Written with love, by Karley Kiker
Although I'm a Texas born-and-bred girl, my husband and I have called Hilton Head Island home for the past two years. I love everything about our little island life. Bike rides around the neighborhood. Walks on the beach in the middle of the day when we need a break from work. Our church community. Even our amazing grocery stores (seriously, I look forward to going shopping at our Kroger). Hilton Head is our happy place in every possible way. We fell in love here, got married here, and have made a home here. I never imagined what it might be like to lose it.
Before you read any further know that, thankfully, we didn't lose it during Hurricane Matthew. Our home took a hit from downed trees but, praise God, our roof remained intact and we did not experience flooding. We know that so many others on the island and in other affected areas will be returning home to much, much worse.
But despite the good news, there is debris. There is change. There is the reality of being without power, water, and sewage...basic utilities I have consistently taken for granted until now, when I haven't washed my hair for four-going-on-five days (and forgot to pack dry shampoo while preparing to evacuate).
Evacuation. There's a word that has never felt as real to me as it does now. Natural disaster. Despite the news coverage I've seen and the stories I've read in the past, that's a term I have never felt a personal tie to until this experience. With words like these floating around more often than not lately, I'm reminded of how fragile the illusion of control I cling to really is.
They say that times of crisis reveal your true priorities, and, well, I grabbed all my journals and not a lot else while packing, so I guess that speaks for itself. Wedding albums, paintings, knick knacks, stacks of letters, favorite books - they didn't suddenly lose their value. They just became nonessential. Evacuating provided me with the rare chance to remember that even if everything I left behind was lost, I would be rich in the family members and memories and years of documented heart cries and answered prayers that left home with me.
Those easy, cliche connections so frequently drawn between the storms of nature and the storms of life suddenly feel new and fresh to me. For the first time in the three years since we exchanged vows, I'm thinking about the fact that our pastor mentioned the "evacuation route" signs posted across the island during our wedding ceremony, and added that evacuation isn't an option in marriage. I'm thinking about how true it is that no matter what we face in the future, as long as Taylor and I stay united in our pursuit of our Heavenly Father and each other, we can weather it. I'm thinking about what might have happened to our home if the town had failed to implement the beach restoration project that went on all summer long, which reminds me of a truism Taylor and I learned during premarital counseling - "The time to repair the roof is while the sun is still shining." I'm thinking about the choices we have when faced with unexpected circumstances - anger and self-centered frustration, or assurance and others-motivated service. I'm thinking that there's no point in anticipating the next disaster or dwelling on "what ifs" and visions of the future filtered through fear, but there is wisdom in living life with open hands and an open heart; with our eyes constantly fixed on who and what really matters.
Please continue to keep all of the areas affected by Hurricane Matthew, especially Haiti, in your prayers during this time, and consider donating to disaster relief efforts coordinated through organizations such as Samaritan's Purse if you feel so led. https://www.samaritanspurse.org/