This whole summer, since July 4th weekend, has been a downer for me. I have been sick with a chronic sinus infection ever since then, been on way too many rounds of medication, my birthday sucked, my sweet sports car got crunched, I had to have sinus surgery, then Hurricane Harvey decimated my hometown and flooded my house.
Hard to find the gratitude in all of the muck and mire (literally) that has been my life for the past three-plus months, and especially the last 30+ days since we flooded.
I am still living in a home with no flooring, walls torn up at least 2’ from the floor all throughout, some walls totally gutted and ceilings gone, nothing on the walls, and all but the bare essentials packed up and moved into storage. My OCD is in overdrive because of the chaos that is my home.
But it could have been worse. So I am grateful.
While I was sleeping through the storm with my dogs (doped up on pain meds because my sinus surgery was literally the day before it hit), neighbors across the highway from me were fleeing their homes in waist-deep and sometimes neck-deep water. A dear friend called me frantic at 2AM, wanting to know who she should call to rescue her elderly mother, who was now on the 2nd floor of her home and the water was coming up the staircase.
The stories we heard in the next few days were harrowing compared to what we experienced.
The evening that the storm was coming onshore, my husband brought me my rain boots to keep by the bed in the event the water was deeper when we woke up (it was barely coming into the house when I laid down at 11PM). It was over ankle deep when we got up, and stayed that way for over 2 days. While my wood plank flooring floated all over the house, we tried to save what furniture we could. We were moving in slow motion, like zombies in the Apocalypse, not really knowing what to do or where to go, assuming we could even leave our neighborhood.
But it could have been worse.
While we lost a few pieces of furniture and all of our flooring, some neighbors and friends had water up to the rooftop and lost everything. My niece, who is getting married soon, lost her entire house (thank goodness the wedding dress was NOT there). Some people lost their lives.
So after the initial shock of it all started to wane, and I could go a full day without crying hysterically at feeling so overwhelmed with everything (and still feeling horrible from the surgery I was not able to adequately recover from), I had to stop and think.
I am grateful.
I am grateful for the rescues that we watched from our kitchen window, as civilian strangers came and launched their boats from our front yard and got people out of their flooded homes all around us, with just the clothing on their back and their pets.
I am grateful that first responders and military came from all over, leaving their own homes to come and help people here that they do not know. Some of them had flooded homes as well, but felt the call of duty stronger than dealing with their own situations.
I am grateful for my daughter and her fiancé, who dropped everything to come to our house and help us pack up what we could, rip out wet floors and walls, clean up our pool that looked like a lagoon, and worked tirelessly for days to make sure my husband and I were alright. They never complained, never asked for anything, and never listened to us when we said “go home and rest, we are fine.”
I am grateful for all of the mission trips I went on over the last 15 years, helping people who had experienced the same thing I was now going through, helping them sort through their lives, decide what to keep and what to discard, and leaving it all on the curb like trash. Now I know how it feels to be the recipient of that kind of help. And I had often wondered, as I did that work for others, how I would feel if it were me who needed the help. Now I know.
And I am grateful.
I am grateful for the tears that I am shedding as I sit and write this article, knowing that now they are tears of joy and gratitude, and not stress and worry. We are going to be fine. I can cry now knowing that God has truly walked with us through this, and will be by our sides until we are finished rebuilding.
I am grateful because I know that it could have been so much worse.
We could be the people living in the “tent city” in the parking lot of our local Civic Center. But we are living in our home still, even though it is a bit torn up. We are home.
We could be without jobs because our offices flooded or employers shut down and let us go. But we are both still gainfully employed and did not suffer any loss of income because of this event.
We could be homeless. We could be displaced far from our families. But we aren’t.
And I am grateful.
If you are in a time of your life where you are finding it hard to be grateful, be encouraged by this: God spoke to me loud and clear in the depths of my sorrow and helped me to see His hand in this. A friend came over to check on us and as I cried she prayed over me, and quoted the scripture about how God cares for the tiny sparrows, and how He considers us to be of so much more worth than sparrows. When she went to leave and I opened the front door, the largest flock of sparrows I have ever seen was in my front yard, and the door startled them so they took off in a flutter. I knew without a doubt that God was showing me that He is with us and we will be fine.
And I am grateful.
Thank you for reading,