Sept. 21, 2017
Dear Hyde Park Family,
There were a lot of responses to my Midweek Message last week. In both my Midweek
and my sermon
, I invited us to reflect on what Hurricane Irma has taught us: about ourselves, what we value, what we fear, how we will be better prepared, and how we will respond to those who are suffering.
I received dozens of responses from you all, each one precious and poignant, and far more numerous than I can share with you today. Here is just a sampling of lessons you have learned, with permission from those who shared them with me:
ON GETTING PREPARED
As we were prepping for the storm, I realized I didn’t care about any of my possessions; I just wanted to keep my family safe. I only grabbed two things when evacuating: my camera and my Grandmother’s pearls. Everything else was just “stuff.”
ON FEELING WORRIED
I’ve learned how exhausting worrying can be. We all prepared, heeded the evacuations and thanked God the storm spared us and we were fine. Even if it had directly hit us, we were prepared, God would still be with us. It would be so much harder, but I truly believe that those who could, would take others in and we would all help each other make it through. I saw so many people offering to help those who may need it. Together as a community we will be okay, because we can come together and put aside our differences when needed.
ON WHAT WAS FEARED THE MOST
I’ll start with what I was most fearful of. For me, I was terrified of losing my childhood home. Not only for the fact that the four walls would not be there. But for the mere terrifying feeling of losing memories. Now that brings me to what I value most. I hold on to and cherish memories of my dad and me throughout the home. I walk into what became his room downstairs when he was sick, and I can see his face and twinkle in his eye, telling me how happy it makes him to see me, after I’ve come home from work. I see his smile and I cling to it. I look next to the TV console and I see him, myself, and my niece dancing to his favorite song. These memories are not only what I value, but I cling to. What am I most fearful of? Not remembering each moment by its landmark (so to speak) in the house.
ON KEEPING THE FAITH
What did Irma teach me? Irma reminded me once again about the love that Jesus Christ has for all of us. I was very nervous and stressed leading up to the storm… not knowing what to expect (I have never experienced a hurricane growing up and living in Indiana my whole life). My husband and I talked with our two girls all week about the storm. We cried, prayed, and planned what we could. We talked a lot about what was important to us … each other and God’s Love! Things are replaceable, but each other is not. It was scary saying goodbye Saturday evening to my family and going into work, but I knew we would all be safe through our prayer and faith in Jesus Christ… I told the girls when they got scared to say a prayer to Jesus and I would do the same!
ON BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER
The storm taught me how much the family and close friends in my life mean to me and how we’d do anything for each other… I realized though through this storm how amazing the people are around me in my neighborhood. We went from being a cordial block to a block of people I’d call close friends who I know we’d do anything for. And my realizing we don’t ever “need” a bigger house but to be surrounded by good people is priceless. We’re here for the long haul now 🙂
ON RETHINKING THE IMPORTANCE OF POSSESSIONS
This storm has taught me that we have too much stuff.
Stuff that I wouldn’t take with me if I had to evacuate.
Stuff that I had to pack up to secure in case of flood or wind.
Stuff that exhausted me before the storm to secure and after to unpack.
(Note: it’s not all going back.)
But most important: this storm taught me the value of good friends, family and neighbors.
That my nephew playing the guitar was incredibly soothing as the storm approached.
That board games create laughter that refreshes.
That planning for food (meals) and emergency supplies is important and vital.
That the ability to “camp” in your own house is helpful.
ON HOW TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE SUFFERING
In the two days that I have been home, I’ve been listening to others tell their stories. Listening seems to be the most important thing. People want to tell their stories. I have offered to let people stay at our house, or have showers, laundry and recharge devices. I will give away stockpiled items. I’ll volunteer. I’ll pray for others and their recovery processes. I’ll be thanking God and will be grateful. And I’m so grateful for family and friends who checked in with my husband and me on a daily basis.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
“Hurricane Oreos” depleted much more quickly than “Hurricane Baby Carrots.” Restocking accordingly. – Allison Reed
AND FINALLY, A POEM
“BEING PRESENT IN A HURRICANE”
by Lee Leavengood
A devastating strong force of nature cannot be ignored
Battening down from the strong winds and heavy rains
Watching the bending and swaying of the palm trees from inside
Feeling the dangers of the unpredictable outside
Being aware of life threating possibilities
In the now of an uncontrollable freak of weather
Asking who am I?
Grace and peace,
Hyde Park United Methodist
HOW YOU CAN HELP
We are so grateful for all the donations you brought in by last Monday. A box truck full of flood buckets, hygiene kits, and items you stockpiled for the storm were all delivered last Tuesday to people in need down in Southwest Florida. This is in addition to deliveries we made last week to flood-ravaged residents in nearby Lithia. We are continuing to receive donations, so please bring them to church, and we will deliver them as they come in. You can also make a financial contribution to the United Methodist Committee on Relief by making your check payable to the church and designating it for “Hurricane Relief.”
