Monday, May 27, 2013

Satan really sucks...

Satan really sucks but my God is a really great GOD!
(Pastor Clark)

On Friday, the lovely Holly from Oklahoma Pepplers wrote about where she was, what she remembered, what her day looked like on May 20th, 2013. 

I had kind of been wrestling about whether or not to post about the tornadoes that went through Moore, OK that day. Many of you have written about it and I didn't feel I had much to add. I did slip in a little snippet at the beginning of all my posts last week letting you all know we were okay and safe and ways you could help but I wasn't sure how much more I wanted to elaborate on that.

After reading Holly's story, I decided I did want write about that day. Thankfully, I do have my home, my workplace, my neighborhood grocery store, and all those I love but that doesn't mean the tornado did not affect my heart. It will forever be a part of my life's story.

Monday, May 20th, I was at work going on as usual. My coworkers and I had our weekly Monday morning  meeting and discussed the events of the previous day, Sunday tornadoes went through Shawnee and Carney and did some extensive damage, and how each of our families took shelter during that time. We talked about the sheer terror one might feel, and the sense of loss...and how we just couldn't imagine what that must look and feel like.

The rest of the day continued as normal, we worked on our projects, took lunch break and around 2:30 or so a rep came in to show us some new flooring, shortly into her presentation the tornado sirens went off, we looked at each other and jumped away from the table. I went to Kevin first, via gmail chat, and asked what was going on, while everyone else ran to the computers/phones to get some other information. The rep was greatly concerned, confused and didn't quite know what to do at this point. We had kind of abandoned her at the table.

Kevin told me there was a tornado and it was headed towards Moore. With this new information, one of my co-workers, who lives in Moore and who's children attend a daycare there, grabbed her purse and fled the office. 

We didn't know much at that time even still, we hadn't seen any news coverage and we were very much unaware of the danger she was driving into.

The rest of us pulled the news up onto the computers and couldn't believe what was coming and where our friend has just left toward. I sent her a text telling her to please be safe, that it was headed in her direction.

Our intern was stranded without her car and wanted to get her dog. Since she lived really close and storm was still far from Norman, we drove the 5 minutes to her house and got her sweet dog (Paisley's playmate, aka puppy besties) and made our way to OU's law school where we knew we could hang out in the basement (our office didn't have a basement).

I texted Kevin telling him where I was headed and asking him what he was going to do but wasn't receiving anything back from him.

We were safely in the building and sitting near some televisions which had no sound, only subtitles. Without the sound on, it felt easy to ignore, maybe not ignore but not really take seriously or pay attention closely. I'm not sure how to describe it exactly, I knew what I was seeing was live and real but for some reason it just wasn't sinking in. I wasn't feeling it and my mind was distracted about where Kevin was.

My phone wasn't connecting well in the basement but I managed to get a text out to some family members and told them I was safely in a basement but I still couldn't get a hold of Kevin, to assure them he was safe as well. I kept telling myself it was fine and he was fine. He was home, since he doesn't work on Mondays. He was home with our puppy and last I knew, didn't have a specific plan for where they were going to go. I called, I texted, I used gmail chat...and I was continuing to get no response. 

Our intern and I sat there with her fiance and puppy for probably an hour, just watching, talking, trying to understand the horrifying images on the screen, and talking myself into Kevin being fine but busy answering so many other's concerns (when you're a meteorologist you get a lot of questions when bad weather is near).

We saw the Moore Warren movie theater we attend regularly over and over again, surrounded by destruction yet still standing itself. That's when we felt how close it was. Too close to home. We recognized that place, and we knew it's surroundings well but the images on the screen showed nothing familiar apart from the theater still standing. 

Finally, I receive a text message, coming from Kevin's email... he told me his phone had no service but we did have internet at the home and he was "home now." Since I was unaware he wasn't home before I was surprised and somewhat frustrated but mostly thankful. Thankful he was safe, thankful Norman was safe. He let me know it was safe to go home.

This is the footage he got, not far from our home, but safely far from the tornado. You can hear Paisley howling along with the sirens (she does this regularly on Saturdays-they go off at noon every Saturday).

