I live in the Ozarks of Arkansas, but my thoughts and prayers have been in Montana and Florida this week. Before that, they were in Texas and Louisiana. It feels like an aching song I cannot get out of my head. Can anyone identify?
I know, it’s grief.
I am familiar with the feeling. Always like something is broken. To fix it, I have to sit with Jesus. I must remind myself of who I am: blessed child of God, beloved friend of Christ.
I look at the computer and see an exodus from Florida, traffic on interstates going north and Irma following. My heart is heavy as I read the posts of people in those long lines. Hurricane Irma looks like a beast, approaching slowly. Probably set on creating chaos.
I feel relief that many are looking for safer places. Always, I want people safe. That—exactly that. I want them safe physically and spiritually.
When we identify with Jesus, we are safe and can face anything. Many can testify to this because of life experiences.
However, we may know this in our hearts and still grieve for those having such a tough walk, living in shelters, dealing with unknowns, longing for relief.
By praying with and for them, we interweave our lives with strangers. A good thing.
Mary Harwell Saylor, a woman who has lived through umpteen hurricanes, posted tips for After the Hurricane. They are excellent. Because I do not want to reinvent the wheel, I asked Mary for permission to repost her suggestions.
As a retired mental health counselor, I know that when any trauma hits, it helps to have a to-do list. Hurricanes are traumatic. The suggestions are below.
(If you know of anyone who has been affected by any of these storms and might benefit from the list, feel free to pass this blog on to Facebook or to individuals.) What else can we do? It’s a way to actively love our neighbor.
~ From Mary Harwell Saylor:
“Unlike most storms, hurricanes are not usually fast-moving. Some may make their presence known for days! Regardless of the length of time a storm hangs around, stay indoors until the wind subsides enough to be outside with no possibility of a sudden gust knocking you over or hurtling pine cones and debris at you like missiles. Some ABC’s for after a storm: • Assess any damages you’ve sustained. • Be careful of downed wires, standing water, and damaged dwellings. • Conserve bottled water, especially if told to boil tap water before using. • Dial your radio to local news for storm assessments of your area. • Encourage friends and family by letting them know how you are. • Find out what damages need documenting and reporting to utility and insurance companies. • Go help neighbors who have more than they can handle. • Have a meal in mind before quickly opening the frig or freezer. • If the threat of floods or storm surges caused you to evacuate, don’t go back until local authorities say it's okay. • Just remember: Nothing is impossible with God! Everything IS possible. • Keep on praying. • Let go of anger, worries, blame, and regrets by giving them to God. • Make today your focus. • Notice what you CAN do, then do it! • Observe the overall situation as realistically as possible. • Pray, listen, and arrange priorities according to God's priorities for you. • Quit thinking unhelpful thoughts such as “Why?” or “If only….” • Remain as low-key as you can around kids, but be truthful. • Sacrifice praise to God. • Thank God for every good thing that comes to your mind. • Understand this is trauma! Do unto yourself as you'd do unto others. • Verify each loss or damage with lists and photographs. • Work as you're able to improve conditions around you. • X each chore off your list to remind yourself that things do get better. • Yes! You will get through this, and maybe even help others too. • Zip valuables and paper in plastic before the storm begins. Someday this aftermath will end and new hopes and plans get started."
Think, think, think and stay safe. God bless you,
Photo by Marla O’Neill, in a line of traffic driving north toward Tallahassee, Florida, mid-afternoon, September 7, 2017.