If it Weren’t for the Hard

Hello all, ALOT can happen in a month. Sometimes good. Sometimes bad… May 6th will be a day we remember for a long time. The day an Ef4 tornado tore through the lives and town of our neighbors and many friends. We spent an hour that night in the storm shelter with our kids and grandkids. Hiding. Wondering. A little fearful. But safe. I heard for a brief second the sound like a freight train as we ducked into the shelter. From previous experience back in Indiana when I was a child, I knew that wasn’t a good thing. We still had phones and wifi for a while and so we were checking on various friends in town. Then it got very, very quiet outside… and then …all hell broke loose, at least that’s what it sounded like. The rain poured, hail, thunder, lightning strikes, wind tearing and howling. After a while it got very quiet again. By that time the kids’ phones had quit. I still had a bit of data left and so we were still able to communicate a little longer with our son, who was safe in nearby Ochelata, and keeping us apprised. A tornado had hit Barnsdall and was heading for Bartlesville. 

Giving it a little more time, we finally opened the shelter and peeked out. The first thing we noticed was that the house was still standing. Relief. The second was that it was dark; electrical was out (and would be for 15+ hrs). And then came the sirens. So so so many sirens. Throughout the night off and on. All heading to Barnsdall. We knew it had to be bad. And the light of the next morning told the story: the whole east side of town was demolished with 2 people dead. Bartlesville had been hit as well, though not as badly.

As bad as it was though, it could’ve been so much worse. Many have literally lost everything, but they still have their lives. Their stuff is gone, but parents’ are okay, children are okay, families are okay. Even most of the pets. The nursing home took a hit, but all were moved to safety beforehand, thankfully. Beyond that, it’s just stuff. I don’t mean to be callous, and if it were my “stuff” I might feel differently, but had we looked out of that shelter that night and saw that our house hadn’t been spared, I know God would’ve given me grace to realize—and keep realizing–that the most precious “things” in my life were still with me and that is what matters most.

Barnsdall has come a long way in the last couple weeks. They are finishing clean up and some of the demolition of houses has begun. Rebuilding won’t begin til after that. They’re still very traumatized, but slowly healing in the midst. (Even I feel a touch of PTSD every time there’s another storm). Much of that healing has come because so many have rallied around them and helped in the recovery. Team after team of volunteers rose up and showed up and sacrificially gave of their time, finances and energy. Former residents, families, neighbors, churches, people from all over the area, praying, and bringing food, clothing, shelter, necessities, encouragement, and a whole lot of love.

It’s been a hard thing, but we wouldn’t have gotten to see all the good in people if it weren’t for the hard. It’s going to continue being a long ride before everything is back together, but there is so much HOPE in the air. It does the heart good to see. Not to philosophize too much, but I think that’s the end game of why God allows hard things. Not while you’re walking through it in the moment so much, but yes, in the joy and good, though maybe long in materializing, that always comes in the after…..

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