I left to see blue sky beginning to show again. I drove home and my cell phone also lost connection about halfway home and I didn't get it back again until late that night. I came home to Kevin and our friends just sitting and watching the news, the destruction, the hurt.

The schools. That's what they talked about most. It was beyond sad to hear, it was heart wrenching.

Without my phone connection I had no way to get a hold of anyone to find out if my coworker had in fact made it to her children safely. I had Kevin searching her address on google maps and trying to see if her home made it safely. A little while later I found on facebook that a friend had posted that she and her family, and even their home was safe. That's when relief really hit me. I felt better about it, about all of it, in that moment. (I found out the next day that her husband had thankfully managed to talk her into stopping in Norman before getting on the interstate. While he had managed to get their dogs and drive away in time to the safety of the daycare parking lot, where he watched the storm turn by but not hit.)

Eventually we had to turn it off. The news was never-ending, heart-breaking images and stories, and I was so tired of reporters asking people, sitting on the ruble of their homes, "how does this make you feel?" I felt like shouting, HOW WOULD YOU FEEL?! I couldn't take anymore.

This was Wednesday, it grew even more just come Thursday morning!
My church posted instantly that night that they were open as a shelter and accepting donations. Can I just say, I love my church? As if you hadn't already heard that enough from me already, or seen it here.

I packaged some food and clothing and blankets up the nest morning and Kevin took them up to our church.

Upon my arrival at work, I found most of my office sitting in our waiting room, long faces, just talking and being assured that everyone in our office were safe.

There wasn't a lot of work done that day. I mostly responded to emails from other professionals in our field asking if everyone was okay, answering facebook friends concerns, and posting like a crazy person about all the ways to help. And wishing just to be home with my husband and puppy, just to sit with them, hold them and be near them.

All day, every day this past week the news only covered the disaster of this tornado but something that has truly blow my heart away is the way my church was represented because of their immediate response. My church was one of the first places spoken about on the news as a donation and shelter. 

I can't begin to explain how amazing it feels to watch and be a part of your church responding in such an amazing, selfless and giving way. Our pastors rock! Our members rock!

 On Wednesday, Kevin and I were able to serve in the kids (for me) and on the media team (for Kevin) for the worship service Journey put on to give people an evening to worship and remember that God is still good and He is present and He still loves.

On Thursday, I was able to go in and help out at the church. I sorted donations, I organized trucks to be sent out with supplies and I welcomed more donations in. I watched people from the church, outside the church and those partnering with the church in every way helping, giving, being THE CHURCH.

If I truly wrote out everything I saw, everything I felt and everything I took in, this post would be incredibly long so I'll leave it to this: my heart is overwhelmed and I am so incredibly proud of my church! I've cried tears of sorrow and hurt, but also tears of joy and unbelief at the way people have responded here, at the way people are helping and giving and just the sheer selflessness exampled.

On Sunday we went to Journey for church as we would any other Sunday, ready to worship the God who gives life and blesses life, the God who cares for us, the God who has served us and the God that meets all our needs. Pastor Clark delivered an amazingly simple yet spot on message that truly encouraged my own heart and I just want to share pieces of it here. However, for those of you wondering, hurting and questioning about how or why God "allows" this hurt watch the message here (look for I heart this city message 4).
I've already shared this photo but as I was studying this morning I read it 
again and realized it is absolutely no coincidence that God put this verse on 
my heart none other than Monday morning! God will provide all the needs of all
 those hurting and in need through this traumatic tornado. He will supply ALL 
the needs! ALL of them! Not some, ALL! We serve an awesome God. 
He is good all the time, even in the moments we can't see it, understand it or feel it. 
He is moving, He is going, He is doing because He LOVES!

Many ask why, and I believe our pastor (and our small group friend put it this way as well) explained it best: we live in a fallen world, and a fallen world is sin and death. See God did not create this storm, he doesn't bring death, He brings LIFE and life abundantly and the devil destroys (John 10:10). God is faithful and good and He will bring us out of this hurt. He will use this hurt to work in your heart and the hearts of others. 

