Wednesday, April 13, 2011

96 Rolls of TP, Heroes and Being Ready for Tomorrow

Beautiful picture, isn't it.  God's hands holding our fragile planet.  Don't let my title deceive you.  This is a story about surprises and how they affect us, especially when we are not prepared for them.

The past couple of months, Georgia's weather has lost its mind!  I looked at my calendar in the office this morning and realized that it has only been a few short weeks since we had our January Freeze In.  Parts of Atlanta were frozen in by the layers of sleet and ice that fell on top of the snow.   It was really weird.  You could drive a distance of only a mile or two (if you were one of the lucky ones who had salted and sanded streets) and be in an area that virtually had no ice, no snow.  This past winter was one of records and wonder and aggravation that it took so long to clear streets.  We had snow on Christmas Day for the first time in over 130 years.  We had ice and snow in January that shut our area down for days on end.  TWICE!  The crust on the snow reminded me of marshmallow fluff or that cooked icing that you see on wonderful coconut cakes.  It was so pretty, really really pretty.

My toes and finger tips stayed numb and they would sting, but the smile on my face under my red chilly nose was as big as Kansas.  I had so much fun being a kid again.  I went and played in the snow that fell before it froze and turned into a frozen land of marshmallow fluff.  It was beautiful.  My creative side took lots of "artsy" pictures of berries, pine cones  and magnolia leaves that were coated in a thin layer of ice.  It was truly a winter wonderland!  It all reminded me so much of growing up in northern Ohio and the winters that we had up there.

All of the schools in every county around Atlanta closed, businesses closed, even the government offices - and some for a week or more!  Those poor kids are going to be going to school until 4th of July to make up the missed days.  We don't get crazy winter weather like this very often and we just are not prepared for it.  One of the downfalls here is the lack of snow removal equipment.  This isn't the arctic after all, and not every little town (our big one for that matter) has all of the equipment that they need.   Georgia probably has the same number of snow plows and ice trucks for the whole state that Ohio has in just one of its towns.  It just doesn't happen that often and when they started forecasting this stuff about a week before, people didn't really take it to heart because historically, they are wrong more than they are right, so no one really paid attention until the writing was on the wall and the cars were in ditches.  Oops, too late!  So, everyone made a mad dash to the store for their bread, milk and toilet paper.  Apparently, someone decided that those were the important commodities to stock up on.  Brings on a mental image of bread, milk and toilet paper sandwiches.  Groceries were packed, hardware stores had lines to buy sleds and salt for de-icing, and of course, we all made that trek to our local store for those important "sandwich" fixin's.  By Monday night, there wasn't any on store shelves, because the delivery trucks were stuck on the interstate and couldn't get the orders in.  And my husband used to tease me about stocking up on stuff at Sam's.  Not any more!  Never hurts to plan ahead, you never know, you just never know.

Okay, cold weather story told, but since then, we have had hot, cold, hot, cold, tornadoes, weather sirens, bright sunny days, more tornadoes, more crispy mornings followed by 80 degree afternoons.  How do you prepare, what do you wear, sweaters in the morning, short sleeves in the afternoon.  Now, you know, this isn't going to drag on about snow and ice, sweaters and toilet paper, and as usual, there's another part of this story.  It may be difficult for you to read some of this, but it is part of the story, our story, today and tomorrow.

Weather, yes, unpredictable!  Emergency supplies, a necessity!  Remember those months and those first few years after 9/11.  One of the most devastating events in the modern history of our country, of the world.  It left us all numb, fearful and mistrusting of many many people.  The alert levels went up and down like yo-yos, we were told to have emergency water and supplies, plastic sheeting, duct tape, first aid supplies and more.  The list seemed endless.  I was afraid to fly for a long time.  A lot of you probably were.  We all lived in fear of it happening again.  Who knows, it might.  I've learned a lot the past ten years, about people, about myself, about faith, love and forgiveness.  I've learned that no matter how much planning you have done, there is always the possibility that the unexpected could and probably would happen.

During the past decade, we have seen multiple earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, tornadoes, floods and more - all of which are natural disasters.  9/11 was man created and man delivered and was a disaster of hatred and intimidation.  It was a day we will never forget.  Children lost parents, some of them were even too young to remember them.  Sweethearts said goodbye and whispered I love you one last time and as we all gasped at the surreal images that we saw over and over again.  Lives were changed forever.  Nearly 3000 lives were ended in a matter of "moments".  You remember, you saw the pictures, the videos.  We've heard the stories and we have lived in a time of uncertainty every day since.

The stories of husbands and wives, lovers, friends, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, moms and dads,  knowing at last moment, that they were not going to make it.  Calls were made, messages left and prayers said as so many of those people took their last breath and faced their death, some very courageously.

There were heroes that day.  Fireman, Police officers, men and women from all branches of our military, and civilians.

One month ago, the world watched as an earthquake of unfathomable power, followed by a tsunami that brought more devastation to the island of Japan.  A year ago, a massive earthquake struck in Haiti.  This tiny island still hasn't recovered.  In February of this year, an earthquake hit New Zealand, and now Japan.  In the aftermath, the nuclear catastrophe that is developing day by day, has now been classified as a level 7, just like Chernobyl, many years ago.

There were heroes that day.  Fireman, Police officers, men and women from all branches of our military, and civilians.

We never know what each day brings for us.  We never know if a tree will fall on a car we are travelling in, or lightning hit our home.  We never know when and and at what exact moment, our "time" will come.  We never know how or why.  What we have to know, is that there is Someone there to take our hand and lead us home.  There is Someone there to ease our pain, our sadness, our sorrow when that time comes for someone we love.

During that snowstorm in January, we were ready.  We had more than half of a super pack of the quilted double roll stuff.  I did my normal grocery shopping the Thursday before the storm hit and we had 4 gallons of milk and 2 loaves of bread.  By the following Wednesday, we were able to get to the store in our truck.  We were lucky, we were ready.

There were heroes that helped people dig out of the ditches they ran into on the slick roads, and heroes that worked 18 hour days to spread sand and salt on the city streets.

September 2009, we experienced a thousand year flood in Georgia.  People had minutes to evacuate their homes.  Grocery stores flooded and washed out food was found several hundred miles south in the Chattahoochee river.  There are still people that are homeless as a result of that flood.  This year, there have been catastrophic weather anomalies all over the world and in every single one, there were people that spent their last moments in fear and reaching out.  There were heroes those days.  Fireman, Police officers, men and women from all branches of our military, and civilians.

So, here we are near the end of what has been an emotional blog to write.  But I think it is important for us to remember, not just the man made catastrophes, but the natural ones as well, and while we remember, we need to do a faith check up on ourselves and simply ask ourselves, Am I Ready?

Am I ready for that moment on that day?  Am I prepared?  It's not just about toilet paper and loaves of bread.  It's not just about starting's about being spiritually ready for tomorrow.

Are you ready for your tomorrow?  Do you know the One that will be there to take your hand and guide you home or will you be ready to ask Him if you have time in that split second that your life reaches its climax?  Will there be time to ask or will it be too late?

Just sayin', it's not all about tp, milk and bread........

Go hug and kiss your family, or call them and let them know how much you love them and remember, just remember....God loves you.

Rejoicing in my tomorrows that Jesus made possible for me and you,
love to you all,
ps - this video and music piece is emotional, but please take time to listen to will help remember and also to rejoice in your Creator...