Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Recognizing That I Recognize

Where do I begin? I never knew how close Ike could be to us Hoosiers. I live in southern Indiana and boy in all my life I've never seen the effects of a hurricane so close and so devastating in this area. It is not typical to feel a hurricane in Indiana but Ike sure has had its day with us.

What began as a Sunday afternoon planned with activities with family and nieces turned to days of very unexpected devastation and adjustment. Even as we finished our church service in the dark I thought nothing of it. We had emergencies lights so we could partake of the Lord's supper, give our offering, sing our praises, and all is well that ends well. We proceeded through town and everything was fine. Our lunch destination of Pizza Hut had been planned, grandma had been invited, and major cravings stirring for their special--salad bar, drink, and personal-size pizza. We met, we sat, we laughed, we drank, we ate. We ate salad. Our pizza never came because Ike came full force. Sunday at 12:30 was only the beginning. As we sat in Pizza Hut and watched shingles fly from the CVS roof, my anxiety began. "Oh Lord, my house is for sale, I cannot endure any damage, even lost shingles, on my house."

We only feared at this time that all electricity was gone at our houses. Instead of enjoying a day at my mom's, looking at reunion pictures online, chatting with the little ones, and maybe catching a family movie on tv, my gramma decided to head home. As I entertained my nieces in my mom's house, several times, I heard my mom yell for us to come here. The first time was for the swing that tipped over but the second...oh my. The second was for the tree that split in half and landed on the patio with only the top leaves and branches grazing the house. Then the work began. Even with 70 mile an hour winds, we were out there cutting the tree and dragging it to the street for eventual pick up.

The day lingered as we tried to entertain two little ones (5 and 7) with no electricity and not much non-cooking food.

All Sunday I felt such worry and heaviness in my heart. I pleaded with the Lord asking Him to please favor me and spare me any damage to my house or property since it is for sale. I have nine large trees in my yard and my property borders a small forest. I envisioned one of those trees in my garage, on my roof, through a window, damaging my house or deck. I feared the shingles of my 14 year old home gone. What would I do? Who would hurridly help me? Could I get anyone to fix the shingles, or repair the roof. Having one's house on the market is very stressful. It must always be in tip-top shape.

On my way home, the lines into about three (out of ten) fast food joints were unbelievable. Probably 25 cars and an hour wait in each. Again, I thought of my fridge and cupboards barely coveting anything not requiring cooking. I arrived home about 8:30 just as dusk was approaching. I went around back. "Oh, praise you, Jesus, I see no trees down and no major damage."

May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. Psalm 20:1

Again, I was fretting about my whine down time. I have trouble falling asleep and I wondered how I would fare with no tv to aid my drowsiness, no fan to quiet my soul as I fell into bed, and no A/C to cool my body. I could do this though. I gathered my Bible and my Bible study book. I nestled onto the couch after opening all the windows upstairs only (safety you know). With my lantern beside me, and my books in hand, I had the most precious time with the Lord. I even began to be a little chilly and grabbed for the couch blanket. Reflecting back it was a very surreal moment. I was able to get drowsy at a decent time. I didn't have my fan to quiet my soul into sleep but I had some crickets and nature outside my window. I did not have my air conditioner but I had the very unusually cool night breeze.

...put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17b

I woke around 9:00 Monday morning. "Oh, praise you, Jesus. What provider You are. I survived and slept better than I had ever dreamed I could without electricity." God surely blessed me in this night. Another day without electricity and it was reported by the electric company it would still be 3-4 days more. Whatever would I do. How bad is this going to be. Our little town was reported to be one of the four hardest hit in our area according to the power source.

My workplace was closed so I got dressed and made my way to my mom's to visit with my girls. I thought I'd stop at one of the fast food joints that had been open Sunday night but boy was I surprised when I drove down the strip. Nothing was open. The ones previously opened were not but another that was previously closed was now open. I read the Bible as I waited in the drive-thru of Wendy's to get my chicken sandwich.

Again, I tried to have a lazy day with my nieces, not focusing on my own house. I should have been home picking up limbs and branches but thought time would be better spent with the girls since they would be heading home Monday night. Though most fast food chains were closed, the department stores were open. Okay. Say what? Strange but okay.

Early that evening I made my way to Wal-mart to get some non-cooking food. Bread for pbj sandwiches, chips, nuts, fruit. As I saw all the people passing me with their cold items--milk, meat, frozen items--I felt my spirit grunt. How dare them be in the store gloating by buying perishable items and making it known they had electricity. I continued with a bad spirit getting my necessities to survive. I drove all over town for water and batteries never to find batteries.

I arrived home about 6 pm...dreading how I'll spend the time in silence, no heatable food, no air condition, no lights, no tv for crying out loud. I did not bother with the garage door but entered through the side. As I entered, I saw the red lights on my phone and answering machine. My eyes immediately went to the microwave to find the two dots blinking. I whispered to myself "do I have electricity?" I flipped on the light switch to see my lights appear. I pushed my garage door button to see my door open. I stood in awe. How could this be? It's suppose to be days. I had already called work and told them to cancel the interviews I had for Tuesday because I would not be there without electricity at my house.