I'll trust God through all this because He has over and over again proven himself trustworthy, as I wrote about not too long ago, and because His promises are true and good. Proverbs 3:5-6 beckons us to trust beyond our understanding. I don't understand any of this hurt,pain, and destruction but I know God is at work. It's evident in the incredible display of people serving and giving this week at Journey (and everywhere), Acts 4:32 describes what Journey has been this past week and what it will continue to be as the months of rebuild take flight.

Finally, Pastor Clark shared 4 ways that our church, our people, will help in this tragedy, with the final way being rejoicing. Philippians 4:4 tells us to rejoice always! In the hurt and and in the joy, we rejoice because we know our God is there and He is caring for us.

God can do anything you know, far more than you can ever imagine, or guess, or request in your wildest dreams, He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us. Deeply and gently within us... Ephesians 3:20

From my facebook this week: So incredibly proud of the church home I serve here in Norman for all they've done already and will continue to do., you never cease to amaze me! My heart is completely overwhelmed and overjoyed to be a part of the amazing work you're doing for Christ.
Go and be the hands and feet friends!!!

Just so incredibly blow away by the outstanding giving of this community and other communities outside this state at ...the donations, the people, the worship tonight...just truly is mind blowing and heart filling. Absolutely so blessed and proud to be a part of such a giving, selfless church! Way to go Journey!
Just wanted to add how absolutely beautiful it is to see THE CHURCH as a whole band together...I know several Norman churches are here at Journey serving right along side each other...not separate churches but ONE!

You can find all about what Journey church is doing with the organization, HelpMooreRehuild, and how you can help HERE.

And this article written is wonderfully written about the spirit of Oklahomans and I really enjoyed it.

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  1. I couldn't stand listening to the news anymore about the school that were hit, it is so sad, and so scary. I lived through a natural disaster years ago, and I really think that you can't understand the terror and the hurt unless you have been close to one of those! And it truly is heartwarming to see how the church steps in a truly starts fulfilling the mission to which we were called in bad times like this. Glad to know you and your loved ones are all safe!

    And I wanted to say, your comments on my blog this morning gave me the biggest smile ever!! You're currently a "no-reply" blogger, whether purposely or not purposely, I don't know, but I wanted to say thank you so much for reading! You're a big encouragement to me!

  2. I am so glad you wrote and posted this. Being states away and never have experience a tornado or such devastation, it really helps give me some perspective. The verses you chose are perfect!

  3. glad you posted about this! i was evacuated last year in colorado springs when we had a forest fire come into our city! it took me awhile but i knew i needed to document my experience. it was part of my story and i will never forget it. this is part of yours! thanks for sharing your story with us!

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I know almost exactly how you feel, I live in Tuscaloosa Alabama and 2 years ago a mile-wide tornado destroy a huge portion of our city. It is amazing how experiencing a tragedy like that can truly change your life. I still think about it and am reminded of it almost daily, even though the rest of the world has forgotten. People who have never experienced a tornado of that magnitude cannot really understand what it is like. Thank you for sharing your perspective, you have set a great example. Sending lots of love and prayers from Alabama!

  5. Wonderful post, and thanks for sharing! I felt the same way you did, not sure I wanted to really share anything as the news becomes depressing and disheartening. I felt better after sharing my story though, knowing that I wasn't the only one out there feeling the same way. And, I think it is important to document the good times along with the bad as hard as it might be. I am still so thankful all my family and friends (including you, your husband, and your adorable dog) are safe and okay. And honestly, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for sharing so much about your church and your faith it inspires me every single day!

  6. So scary, I can't even imagine. We had a tornado back home once and I remember trying to get ahold of Joe (fiance at the time) and I was an absolute WRECK! It was the worst feeling glad you're safe!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing! I'm so glad that you pointed out that the devil is the one to blame for these types of things happening! Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a bright future and a hope!" We serve a good God, no matter what! He would never hurt us! My prayer is that more people learn to understand this concept!

    I pray that the Lord would bless those affected by this storm and that He would heal the hearts of everyone in Oklahoma!

  8. i read this post and oh my goodness i am so thankful that you and kevin are safe! thank goodness your coworker who left to get her kid is safe and also the intern and her puppy. what a scary situation and even in the darkest times, God's providence and love always shines through! thank you for letting us know how we can help those affected by the tornados last week

  9. omg this looks so scary. I am so glad you are ok as you know.


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