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Lessons come from life's storms

The wonders of Spring seem to be arriving just in time to bring hope when we need it most. The bright, sunny days and pops of color as new flowers bloom are a reminder that life goes on when we think ours has stopped cold. Three weeks ago, our county had a heart-wrenching week with both the loss of a teen who was loved by everyone, followed by the devastation of a tornado.

I became overwhelmed when talking with teachers and friends of Cheryl Helmly, then two days later, talking with victims of the tornado. The brevity and complexity of our life was more evident that week than I would like to admit.

I'm sure I was not the only one with questions: Why did an obviously good person have to die so young? How were those closest to her supposed to cope? Why was one house destroyed and the one next door untouched? How could the occupants survive all that destruction?

In the weeks that followed, I have not found the answers I sought, but instead found something greater. God is sovereign. The tragedies took us places we didn't want to go, and we're stronger because of it. I've seen it in the new boldness of leaders to acknowledge God's divine intervention when they would have otherwise been silent. I've seen it in the willingness of so many to support those who were in need. I've seen it in the tears and the questions and the struggles and the gratitude. This week, I saw it in the bright red tulips around Thomson Elementary and the white blossomed trees decorating Thomson Middle School.

I was so encouraged and touched by the heart-felt letter from the Helmly family (printed in our March 8 edition), then again at the Board of Education meeting a week later. One of the fun parts of the meeting each month is the announcement of Top Dog Award winners when each school and department chooses one employee to recognize and lavish with praise. For March, Thomson High School strayed from the usual and chose the entire community as its Top Dog, thanking the community for the outpouring of support during the tragic week.

Finally, I received an email from a very dear friend of mine, whom I haven't had much time to be with since I became a single mom and employed full-time. She's the perfect friend in that she is still there, even though I have been distracted. After hearing the news of the tornado (she lives in Augusta), she emailed me, thankful that no one was harmed in the storm. "Wow," she said. "So I guess that means we have got some serious living to do." Amen.

Web posted on Thursday, March 22, 2007

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