Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Healing Process Must Begin

Well, as I'm sure many of you know, there was a historic outbreak of storms that hit the southern states yesterday. My hometown of Pleasant Grove, AL was one of the hardest hit. I lived there for 12 years, started elementary school there and graduated high school there, my mom still lives there and it is devastated. I know every inch of that town, I learned to drive there after all, but when I was looking at the images around the internet and news media, I didn't recognize one bit. It is seriously heart breaking. 

I've never been through anything like this before, not really. 
I was 7 when an F-5 tornado ripped through Oak Grove, AL, a neighboring town to Pleasant Grove, but I was 7, I didn't understand nor do I really remember anything other than little bits and pieces of my small frame of mind. 
I was 10 when 9/11 happened, but I was 10, I didn't really understand. I was learning history as it was being made before my innocent eyes. 
I was 16 when Katrina hit New Orleans, but I had never been there before. I felt for them and prayed for them, but I didn't understand, not really. 

I am 19 now and I watched UStream live as a tornado formed in Tuscaloosa, ripped that town apart and headed for Birmingham...MY city. I've been through tornadoes before, and I didn't think this one would be any different. It would miss everyone I care about and hit somewhere that I would want to help but wouldn't, because I wouldn't understand. That all changed when I saw that tornado in the background of Birmingham's skyline. The worry building in my stomach like a steam pot about to whistle as I thought of my friends and sisters who were in dorms downtown. Then I felt the relief as it headed away from downtown. It's all over I thought...I was wrong. They mention Pleasant Grove on the weather saying take shelter if you are there, but they've said that before so I texted my mom who still lives there to make sure she heard the warning and went about studying for my finals that would be the next day. My mom texts me about 20 minutes later saying she is okay and I think "yep, just a regular April in Alabama" but then I get on Facebook and see the status updates from people I graduated high school with saying "my house is gone...please pray" and "our town is destroyed" and I couldn't believe it. It had to be an exaggeration, right? No way their house could be actually GONE, right? wrong. They uploaded pictures today standing in their front yard. This is all that is left:

I'm 19 now, married, trying to figure out my life, and learning to trust God every step of the way. I've moved on to a new stage in my life and into a new house with my husband. But this takes me back. Right back to that place I grew up in, where I learned what school spirit was, and everyone knew everything about everybody. 
I'm 19 now, and I understand.
I'm going to go volunteer and try to help clean up. Quite honestly, I'm wondering how exactly you start cleaning this up:

But I'll go and take it all in and try to help whoever I can. And I'll pray for those in the rest of my state who need help and comfort. I've been praying that rescuers hands would be guided to survivors and for peace for those who have lost loved ones and homes.

This is a devastating time, but we will pick ourselves up and move on. We will start the healing process. For me, writing this has started my healing process and when I put my hands to work that will be my next step and I will see what is next after that. I am so thankful that the tornado missed my family and that my high school friends only lost homes and not loved ones. Please pray today for those affected and those working these areas. With the death toll in Alabama right at 200, those search and rescue officials need prayer just as much as those whose lives have been torn apart by this storm.

Also know that there is a way to look at the bright side of this devastation. Those people who did survive. Those who were saved by the technological advancements of the warning system. And just in the fact that the night is darkest before dawn. The Word says in John 16:33, "In this world you will have many trials and sorrows, but take heart because I have overcome the world." So take heart Alabama, we will bounce back from this.

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