This week I was on vacation in California when my family and I started to get reports about the tornadoes back in Oklahoma. Monday's tornadoes came fairly close to my neighborhood, but they were smaller and did not touch down there. They also came close to the school where my mom works (Oklahoma Christian School), which shares a campus with Lifechurch.tv. Pastor Craig Groeschel posted this picture of the cross located on the campus with a tornado looming in the background:
But we could never have imagined the magnitude of the tornado that would be coming through Moore, Oklahoma, the next day. First, we heard the news by the numbers: its rating, the number of casualties, the distance it covered. And then I heard that friends of mine had made it out safely but had lost their home, and my sadness for my entire community was combined with a much more personal sense of loss on their behalf.
When I think of their home, I think of their Olymic party last summer (which I wrote about here) and all of us dressing up in support of our favorite country and bringing yummy treats that reminded us of those places.
I think of watching a movie on a big screen in their backyard, with blankets and chairs spread out around their lawn, twinkle lights giving off a festive glow, and snacks close at hand.
But most of all, I think of my sweet friends, Hillary and Laura (who shared the house with one other roommate), and how you can't be around either one of them for too long without laughing, how they're the type of coworkers you're always excited to see when you walk in the office, how, if given the opportunity, they could make even watching paint dry the most entertaining thing you've ever seen.
They shared the photos below through their social media accounts (@hillartree and @laurasookie) of their house and street after the tornado came through. Thankfully, they both have relatives nearby to stay with during this time, but I can't even wrap my mind around the fact that all they have left is the clothes they were wearing that day.
Here are some great posts on how Oklahomans and the rest of the country are responding to the tornado:
Huffington Post: "This Will Probably Come to Define Us" by Jennifer Rowe Walters: "We are a feisty bunch. We are so strong. We are so brave. We are so generous. We are so tenacious and stubborn and kind and lovely. We will get through this together."
The Lady Okie's "Don't Pray for God to be With Us" : "We don't need to be praying for God to be with us. We never have to pray for God to be with us, in fact. Because here's the thing: God is always with us."
Kent Woodyard's "Hashtag PrayForOklahoma or What I Learned On The Internet This Week": "...the people of Oklahoma have sifted through enough rubble over the past twenty years to know that sometimes strength isn’t enough. It’s as if they were saying, 'Yes, we need your thoughts, donations, shelter, and support, but please – if you give nothing else – give us your prayers.'"
Ways to support Oklahomans this week:
If you're local, the LostOgle.com is hosting a benefit concert on Saturday night.
If you'd like to donate to disaster relief for Oklahoma, here are two wonderful organizations to give to:
Click here to donate to Red Cross disaster relief or text REDCROSS to 90999.
We appreciate your prayers, especially for the families who've lost loved ones, and for those who've experienced other losses as well.
@abi_ruth shared the following verses on Instagram, and they seemed so fitting for this week:
Luke 1:78-79, "Because of God's tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace."
We are grieving, but we are also reminded that our hope is in God, and that this life and everything we own pales in comparison to an eternity with him.