I unloaded my non-cooking food and ventured out to see the damage out side. It was more limbs, twigs, branches than I had originally thought. But, as I was squatting in the front flower bed, I whispered "Why Lord? Why have you blessed me so much, in so many ways?" I just kept saying over and over "Why Lord, Why?" I said this in my heart with the upmost respect and appreciation. I was in awe of why He would do this for me. I'm sure there are households with children without power and necessities. It was reported there were more power outages from this storm than the MASSIVE tornado we had in 1974.

Oh how I praised my Jesus and I'm still praising Him. My mom is still without electricity. My supervisor is without electricity. There are many without electricity and it is reported some could be without power until this Saturday. We have also been under a boil water advisory which can be impossible if there is no electricity. Thank God for gas grills as many are using them to boil and cook. My place of employment has not been without power during this disaster. I use the word disaster lightly because I know this is NOTHING compared to those in the southern states of Florida, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana. But it is a disaster for this area.

I still find myself speechless and in awe of God. I know that He has chosen me and done this for me for a reason. I do not share any of this to belittle the grave, grave devastation that others are experiencing. Rather, I must recognize that I recognize Christ in the midst of this storm. I believe God's presence in this physical storm has been a tool to reassure me of His presence in my emotional and personal storm.

I feel what the Lord has done in the many blessings of this storm has been a personal moment for Him and me. It was like in the midst of all these circumstances, He wanted to pile up these handful of blessings and say "this is for you, my sweet one. I AM here." It has been such a blessing that I truly cannot describe it adequately in words. He has blessed my socks off, for sure. He has reassured me that He IS working in my life and in the storms of my life. In recent days and weeks I have cried out to the Lord asking Him where He is at, why He's not working, why this, why that, wondering if He's forgotten me or just not "doing" anything about my cries to Him. The blessings of this physical storm have nothing to do with my personal storms yet they serve as a HUGE reminder of my God speaking to me and providing such reassurance of His presence.

He IS my air conditioner.
He IS my fan.
He IS my entertainment.
He IS my shelter.
He IS my food.
He IS my sleep.

He provided all these things in His way. An air conditioner through His cool nights. A noisy fan through His nature. A shelter from massive property damage. Sleep for a sleepless girl. Warm food through a grill instead of an oven.

I don't know if this will bring much encouragement to any of you. I know this is already long but you know that in my posts I want them to be about God and to be about YOU...touching you in some way to enrich your life, strengthen your walk, encourage your heart, or enlighten your mind. This is a ministry for me...to write from my heart what the Lord speaks to me. I want to be a vessel that God uses for YOU.

So, in this post it will be up to God to move each of you accordingly. I have only been led to sing His praises. I could not let this experience pass without recognizing that I recognize HIM in this physical storm. I don't know if you are experiencing the affects of Ike or any future storms, but I pray you feel His presence. Even if you do not have electricity or cool nights or cookable food, I pray you still SEE Him.

These past few days I have not been able to stop thinking about folks who have or are enduring much more devastation closer to the eye of the storms. I cannot imagine what it must be like to lose a home in a storm. I cannot imagine what it must be like to not have a bank to retrieve money. I cannot imagine what it must be like to have no clothes or possessions. I cannot imagine what it must be like to not find food or water. I cannot imagine what it must be like to not see an end to the devastations in days but rather weeks and months.

I pray the Lord's blessing on each of you whether you are weathering a storm physically, emotionally, or spiritually. These physical storms are also a reminder of the spiritual storms that are always brewing. We are always one step close to a spiritual battle. May we recognize this and have on our armor.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:13

Recognizing Him In It All,




























18 comments:

Jenn @ Casa de Castro said...

God is good... ALL the time! He is our Jehovah Jireh, our Provider.

Here is Texas, the devastation from Ike has been unbelievable. I never dreamed that we would be preparing for hurricane force winds in DALLAS, but I can imagine it was even more strange in Indiana. We, too, were spared and are so very grateful to God.

My husband grew up in deep south Texas at South Padre Island, and he has seen his share of hurricanes and tropical storms. His family (father, stepmother, brother, sister-in-law and many aunts and uncles) are all still there, and they just came through Hurricane Dolly and the outer edges of Gustav. How we praise the Lord for His protection of them!

Thanks for such a heartfelt post and reminding me to give thanks again to our great God.

skoots1mom said...

so glad and thankful you're ok...good post, as always!
to god be the glory....

Laura said...

Wow, Paula. I had no idea you were hit so hard over there! It surly was a big one. We had some winds, up to 40mph, I think, but that's nothing compared to 70! I'm so glad everything is ok. He is so good. It sounds like He really drew you near in the midst of the storm. Hmmmm. He's pretty good at doing that, isn't He?
Thanks for your sweet comments about my love story today. Of course, there is a lot more to it, but those are the bare bones. And you are so right: our greatest romance is with our Prince!
Love to you,
Laura

Tracy said...

