The Flood Will Not Consume You

Two years ago today I wrote a post on the The Great Flood of 2016 that hit our home and community in Denham Springs, Louisiana (see below). Last week I wrote a post on the importance of looking back on what God has done in our life to give us strength and confidence to trust Him with our present circumstances and future. This is me practicing what I preach…

Six weeks after we adopted our twins, the Great Flood of 2016 hit our community and our home in Denham Springs, Louisiana.  The Washington Post stated that this flood dumped three times as much rain on Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina. According to the Red Cross, this was the “worst US disaster since Hurricane Sandy,” and FEMA reported that over 150,000 homeowners/renters applied for assistance.

Moments leading up to the evacuation I was cooking chicken fajitas for Obbie and I. While I was feeding our boy I looked out the front door and noticed the water line had risen quite considerably. At the time I wasn’t nervous because we weren’t in a flood zone. I showed Obbie and he went out to talk with all of the neighbors who had gathered at the edge of their driveways. When I stuck my head out the door, I saw Obbie’s face from a distance. I will never forget the concerned look on his face. I knew it wasn’t good. He came back inside and said, “Kelly, we need to pack everything up. The water will probably be entering our house soon.” I started crying. I didn’t want to leave. This was our home.

I couldn’t find a suitcase so I brought a large empty black trunk and dragged it into the twins room. As I walked in, I began to tear up. I had spent so much time preparing, decorating, dreaming and hoping in this room. As I began stuffing all of their clothes and diapers into the trunk I looked to the right and saw the huge frame that read, “I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him…” I turned it around and saw all of the names I had hand written with a sharpie marker-probably 500 or more. Every single person who helped us bring our babies home has a place in our hearts and on the back of the frame. I hoped that it would serve as a future reminder to our children of just how loved they are-not just by us but by an entire community! Little did I know that on Saturday, August 13, 2016 the Lord would use something I had intended for my children to minister to me. In those scary moments I felt like He was saying, “trust me with this Kelly…remember how I brought you through the other storms and valleys…remember…even when you can’t make sense of what is going on…trust me…”

We threw as much as as we could into the back of our neighbor’s big white truck. Although I don’t remember a lot from that day, I will never forget the drive. At that point the water was so high I could feel it splash my face. And as I looked down at the twins I began to cry as we slowly waded through the water.  There were moments when I felt like I was in a nightmare and I just wanted to wake up. I prayed, “Dear Lord, protect our babies. Please keep our babies safe…”

A few hours after we arrived at our neighbor’s house the waters began rising there too. We made the decision to evacuate their house because if we waited too long we wouldn’t be able to get out. We took the twins and two back packs full of diapers and formula and headed to the one of the only dry streets left in our neighborhood. Preparing to sleep in our mini van, we parked behind our friends on the side of the road. A few minutes after we arrived there a young woman approached us with a concerned look on her face.  “Please come stay with us.” We spent that night and the next day camped out in her living room. Her entire family welcomed us and fed us.

After a few days the water subsided. When we realized our house was going to be unlivable for a few months due to the flood damage, we thought it would be best if I took the twins up north to stay with family. (We ended up staying there for a few months while my husband continued gutting and rebuilding our home with the help of friends and strangers.) Many families lost absolutely everything.  Later we learned that many families had to be evacuated by boat because the water was so high. They had to leave everything behind. Can you imagine that kind of loss?

To the flood victims: I know so many of you are exhausted and you just wonder when things will go back to normal. You walk into rooms that you barely recognize. You try to salvage a decades worth of memories in print. You wonder how you will provide for your family because you didn’t have flood insurance and government assistance hasn’t covered a fraction of what it will cost to rebuild your home. I am hurting with you. But, one thing I do know for sure is that we will rise from this and we will grow and become stronger through it. I don’t say that to diminish the loss or pain you/we are going through. I say to encourage you and remind you that there is hope. And that Hope is Jesus Christ and that is what I am clinging to.

It can be overwhelming when you look around at what is left of your house. Memories may flood your mind of what used to be there; the room that you rocked your baby in for the very first time; that special corner in your living room where you put up your Christmas tree every year; the kitchen table where you shared meals together. Although the flood may have destroyed the physical things-those waters will never be able to take your memories. But more importantly than those precious memories is the overwhelming reminder that this place is not our eternal home. The Lord has always used trials in my life to remind me of this. I am not going to sit here and try to make sense of the flood. I can’t wrap my mind around it. However, I am quite certain through my own trials, that God does not waste anything. He is sovereign and in control of ALL things. God didn’t waste my cancer. God didn’t waste my miscarriage. And we can be confident that God is still at work right now. God creates beauty out of the mess and muddy waters.

