Today, I'm all "media-d" out. The 19 years in Southwest Missouri building friendships with wonderful people, 2 daughters that had graduated from Ozark Christian College in Joplin, and my son and both of my daughter's in-laws living in Joplin, has kept me tied to the tv, computer, telephone for the past 4 days. I'm at peace with it, I know what tornadoes can do and have seen the destruction before. I don't like tornadoes, but am fascinated with their dance as they move across the countryside and through the city. It's a healthy respect that I have with their power and might. I've seen them destroy before.
I have heard SO many miracle stories the past few days; stories of people hunkered down in their bathtubs and their home is wiped away except for their bathroom walls. One friend D.C., was in the middle of a performance in Stained Glass Theater, around the corner of St. John's Hospital. She was in a costume change when the sirens went off, and got stuck in a stairwell, knowing her granddaughter was downstairs, but not knowing where. The building was flattened, and my friend got pretty beat up by bricks and debris, but she lived. Someone took her granddaughter down to the basement and kept her safe, keeping her from going to look for her grandma. She lived. Many lost their lives there that day, in the Stained Glass Theater....sad news to grasp hold of as I think of my friend - and all the years of friendships that she lost with fellow performers...patrons..brothers and sisters in Christ. When they went back on Monday, her son noticed something at the theater as they looked at what remained of the stairwell where she hid. The wall of bricks, against the wind direction, laws of gravity, and all other common sense fell away from the stairwell - not in to it - God's hands held them back and kept them from falling on those that were seeking refuge there. Another miracle.
I also think of the "should have beens" - like my son, who just came back to his girlfriend's parents home from a men's retreat with her father and brother. He stood in the rain, ready to leave and "just decided" to stay at their house and wait out the storm - no idea that it was tornadic. They ended up evacuating to a neighbor's basement, hailstones pelting them. They were all ok. If he had left when he was going to, he would have driven into the path of the tornado. Just a moment of listening to the Holy Spirit's prompt to "wait" saved his life. I felt so blessed to have been texting with him as he made each decision, each move that afternoon. I never wondered where he was, and it makes me so sad for the 1,500 other people still missing, their families and friends wondering where they are. I pray the most often for them - that they will get some closure, somehow. That God will bring peace to their hearts.
Odd timing also saved B.R.'s life. Normally on a Sunday afternoon she heads to town from her apartment on the north side and does all her grocery shopping for the week. But on that day, she was unusually tired that afternoon, and decided to take a nap before heading to the store...and awoke to the sound of the sirens going off. With her limited t.v. stations and her internet not working, she only got bits and pieces of what was going on out there. When Monday rolled around it occurred to her how close her life had been spared...she "should have been" at the Walmart store that was hit...exactly at the time it hit. That was her "normal routine" for her Sunday. I'm so glad that she's still alive!! I am blessed each time I hear of a miracle story of someone being found alive inside that store location, and pray for those that may STILL be alive in the rubble of that store, and the many other businesses and homes that were destroyed that day.
SO today is a day where I won't use internet news, weather channel, or anything that's likely to stir my heart. I think it will be a silent day around here - except for my dogs' whimpering for attention and the click click click of my fingers on the keyboard. Oh, and the telephone, friendly calls that still need to be made to check on friends here in KY and IN that were affected by yet another round of severe weather last night.
It's cloudy and overcast, but maybe a walk will do me good, a nice prayer walk that will push me to pray for the neighborhoods that are no longer standing...remembering my son's broken voice as he volunteered that first night... "Mom, they told me to go door to door, but there are no doors left." He did find a few people that night that didn't survive the giant twister. Each day since then he takes that memory to volunteer at The Bridge, assisting those that DID survive the storm. All those that have their own miracle stories to tell.
I want to say a HUGE thank you to an unlikely hero - the multi-national corporations that are helping out around the world in this time of need. Some have not been very nice to them - and many are quick to push aside their common signs and bash them for moving into neighborhoods, doing too much business, underselling the other stores and brands. My husband works for one of those BIG companies, Tyson, and I'm not afraid to say it. :) They were there, on the ground, within HOURS of the disaster in Joplin. They have sent teams of cooks (with food and equipment) to feed people, and trucks of ice for any need. Also, Sam's Clubs have given without hesitation. At The Bridge, where Jason volunteers, the Sam's Club across the road has been giving and giving since Monday morning.
Yes, I love the feel of a small family market, getting fresh produce that is grown locally, and knowing where our food comes from....but I am not ashamed to support these large companies that still reach out wherever they can. They have stock holders and profit expectations to answer to, but I'm pretty sure that they have stock holders in each city that has been hit by these recent catastrophe's.
Thank You: Sam's Club, Tyson, Chic fil A, Starbucks, and the many others that I don't know about, for giving to The Bridge and the people in Joplin, victims and volunteers.
OH, IT'S NO USE!! My heart focused on Joplin is not going to go away. No amount of reading, writing or prayer walking will wash this from my soul. It's like the smoke after a summer bon fire, it's permeated my clothing and sits in my hair. I can smell it on my skin, and feel it in my lungs. So too, are my prayers and thoughts for Joplin.
John 9:3 NLT - "“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him."
May the power of God be shown, through the power of the tornado, the miracles that are being told, through the healing of the broken hearts of the families of those missing or who have lost their lives, through the bringing together of resources and serving of the victim survivors, and through the rebuilding of this fine city.
Grace and peace...