Strength in the storm-Our Harvey Story

Transparency…

There’s something about that word that can be both challenging and downright scary all at the same time. Yet, when we hear someone be open and honest, there’s something beautiful and comforting in transparency.

My goal this year is to make my blogs a little more diverse, well rounded, and in between some of that embed some transparency. (INSERT A LITTLE DOSE OF FEAR!) My prayer in all of this is that you would feel encouraged, inspired, and leave knowing that you are not alone.

If you follow my social media pages, you’re probably aware that last summer, we along with so many in the gulf, were deeply impacted by Hurricane Harvey. You also are probably aware that by God’s grace we got through and since then have had a baby and have moved forward and we and Texas are stronger because of it.

What is hard to share are the very real moments that led up to the storm hitting us, the moments we endured as a family when Harvey didn’t seem to go away quick enough, and the process of rebuilding that came along with it all.

I’ve debated sharing my experience so many times. My story is just one story amongst the many lives that were impacted by this tragedy. My story isn’t any better than anyone else’s and I don’t share this experience to look for sympathy or pity. I share it simply because I know that if you are alive and breathing, you’ve weathered some kind of storm at some point or another. There was lots that I learned through Harvey and I hope that my experience and how I grew because of it will help you through whatever you may be going through.

So, here it goes… (INSERT DEEP BREATH)

Houston is notorious for getting storms…bad ones…and especially during the summer. We’ve seen our share of bad storms, tropical storms and hurricanes. In fact, we’ve learned what it's like to live on a street that floods pretty quickly with just a few hours of solid rain.

It wasn’t until I turned on the news a day or two before Harvey hit that I realized this wasn’t just any storm. In fact, we were bracing ourselves for a Category 5 hurricane. Before I could even process everything that was going on, Evan came home from work and told us we needed to leave, and fast. I packed a few bags for Carden and myself and loaded up the car to head north to stay with Evan’s parents, where it was safer. We said our goodbyes to Evan who was staying behind to weather the storm, and I drove away with tears running down my face as my sweet boy sat in the backseat completely unaware of all that was going on. Not only did I not want to leave home, I didn’t want to leave Evan to weather the storm by himself. The fear of the unknown was REAL.  

As soon as he could, Evan began barricading the home, digging trenches in our backyard and doing anything and everything he could to prepare.  

The rain started. It continued to rain. It never stopped raining and the forecast only predicted more. As the whole world kept an eye on the storm, we all started to realize that Harvey was going to hit Houston head on.

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Separated from my husband, late in my third trimester, and away from home (but thankfully with Evan’s family) I faced one of the worst nights I have ever faced. Something wasn’t right…

I was laying on the couch after a nap when all of a sudden, I felt unbearably sick to my stomach. I ran to the bathroom and began throwing up. That would be the first of many trips to the bathroom. It got worse as the night went on and I got to a point where I couldn't even keep down a sip of water. On top of everything that was already going on, how could I end up SICK?!

I felt like I just couldn't catch a break. In the middle of being sick, worrying about Evan and trying to keep myself together for my son, I got a video update from Evan.

Water was starting to creep into EVERY room in our home. Evan could no longer fight to keep the water out. There I lay on the cold bathroom floor throwing up and bawling my eyes out.

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I knew I needed to get to the hospital when I started to feel like I was going to pass out. It took every ounce of energy I had left to walk into the living room to wake up Evan’s sister, Lana. Thankfully, she ended up driving me to the hospital that night. I will never forget jumping out of the car, into the darkness of the night and walking into the desolate hospital. I’d hit my breaking point. I just wasn’t strong enough to hold myself together any longer. I was crying and throwing up everywhere. These tears weren’t just tears, they were tears of brokenness, tears of defeat, tears of fearing the unknown, tears of just wanting my husband to hold me, and tears of worry about the sweet baby inside of me. That night outside, holding onto the side of the hospital wall bent over in tears is a moment I don't think I will ever forget. 

