We're alive! To say that the last three weeks have been the biggest whirlwind of my life is a complete understatement. I'm always amazed when life changes on a moment's notice. And if you think you are really in control of anything, you are sadly mistaken.
Three weeks ago on Saturday, May 1st, Yan and I were at home cozy in our pajamas. We had been out earlier in the day, but came back early because it was pouring rain and had been for days. When I drove around I noticed some of the roads were starting to flood. It was supposed to continue raining and I made the call that we were going to stay in on Sunday morning. We don't live near a river, and I wasn't worried about us, but did not want to take a chance of flooding the car out driving through water. We had a nice, quiet evening at home and went to bed.
Early Sunday morning Yan and I were sleeping and she was curled up in my bed. We started to hear the thunder rumbling, but that made me want to roll over and sleep longer. Suddenly I was awakened by loud pounding on my bedroom window and heard someone screaming, "Wake Up, Jennifer". I stumbled out of bed and headed to the door. It was my neighbor, Kyle. She and her son were outside. She started yelling something about it being an emergency, my house was going to flood and we needed to get out. I was in a stupor, I didn't have my contacts and I started to move in slow motion. She told me she needed my keys so that they could try to save my car and that we should come to their house up on the hill.
I handed her the keys, got my contacts and started pacing, not knowing what to do next. For some reason (not a logical one), I logged onto my facebook account and posted a note asking my friends to pray. I then grabbed Yan's hands and we stopped to pray-I didn't know what else to do. I grabbed a few things, but really thought that there was no way that my house would flood. It was then that I looked out the front door. I saw that our entire cul-de-sac up to our mailbox was under water and there was no way out. I then flew into overdrive and started throwing things into bins, setting them on shelves up high and getting out a few changes of clothes.
The water was rising fast and I knew that Yan was going to get scared if we didn't get out soon. I got a few things with her and headed out the back door to the neighbor's house. She was still happily skipping in her rain boots, completely oblivious to the danger. At the neighbor's house I found more people...an elderly couple that we've come to know and love from a few houses down. Their house was already completely submerged up to the roof. They had lived there 46 years...and they were in shock.
I tried to get a grasp on what was going on, got Yan settled and then realized that we didn't have much food in the neighbor's house. I knew I had some in my pantry, so we went back to get it. By the time the neighbor and I got to my back door, the water was up to my waist and I knew that it was now inevitable. I wanted so badly to do something, to rescue everything from the situation. But there was nothing I could do.
For the next two days we stayed at the neighbors house, we lost power for a while, then when we regained it we realized how widespread the situation was all over Nashville. Yan had a very rough time at first. She just kept saying and signing, "home, home". I tried to explain and show her that there was water in our home, but she refused to even look out the windows at it. However, even in those early moments, God was providing. He orchestrated friends who were praying, planning ways to help, sending messages and verses of support and love.
Monday the waters receded. I was able to go over and look inside the house for the first time. I was SOOOO not prepared for what I saw. In my mind I thought, "wet". I didn't realize that the flood was destruction. The water ended up going through the house, about 3+ feet. But it rearranged the furniture, flipped the refrigerator and dressers, collapsed the book shelves and covered everything in a slimy, gross muddy sludge. It stunk already. I was in shock. Almost everything was ruined. The neighbors kept saying that I needed to get everyone I knew to help clean it out. I thought it would take weeks because it seemed so daunting. However, once again the Lord provided. A friend's husband came early that morning, saw the mess and said that he would make a few phone calls. About 15 teenagers and adults from his church youth group came out and within 6 hours my house was gutted and stripped down to the studs.
It's a weird thing watching all your possessions being thrown into the dump and taken to the landfill. I started giving them things that weren't ruined to trash...it was like everything was contaminated to me.
Fortunately, I was able to save most of Yan's pictures, some clothing and about 1/2 of my store inventory (because it was up on high shelves). But all the other stuff was gone. The antique rocker, the cedar chest my dad made, all our furniture, all our homeschool materials, all my therapy stuff, boxes of mom and dad's photos, just gone. But, it is just stuff. I know that...but, it's still going to hurt. Every time I think about the stuff I can't replace-the keepsake ornaments, Yan's artwork, the clothes she came home in-it stings.
Through it all though, God has remained faithful. He is providing. We've been blessed with wonderful friends who have a basement apartment that we are currently staying in. We are either going to move back into the house when it's redone, or find another. We've been blessed by friends who have rallied donations of items, gift cards and money that will help us to create our little home again, hopefully someday soon. But I pray that I will never look at things the same way. I know in my heart that God is using this experience as an opportunity to set me free from more "stuff" in life. And even though I long for Yan to have that security of "home", I pray that this makes her stronger in her belief that God and I plan on being there for her. I'll try to leave you with some pictures and a verse that someone emailed me during the midst of the raging waters.