Thursday, April 28, 2011

Intelligence insulted

I don't know quite how to express what all is inside of me. To begin with, I am a very blessed woman. Not only did my family make it through the storms without even a scratch, we have no material loss.
As the storm neared our county, I began to choose some of the few pictures and other personal items that I wanted to keep with us in our "safe place." The number of these items was fewer than 10. One was the painting Susan Meyer completed at the request of my husband. This was my Christmas gift from him just 4 months ago. The painting contains Habakkuk 3:18-19 and is contained in a frame built by my father. This item -- worth more in my eyes than any Monet or Picasso piece on the planet. A couple of family pictures and pottery containing the boys' handprints. I had watched the storm as it traveled through Mississippi and Tuscaloosa. I knew that this was something beyond what I could ever imagine. We lost power and in the basement, I attempted to entertain 3 energetic boys with a game of Yahtzee. Stephen monitored the weather more closely than I have ever seen him. He is not one to panic and usually pays no attention to the weather. This is proven by the numerous times he has traveled during the day from one store to another oblivious to the tornado warnings that project major storms along his expected route. Knowing he was on the watch, I drifted off to sleep, thinking about how grateful I was for our basement and the safety it provided for my 3 precious little ones.
Then, I awoke on Thursday morning. As I began to attempt to grasp what had happened, I chose to listen to a press conference including our governor. Might I say, he did a magnificent job handling some of the most insensitive questions posed by some of the press. After a lengthy explanation by some official, I'm guessing they must be affiliated with EMA, all who were listening SHOULD have been aware of the devestation that is covering our state. The particular official did a magnificent job, with great care and sensitivity to let people know what had happened over the previous 24 hours. Then the time came for questions via phone from members of the press. My blood pressure probably increased to stroke level upon hearing these questions. One individual was from the Washington Post, and I hope I never meet him. He implied that maybe the loss of life was due to the ignorance of citizens or the inadequacy of the officials, meterologists, telvision stations, etc. Sir, might I say...just as you would not blame a hurricane on citizens along a coastal region, just as you would not blame an earthquake on the residents along a major fault line, you must be careful here. The loss of life and property is not for lack of intelligence or preparedness. I think James Spann said it well yesterday as he watched the tornado approach Tuscaloosa. He commented that all you can do is "pray for those people." One of the best and most intelligent men in weather forecasting admitted that there was nothing that could be done. Yes, you can go to your safe place. Yes, you can practice all you know about severe weather preparedness. However, when it comes to something of this magnitude, there is not a whole lot humans can do. If I could speak with this individual I would like for him to experience a little of our Southern culture. In some regions of the world, children by the age of 5 can explain to you what would need to be done in the event of an earthquake. In the deep south, our children by the age of 5 can probably tell you exactly how to prepare in the event of a severe storm or tornado threat. My friends from outside the southeast, it is not that we did not know nor did we ignore the warnings. Ignorance is not the reason for this. This was a natural disaster. Only the Creator of this universe could have stopped this. Please have a little more sensitivity. People are frantically searching for loved ones. Some are sifting through the splintered remains to salvage what little they can. You see, Mr. Reporter, as you sleep comfortably in your bed tonight, I sleep comfortably at my dad's house. You see I have no water right now. However, there are others who are experiencing grief and devestation unlike your or I have never experienced. So, to answer your question. No. We didn't ignore things, we were not unprepared, we are not dumb and stupid as you might like to think. We ARE heartbroken, devestated, but Alabamians will rally together to help our neighbors in need.
Now, I have that out of the way. Questions are swirling around in my head. There are so many thoughts jumping around that I feel as if my brain will just explode at any time.
Why me? Why is my family safe? Why did I not suffer material loss? The only answer I can find is that God did not see fit for my family to walk through that trial at this time. I do know that my heart is breaking for those, most of whom I've never met, that have suffered great tragedy and heartache in the past 48 hours. I pray that God will pour out His mercy and send His people - including me- to where they are needed.
