On December 26, I  was at home when as many as a dozen tornados swept through our region. Home for me is very near the path of the storm. While we did not suffer loss, it’s still very personal as many of our friends and neighbors did. The way this community and surrounding communities rallied is overwhelming. But the way my friends, some who lost everything, have risen from the ashes is beautiful and I thought I’d briefly share some of the stories.

The Millers lived in their home for 26 years, raising their children and welcoming grandchildren. While Cindy didn’t deny some of the struggles they were experiencing, she was also quick to share how thankful she was for protection.

“We are all safe. We were at church when the tornado hit. Our home is damaged to the point where we cannot live in it,” Cindy shared. “(We’re) waiting for insurance adjuster to access it. We have gone back a couple hours each day to retrieve clothing and items of sentimental value. The insulation hurts our throats if we spend more time than that there. We have meals coming daily and a few people have offered to launder our clothes. Everything needs cleaning because of glass shards and insulation and other dust that blew everywhere.”

Cindy continued, “God spared me in a big way. I had been sick the week before Christmas. I went to the Christmas Eve service at church and so I thought about staying home from church a couple days later, just to rest.  Joe  had  committed  to serving   in   the   children’s   ministry   so   I  decided to go (Saturday night, the night of  the tornado). Had I stayed home to rest, I would have been in my bed where the worst of the damage occurred. Being on blood-thinner meds, I would not have survived the spray of glass shards. Praise the Lord with me over that!”

So many stories of miraculous protection. One family took shelter in their pantry. The only thing left standing was the pantry with a plaque on the wall that read, “God is our family’s protector.”

Another story involved three teenage boys, home alone, who took cover under the stairs. The tornado swept away the entire house and from the stairwell they saw open sky above. Just before the few boards left standing began to collapse they ran barefoot across the street through the neighbor’s unlocked front door. They escaped with cuts and contusions on their feet and legs, but they were safe.

The Henschel family’s home of 30 years was destroyed. While salvaging what they could, Jeanne and Bob found a sign intact which displays lyrics from the song, “It Is Well.” Even in the immediate aftermath Jeanne said she has seen healing come to her family. Jeanne admits this is all a little strange, she doesn’t use social media. Her daughter posted the now viral picture of her in front yard holding the sign she bought just 3 weeks earlier. Finding it reminded them that He is present.

I love sharing stories of God’s faithfulness in the storm. But I know there will be those who question: “What about the people who lost their lives that day? Where was He for them?” And while we don’t have all the answers, we know He was there. He is an ever present help in trouble. The testimony from some of the families who lost loved ones is that they were carried into His loving arms.

Today I saw two posts by friends on Facebook paying tribute to friends they lost too soon. Life is short even at 100 years, but in the context of eternity, 100 years is merely a blip on the radar. This is just our temporary home. In God’s house there are many mansions. While this world is broken and our houses can be destroyed, there is nothing that will be able to tear down the eternal house God has prepared for you. He promises no more death or dying, pain or suffering, loss or lack.

For those who love Him, nothing is wasted. He will take all these things and bring more good from them than anything this world can throw at us; far more than we could hope for, imagine or dream.

Speaking of dreams, on the night of the storms, my son dreamt that after the tornados there were floods. Entire streets were flooded and everyone attached fishing poles to their mailboxes. I told my son the dream is about getting the message of God’s love out. Where was He in the storm, He is here. His promise is secure and His love unwavering. When Jesus’ friends finally believed His message, He said to them, “I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”

“I will always love you; that’s why I’ve been so patient and kind to draw you to My heart. You are precious to Me and I will build you up again.” -Jer. 31:3-4

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