Perhaps you’ve never been through a natural disaster. But I know through personal experience that it doesn’t take an actual flood to bring on a storm. In the pain and chaos it is difficult to see God’s plan. When you are knee deep in the waters  it is easy to think that God has forgotten you and sometimes that makes it difficult to trust. But, believe this my friend: the flood will not consume you and He has NOT forgotten you. He is worthy of our trust even when we can’t comprehend or understand the chaos that surrounds us. Whatever flood or mess currently has your attention, my prayer for you is that you would cling to your Savior. When you look around at all of the unrecognizable mess, my prayer is that you would fix our eyes on Christ. Ask Him for strength. Ask Him for patience. Cry out to Him. He is listening and He is near. He will bring you out of this storm. Why? Because He is a faithful God who promises to never leave His children.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” -Isaiah 43:2

Through The Storm {Trusting God With Our Kids}

Do you ever lay in bed worried about the future of your children? Do thoughts plague your mind about them getting sick? Is your child suffering from an illness or mental health disorder and you wonder how you will make it through the day? Are you worried that your child isn’t hitting all of the developmental milestones like the other kids? As parents, there are a hundred fears we could let our thoughts be consumed by. I know this to be true from personal experience.

Eight weeks after we adopted Roman and Ruby, our home, city and the surrounding area were unexpectedly hit with the Great Flood of 2016. The Washington Post stated that this flood dumped three times as much rain on Louisiana as Hurricane Katrina. According to the Red Cross, this was the “worst US disaster since Hurricane Sandy,” and FEMA reported that over 150,000 homeowners/renters applied for assistance.

Moments leading up to the evacuation I was cooking dinner for Obbie and I. While feeding Roman, I looked out the front door and noticed the water line had risen quite considerably. I frantically pointed this out to Obbie, who quickly ran out the front door to talk with all of the neighbors that had gathered at the edge of their driveways. When I stuck my head out the door, I saw Obbie from a distance. He had a very concerned look on his face. I felt my heart sink into the pit of my stomach. I knew it wasn’t good. He came back inside and said, “Kelly, we have to pack everything up. The water is rising and we have to evacuate immediately.”

I couldn’t find a suitcase so I dragged a large empty trunk into the twin’s nursery. As I walked in, I began to tear up. I had spent so much time preparing, dreaming and hoping in this room. I had flashbacks to all of the countless hours I spent on the floor praying for our baby that the Lord would bring into our home. As I began stuffing all of their clothes and diapers mindlessly into the trunk, I looked to the right and saw the huge frame that read, “I prayed for this child and the Lord has granted me what I asked of Him” (1 Samuel 1:27). I stopped. I took a deep breath. And I was reminded that it was God who brought these precious children into our life. They were in His hands and there was no safer place to be. 

We threw as much as we could into the back of our neighbor’s big white truck.  As we slowly waded through the flood, I looked down at my children and began to cry. The water was continually rising, our neighborhood was completely surrounded and there were only a few dry streets left. Those moments didn’t feel as if they belonged to me. It was like we were the characters in the movie, “The Day After Tomorrow,” where they rushed to the top of the building to prevent from being consumed by the water. I felt completely helpless. I closed my eyes tightly and prayed, “Dear Lord, protect our babies.” It was a prayer of surrender, as I knew there was absolutely nothing I could do to stop the flood. We were in God’s hands.

We were prepared to sleep in our mini van on the side of the road with our friends who evacuated their home too. It was dark, hot and humid. Many people in the area had been rescued by boat and that knowledge was looming over us as we waited. Not long after we arrived, a young woman ran out of her house with a concerned look on her face. “Are y’all the ones with the newborn twins? My husband is working a late shift so the house is empty and our street is still dry. Please come stay with us.” We spent that night and the next day camped out in her living room waiting for the streets to clear. These kind people welcomed us and fed us. God took care of us through the kindness of strangers. As soon as the waters subsided, the twins and I headed 12 hours north to stay with family, while Obbie began gutting our home with the assistance of friends.

We anticipated a lot as parents of newborn twins: sleepless nights, excessive crying, dirty diapers, a messy house, but we couldn’t have prepared ourselves for this disaster. Once the twins and I made it to my parent’s house, I fell on the couch in complete exhaustion. This was not how I imagined the first few months of parenthood. If I’d had known the flood was coming for us I would have said, “I can’t do that. I’m not strong enough.” And I was right. I wasn’t strong enough. There is no way I could have walked down that road without God breathing grace into my lungs.

When we first brought the twins home I was afraid that something terrible was going to happen to them. I would stare at them throughout the night and rarely slept. Sometimes when they’d cough or make what I interpreted to be a weird sound, Google and I would spend some time together. However, through the storm I was reminded that God is not only the Creator of all things, but He is the Keeper of all things. Our heavenly Father has entrusted us with the most precious gifts, and as parents we have the privilege of loving and shepherding our children. On the other side of the flood, I came to understand that one of the most important things I can do as a mother is to remember to whom my children belong. Surrendering my children everyday to God is the best way I can love them. Surrender releases you from fear and worry. It doesn’t eliminate every fearful or worrisome thought, but surrender reminds you where to take them- at the feet of your Savior.

Parents, when you remember that your heavenly Father is the ultimate Keeper of your child’s soul, an overwhelming peace consumes you, a kind of peace that will get you through life’s biggest storms. When worry comes for you as a parent (because it will), I pray God will illuminate your mind with His truth and bring your heart to a place of surrender. My prayer is that you can see what I did as I was holding my children,  with floodwater so high I could feel it splash on my cheeks. God is not only with them through the storm, He is keeping them safe, and upholding them in the very palm His hands.