Hope in the Storm

Catherine’s Story:

As I trudged through the floodwaters in my rain boots, I told my husband, “Look around. One day we’re going to tell our grandchildren about this.” Hurricane Harvey moved through Houston two days prior, and the rain didn’t let up. A few hours before, we didn’t even have a puddle on our street—but because of a nearby reservoir release, it was only a matter of time before our house became the next one to succumb to the flood waters. We prayed for God to send help, and miraculously, a kind stranger on a jet ski showed up to rescue us just a few minutes later.

Two weeks later, I walked into my destroyed house in a Hazmat suit and mask. I took in the damage which included mold on the couches, large appliances were tipped over, and a stench which made my head hurt. The place where we spent our first year of marriage resembled a war zone.

In that moment, I realized this situation probably delayed my dream of having children. We wanted to have a baby shortly after we married, but that didn’t happen after a year of “trying.” The combination of infertility and losing my house almost seemed like too much to bear. Why was this happening at the same time?

With tears streaming down my face, I walked through the wreckage. I looked up on the living room wall and saw the words, “It is well with my soul” on a surviving piece of décor. I felt like God’s reminder that this house wasn’t my security—He is. As I surveyed the rest of the house, I sang those words on repeat. Peace flooded my heart, Jesus was holding my hand through chaos, calming my anxiety and covering me in His love.

We spent the next several weeks throwing out wedding presents, furniture, and my husband’s last symbol of bachelorhood—his pool table. At least 25 people came to help us gut drywall and rip out floors. Some of these people were friends, others we had never even met— the response from our church, city and friends across the country was encouraging. My in-laws graciously opened their home to us as if our own—giving us a place to stay while we figured out our next steps.

Another miracle surfaced: we had flood insurance. In its 50-year history, our house never came close to flooding, and it isn’t considered in a flood zone. In fact, we only bought our policy at the suggestion of my in-laws. What seemed like an extra expense became God’s provision for us.

A few months into the recovery process, I began Christian counseling to process my disappointment and loss. Counseling helped me realize something important: I was grieving. I had experienced deep, and life-altering loss. I lost more than a house—I lost a part of my life I dreamed about for so long. I needed to grieve the time lost to start a family, the idyllic start to the marriage I envisioned.

We’re still displaced, and we still don’t have a child to call our own, but God gives us His endurance and the peace to say, “it is well with my soul.” The gifts of His Word, His provision, our family and friends and the generosity of strangers sustain us. He met me in sorrow and gave me joy in difficult circumstances. He strengthened my marriage. He’s provided financially in unexpected places. I can’t tell when this storm will end, but I trust God more now than I did when it started. And I know He loves me too much to write my story in any other way.

On the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey, my husband suggested we go to our house and write verses on the open studs before they got covered up by new drywall. We wanted God’s promises living on our walls, the promises that are carrying us through this journey. Over one of the door frames, we wrote Joshua 1:9:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

 

3 Comments on “Hope in the Storm

  1. Thanks for your testimony, Catherine. Although we can’t imagine the devastation of a natural disaster, my wife and I have been struggling with starting our family as well and with other work and family difficulties, and it’s easy to start to let discouragement enter our perspective. Hearing your story and witness to faith and trust helps to put thing back into their proper context and reminds us that God is always present and to bring our struggles to the foot of the cross.

    Hope you guys are doing well. Please let us know if we can help with anything.

    Nick and Erin G.

  2. Pingback: Practice: Simplicity |

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