I stayed in the hospital that night. They gave me fluids and monitored the baby. And for the first time since the threat of the storm, I breathed my first sigh of relief. My heart felt so much better when the doctors confirmed that our baby was fine and that I apparently had a really bad virus of some sort and with the help of fluids I would soon be able to go “home” (whatever that meant for me at that point).

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Over the next few days, weeks and months, my family of three (almost four) were separated for what seemed like forever. Carden and I packed and unpacked what seemed like countless amounts of time and traveled everywhere. We spent many nights with family, friends, and neighbors while Evan rode out the storm, protected our home the best he could and worked on rebuilding.

When we were finally reunited as a family and the home was safe enough to return to, we joined Evan in the 10x10 area that he had been living out of. Life was crazy and our home was a literal construction area. Evan slept on a cot, I slept on the couch and Carden in a pack n play in the kitchen until the baby was born. The picture of chaos in that 10x10 make shift home and the exposed studs, torn up floors, and construction materials around us was nothing compared to the joy of being back together.

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On October 7th, we packed again but this time, Evan came with us! We spent a few days in a hotel as floors began to be installed in our home. Just two days later, on October 9th our baby boy, Lincoln was born! We spent the next few days as a new family of four in a Houston Holiday Inn Express. I spent many days during those months feeling emotionally and physically exhausted and tested in ways I never have. Some days were better than others but our faith was truly what held us together.

The story of Job came to mind often over the course of that time. We lost clothes, shoes, rugs and many other replaceable things. We lost NOTHING compared to what others lost. During that time, I remembered how Job endured trials, faced loss and through it all remained faithful and his trust in God grounded more than ever. My family’s trial was small in comparison to Job’s story.

I remember posting this during that time:

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Hey little man,

Harvey may have destroyed our home, shoes, clothes, rugs, and many other replaceable things but our peace and joy are still intact. I've had your dad who has been a rockstar through all this (understatement), your sweet and crazy brother & the constant kicks from you to remind me that your there has been all I need. This is not how we thought our last month before you arrive would be. Living in multiple different places, your brother & myself bouncing around, and running on very little sleep. Our house is in a constant demo mode, for who knows how long. We are just living in the unknown of where will we be living when your born,....Or will the house be done when your here?? I have peace & faith from God knowing that we will be alright. He has us & as long as we are together that's all that matters. I love you sweet boy & I cannot wait to meet you! // So I want encourage you, if you're reading this & were affected by Harvey or maybe your reading this & just going through a lot or living in the complete unknown. Know that the Lord has you in the palm of his hand. He is going to take care of you no matter what as long as you trust Him and know that family is what matters. I have learned a lot through this but for sure it's been evident that family is all we need besides God as our number one. I have my incredible husband, Carden & this sweet baby boy inside me & that's all I need. God is good 💙

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As much as that season was insanely difficult, the sweet blessings that were woven throughout will be markers in my life that I know I will look back at and be reminded that God was always in control. I, personally, have never experienced community coming together like I did during that time or feeling the generosity of friends and family from near and far from offering their homes, to giving to our family out of their generosity and desire to bless us. I’ve never been prouder of Evan in our entire marriage than I was during this season. He not only took care of his family and put our safety first but he also tried his best to take care of the house and managing everything that came along with that. I have never missed my family, and my husband as I did during those days and weeks but I look back and can see how that season drew me closer to God, strengthened my faith and I got one of the greatest gifts during that season…alone time with my son, my first born before we became a family of four.

If you’re reading this and are facing a trial or have recently gone through an obstacle greater than you could have ever imagined, may I encourage you to dig deep and hold close to a God that never fails us and even when life feels like it could literally crush you, know that much growth (and appreciation) is produced during those times. Press on…

That's it for now but be on the look out for part two of our Harvey story to come soon.

Thanks for reading! 

xoxo,

Kristen