D made it home before I did, because I had an errand in town to run and I also needed to pick up some milk. The errand I went to run showed no fruit as the business closed early this day...due to incoming weather. God opened the flood gates of heaven as we were on our way to get milk. We opted to skip it this night and just head home. I had never driven in rainfall like that with all four kids in the car. The closer we got to home the worse the rain got. All of the kids were very tense and a couple were panicky.
A- It's Ok guys as long as it doesn't start hailing we should get home fine.
Z- Why hail? What does that mean?
A- Possibly tornado...
um.......hail started pelting the car windshield
S & CB - began to cry and Sky literally has a panic attack. Z hollers at her to stop it, cause he is tense and then May hollers at him cause he's hollering....then I holler at all of them cause I am trying to drive and determine whether to park under a tree to protect my car from big hail....or park under a tree and a tree fall on the car....or keep driving and JUST GET FREAKING HOME. We kept driving....people started to text me to see if we were okay, my mom called, D called...then we were home.
The path of the tornado was coming directly through the area in the county in which we live. It was a pretty terrible storm we had. But we had no damage at all, not even D's truck that was sitting in the driveway when all the big hail fell. Lots of folks I know had their windows blown out of their houses, or their houses flooded, or their cars were totaled. We were all completely fine.
Got up the next morning to go to the homeschool co-op. As we were leaving I saw what looked like a white envelope in the middle of the yard near a flower bed. We were running late but I told Z to get out go get it, it was littering our yard. He was mad cause we were running late....he brings me back a picture of a young couple.
Z- (in a weird voice) It's a picture.
A- Wow, that's odd...must've blew over from Dogwood Shores (the neighborhood behind ours). I hope someone didn't get their house so damaged it blew their stuff all the way over here, that would be terrible. Maybe they were just some random photos laying around and blew away with the strong wind.
As we drove on down just a few houses we found another picture in the road...this one of an old show car of some sort. Z summoned me to stop no more for pictures cause we were going to be late. I didn't stop, but I did scan as I was driving, but saw no more pics.
The next day Z kicks a soccer ball into the field, he finds another pic of two men. The one man in the background with an Alabama T-shirt on. By this time I have a collection of 3 pictures on my fridge. I put them right where I would see them to remember to pray for these people when I passed by them. Didn't know why I had their pictures all over our neighborhood but they blew in from someone's house.
So all my peeps and I know by now the devastating tornadoes that had hit Ringold, TN and Alabama. I saw on the morning news that Facebook had a page up where you could post the photos you had found. Apparently all over the state of TN and as far as Chicago, people had found photos lying in their yards and so forth the morning after the tornadoes.
I didn't post mine right away cause I was busy, cause I am always busy. :o/
I did post them though and left for a soccer game out of town. When we got home someone had already responded to me, within like 4 hours or so. I was like...is this for real?? I Facebook messaged the person and the Lady messaged me back telling me she went to church with this couple, that he was a minister. She gave me the couples names and told me they lost everything. She told me they lived in Sylvania, Alabama.
I was flabbergasted. D and I Google mapped Sylvania, Alabama to the point where we live. It was, as the crow flies, about 140 miles away. I mean we were like....just....trying to think the unthinkable thought that their picture could be in my yard. It had traveled by tornado and high winds all that way to our yard????!!!!....... I started to look around the Fb website at all the other pics found from all over TN.......all turning up from Alabama the ones being claimed. That day when I posted my pics there were 2800 pics posted. Now there are so many Fb does not show a count.
So I messaged Wendy back, the lady who has claimed the picture, and asked her where I should send the picture. She gave me the address and then we chatted back & forth online about this young couple in the picture, her own family and her community. Wendy is a teacher. She was on field trip 20 miles away from her own children...who turned out to be 50 yards away from one of the worst hit areas. She lost no one in her family, but several children that her kids went to school with perished. I learned we are both Christians. Wendy requested that I pray for her family and her community as they got ready to start back school alongside this young couple and the other people hanging on my refrigerator.
While I was chatting with Wendy another lady hit the photo claiming it. She used the exact names of this young couple that Wendy had used in a private message. This lady was the aunt of the young man in the photograph, her name is Vicki.
Vicki and I have chatted back and forth a bit, both of us so glad to have the photo found. Vicki and I have surely made a connection with one another that is insane to happen over Fb having never met one another. I adore her. She is beautiful and her bright personality comes through the words she writes so clearly. I feel like If I saw her face to face it would be as if we had known one another forever...it's wild and mind blowing when I think of it. I had went from simply praying as I passed the photos to full concentration all day long when I wasn't doing something else. I couldn't not think of them.
She has told me this about this one picture.....The young couple's names are Jonathon & Caitlin...
"Jonathon plays guitar and Caitlin bought him a beautiful blazing electric guitar to play in church a few yrs ago for his Bday. He cried like a baby when she gave it to him and he's not a crier lol the pic u found is from his Bday cookout that she gave it to him at :) his guitar is the only thing he wanted (and his Bibles) from the rubble. He found it... in 2 pieces :( it can't be fixed to play but I'm having it cleaned and put on brackets to hang on his wall. I wanna have the picture and a small plaque with the date she gave it to him attached to it. Anyway, I feel you finding this pic and praying for them has deep purpose. What I would like is you to sign your name and date found n where to the back of the pic. Then write a prayer like you've been praying for them and put in with this. I hope to put the prayer on back of the guitar :) so maybe on something sturdy. I just feel led to do this. This will be on his wall in his new room then in his new home with Caitlin :) forever :) thank you soooo much!!!! "
"There's so much I'd like you to know:) There have been 3 pics found, all 3 in diff parts of TN and all had Jonathon in them. You were the only one that talked about praying for him but it's still a lil odd. My sister had cancer when she was 17. She had just gotten married. There's a long testimony there but long story short she got pregnant while on treatments, the Dr and medical specialists begged her to abort the pregnancy. She didn't :) after his birth, her cancer was healed and her son was perfect. He's now 20, named Jonathon, still perfectly wonderful and has been preaching Gods Word since he was 16:) He's pretty special. Thanks for just being a part of his life now! ;-) we love you... :)"
All night long after Vicki told me this story, God would wake me up to pray for them. All day long the next day, God would remind me that though I had not met this young man physically his testimony had reached the state of TN through his aunt and then through my own lips as I retold this story to others. The story itself is a testament to God of how he takes the awful things we encounter and turns them to good for His glory. To how He gives us joy in the midst of sorrow. How He unites his children, near and far away from each other, perfectly...so that they may weep together and rejoice together.
My life has been so touched by this one woman, Vicki, whose own mother and sister lost their homes entirely, to the point there was no rubble even...just dirt....whose nephew has lost his home to the point of rubble....while I am doing the best I can to encourage her and pray for her, her family and her community...I am trying to bless her......BUT it is she who blesses me. I feel so undeserving of the blessing and it's hard for me to accept it.
Gods gifts are so sweet and good when you least expect them and from the people one least expects. While I am unable to go to them in Alabama and throw my arms around her neck or help her get her families lives back together......I can pray.
God must think its really important, cause he has been reminding me for two days, all day and all night. He does not leave me to my own thoughts, but fills my head with their faces so I will not neglect to pray for them and I am grateful for His diligence.
My family & I are doing this also........"Aid for Alabama - " If you live in this area and need information please let me know and I will be more than happy to help you get the info you need.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God….. Ephesians 3:16-19