Sunday, May 8, 2011

Why Mother's Day means so much to me this year ...

On this Mother's Day, 2011, I am so very grateful for three phone calls...

Perhaps more grateful than I've ever been in my 30+ years of parenting. Our older son, Jason, called Saturday morning early. Our younger son, Kevin, called Saturday evening and our daughter, Melissa, called this afternoon.

Their voices were so precious in my ear, and I am thankful to be a Mom whose children are still alive and well. There are many moms in our area who did not have that privilege today and many children whose mothers are no longer here due to what happened 12 days ago ...

If you've followed the news at all, you know Alabama was hard hit by multiple tornadoes on April 27. Rescue teams worked day and night to pull victims out of collapsed buildings for the first two days. There are many amazing stories of children and adults escaping unharmed or, if injured, surviving the F-4 and F-5 tornadoes.

We've heard many stories of babies and young children surviving because someone covered them and gave their life for the child's....

There's the grandmother whose hands had to be pried from the child she held ... and the baby who was found in a cooler unharmed ... and a three-year-old in a refrigerator that was covered with debris but propped open just enough for her to breathe.

When asked how she got there, she told rescue workers, "The man with wings put me in there." We've also heard about a toddler being found up in a tree after the tornado -- basically unharmed. Hard to imagine!

Adults have survived, too -- There's the man who twisted his ankle while trying to get to his vehicle and ended up going back inside. Moments later, the tornado took his truck up in the air and dropped it soon after, literally crushing it. He would have been in it if his ankle hadn't stopped him.

Then there's the eight-year-old who was sucked out of his home in the dark. While his frantic parents looked for him, he walked back in the house. How did he manage to make it back on his own?

"I followed the light," he explained. Only there was no light that night, because the electricity had gone off in the area during the storm. I don't know about you, but we are convinced the Lord lovingly provided some kind of light to direct a child back home to his frantic family.

There's also the young mother with three children who jumped in their van to try to outrun the storm. Their van was picked up and hurled around, the windows were blown out and the wind threatened to suck them all out of the van. All of them were banged up, but they survived.

We also heard about three people in a bathtub who got sucked up into the twister and saw their truck spinning around beside them. Amazingly, they ended up back on the ground bruised and battered but alive. Thankfully, the truck didn't slam into them during the wild ride *or* land on top of them.

Miraculous events, yes, and we are thankful for them in the middle of all the sadness that surrounds us. Over 250 people were killed in Alabama state alone with dozens of others in Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina. And there are still people missing. Pray that they are found or their bodies recovered so their families can have closure.

No matter how bad things look, we can always find things for which to be thankful:

- So many volunteers from other states have loaded their vehicles with goods or tools and poured into this area to help. They have served food, repaired roofs, hugged grieving victims, run errands, repaired utilities, burned brush piles, donated food, toiletries, blankets and more.

- With all the extra hands on deck, mounds of debris were removed, roads and highways were cleared, fallen trees removed and utilities restored-- days before the projected date. It's amazing how much can be accomplished when kindness takes over.

- Local people who weren't affected by the storm have opened their hearts and hands. Businesses, churches and individuals have donated money to needy victims. Beauty shops and clothing stores donated their services and goods to high school students for special end-of-the-year events.

Mother's Day, this year, has been a good time to reflect on what our state has been through in the past 12 days. We have learned that life is precious and "things" aren't as important as people. We are grateful for new friends who have come to help Alabama recover. Most of all, we are very thankful the Lord has been merciful.

It could have been so much worse than it was.

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