Riding the Rails

The emotional roller coaster in the aftermath of devastation is quite the ride. The ride takes off with tons of adrenaline flowing that moves you to action as you take that first steep dive down the tracks. Then as you start up the next hill you get a bit concerned about how high the next drop might be .

Then after a few days of riding you are dizzy and downright tired of the ups and downs. The downhill falls seem to get steeper when they come. But pockets of adrenaline arrive to alieve some of your fears.

About a week in you realize that your life (all of it) will never be the quite the same. Planning for a life change and implementing that plan is quite different than being forced to change every single plan and thought you had about your future.

Yesterday was one of those days. It started out stressful at work with tons of things to do and not knowing where to start on them because they were all urgent. It was so overwhelming it made me want to just walk away. Then I found a happy place with earbuds in place with some soothing music that took me away. That’s when work started cranking out. At the crest of the ride I decided that I needed to go “home” at lunch to survey the mess to see what we still need to do in the mopping up process. That little visit sent me back to a bad place.

Life has its ups and downs regardless of the date or your station in life. Challenges that we all face can take us from contentment to worry and doubt, in short order.

As I reviewed my life (and not just the past 10 days) I was reminded of some words from Isaiah 54:10 that lifted me up.

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” NIV

That’s all I got today, and all I need.

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Oh Holy Night – Part 2

In an instant your life and everything familiar to you can change.

For a few seconds the lights stayed on. I knew the storm had passed but somewhere during the walk from the security of the bathroom to our kitchen we lost power. I noticed then that the kitchen ceiling was down and the little pink insulation topped everything in the room.

Opening the door into the garage revealed tons of debris and items from the attic now resting atop both cars. The wallboard blocked it so that we couldn’t see. What I’d later find is not roof above the garage and the metal door on top of both cars.

Knowing we’d been spared total destruction I continued out front to see what else I’d find. A view of the street was shocking, to say the least. Even in the darkness I could see entire trees and tons of debris blocking the path to the street. There were pieces of houses so large it was unfathomable how they arrived there, especially in the span of less that one minute.

Next thought was to see if our neighbors of 30 years were intact and OK. As flashlights began to appear I could see what looked like one half of a house directly across the way. My pickup was still in front of the house buried under a tree with a limb impaled in it’s windshield all the way through the dash.

I could hear my bride in the background trying to reach our daughter Holly because the trajectory of this storm would place it on their doorstep. We later found that they were close to downtown Dallas and not at home. home was within 6-7 blocks of some of the worse destruction in Rowlett, TX. Their home suffered only minimal roof damage.

Within minutes a number of saints showed up at our place to check on us and lend  lend a hand. Without our children and close friends I think we would have probably caved in emotionally in short order. There was an urgency in everyone that I’ve not witnessed firsthand before. It was hectic and fast and crazy. We didn’t have time to worry or cry.

As we continued to survey the damage we saw one shocking thing after the other. Walls missing, roof trusses that looked like matchsticks and destruction too great to fully comprehend. I believe  the emotion of shock protects you from caving in and giving up. For me preservation mode kicks in and my mind starts to prioritize everything.

For one of the first times in my adult life I wanted to set aside my instinct to take control and make things happen, to that of wanting to just be a foot soldier behind a great general. We had several such officers that night that were taking on my normal role of leader and protector. I appreciate every one of them more than you will ever know. They were firing questions at me as if I were in charge. I was anything but in charge. So having these folks in full battle mode was just what we needed.

With large sections of roof missing and heavy rain coming, within hours, I think we instinctively knew that moving recoverable items to covered areas of house was crucially important. Try taking a fully furnished house and pressing everything into a couple of rooms and you quickly find that is a difficult task, while at the same time trying not to damage what was being moved.

The emotions of our disaster seem to run in circles. Shock one moment then sadness. The old mind races and normal sleep is hard to find. It’s been a week and I just had my first full restful sleep. Perhaps that’s because we left town. Perhaps that’s because we have something great to celebrate being able to meet our new grandson Austin.

When I held this little fella last night there seemed to be a great salve of healing being applied to my soul. This little boy represents hope to me. He represents OUR future. Destruction and despair and worry and doubt melt away like hot butter when I think of this majestic creation that God created from microscopic cells.

There is more to this story because it’s still unfolding. But for now I have bright hope and encouragement. God is not finished with us yet.