As I looked back through my Facebook history I was faced with my timeline from the Joplin Tornado 5 years ago. It reminded me to pray for the people in and around the Joplin area when the tornado hit. I know the area is rebuilding well, but I also know that hearts and heads don't forget something like that, and many are still recovering from the effects of it, mental images seared in their souls.
We lived near Joplin for 18 years, and all of our kids attended college there. Both of my sons-in-law grew up and have family there. We did shopping and doctoring and date-nights and other errands there. It was a part of our life. At the time of the tornado our son was living and working in Joplin.
I remember FB messaging with a friend who had just finished performing at the Stained Glass Theater. She was desperate to let her kids know she was ok, and one of her sons (that I knew) was out of the country at the time. For some reason, she could communicate with me, but couldn't get through to him, so I got to be a messenger between the two.
Like many structures in this mile-wide tornado, the theater took a direct hit. It was so hard for her to comprehend how and why her life was spared, when those literally right beside her perished.
I looked back at my feed and saw the messages I wrote to update family and friends as I spoke to my own son, Jason, on the phone.
I was home in KY on the phone with him, reporting to him everything I heard and saw on the Weather Channel. He had no idea the storm was so bad, having just driven in past that very same area. For whatever reason, they were running late from returning from a retreat, and he had to move his belongings back into his own car and was meeting his friend Kory for the evening.
He nearly drove into the path of the storm a second time, only to be stopped where he was when a large hailstone landed in front of him as he went to his car, and he decided to wait out the storm he was in and call me. Neither of us understood the enormity or the intensity of what was happening.
As soon as the hail passed (and the tornado) he drove as fast as he could through destruction and debris laden streets to find his friend Kory's apartment. Landmarks were completely removed, even the large Walmart store that marked the apartment complexes entrance was gone.
Jason eventually found the apartment, and Kory with his dog tucked inside the bathroom. He was ok, where others had not survived. It was a miracle on so many levels.
There are so many stories that came from that devastation. We personally know many who were spared, and know many who lost so much.
Take time today to call your parents, your kids, the people that you love and don't say it often enough.
Pray, and praise God for all the miracles that happen all around us every day, for the decisive moments that stop us in our tracks for just a second, that end up keeping us from harm.
Continue to pray for Jason and Kory, and all the other people who have carried these memories as they continue to see Joplin rebuild from the rubble. Pray for those who still need healing, and for those still putting pieces of their life together ... that they find it was the hand of Jesus covering them and protecting them... that they find He is still walking with them today.
Yes, let's pray. Let's remember. #JoplinStrong
(Please share your memories of this day, whether from the Joplin, Oklahoma or Alabama twisters that share anniversaries this week.)