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PIck myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again

As the media reeled this week with stories of disaster in Oklahoma, I was especially touched by a story I heard on NPR last Thursday.  The Phillips family knows what it is like to experience loss.  In 1999, they lost their home to another tornado that hit the Moore area.  They rebuilt two miles away only to see their home destroyed by this latest natural disaster. 

An aerial view of some of the Moore,
Oklahoma destruction. (Source)
The entire family is safe and sound. Nobody was hurt. Nobody died. But they have essentially lost everything.  A hall closet filled with linens seems to be the only structure that escaped the scene relatively unscathed.  As I listened to this family speak with cracking voices, you could hear that combination of resilience and sadness that inhabits those who grieve.  Rena Phillips told the NPR reporter, "I ran last time, I'm not running again," she says. "It's like why run? You know I still had a little fear, but God deals with it. He peels that onion layer off, little by little, and says, I need this.... So, yeah, we're not leaving."

I am sure Rena and Paul Phillips would gladly trade their situation for many others at this point but it is interesting how your experience can help you withstand future struggles.  As their friends and neighbors faced their own tragedies, many in shock, the Phillips family set to work clearing their land, preparing to rebuild again. Paul says, "You realize your favorite chair is gone or the favorite spot [where] you like to go is gone. That's when it gets hard." Those moments happen. The waves of grief fall upon you, sometimes threatening to drown.  Somewhere along the way, though, the storms subside and you are even more prepared for the storms that may come along in the future.  

I related so well to the Phillips' story.  When I went online to find the story and share it, I was interested in the comments that others made about their decision to "stay in one place" and start over.  Of the four comments, three stated that the family was better off running away. They thought the family should move, whether for practical reasons (insurance) or just because they thought it was "insanity" to live in a place where tragedy had struck in such a way.  One commenter, however, seemed to get it.  S/he wondered aloud, "If they left, where would they go? The entire New England, mid-Atlantic and gulf coast is already a place no one should live due to hurricanes. The entire mid-west is off limits due to tornadoes from Texas to the Canadian border and all points east. The plains are a drought wasteland and the mountain states are wildfire hell-scapes. The Pacific NW and California are earthquake and tsunami danger zones. The entire midsection is prone to huge killer snow and ice storms. So, where will all the people with good sense go to live? Oh yeah, to all the other SAFE places in America."

Truth be told, we cannot run away from our fears. Tragedy will find us, in one form or another. We can, however, realize that one of the few constants in our lives will be change.  We make preparations, we ride out the storm, assess the damage, and we start all over again. 

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