I spent most of my growing up years living in south Oklahoma City. We left when I was fourteen, when my dad got a promotion and the company moved us away. I remember having regular tornado drills when I was in school. The children would file out of classrooms and into the hallway, sitting cross-legged facing the walls, leaning forward and covering our heads with our hands. Somewhere along about fifth grade, I remember that it was decided that children should sit with their backs to the wall instead, as this position would provide greater protection for the spine. I remember thinking at the time that if this were a real tornado, I would not feel very secure. It seemed such a vulnerable position.
Oddly enough, considering how prevalent tornadoes are there, most homes and schools in that area are built without any basement. My mother had an in home daycare when I was a child. I have memories of piling into my mother's bedroom closet with my friends waiting for the all clear sirens to sound. We were cramped, sweaty, scared, and sitting on shoes. Tornado sirens were a matter of course in my childhood. I praise God and thank Him for the fact that I never had to ride out an actual twister.
Today, a massive tornado ripped its way though a suburb of Oklahoma City called Moore. I still have a number of friends living in the area, and as the news reached me, I prayed for my friends. I asked God to keep them safe, and all the other residents in the path of danger. Though I am truly grateful that no one I know lost life or property to the storm today, my heart is devastated by what I am seeing on the news tonight. When I heard that an elementary school took a direct hit, I felt like a bus was parked on my chest. One of my friends is a teacher in Moore, and she posted on facebook that she was taking shelter with her students. I thought of how it must feel to be entrusted to keep other people's children safe, and how terrifying it would be to know that a monster tornado is bearing down on your child's school and all you can do is trust that God and the school staff will take care of your baby.
To say my heart is broken is such an understatement it's laughable. The tears keep coming in waves. I can't shake it. I can't get that sense of distance that we use to shield ourselves from grief. I keep putting myself in the shoes of those parents who still haven't found their children, and whose children have lost their lives. I keep putting myself in the shoes of the children, riding out such a storm with nothing more than a hallway wall and their own hands to protect them. And even those children who were able to emerge safely from the rubble, probably had no home to go to, no bed to lay in tonight.
As you can imagine, my kids got a lot more hugs, kisses, cuddles, and "I love you's" tonight, even to the point that Boo begged, "let me GO, Mom!" And yeah, when Boo asked for a milkshake and I didn't have any ice cream on hand, I grabbed my keys and headed immediately to the grocery store. And yeah, when the baby went to sleep for the night, I held him up on my shoulder and kissed and nuzzled his little head long after I usually lay him down.
To say "my heart is in Moore" is much more than a nice sentiment for me. It's much more that just a graphic to post on facebook. My emotions are wrapped up so tightly in this event, I don't even know how to explain my feelings. I would ask that each of you take the time to devote some serious prayer to the sake of those who have survived this devastation...and the families of those who have not.