Thursday, May 8, 2014

Preparation for the Storm

You may or may not have heard about the flooding in Pensacola/Mobile last week. I was surprised we didn't get more national news, as the effects from the storm were worse than the vast majority of hurricanes we've had on the Gulf Coast. Here are a couple pictures from Pensacola:

Photo from

Photo from

If you don't know by now, this is what happened last Tuesday night. Around three or four in the afternoon, storms rolled in to the Gulf Coast. Not really that big of a deal. In fact, most of us were concerned only with tornados and the amount of thunder (it was later estimated that over 75,000 lightning strikes touched ground during these few hours). 

I personally drove to an Argentine tango lesson I was determined NOT to miss, and on my way home, the rain had slowed down to a drizzle. I got my fuzzy Hello Kitty pants on, and my husband and I started up the last episode of Sherlock (which we had been saving for a night such as this one). The rain continued and grew increasingly heavier. But still, I didn't think much of it. I didn't even keep up with the tornado warnings, though I probably should've. Let's all blame Benedict Cumberbatch.

Then, my husband decided to go outside just to be sure everything was okay before we went to sleep. What he saw shocked him. The holding pond in our neighborhood had flooded, and a rushing river of water had begun to fill houses nearby.

In the next hours, we went around our house, looking for sentimental items and putting them on higher ground. Things like cards from our wedding. Photo albums. My vintage dresses. 

All this time, I will admit, I thought my husband was overreacting. See, I hadn't seen the storm yet. I didn't know what our neighbors' homes really looked like. In the middle of the night, after we'd moved most of our stuff up to coffee tables and chairs, I decided to look out the window.

I saw surging water window-deep up to our neighbors' windows. And then I realized Matt wasn't overreacting. The danger was real. As I watched from my window, I began to calculate how far the slope of our yard really went. Would it be enough to keep the flooding from our home? I prayed, asking God to keep the water away from us, but mostly so worried for the families I knew were on much lower ground. A firetruck even pulled up to rescue some of our neighbors, but they couldn't reach them. An hour later, a zodiac boat was finally able to get to them. These stories happened all over the city-- some people even climbed onto their roofs and waited for rescue.

As I looked out the window, it occurred to me that our house is right at the breaking point of the ones that flooded in our neighborhood. Yet, we had no water come inside, thanks to the slope of our yard.

Did I think about the slope when we bought the house? Um, no.

We are not in a flood zone. We're not on the beach, where houses routinely get smacked with hurricanes. I thought our neighborhood was fine.

Let me repeat that-- I thought our neighborhood was fine.

It wasn't.

And yet, in the midst of that flood, God provided something I didn't know I'd need when we bought the house-- higher ground.

For that I was so, so thankful.

Some of you feel like God has forgotten you, or like He's made a mistake with your life. Maybe you had your heart set on the Genesis contest, and you didn't semifinal. (I've been there. Multiple times. And it stinks.) Maybe you submitted to an editor or agent and didn't get a reply. Or maybe you're dealing with something deeply personal in your spiritual life.

Let me tell you this. God is always making provision for us. Provision we don't even know we need.

Trust Him to do what He promises. Trust that He loves You. Because when the storms come, you're going to want His provision, not your own.

That's not to say things are going to be easy. Many times, they won't be. You are going to come across some serious hurdles and disappointments in your journey as a writer, whether you are published, agented, or neither yet. But we must learn to look for God's grace and provision, because it abounds.

Remember the Israelites in the wilderness? God gave them manna as provision, and yet, they weren't satisfied with that. They wanted God to do things their way instead. And yet, they never could've imagined the plans God had in store for their people-- plans so much greater than their own.

God has a plan for your life too. Your writing life, and your actual life. It may feel like He's asking you to wait too long for publication, or like He's letting you face too much disappointment. 

Maybe, like me in the flood, you don't see the storm yet. Maybe you don't see his provision yet because you aren't in the flood.

But believe me, He's got you covered. Even now, He is in the process of providing the "higher ground" you don't even realize you need. He's planting seeds for the trees you'll need to stabilize you later on.

And isn't that a cool thought?

How has God shown His provision in your life? Why do you think it's so hard to trust His goodness to us?


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blogFacebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

How frightening! We are in a big drought here in Texas and never have flooding issues to speak of. But I love what you said about God having us covered. YES He does! He is so faithful!

Karen @ a house full of sunshine said...

Wow, Ashley! Those images are insane!! But gosh, what a beautiful and heartfelt message to take away from that situation. Preach it, girl!! :) xo

Krista Phillips said...

Has God shown provision in my life?

HA HA HA HA. So much so I laugh at the idea of him NOT.

I think it's important to remember that even though God does provide higher ground, sometimes he also allows the waters to rise and flood. That sometimes we have to go through the flood, see everything destroyed, and let me tell you. If you lean on God in THOSE times, you'll see something pretty amazing come out of it.

Like rescue boats at just the right time. Neighbors pitching in to bless you. Gifts from strangers.

For me, the flood was my sweet baby being born with half a heart. The waters poured in when I sat outside her hospital room, watching doctors run and yell at each other and do compressions on her little heart to keep her alive.

And God's rescue boats were nurses who were a lifeline. They were strangers sending money, sometimes even slipping it under the door, without us ever asking, which provided for bills to be paid because I was no longer able to work.

I saw God work in miraculous ways that honestly, higher ground had never been able to show me.

That said, I love that my Father has lifted us out of that mess and now we are resting on a bit of higher ground, safe at the moment. The churning waters are still very much in view, but it is our time of resting,for gaining our strength.

Okay, so I know I went a bit of a different place with your analogy and it is probably the world's longest comment EVER, but well, lol, not gonna erase it now!

Rebecca Gomez said...

Love this! My pastor likes to say that "God is always working upstream." So true.

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Ashley, I'm so glad you guys weathered the storm without much damage.

I love the idea that God is already making things happen in our present that will prepare us for our future. Like those trees you said He was planting.

I've seen God's provision many times in my life. As a college grad with no job, he provided money to fill my car with gas, to fly home to see family on occasion, to pay my rent. He provided temporary jobs until He brought my dream job in the form of an elementary teaching position into reality.

He's provided great health care for some of the health surprises we've faced. And He's given peace in the midst of them. In every one, God's allowed me to see His fingerprints.

I could go on and on, but I'll let Krista keep the record for the longest comment. ;)

Ashley Clark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ashley Clark said...

Sherrinda, I'm sorry to hear about the drought! You know, it hardly ever floods here, especially not in zones that aren't prepped for flooding-- that's why so many people were shocked.

Ashley Clark said...

Thank you, Karen! The saddest images are the ones of people's belongings and carpet stacked near the edge of the road. :( I had to stop watching the news coverage because I was growing so weary.

Ashley Clark said...

Very true, Krista! Sometimes the "higher ground" means going through part of the flood!

Ashley Clark said...

Rebecca, I love that saying! Thanks for sharing!

Ashley Clark said...

Jeanne, thanks for sharing! It's cool to see how God has provided uniquely in each of our lives!

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Wow! Those pictures, Ash! Crazy. We are no strangers to flooding here in Missouri, but it's always so frightening to have your home threatened and your sense of security shaken. So glad they were able to rescue your neighbors.

And God's provision for me.. that higher ground.... Let me just say that he didn't need to prove anything to me but he has, again and again. Sparing my life. Restoring my health. Giving and taking away even when I didn't initially understand. Providing more miracles than anyone would need in a lifetime. No matter what the outcome, he is a refuge in the storm. Great post!