Entire cities have been leveled. Watching footage of the destruction amazes me. The news crew just equated what happened yesterday to having 2 hurricanes ravage our state in a short amount of time. Don't know about you, but that just makes my bones shiver just a bit. I saw several posts on facebook that encouraged people to just be safe and not worry. Yes, God does tell us not to fear, but I couldn't help but feel a knot in the pit of my stomach as I watched the tornado move through Tuscaloosa and on toward Birmingham. It just grieved my heart to know that some people were in that path, in the safest place they could find, but it would still not be enough. When dealing with an F-5 tornado, 1 mile wide tracking 200+ miles....there's not much we as humans can do. Yes, I tried not to worry, but I think God does burden our hearts for certain things. I think some people might have hit a panic state that was not healthy, but I do believe that many were burdened for those that would be left to pick up pieces and travel along a road that could be rough and lonely to reach emotional healing after this.
What can I take from this?
I teach Science and that makes me take a special interest in natural disasters. Over the past 10 years, I pay extra attention to disasters around the world. From flooding in Nashville, to earthquakes in Haiti, I never fail to get totally and completely wrapped up in these situations. God has a reason for everything. I don't know His reason for the Haiti earthquake, the flooding in Nashville, Hurricane Katrina, or the tornadic activity in Alabama. I do know this...He was God before all of these things and He is still on His throne throughout these events.
I've heard people say that maybe Haitians deserved the earthquake. The argument behind that for some people is due to the amount of witchcraft and other practices directly opposed to God's word. I'm not quite sure if this is the truth. I may never know. I do know one thing. God does love the people of Haiti. He has a plan and has never lost control of this situation.
After Hurricane Katrina, many people were blamed for the disastrous results and the loss of life. Again, I don't know God's purpose with this. Tragic, heartbreaking, devestating. Yet, He was in control the entire time and still is in control.
April 27, birthday. Yet, I won't remember it as a birthday. I will remember it as a time that our state was hit with one of the worst tornado outbreaks in history. What is the reason? Yet, one more time I'm without an answer. Who is in control? I have an answer for that. God. The same God who was in control the day before, on April 26th, is still in control on April 28th as citizens sift through to salvage belongings and begin healing. We will not always know God's purpose, but we can always know that He will restore His people. I can't help but think that His heart must ache for the church to rise and show His love. I have seen that today. People searching for places to help. Strangers arriving in communities just because they want to donate their time or resources.
I was listening to Travis Cottrell singing "My Inheritance" this evening.
I will shout, I will sing, Jesus You're my everything.
I am rich, I am blessed...
In Psalm, the Father tells us, "be still and know that I am God."  Still is not easy for me. I'm waiting. I know He has something for me to do over the next few days. I know that if I jump ahead of Him, I'll mess it up. If I wait for His leadership, I will be allowed to bless someone else. I'll be able to show His love.
I am rich, I am blessed....not because I retained my material posessions, but because I am a daughter of the King. Not force of nature can ever take that from me.
The most encouraging thing I heard today occurred while I was listening to our local radio station that is an affiliate of Moody broadcasting 90.7, WGRW Grace radio. At 7:30, I heard Jon Holder express his thoughts on the events and hear his heart that seemed to pour out a message of grace and hope straight from the Father. Then, later in the afternoon, I had the opportunity to listen to an individual from Moody broadcasting outside of the south. He was speaking with a gentleman from Alabama affiliated with MBN stations here in our state. The concern from the Christian community was so sincere. You could hear the sincerity in their voice. Repeatedly asking, "How can we pray specifically for those involved in this tragedy?" Begging to know how they could help. I couldn't help but reflect back on the individual from the Washington Post. The secular media compared to this precious man of God. Insults and attempts to blame individuals from one media source. Prayer, concern, and compassion from another media source. Once again, I am thanking God for His children who are in tune with His heart as they minister to others. May I remember this attitude and where my heart needs to be.

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