Disclaimer: This is not really an organized blog post… more of an expression of my thoughts as I reflect on Hurricane Michael :).
Hurricane Michael hit my home town on October 10, 2018.
Bay County had little notice and little preparation. This hurricane is the worst the Panhandle has seen and has caused the most square footage of devastation in national history. I had no electricity and no water for 10 days before I left to go to Dothan. That’s no AC, no sink water to wash your hands, no showers, no news, no service (thanks verizon), no way of communicating with any of my loved ones. The devastation can make spending time outside miserable. We are now 4 weeks behind in school. That’s a month of my senior year I will never get back.
A month of no school, no soccer, no dance, no church, no job… no normalcy… yet, I can’t help but feel thankful that I am a part of it.
I was able to spend a month (and counting) with my grandparents that I normally only see once a week, and a couple weeks with my cousins all in the same house. I have been able to experience the community in ways I have never before… thanks to social media and netflix. I have experienced what it feels like to see someone whom I love for the first time after not knowing the condition he or his family was in… after not knowing if he was alive or not. The first time I saw my house after evacuating (2 days after the storm), one of my best friends who lives in Tallahassee was standing at the front door. My other friend who had only been to my grandparents house once found her way to their house and came to see if I was okay.
I have experienced what it is like to be on the other side- the side in need.
I now know what it is like to see the electrical workers come from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and other states. I know what it’s like to not hesitate to get free food from mission teams from around the nation. My church held service in our parking garage for 3 weeks because there was damage in the sanctuary. I have seen people come together and pray over each other. I have seen people who have minimal damage desperate to help others in need. I have seen strangers become friends.
Bay County is forever changed. And it will take years to be normal again- to have no debris on the side of the road, to get used to the snapped trees everywhere, to get flooring, walls and ceilings back in my house, to recover from this chaos.
School has started back now. Soccer and dance have both started back. Everyone has grown closer and fonder of everyone. We have been through something together that not many others can relate to. And I am happy to be a part of it. Life is changed. But if I have learned anything, which I have and there will be another blog post soon about that ;), it is that, not if, but when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Life is filled with the unexpected. I went from worrying about college essays and application processes to wondering if within the next hour my home would be gone. I wondered if we would have food for breakfast in the morning and when the next time I could have a real shower would be. Events are inevitable- it is your response that matters.
I had to give my uncle a ride to my grandparents house one day and he got in the car and immediately radiates positivism. His house is destroyed. There was a tree through it that ruined the structure. He had his moments of uncertainty, panic and fear. But when he got into my car he started talking about how you can’t let these types of things get a hold of you and steal your hope and joy. Our strength is found in God, who is so much bigger than Hurricane Michael, so much stronger. This storm has shown me God in more ways than I can express. The feelings of peace. The life lessons. The spiritual growth. If I had never been a part of this storm, God couldn’t have used it to make me better. Thank you Lord, for using this to shout your praises louder than the freight train winds that were just outside my window. Thank you Lord, for making the church family closer than ever before. Thank you Lord for he opportunity to share the many lessons you have taught me.
Pray for Bay County. Pray for my friends, my family, and my community. Pray that God restores Bay County and lifts it up stronger and closer together than ever before.
First Baptist church has a motto that we repeated throughout the aftermath of Michael. “God is faithful all the time and all the time, God is faithful.” One of my favorite Hymns says this:
“Great is Thy faithfulness
Great is Thy faithfulness
Morning by morning new mercies I see
And all I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy faithfulness
Lord unto me”
What a beautiful and perfect song for our current circumstance. Great are the blessings poured out during this time. Great are the mercies in the morning. Great is the provision of God during this time. Great is the Lord. And great is His faithfulness.