We rarely know how we will die. What will take us out?
We also can’t accurately predict where we will die.
I never would have imagined my sweet mama would die in Priceville, Alabama. It’s been 5½ years since she last took in earth air in assisted-living there, and although I still miss her terribly, I’m grateful that she’s breathing clear-headed in heaven space now.
Jeff and I were in Priceville again Sunday afternoon. It’s a place where many could have died last Thursday night. Suddenly. Unexpectedly.
But they didn’t die there.
And they were grateful.
Tornados Change Lives
An EF-2 tornado ripped through, staying aloft enough to bother roofs, but still strong enough to uproot many roots and break apart numerous trees.
Despite not taking lives, the devastation leaves lives changed anyway.
We went with our local disaster relief group this weekend to clean up debris from people’s yards. It’s meaningful work (even though my muscles provide little help compared to the men).
When tornadoes fly into your home, it changes you.
So it’s the stories that make the biggest impression on me.
Stories Change Us
And in their stories, I, too, am changed.
The older gentleman in the corner house said six people had gathered in his home, the two youngest grandkids tucked in an interior closet surrounded by pillows. They took on damage to their roof. They had outside vehicles picked up and put down in new places. They had too many trees down to count.
But they were fine. It wasn’t their time or place to die. For now, they live on another day, to clean up and talk to each other and be there when one awakens restless now from bad dreams.
Neither was Thursday night in Priceville the time or place for Joy to die, although she thought death was coming.
With electricity was knocked out, her phone told her to take cover: a tornado warning had been issued.
She and her husband took shelter in their bathtub and she called her two grown daughters.
In case she didn’t survive the night, she wanted to say “I love you” to her girls one more time before she died.
Joy’s husband told her then to hold on to the rails in the tub and not let go for anything.
Then they heard the noise, the tornado flying over, the many, many trees crashing down all around them.
But they, too, were spared from death. And they were grateful, not only for their lives, but also for the people who had been coming out daily to help them clear their land of all the trees and debris covering their neighborhood.
Welcoming gratitude in a time of crisis is not easy.
But it’s a choice. A deliberate one. I heard it in the voices in Priceville Sunday.
And I want to hear “gratitude” more in my own voice for my One Word “Welcome” theme for April.
- I want to write more in my 3-blessings journal.
- I want to say, “I’m so grateful for . . .” out loud, over and over.
- And I want to let the people that I love know how I’m grateful for them.
None of us are guaranteed details of our end-of-life moments. We rarely know details of how even the next hour will work out.
As believers, we only know that in what comes afterwards, we will be victorious.
What we know is grace. For now, for later.
God will provide what we need in this hour and in our final moments and whatever comes after that.
God’s knowledge of the details is enough. Enough in this time. Enough in this place.
Seated in sufficiency, we make peace with uncertainty. We can release thoughts of scarcity and replace them with gratitude instead.
Thank you, God, for that.
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If you had one final call to make, who would you call? Please share your stories in the comments.
Thank you, sweet readers, for the lovely way you continue to bless me with your prayers and words. I am grateful for YOU.
- What I saw the day Mama died
- Breathe, breathe, breathe your last
- You don’t choose how you’ll die
- There is power in a place
- Links, books, and other things I love – April 2016
- When you want to, you’ll be enabled to