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Aug 12 2013

Lessons in the Midst of the Storms

image found on Spirit FM’s Facebook Page

Last week was a week filled with severe rains, storms, and major flooding in the Central MO areas in which we live. The image you see above was taken less than six miles from our house. This is Interstate Highway 44 that goes from St. Louis through to Springfield MO. It is real. Hundreds of homes were severely damaged or lost. Major roads were covered for days at a time and some sections of smaller highways collapsed…including the small highway that leads down the hill into our little town…population 470.

I our own little town there was damage as well. What is normally a small creek broke its banks and became a raging river with trees and other brush rushing through it down Main Street and First Street in our town. Our pastor’s home was in the midst of the raging river as it rose to the second step in the stairs that lead up to their screened in front porch. They were evacuated, along with many others, to safety at 4:30am on Tuesday morning. Bro. Don is physically handicapped and it was a struggle for them to get out of their home and they are so grateful for the volunteer fire fighters and emergency personnel that assisted them in leaving their home and our town to safe high lands.

Our town did sustain damage, but not as much as some of the neighboring towns…bridges are out, schools are damaged, hundreds are out of their homes and so many, many crops were lost. As far as everyone can tell only three lost their lives in the flooding.

Where were we in the midst of all of this?

I have never been more grateful for living high on the hill we live on as I was last week. In the winter time getting in and out of our Ozark hills home isn’t easy…and I stock up on supplies so that we don’t have to attempt it. I remember when we moved in here three years ago. I looked at Will and said, now this is a hill! He grinned at me and said that is for sure.

We have had much to enjoy about living up on the hill as folks refer to it here in town. The view from our kitchen window above our sink is incredible.

But this past week, I have never been more grateful for our home and where it is.

Every day we were inundated with weather reports– storm warning, flood warnings, notices that roads were closed or bridges washed out. Many of the severe storms and heavy rains hit in the middle of the night which made things interesting.

Living through this time of floods and storms we have learned much and have even more to praise God for…in the midst of the storms.

We have been amazed at how community after community has come together to help one another out.

We are amazed at how little complaining was heard…the focus of conversations was more on “Have you been hit by the flooding?” or How can I help?”.

Every where you turn there are people thankful for what they have and pitching in to help those in need.

I have learned so many lessons in the midst of the storms…

God didn’t put us on this earth to “go it alone”.  I have never been more grateful for my church family and the way everyone called on each other to make sure folks were OK or to see if they needed a hand or a home to go to. We were even blessed to have the opportunity to reach out to a dear lady who works at our local Post Office and lives near Main Street. The boys and I made sure she knew that she had a place to go if she needed to get out of her apartment to safety. I had the blessing of talking with our boys and helping them see how God has given us the ability to offer a safe haven for someone like her by giving us a guest room she can stay in and allow us to encourage her and minister to her.

God filled me with courage this past week. Before last year’s accident, I used to really struggle with doing something like that. My social anxiety made it so very difficult to open our home to someone I didn’t know very well. Our home is my safe haven from the world and I tended to hide away here often…but through the accident last summer and having to have MANY aides, nurses, and new church friends in our home to help us during the first few months of physically recovering from our injuries, God helped me to release my fears and insecurities in this area.

Now instead of being paranoid about our home not being “perfectly clean” when someone stops in, I am more likely to welcome them in and not worry about being judged and feel much less anxious. Will and I were very private people who were just starting to feel more comfortable opening our home to people to come in…he was so much better at it than I was. I had old fears and insecurities of being judged by the simple furnishings, simple meals or the clutter that happens when you homeschool two very active boys and life happens here 24/7.

I realized that this past week I didn’t even hesitate to welcome her in to stay with us if she needed to. She was blessed and her home didn’t flood but she told us how much it meant to know she had a place in town to go to if she needed it.

I learned many other lessons too.

I learned to let go of my own plans for the schedule of homeschooling during our first week of school and instead, relax and do the best we could as the nervous energy and level of distraction from the boys and me made it impossible to concentrate and stay on task most days. Instead we would stop and pray for the people going through the flooding. We made calls to check on people. I shared articles with them and pictures of what was happening as I found them on-line and we stopped and prayed many, many times for the people who were suffering in the midst of the floods.

I learned to ask God for help waking up every few hours at night to check on the weather and make sure our home was OK and the boys were OK. This is something I really struggle to do. Will was our night owl and he was our night and weather watchman. He took such great care of us and wanted me to get my sleep so that I could be ready to face handling the day watch with the boys. I remembered what he would do and took up where he left off…and I learned to lean on God to get through the days with very little sleep. Not an easy thing for me.

