s brought a car load of much needed things from Georgia and just generally helped me.  I don’t know how to tell you specifically what they did except remind me that I have wonderful family and friends who are just there when you need them.  Also in town is one of our church’s proud sons who has gone on to pastor in North Carolina.  He has returned to town with many of his own membership to serve his home.  The coming together is spectacular.  Humbling. Breathtaking.

And to those of you who are mailing monetary support.  Wow.  Just wow.  Your gifts will be used faithfully to help rebuild right here in the county that was most devastated.  Expect acknowledgments, receipts, and proper thank you’s.  A lot of you are still asking how you can help.  If you want to send a donation, please leave that in the comments and I will privately email you the address.   We will have an updated list of needs soon as they will change dramatically once power is restored.

I know I am forgetting people but it’s not because you aren’t important.  I’m just a lot dumb and a little tired.  Forgive me because I’ll be beating myself up after this has been published and I realize my many oversights. 

And finally, it’s been a nasty day.  It’s very rainy and cold which is not conducive to cleaning up a natural disaster.  But tonight this was the view from my broken window.  It looks like the sun. 

It looks like hope.