NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

Response to Disaster

This weekend has been full of anxiety as Hurricane Harvey headed towards Texas and began to affect more and more people’s lives. As a Christian, I believe that our prayers do have an effect, so most of my response to this storm was with prayer. It’s amazing to me how God let’s us enter into other people’s and place’s problems through prayer. And it was amazing to see how God answered several of our specific prayers about this storm. After the initial hit, we heard that no lives were lost due to the storm, at least for that moment and only one was due to a fire caused by the storm. It also weakened from a Category 4 down to a Tropical Storm very quickly. Unfortunately, many people were still affected by this storm and especially by all the rain that came with it.

So I moved on not to just praying, but being a part of the Body of Christ’s response to this disaster. I donated to the Austin Disaster Relief Network or (ADRN), a group of churches in Austin that have prepared for disasters and are ready to respond when one occurs. And I encouraged my friends and family to donate as well. If you would also like to donate, here is a link to their donation page: https://adrn.org/disaster-relief/hurricaneharvey/  The funds go towards providing essential needs for families affected by disasters and towards long-term care and rebuilding.

I also had the chance to join ADRN at a nearby Red Cross Shelter for evacuees from Rockport. These people had been in Rockport during the storm and their homes were destroyed. They were wandering the streets when the National Guard picked them up and bused them up her to Austin. Many of them had nothing at all, except the clothes they were wearing. Many didn’t even have shoes.

It was such a blessing to me to be able to provide some needed items to these people. We gave out hygiene kits, and gift cards to Walmart so they could go shopping and get some new clothes and shoes and whatever else they needed. We even had several people help organize getting people to and from the nearby Walmart. Many volunteers sat and talked through what had happened so these families could start to process what they’ve gone through. And if they wanted to, we prayed with them.

I mostly was running errands between groups but one of my favorite moments was when one of the volunteers asked me to go get some colored pencils for a family with 2 kids. One was a toddler and the other was an elementary age girl. When I went to the supply area to get the pencils, the lady there said we had toys to give to the kids too. So she followed me back to the family and we gave the kids toys, coloring books, a Barbie and their faces just lit up. The parents were so thankful, it looked like they were tearing up as they told their kids to tell us thank you. I hadn’t realized till that moment what a difference an act of kindness can mean to a family who’s lost everything.

So anyway, if you’ve been watching these storms and hurting for the people affected, don’t let that be the end of it. Do something to help.

I just read this article about all the ways you can help the people affected by this hurricane, so if you need some suggestions read this: http://www.austinmonthly.com/Austin-Amplified/August-2017/15-Ways-to-Help-Hurricane-Harvey-Relief-in-Austin/

And remember that even when what you can do seems small to you, it can be huge to the person you’re helping.

2 Comments »

When Life Gives You Lemons… or a Flat Tire

So this past weekend I finally made a trip to Uvalde, TX to see some of my good friends and their baby. It was a lot of fun, but on my way home, something unexpected happened. I was driving on Highway 90 East towards San Antonio when suddenly everything got really loud in my car. At first I thought the road was just bumpy, maybe made of a different kind of asphalt or something, but it was really loud and then it hit me: Something is wrong with my car. So I slowed down, got into the right lane, pulled off onto the shoulder of the road, and put on my hazard lights. When I finally got a look at my tires, this is what I found.

This was not what I had planned on, but there was nothing to be done but start fixing the problem. I called my mom first, just to help calm myself down. Then I called Roadside Assistance and checked to make sure I had a spare tire. It was very low on air, but it was usable. Unfortunately my jack was completely rusted. Somehow water had gotten in where it was stored and I couldn’t even make it budge and I highly doubted it would work even if I could get it out. I then contented myself to sit in the car and wait for a call back from Roadside Assistance. But when they called, partway through our conversation, a knock sounded on my car window.

