Two years ago my family made two trips to help with tornado recovery in Joplin, Missouri. I saw devastation like never before.

We spent our days collecting household items and important papers that had been strewn all over the city, hoping to somehow connect the item or important papers with their owners.

I particularly remember picking up a drawing that had been obviously drawn by a preschooler and had most likely been posted proudly on the refrigerator in the kitchen.

1466060_361785650625093_891568815_nNow there was no refrigerator and no kitchen.

Never did I think that we would experience this kind of devastation in my own back yard.

On Sunday, Mark and I headed to East Peoria to worship at Harvest Bible Chapel.  It was extremely windy and the clouds were rolling in.  Just as we arrived at church, the rain started pouring.

We ran into the building and just as we got inside, the electricity went out.  They began asking everyone to move into the worship center, away from the windows in the lobby.

Within minutes we knew this was serious.  Many people were crouched on the floor with heads covered, praying aloud.  We heard the freight train sound of the tornado and my ears began popping.  I honestly thought that the roof above us would be peeling away at any moment.

But it didn’t.

The tornado ripped through the parking lot of the church, but not the building. No one was seriously hurt.

We worshipped in the dark. Pastor Harkness preached in the dark.  We prayed in the dark.

After our time of service, we headed out to find our cars.  We had driven my car…the tiniest little car that I was just sure had been picked up and thrown into the next county.  But there it sat.  Every car around us had their windows blown out.  Many cars were pushed into each other.

My windshield was cracked and broken in over 10 places, but it was intact!  The car hadn’t moved!

1461714_361817710621887_1349869111_nAs we drove home that day, little did we know the devastation that had occurred just miles away in parts of Pekin, Peoria, and Washington, IL.  These are communities where I speak at moms groups. There are friends and the family of friends who live there.  My friend Mindy’s parents lost their home.

Now the clean up begins, one piece at a time.  Their lives will forever be marked by “before the tornado” and “after the tornado.”

Please join me in praying for the families who were affected by these tornadoes.  We have many women from these areas that come to our Hearts at Home conferences and are part of our Hearts at Home family.

Our prayers and our support for relief efforts can make a difference.

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