Hurricane Michael - A Lesson On Hope

Well, it’s December and usually that’s about the time we all start thinking  “Decembery” things and what the season means to each of us. For many that might mean lots of shopping and hunting for great gift ideas (FYI our Teabag Variety packs are currently 50% off), wrapping and decorating. For others it means a time a reflection and spending time with family. But for most of us it means both of those things.

For me, that looks a little different this December. I happen to have a small place at the beach down in Florida—the part of Florida that was profoundly impacted by Hurricane Michael this past October. I was in Atlanta the day the hurricane hit, and once we confirmed that our home was still standing, we decided to proceed with our long standing plan to travel to Spain the next day. Needless to say, we were nervous about leaving. But our Florida friends encouraged us to go and assured us that they would keep an eye on our home.

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 While we were away, I was in constant contact with my friends and neighbors in Florida, some of whom decided to stay put during the storm, and some who returned shortly after. Pictures I saw were heart breaking and horrific. But along with those pictures came such amazing stories of people coming together to help one another.  One friend evacuated with all the food in her fridge and freezer.  When she returned home four days later, with the food, she was able to feed many in our neighborhood who lost all their food when the power went out.  We lost 55 trees in our little enclave, and well over half of them were removed by the men in our community, starting the day after the storm, so that we could get to our homes and other resources in our community as they became available. My dear friends worked tirelessly for neighbors and myself. They removed my outdoor furniture from waterside balconies, they cleaned up the water on my floors from the wind driven rain. They met adjusters when they came to my home. They cleaned out my very stinky fridge and freezer. For three weeks they kept an eye on my place as if it were their own. They did this not only for me—but for so many others whose homes and livelihoods were completely wiped out in a matter of hours. That storm strengthened so quickly—it went from a Category 2 to only 1 mph short of a Category 5 storm in a matter of two short days. No one, and I mean not one of us, was really prepared for the aftermath of this tragedy. The entire area looked war ravaged and deserted.

But you know what? People returned to their homes and communities. People banded together. People reached out to help others even in the midst of their own personal losses. And those of us who only experienced minimal damage went out into the community day after day after day feeding those without food, and bringing much needed to supplies to areas of the panhandle that were severely impoverished even before the storm. These are the stories of hope. This is what I witnessed upon my return to my little beach place almost a month after the hurricane.

This Christmas season I am reminded of that promise of hope—the one that was given to us all over two thousand years ago, when Jesus was born. This is what I think about every Christmas.  But the hope part is more profound for me this year than in any year in the recent past. When you personally witness the hope and promise, when you see so many donating time and money and resources, serving others and really becoming the hands and feet of Jesus—it confirms so much of what we celebrate each year on December 25.

Please consider donating to a charity that supports Hurricane Michael disaster relief. I support Samaritan’s Purse. There are still so many in need, and it will take years for some areas to recover from this historical storm. One of the reasons that I am so proud to be a part of BTC is that part of our purpose is to make a difference by giving a portion of our profits to those in need.

In times of crisis we are our best selves. We come together and we give hope that was given to us—to those in need. So maybe think about that this year. What can we each do to help others? Lets give hope to those who so desperately need it. Let us all be reminded that that is the real reason for the season.

~ Jenny