I have been feeling this nagging worry and angst for the past couple of weeks. First it was Hurricane Harvey. Then Irma. I had family affected by both hurricanes. Now, I am breathing a sigh of relief and am finding gratitude in spite of it all.

For hurricane Harvey, my brother Justin, his wife Katsuree, and their new baby came to stay with us for over a week. At first, my brother dropped them off and then drove back into hurricane weather because his employer said he had to be there (regardless of mandatory evacuations). Talk about stressful! I can only imagine what his wife was feeling when he drove back. Thankfully, he was back about 24 hours later, driving out through the hurricane conditions (crazy!), but he made it back to the Dallas area in one piece. He was lucky to even get out when he did, as the flooding started happening that very day and went on for days to follow. We are talking about flooding that went up to the top of the overpass! Here is a photo Katsuree took on her phone while they were driving back to Houston after the hurricane-

I am thankful they hadn’t yet bought a home in Houston. They live in a second floor rental and therefore, didn’t have to deal with flooding of their residence. Thank God for protecting my brother Justin as he drove in and out of the hurricane! Trust me, we tried to talk him out of it to no avail. He works as a civil engineer for a prominent oil company and he didn’t want to have his job in jeapordy because he left town. I am sure they were hoping for the best and that the hurricane would shift or lose strength. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Lives were lost and I am saddened by that fact. Yet, I am grateful my family is alive and well. Especially my brother Justin.

With Irma bearing down on Southwest Florida and the fact that it was a CAT 5 for a while, I was once again feeling the worry settle in. It’s the kind of worry that you try to push away because you know you are praying and God is in control. Yet, you can’t stop this feeling of dread come over you and cause you to feel nauseous at times with your mind preoccuped, even when you don’t want to be! It’s hard not to worry! My parents, my Father-in-Law, my sister Rachel, her husband, their three kids, my brother Mitchell, and my sister Jessica were all in the direct path of hurricane Irma. They all live in the Fort Myers and Estero areas. I lived in Naples on the beach for 8 years and experienced many hurricanes while living there (including Wilma), so I know the reality of their destructive power.

Most of my family stayed for Irma! Even more stress! They kept reassuring us that they were at higher ground and structures that were safe, but without seeing it for myself, I was worried all weekend. On Sunday we had the news on our living room TV nonstop (with the exception of our bible study group time).

Now that all is said and done I am so thankful for God’s answer to prayers. He made that hurricane decrease in strength as it came toward land. Once it hit land, it quickly lost strength and because of that lives were spared. If it had been a CAT 5 as it moved up the Florida coast the damage could have been the worst our country has ever seen from a hurricane, as Irma was larger than any hurricane on record that has ever hit Florida. God calmed that hurricane and I believe it I was because so many of us were crying out to him, asking for his help.

My family is all ok and their homes are in tact. Some damage is to be expected, but not the magnitude it could have been. I am thankful for all of the first responders and people working to bring Texas and Florida back to normal once again. Some families will never have their version of “normal” back because they lost family members. Things can be replaced or repaired, people cannot be replaced. I am thankful for my family and that they are all safe after two awful hurricanes.