The morning after the tornado came through, we were all a little dull from lack of sleep and that hollow feeling you get after a trauma. Brandon left early for work. Text messages rolled in from friends asking how they could help.
Foggy-brained and feeling lost without Brandon, I didn't know how to answer. I'd never cleaned up after a storm. Not a literal one, anyway. And so I thanked them and told them we were okay. Even if it wasn't true at the moment, it would be in a few days.
If it hadn't been for the kids, I may have walked around in a stupor all day. Children can offer just the shot in the arm one needs during times like these because they are needs. Lots of needs.
Because they were hungry, I remembered we needed to eat. Because they needed a plan for the day, I made one.
Mom and I were scheduled to minister in the prayer session of a friend that afternoon. We had no power, and we didn't think we could help much with cleanup without Brandon present to direct us, so we decided to go forward with our plans.
After all, if the devil had sent a tornado to keep us from the prayer session, we knew it was one we didn't want to miss.
When I texted my grandmother to ask whether she could provide my parents, the kids, and me with a shower and childcare for the afternoon, she agreed and threw in the offer of a hot, hearty breakfast. Bacon, eggs, toast, grits, biscuits, and hot coffee were waiting for us when we walked through her door.
Never underestimate the ministry of a good breakfast.
That breakfast filled more than our stomachs. It fattened our souls. Especially since we all knew Nona hadn't cooked a breakfast like that in years.
Everyone enjoyed the company and a hot shower, and then Mom and I were off to minister. The prayer session was powerful, and it was good to be with my sisters in Christ during and after ministry. I'm not that big on touch, but their embraces were healing that day.
Mom and I grabbed a cup of coffee (more healing), collected two happy kids, and headed home. Upon arrival, I stepped out of the car and looked around.
Much of the mess was gone. Debris, which had lain scattered around the yard that morning, had been picked up and either disposed of or set in piles.
Brandon greeted me and said, "Eddie and Dad came this morning. They had the place all cleaned up before I even got home." And news almost as sweet--we had power, hours earlier than expected.
A tidal wave of gratitude, love, and relief washed away the hollowness inside, and I was crying.
I cried for the love of family and friends like Nona and Eddie. I wept at the goodness of God. Tears ran for my kids and the trauma they endured. I grieved my decision to ignore the warning and linger too long in the house. I wondered adoringly at the man in front of me who had built that shop. Just in time. Against the odds.
Y'all. Our personal walks with God are vital. We all need personal intimacy with Jesus. We won't survive without it. But we also need community.
The strength of family, the kindness of friends. Their hugs, their help, their messages of concern and gratitude for our safety. A listening ear. Encouragement. A big breakfast. A hot shower. A good laugh over a cup of coffee.
I found out later that just before the tornado hit, my friend Laura sensed in her spirit that I was in danger, specifically that a tornado was coming for my family and me. While the kids and I were outside in the storm with debris flying around, she was praying for our safety.
I've tried to make sense of how we made it into the shop uninjured. For several days after the event, I'd close my eyes and see debris in the air or that blasted key I couldn't fit into the lock.
Now when I close my eyes, I see angels all around us, shielding us and holding back the storm until we made it inside. I believe that image is the reality my friend prayed around us.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. ~Proverbs 17:17
Friends and family are made for storms. I've always been thankful for the ones who showed up, even in some small way, during mine.
If you were one who called, texted, messaged, commented on Facebook, helped, fed, or listened, thank you.
You are my people.
What about you?
How has God used community to help and heal you during life's storms? How do you like to help others during their storms? Comment below!