Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What Would I Replace if I Lost It All?

It's happening all around us, storms raging and destruction, first the horrific damage and loss in the Philippines and now in the Midwest with a slew of tornadoes over the weekend.

On Sunday I updated my status saying I was thinking and praying for my friends and family in the Midwest.  I grew up in tornado country.

In 1990, when I was in 4th grade, an F-5 tornado ripped apart my home town a day before school was to begin.  I was at a friend's house across the street, enjoying our last day of summer by swimming in her pool.  The sky soon became very dark and we hurried to cover the pool and head inside.  The sky continued to darken, turning almost an eerie green color.  Soon it sounded like the roof was being pelted with rocks.  The power flickered then went out.

We sat in the dark on the couch scared, I wished I was across the street home with my own family.  My friends' older sister ran downstairs telling us it hailing golf balls. We giggled at her slip as she meant to say hail the size of golf balls. We sat on the couch scared unsure what to do, we were fairly used to big thunderstorms but this seemed different.  Before we knew it the wind seemed to calm down and the sky began to clear.

We went outside to see if there was any damage from the hail when our neighbor arrived home.  He told us there had been a tornado and it had destroyed our grade school.

My almost 10-year old mind wasn't quite sure what to think of this, I don't think I understood the reality of it.  I ran home, bursting in saying "I am not going to school tomorrow."  "Why?" my brothers questioned.  "A tornado destroyed the school!"  "No, it didn't" they accused.  "No, really it did."

The power was out so we couldn't turn on the TV to watch the news.  This was before the days of cell phones and the Internet, so it was only the word of our neighbor.   My dad decided to drive over to see if it was true and to check on our friends who lived across the street from the school.

It was true.  Not only was my grade school destroyed, only the gym remained standing, but the high school, a church and countless numbers of homes and business were flattened to mere rubble.  Twenty-nine people lost their lives that day.
The high school after the tornado- image from here
They say bad things come in three's, so I find myself catching my breath, wondering if the 3rd will be the "big one" that big large earthquake they say California is overdue for.

Yesterday while I was folding and putting away laundry, I found myself lost in memories of that day.  Then I thought, what would I replace?  What things in my home would I replace if we were to lose everything.

Clothes, furniture, my camera- these things popped in my mind first.  But really, if I had my family, and they were safe and with me, that is what matters most.  Things come and go, things get broken.  Things don't bring true, lasting happiness.

I will admit, I like nice things, my husband works very hard to help provide my family with nice things.  As I thought about what things I would replace I found myself looking at my things in an all new light.  The fact that my bedroom furniture is mismatched, the walls need a touch up of paint, I need a new book shelf as the books are spilling off of it-- I suddenly stopped noticing those. I saw  the new nightstands I just painted, the nice warm bed that I have to share with my husband. Suddenly the things I had seemed enough, were good even in their mismatched styles.  They might not be the newest and Pinterest worthy, but they are mine and it is enough.

I can always be wanting for more, wishing for something new, something a little better or I can always be grateful for the things I have, grateful for what really matters most, my family and my faith.  I can be content and filled with peace and gratitude.  This is how I want to live.

To those suffering now, to those who have lost everything, I am praying for you.  I am thinking of you.  I will be filled with peace and gratitude to honor you and to help remember what matters most.

Will be linking up on Wednesday with Shell


  1. Lovely post filled with raw emotion and interesting memories.

  2. All it takes is tragedy - or the prospect of it - to snap things into perspective.
    This is small scale in comparison, but on Saturday morning, I woke up to a Facebook wall post from my neighbour asking if my dryer was on - because if not, she thought my house might be on fire. Talk about an alarming start to the day! I jumped out of bed in a mad panic and flew around the house sniffing and searching for fire. I have no idea what she saw (perhaps smoke from a neighbour's chimney down the hill behind my house?) - but there was no fire, thank God. (and if there actually was, I would hope she would call me or bang down my door rather than just send a FB post! LOL!) It got me thinking though - if I was in the house, and had a minute to grab things of value before I absolutely had to get out - what would I take? A few things crossed my mind - my guitar, my photo albums, my DVD collection - but really, all of it is replaceable (even the pictures, because most are saved on my laptop). Just being safe would be the most important. But it does give me a true appreciation for what I have.

  3. It does, absolutely, put life in perspective. I wish we didn't have to see things like this to realize the blessings we have. :(

  4. Hi Emmy! Your story hit home. Half my family was homeless when June floods hit here in Alberta. They didn't know what to expect when they could return. Luckily the damage was minimal, but I did have friends that lost everything. A colleague of my dads even ended his life over the ordeal. It always amazes me how these disasters will either bring out the best or the worst in us. Either way nature sure knows how to humble us all. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope that big earthquake never happens ...btw I'm coming out of hiding soon, I have lots to share ;)

  5. Don't be in a big Cali earthquake okay!? I'm sure glad we're sealed together. That makes me happy. We have so much to be thankful for this month!

  6. I hope there aren't any giant earthquakes headed your way! :o( What a scary experience being practically on your own as a tornado is wiping out your town. I'm glad you guys were okay.

    Moving over here has given me a completely different perspective on things. I don't own a single thing that I'd care about losing in a disaster. Just my family.

  7. That is so scary! I can't even imagine being that close to a Tornado that big. When I was a kid, we would visit my Grandparents in Missouri and I remember more than once hunkering down in the neighbor's basement during a Tornado warning. I'm with you, if I have my family, I'm good.

  8. What a wonderful reminder of what is important! I have been praying too. There have been scary weather events around the world this week.

  9. What a great reflection on the scary time in your life and how it can really put things in perspective!

  10. Wow.

    We had a tornado rip through our town when I was little (liek 3 years old). It toppled the tree next to our house, which fell on our roof. Scary!! Luckily we, and all of our "things" were okay.

    You're right. They are just things. Most of which can be replaced. It's good to remember that sometimes, because we all get caught up in "things" sometimes.

  11. I can't imagine having to completely start over with nothing after a disaster. They are just things but I know the shallow person in me would miss some of them. It does make you grateful for what you have though.

  12. Emmy, what a beautiful, yet sad, story to share. You did it in a way that made it real and honest. What an experience to have gone through.

  13. Wow, this is very nicely written and does help you want to put things into perspective. The Joplin Tornado is still fresh in our minds around here. Anytime they talk about bad weather I think everyone tenses up still. I just hope that feeling goes away someday. It's crazy driving around Joplin and still not knowing at times where you are because everything was totally flattened and destroyed. They also say there is a huge fault line at the Eastern edge of MO that the last time it went off it rang church bells in the North East and they've claimed since the 80's (or maybe even further back) that it'll go off someday too.

  14. This gave me chills. Can you imagine if it had happened a day later, when school was in session?

    1. Oh yes, I have thought of that so many times! So many more lives would have been lost. A lot of the death that did occur were at the high school, a couple of teachers who were there getting their classrooms ready. The football team was also there practicing but they were able to get inside to a part of the building where they were able to survive.

    2. What a thoughtful post. I can't believe a tornado happened in your town and destroyed your school. What state did you live in? I live in Iowa and tornadoes are my biggest fear about living here. I try never to take what we have for granted and also to remember that it could all be taken away quickly in a fire or a natural disaster, which helps me to remember what's really the most important.

  15. This has been on my mind lately too. So much destruction lately...
    Like you there is much that I want, things I want to change about my house, and all that but I am grateful and happy for what I have.