A lady had seen me pulled over and she had gone out of her way to stop and see if I needed help changing the tire. She had a jack that wasn’t rusted and experience with changing a tire. So between the two of us, we got the car in a safer position and started lifting it off the ground. But when we tried loosening the bolts on the tire, one of them wouldn’t budge. But God provided again and two young men strode over to help us out. They quickly got the bolts loosened and replaced the tire. I felt so blessed and cared for by these strangers on the road. It reminded me that there are people out there who care, who don’t mind interrupting their day to help someone out and lend a hand.

They even told me the closest place I could go to refill my spare tire with air. So after calling to cancel the Roadside Assistance, I slowly drove over to the nearby gas station. The ladies and young man working there were very helpful too. I had to buy a tire gauge to check the pressure. And I had to call my Dad to ask what the pressure should be in a tire. He also suggested I go to Discount Tire to see if they could replace my tire.

So the next few hours were spent at a shopping area with a Discount Tire and several shops and restaurants. I got to eat lunch and get some help with my car. I even met an older gentleman who was also waiting in Discount Tire and we talked about where we were from and how we ended up there. He and his daughter had also had a blowout that day. But through the whole experience I felt at peace and that all I had to do was the next thing and God would take care of me. And it helped extremely to have perfect strangers come to my rescue on the road. It made me want to start looking out for other people I could also help out that day.

I know there is still a lot of tension in our country about politics and policy changes. But my experience with the flat tire reminded me that we are not alone. If we rely on God and try to help each other out and look out for each other, we’ll be okay. So I’m going to try to keep a look out for people that could use a hand and I hope you do too.

Have a wonderful week!

Leave a comment »

Dealing with Anxiety

Children, Walking, Road, Distant, Supportive, Support

Image Source

I have heard a lot about anxiety in my lifetime. People who have severe anxiety share their suggestions of ways to deal with it. There are countless books, articles and suggestions out there if you want help. But, well, I feel like I have a bit of a unique perspective, so I thought I’d share too. I can get anxious just like anyone. I’ve been nervous with speaking in front of a crowd, or being alone. I have my own worries and fears. But I don’t think it was ever serious. I never took medication, got counseling or anything like that. I was just a normal kid with normal problems. However, my sister went through and continues to deal with severe anxiety and panic attacks. Most of the advice out there is for people dealing with anxiety for themselves. But there isn’t as much advice for what to do if your friend, or relative, is struggling. What is actually helpful? And what just makes it worse? We all know good intentions don’t mean it’s what will actually help. So here are a few things I’ve learned.

5 Tips on Helping Someone with Anxiety

1. Don’t tell them what to do
Just because you read it in a book, doesn’t mean it will help. This goes for my own advice too. I may give a suggestion that was helpful in my sister’s situation, but wouldn’t help someone else. Don’t assume you understand someone else’s problem or can solve it for them. Often times they don’t want to hear any advice on what they should or shouldn’t be doing. Unless they ask, don’t tell them what to do.

2. Listen
One of the hardest parts of dealing with any problem, is feeling alone, like no one understands you. If you want to be a good friend, listen to what your friend says and believe them. There were so many times that my sister complained about her stomach hurting that many people thought she was making it up, or it was all in her head. But I believed her and told her I believed her. And knowing that at least one person doesn’t think you’re crazy can be such an encouragement.

3. Be present
This may be hard, especially if you live far away or are really busy, but it really shows you care. For my sister, I will give her a hug to show her I’m there with her (since I’m already around her a lot). Some people don’t like physical contact. But at least for my sister, giving her a hug, even one that lasts for a really long time, can help her calm down. It may look awkward to someone else who is watching, but I don’t care. I want my sister to know that I care for her when she’s hurting or scared, so I gave her a hug, or put my arm around her while we sit. I don’t have to say anything, just be there with her. Even if you don’t give hugs, find ways to be physically present with your friend. Go to their house if they can’t get out. Make the effort to be with them. And if you live too far away, maybe have a Skype chat.

