A year ago a tornado changed my life forever.
The storm devastated my community. It took many lives. It destroyed houses, properties, homes, futures, marriages, hopes and dreams. It caused pain that I can't relate to.
But it made us MOVE.
It changed my church family from one who dutifuly gave to missions and volunteered here and there into one who moved mountains, dreamed impossible dreams and then made them happen in order to bring healing to hurting places. It changed our mission and our vision. For good.
It changed our city. Physically obviously. But also emotionally. For a while we worked together for a common goal. It has bonded us together in a way we wouldn't have expected. It made us all neighbors the way God intended us to be.
It changed me. I have grown so close to the Lord in the last twelve months. I am absolutely in love with my Savior. In a way I have not been in the past twenty seven years that I have known Him. I get up in the morning with the desire to love others in His name. Regardless of the situation. His patience and grace have flowed through me unlike before. I have smiled at things I never thought I could smile at. I have let go of things I never could let go of. I have found peace in places of my fears. And I can simply trace it back to the basement of the Tuscaloosa News. And the prayers I uttered clinging to my sweet little ones. And the prayers and heartbreak as we emerged into a different place. In the days, weeks, and months that followed, worship deepened, thankfulness increased, perspective changed, time meant something different. Love came to mean an action. Not just in recovery but in the everyday mundane tasks like laundry and calling roll, walking down the hall with a smile, scooping up a clingy whiny toddler. It all feels different. And for that I am forever grateful.
I know that things are not perfect. We live in a fallen world. Tuscaloosa just like America after 9/11 has fallen into its old patterns. And many, I am sure, who suffered may find it difficult to be grateful for that storm. Even a year later. You can certainly find ways that some things could have been done better. And even though I feel forever changed and a deepened relationship with God I completely recognize my imperfections and need for grace. Maybe even more than before. But I hope that when I start to slip into my old ways I take a second and remember my blessings. And the change that day brought to me and to MY city.