I cannot help but think about all of the survivors of the disaster caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston Texas and all of the “little things” that they have lost. It was the “little things” that suddenly took on a whole new meaning for us after our house fire.
As I sat cuddled up with Benjamin and Rose wrapped in blankets in the back of the police SUV we talked through the rolled down window to the police men that had responded to our 911 call. I don’t know if I was shaking more from wearing a thin gown in the February freezing 2 am temps of Middle Tennessee or from worrying about my husband. He had climbed back up our long steep driveway to wait for the fire trucks to arrive and to move our miniature donkeys, horses, and dogs further from the growing flames.
“Ma’am?”, the tall officer looked around at us thoughtfully and then turning back to me said, “Is there anything we can do for you? Is there anything you need?”
“Yeah, everything”, I thought to myself sarcastically. At that moment all that we had was a F-150 beater-bomb Ford pickup with no keys (they were in the fire) and the pajamas that we wore. I looked down at of our sixteen-year-old son Isaac’s bare feet as he stood between the officers on a little grassy patch of the gravel driveway to cushion his cut up soles. When our family of eight had escaped the burning house, he and our oldest daughter Desire’ (23 at the time), had run barefoot for about 1/2 a mile to our closest neighbors house through gravel and thorns to call for help (our cell phone was also in the house). They were met by a very frightened neighbor in his underwear holding a gun on them.
As I watched Isaac shivering from the cold and from the trauma he was experiencing I said to the officer, “Well the main thing we need right now I am sure you wouldn’t have.”
“Well, you don’t know if you don’t ask. What is it?” he asked.
“How about a pair of size 15 shoes for Isaac?” I said with a little laugh.
Looking down and glancing back and forth between Isaac’s and his own feet he said, “Actually, I just happen to have a pair of work boots that I just picked up today and they are a size 15! He can have them if they fit.” Without hesitation, he went to the trunk of his cruiser and came back with a brand new shiny black pair of boots. This was just the first of many “little miracles” that God performed for us over the next hours, days, and weeks.
My husband also had hobbled around all night on one boot. When he went into the house to find our shoes it was too smokey to see and he came out with one of his and one of Rose’s boots. When one of the firemen noticed his dilemma he called his family and asked them to bring one of his pairs of tennis shoes to Gerrit and also gave him his coat off of his own back.
When people experience complete devastation, the things that we take for granted suddenly become treasures. Like the day of our fire when the Red Cross came to meet with us at the hotel that my husband’s family “just happen” to be staying at because they had visited us the night before the fire. As a secretary for my husband’s business, I did not know what to do when I found myself with papers from the Red Cross and no place to file them. I did not even have a paperclip! But then, later that day as I was getting out of our truck at a gas station, I looked down on the ground and guess what I found? A paperclip! I felt like I had found a treasure. Whereas normally I would have just passed on by, I instead bent over and picked it up. That was the beginning of restocking our office supplies. A week or so later, some very good friends, The Smiths, sent us a box full of every kind of office supplies we could imagine. God knew what we needed and He worked through our friends (& at other times complete strangers) to provide those things.
So, when you wonder what you can do for our neighbors to the South who woke up in their homes and ended their days homeless, just ask. It may surprise you what things God has put in your hands that you thought were for yourself but realize that He meant it for someone else. And, if you find yourself a victim of devastation remember to let those around you know what your needs are even if you would not think they would have it. God loves to show us his providence in the big and the little things.
On a final note, I would like to give a gigantic shout out to first-responders and volunteers working relentlessly in Houston like those caring policemen that comforted us and the firemen who fought fierce flames. We need to continually pray for them as they put their lives on the line continually.`