BISHOP’S TOWN HALL SUNDAY NIGHT
We are honored to host Bishop Carter this Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. in our Sanctuary. We will be welcoming United Methodists from all throughout Central Florida and the Gulf Coast. There will be opportunities for you to submit questions, and he will share with us his reflections on the Commission on a Way Forward, hurricane relief, the mission of the church, and much more.
We have started our GSMobile outreach classes in the community with a discipleship class at Ana’s Restaurant in Wimauma every Wednesday morning…Click here for more news from the newsletter.
1. Plan to plan.
My husband and I work jobs that require us to keep inconsistent schedules. Add to that two daughters, two cats, a house remodel, and our weekly calendars resemble the aisles of Walmart after Black Friday.
A few years back, my husband suggested a 15-minute family “huddle” on Sunday night to dissect the upcoming seven days. For now, it’s just me, him, and a desk calendar. We coordinate pick-ups and drop-offs, make general decisions about dinners (i.e., cooking at home or Chick-Fil-A), and discuss any potential conflicts or surprises. This meeting has become a sanity-staple that I hope to include our girls in when they’re old enough.
2. Schedule fun.
Do you know why dessert is so exciting? I mean, besides the facts that it’s usually something delicious and chocolate and warm? Dessert is exciting because it’s planned fun. It’s a treat to look forward to—the literal icing on the cake. One practice I’ve found helpful is to have something on our family’s calendar that we can all collectively get excited about.
Whether it’s a long weekend to a relative’s house, a slumber party with friends, or a family trip to a gaming center/arcade, we’re always counting down to something in my house. During those weeks when the day-to-day feels like a total grind, the planned fun is something you can use to buoy your spouse, your kids, and—let’s be honest here— yourself!
3. Let yourself off the hook.
Our family has a strict one sport/club per season policy. My daughter rides the school bus. She also eats lunchroom food. We don’t attend every birthday party we’re (our kids are) invited to. My girls wear their hair in neat, easy ponytails almost every day.
Over the years, our family has redefined our list of priorities and we conduct our lives accordingly. We understand that means we may do things a little differently than the family across the street…and we’re okay with that. Mostly. It’s hard to feel like other parents are out-parenting us, which is an easy illusion to buy into.
Are you familiar with this equation?
Social Media + My Insecurities = Parent Guilt, Spouse Guilt, Spiritual Guilt, Fitness Guilt, Friend Guilt, Guilt
I’ve had to learn the hard way it’s not healthy to be influenced or pressured to “do life” the way it *appears* others do. In the words of someone super famous that I’m not trendy enough to know, You do you, parents.
You can be a great parent and still let yourself (and your family) off the hook! Prioritize, simplify, and don’t apologize for guarding the gates of your family’s calendar.
Jr. Zone, Zone and Club 45 begin September 20!
Keep God in their week! Sign up your kids for fun, relational and interactive programming on Wednesday nights from 6:30-8 p.m. The programs include Bible story, interactive message, crafts and games each week. Certain weeks have special events such as pizza parties and themed parties with extended game and craft time.
There are so many places and environments your teen has to hold his or her emotions together, and their home is the one place they feel safe to let down their guard and release what may be pent up inside. For you as the parent, however, this is a test of faith and patience!
Be encouraged, however, and hang on to the promises in God’s Word that He loves your teen more than you do. He has a plan and a purpose for them, and though you might not be able to see it now, you can trust in the One who does. Hebrews 4:13 says, “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”
When you spend time with God and His Word, you’ll be able to better manage those times when you are at a loss for what to do with your teen. I know you want to fix the problem, but sometimes you’ll need to let them process their stress. Watch this week’s parenting class.
When you feel like you are at your wits end, and there is no easy solution for your teen’s frustration, it’s time to get on your knees. Prayer is the harder work, but it is the most effective. Find prayer warriors to “fight” the battle with you—ultimately, your teens are experiencing a spiritual battle, so you need to fight for them with spiritual weapons. Ask God for His wisdom to know how to pray. In the book of Psalms, it says, “Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven” (Psalm 107:28–30).
In these three verses, we are given some great encouragement. The Israelites “cried out to God,” and He “delivered them from their distress.” Stand in the gap through prayer, crying out to God for your teen’s distress—and ask Him to “hush” the raging waters in their life and make them “quiet.”
And, don’t be afraid to tell your teen you are praying for him/her. Saying something like, “I wish I could make things better for you. I don’t know what to do to help, but I want you to know I’m praying for you every day,” is a powerful way to let your teen know you love them.
I am praying for you and your family too! Please don’t hesitate to email me if you have questions or concerns. I’m here for you!