Praising God right along with you! So grateful you're alright and truly joyous that you sustained no damage. We too had some significant impact from the storm, but personally had very little damage. It truly is amazing when you're without power and all those blessings you normally have, you find He is really all we need...

Thankful,
Tracy

Edge of Design said...

I find your post interesting that it follows the Haves and the Have Nots of the post before it. I'm glad you're alright.

From the Heart said...

A beautiful testimony of God's love. It reminds me of Psalm 91.
Because you have dwelt in the secret place of the Most High you were under the shadow of the Almighty. He was your refuge and your fortress and you placed your trust in Him. Verses 9-11 explain even further why God was so good to you. You have certainly received His favor. What a blessing to you and an encouragment to all of us to continue to place our trust in Him.
I'm so glad you and your family were safe.
Blessings,
AliceE.

Amy said...

Matthew 7:24-27
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.

The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

I just referred to these verses on Lynn's blog (in a different context), but what you shared here today reminded me of them once again.

The physical and emotional storms that we all go through from time to time in this life are inevitable. The only way to survive and thrive through any of them, is to have a firm foundation.

I'm so glad that you recognize yours. He has definitely blessed you through this storm, and then you, in turn, have blessed others. Sharing your faith through this storm will encourage so many who are now or will be going through their own.

You're a blessing, Paula!

Much love,
Amy:)

P.S. Glad the pictures worked.;)

Jill said...

Paula, Thank you for your comment on my post and never apologize for the length, it was all something I needed to hear. As I read about the storms taking place in your life and think about those in my own I was reminded of a poem I wrote a few years back. Reason for the Storm, check it out if you like. (http://titus24u.blogspot.com/2008/07/reason-for-storm.html) Anyway He has a reason for it all, like you said not always what we expect or even hope for, but we have to trust. Praying you will continue trusting as the journey moves on - rain or shine!! Blessings, Jill

Lelia Chealey said...

So glad you are safe my dear friend and your home too!!!
Wow. We had a tornado about 15 minutes away from here a few years ago that was horrible, but that's the closest I've come to natural disaster.
Keep safe and I love how you realized that He was/is your provider for EVERYTHING! He is so awesome!!!
Love,
Lelia

Tonja said...

I am sure that Our Father is so pleased by your recognition of His grace and mercy! He blesses us so richly and must feel so sad when we neglect to even say 'thank-you'.
So happy all is well with you!

annette said...

My cousins in Anderson, IN had a visit from Ike.

Life is returning to normal in my area. But 30 minutes south of me all the way to the coast is a different story. My heart aches for the people who are displaced and wonder if they still have a home.

I am so glad your home was not damaged.

Regina said...

I'm glad that you are safe. Thank you for sharing how good He is.

Jenn @ Casa de Castro said...

C'mon over to my place, Paula, and play along if you'd like. :)

Have a great weekend!

Joyfulsister said...

Hi Paula,
Praying all is well after all that has happenend with Ike. God is all that we need even in times of stormy weather. Psalms 91 came to my mind as well when reading your post.

Hugz Lorie

Mari said...

Paula:

This post is one of the reasons I love your blog. I am glad God spared your house major damage. Also glad you are safe and still recognizing His Hand in every circumstance. Thank you so much for the wonderful insight.

Also stop by my blog when you have a chance. Today's post has a surprise for you!

valerie said...

This post was a blessing.
Just today my mom was telling me about my aunt, uncle & cousin in Ohio who were also w/out electricity because of Ike. I had no idea it affected you all up in that area. I haven't watched much news this week and every time I did turn it on it seemed like it was all politics.
I am thankful that God provided for you in each area you mentioned.
He's just so good like that.
We had a very bad ice storm in OK this past Jan. and we were w/out electricity for a week! Our home has some gas so we made it ok....but I was ready for it to come on!
I'll be praying about your house selling.
Happy Fall!
Love,
Valerie

Sharon said...

Paula,
I am so happy that your home did not have any damage, but I am sorry for your mom. I hope she gets things back and fixed really soon!! Living here in Florida it is beautiful, alittle hot at times but beautiful, but when summer begins, I feel the fear, the fear of what is going to happen to people, like new orleans and now Texas. Brad and I pray and we ask it to turn, but I also ask for it to fizzle out, just like the storms in my life, I don't want it to turn I want it to go away, I don't want others to be affected as well.
Sometimes we have to run away from all the Crazyness thats around us to avoid the storm(s), ask God and he will lead us away from all of this. I know he never leaves us nor forsakes us. Ask and it shall be given!!! Amennnn
Paula You knew when you wrote this that there are some going through storms like this, and yessssss I am one of them, But you have reminded me, inspired me and lifted me on this post and I Thank you for this.
Awesome post!!
God Bless you my sister, and your family!!
Sharon

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