I learned that our children are so much more aware of things than we think they are and need a lot of reassurance that they will be OK. And I learned that taking the time to hold them close, pray with them, listen to their concerns, and help them understand what is happening is so much more important than any goals we might have had for the day.

The boys were deep into their new library books from the moment we got home…

I learned to overcome my fears of leaving our house during these times and venture out when I heard the roads were clear of water to get to the store in the nearest flood free town and even take the boys to McDonald’s so that they could run off their energy at the Playland while I found time to work on blogging and writing for a few hours one afternoon later in the week after taking them to our favorite library to pick out books for the next week to take with us. Even this trip brought up the library and the main town that was flooded sustained serious damage and we were able to stop and pray for them and pray that they would have the people, money and help they need to start over. It was a library that our family used to go to with Will last summer so it hit close to our hearts.

I learned that after what we went through last summer with the accident and seeing so much evidence of God’s faithfulness during that horrific time in our lives that God is always faithful and is with us and each person going through the flood waters here. I took myself to the Psalms for comfort and direction.

Where is God in the midst of the storms?

He is right with us through every single step.

This past week offered us so many opportunities to talk as a family about God’s promises…especially when questions came from Michael, our five-year old, wondering why it was flooding when God promised not to do that after the flood with Noah. I was able to minister to him and talk about how God promises not to flood and destroy the entire earth with flood waters again but the promise he makes to us when we face flood waters in our lives is that He will always be with us through them. He will never leave us or forsake us. And we were able to turn to the passages in God’s Word that talk about that.

Michael even asked me a big question today on our way home from the Post Office in the car…He wanted to know if the flooding was a consequence for our sin.

Josh jumped in on that one before I could. He told him that the flood in Noah’s time was because of all of the people in the world turning from him. But again, God promised never to do that again. Josh also asked him if he sinned today. Michael said yes. And Josh reminded him that as people we tend to sin every day and if flooding was a consequence for people sinning there would never be a day without it. Wow. Michael wanted me to tell him whether or not that was true and I asked him if it made sense…he agreed that it did. I told him that God isn’t punishing people with the flooding. It is a part of what is happening with nature right now. We never know what will happen. We talked about snow storms of the past and the drought of last summer. And I took the opportunity to remind him that no matter what we face in life God is with us through it and will help us…because He loves us that much.

Michael said…”because God will either rescue people and have them stay on earth or rescue them to heaven to be with him just like in our family last summer right?” Sigh…”Yes, Michael. That is exactly right.” God never leaves us or expects us to get through these things on our own and however He sees best to help us will be the best way…sometimes we may not understand it right away but He knows the way so we can trust Him to lead us.

He was satisfied.

God is at work. I am so awed at how God is teaching and ministering to and through both of my guys through this difficult time!

After going through the week of severe rains, over 15 inches total, flooding and storms, I dropped from exhaustion each night over the weekend once it was safe to sleep all night. And I was so blessed that God gave me the peace to do that.

I realized how much healing God has done in me and how much easier it is for me to immediately trust Him with our lives and everything now than it used to be. I was so blessed to be there for people who were hurting, who needed someone to listen, pray for them or encourage them…and through it all I was able to gently remind them that God hasn’t left any of us alone in the midst of the storm…He is right here with us…He is right with you…guiding you through it and carrying you through the high waters.

Whether our storms are the flooding we experienced this past week or emotional, relationship, loss of a loved one or financial storms that we face in life…no matter how hard it is to see how God can carry us through…He is with us. He is with YOU. He is still in control. He still loves us. And He is always faithful.

May God bless you in the midst of the storms in your life with His peace and help you to always hold onto the hope that comes from Him alone.

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By His Grace,

 

Mary Joy

 

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About the author

Mary Joy

I am a broken daughter of God and a work in progress. I am passionate about encouraging women to embrace God's grace and faithfulness as I discover and share His faithfulness, grace and even joy in the messiness of my journey as a widowed (less than 2 yrs), homeschooling mom with a missionary's heart. I am in awe of how God fills me up and carries me through each day. My Heavenly Father leads me as I continue to parent and home school my two recovering and very active boys and encourage my beautiful teenage step-daughter (long distance) during her first year in of college. In every moment I see incredible evidence of God's healing love, grace and faithfulness. I am so blessed to be the creator, manager, and an author of Unwrapping His Grace as I lean on my Savior to lead us in this special web-ministry.

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