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Today our family drove to visit my sister-in-law for the night to stock up on gas and a few groceries (milk and produce!), as well as do some laundry. As we headed out of town, we were astonished at what we found just a few miles from our home. Literally, homes have been flattened, churches destroyed, and there are downed trees and powerlines everywhere. Here's a picture of a church less than five miles from our home looks like today:
This is just a fraction of the destruction we saw. . . there was one neighborhood where almost all the homes were destroyed, and this was only in a tiny piece of North Alabama that we saw while driving out of town. We were able to drop off some basic staple items at a nearby Red Cross Shelter (including a huge pack of toilet paper from Amazon's last Charmin deal!), which felt like such an insignificant thing to do in the wake of all that people have lost.
As my husband and I drove, we discussed all the things that we're thankful for after witnessing this:
- First and foremost, that our family was safe and protected through the storms.
- That we had enough basic food items in our pantry and weren't worried about having to fight lines at the grocery store (I know that sounds petty, but the lines were wrapped around our local Publix.)
- That both of our cars had adequate gas and we weren't desperate to wait in a two-hour line at the pump (I don't think I'll ever let my car get below 1/4 of a tank again!)
- That we have a cash budget. Most of the ATM machines were out due to power loss, and even the one that was located at Publix (which was running on a generator) had a line of twenty people waiting to use it . . . until it ran out of cash yesterday afternoon.
- That my laundry was caught up (sooooo silly, but sooooo true!)
- That our refrigerated and frozen stockpile isn't all that big! (Again, totally trivial, but I would have been devastated if we lost hundreds of dollars of meat!) We certainly have enough (maybe ten pounds of meat and loads of shredded cheese), but not so much that I feel like it can't be replaced fairly easily.
- That I hadn't donated all last week's Nivea Body Wash deals to our church food pantry yet – I was able to deliver it to the Red Cross Shelter today 🙂
- That our family enjoyed the most fun game of charades by candlelight last night (my kiddos were a hoot!)
- That we could visit family for a short while to give us a little respite.
- That there are so many of you who's hearts are just like ours, and are so willing to give abundantly to those in need (I really am blessed to have some amazing readers!!!!!!!!!!)
Here's the hard part of all that: like I said, there were homes within five miles of my home that were completely flattened. My eight-year-old daughter watched mangled houses through her car window, and finally asked why the tornadoes did that. I had no answer for her. While we are safe and protected and incredibly fortunate, I cannot explain why those so very near us were not. It's completely unfair, totally not the way I want to understand it, and my heart just aches for those who have suffered so much. I trust in a God who I know makes all things right in the end, but today . . . well, it's just hard to watch today. Those homes could have just as easily been mine or yours. . . . I hate to even think it! I know I've said it before, but please continue to be in prayer for all who've suffered in these storms. The death toll has now risen to 238 people in our state alone. . . it's almost surreal to even consider.
I know you all are so sweet and want to know exactly where to give, so depending on how long I have power tomorrow I'm hoping to come up with a list of where to send supplies. If you're in an area that's in need, please leave a comment with exactly where to send supplies to, and I'll include it in the list. We are so blessed that there's simply no reason not to give, and I'm so thankful for the generous spirit that you all share with me each day!
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.
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