4. Take away the pressure by being patient and letting go of expectations
We all feel pressure to do things, to live up to other’s expectations. These expectations can cause anxiety for anyone, and make things worse for someone who already deals with it constantly. Letting them know that they won’t disappoint you if they can’t come to the event, leave the house, or do the thing you wanted to do together can really relieve the anxiety. Countless times I’ve told my sister, “You don’t have to go. It’s not the end of the world.” Or “If we do this, it’ll be fun and if we don’t it’s okay. I’m fine either way.” I let her make the decision to do something if she’s ready to do it. And if she’s not, I don’t get upset. (This can be hard to do, and I don’t always do the best at it, but when I am patient, she does so much better)

5. Pray
This has been the biggest help for my sister. When she starts getting anxious she’ll ask me to pray. And I do, whether for her stomach to stop hurting or for God to give her peace. Sometimes I start praying and end up thanking God for her and how much He loves her and me. It helps me and my sister remember that even when we can’t do anything about the situation, He can.

 

So there’s my 5 tips. I hope they are helpful for you.

Leave a comment »

We all need a little help

 

IMG_3096

On an average day I do all sorts of things without a thought: dishes, laundry, organizing, driving, reading. And most days I think I’m fine, I don’t need any help. I am a functioning adult after all, I can handle life. Of course everyone has a day when things go wrong and I shouldn’t stress about that either, it’s normal. But well yesterday things went wrong and it taught me a lesson. You see, I am a proud person, I love to help others. I’ll listen to your problems, pray with and for you, help you move, or buy you a chocolate shake, whatever you need. But when I need help, it’s hard to ask for it. I’ve struggled with this all my life. I even remember once on a youth trip that I was having a hard time being homesick and finally opened up about it and cried like a baby. But instead of feeling worse for crying, I actually felt better, and I knew the people around me cared about me.

So fast forward to yesterday. I had spent the day doing some work, meeting up with friends, discussing life and it’s problems and joys. Like usual, I didn’t talk too much about myself. (Remember that pride thing I mentioned). So I got home and just got the details on a big project I needed to start working on when my sister asked me to drive her to a chiropractor appointment. This is a fairly normal occurrence in my house, so I said sure, grabbed the keys and drove over to the medical center. We went inside and as we waited quite awhile for her to see the doctor, I started wishing I had brought a few boxes in the car that I could start organizing while my sister was waiting, or getting adjusted. But I hadn’t, so I contented myself with drawing with a new app on my phone. By the time we left the building, I had already been gone an hour and I wanted to get home and get some work done.

But when I reached in my pocket, there were no keys. I wondered if they fell out somewhere inside, but no, when I glanced inside there they were, snug in the cup holder. I shivered, for I hadn’t had the sense to grab a jacket and the temperature had dropped in the last hour. I knew there wasn’t another set of keys, my family had never gotten around to buying a spare, so I started calling. I started with parents and eventually got around to a Roadside Assistance hotline, which in turn called a company in the city where I live. And finally after lots of waiting, calls, texts, and more waiting, someone was on the way to open the car for me.

I was trying not to be too upset, but come on, I never forget to check my pockets, why in the world did I leave the keys in the car? I should have put them in my pocket. My sister remembered seeing me put them down and thinking it was odd, but she didn’t say anything and we both forgot about it until we found the car was locked and I had no keys. And I couldn’t wait outside because now it was getting dark and very cold. I had already called lots of people, but I asked my sister to call one more person, my brother, to come bring me a jacket. And when he came, I lost it. I started crying. I was just so stressed out by the whole situation and tired of being the “adult” who had to handle everything. Having him come, helped me let go of that pride and overflow with thankfulness that someone cared about me too and that if I ask for help, it’s okay.

I couldn’t help but think of the country song “You Find Out Who Your Friends Are.”

So my brother stayed with us till the locksmith showed up, and broke into my car. Eventually we all made it home and went back to life as normal. But that whole event reminded me that I’m not perfect, I make mistakes, I’ll need to ask for help sometimes, and that’s okay. There are people that still love me and will help me face the hard times, all I need to do is humble myself and ask for help.

Leave a comment »