first thoughts post-flood

*This is the unedited, unrestrained glimpse into the mind of a girl who just "lost everything".

What I have: one outfit, my gray sweats (seriously...who would leave those behind?), a few toiletries, one picture album, one journal, a few photos, my pocket Bible, a few books, two sets of extra contacts, tennis shoes, workout clothes, birth certificate, passport, and wallet.

What I don't have: everything else. Most heartbreaking are the irreplaceable things like non-digital photos, every letter I've ever received, things I hoped to pass on to my children, journals that detailed my walk with Christ thus far, memorabilia from time spent overseas, books with notes from friends and my own quiet times, and home videos. I haven't cried many tears over furniture, clothes, food, etc...but my heart is broken over these few small, invaluable items.

What I have: all the same tools to share, glorify, and worship Jesus Christ that I had yesterday. A mouth to speak, ears to hear, eyes to see, hands to toil, feet to bring the Good News. A roof under which to sleep, friends and family to listen, food to eat, clothes to wear (although you might see me in my gray sweats even more than you thought was humanly possible to wear gray sweats), a cell phone to talk on, a laptop to communicate, a car to drive, a bank account. I still own more worldly possessions than most people in the world.

When you're a kid, everyone says, "What would you take out of your home in a fire?" The truth is, it doesn't matter what you take. I always said I'd take pictures, journals, money, Bible, etc. But it really doesn't matter. When it comes right down to it, even if I had managed to take every single thing that I thought I'd want or need, I'd still have something I wished I'd gotten. It's all under water. All of it. And one year from now, I guarantee you that it won't matter. Life will go on.

I've often said the best thing about being back in Tennessee was living alone in the woods in "my house" on my uncle's farm. And it's true. I loved that house. And I loved those letters. And those pictures. But my love for God should make my love for those THINGS look like hatred. And I'm pretty sure I loved all of those things a little too much. For someone who has always prided herself in frugality and simplicity, this is a big reality check. I love things just as much as the average spoiled American.

I haven't been to the house yet--the water is up to the windows right now and no one can enter. I'm sure it will be devastating.

It's no one's fault. You can't control nature...or God...or life. No one could have predicted how the water would rise so quickly. I beg the Lord to help all of us remain free in Him without laying blame on anyone, especially ourselves.

The Lord has already reminded me that I don't need things to pass on to my children--I have an eternal inheritance of faith in Jesus Christ to pass on. What else will they need?

I'm heartbroken.

But I sang in the shower this morning...so I'm still singing.

Don't waste your life...on things.

More to come.


  1. Susan - we love you .... let us know what you need - we would love to help out in any way... we could also send a josh and a sam... I"m sure they could help take your mind off of your loss for a little while at least. Praying for you.

  2. i don't know you personally; i was only directed to your blog via a friend on facebook.
    but from your words, i know you are definitely in love with Christ and you have such a joy and peace about your circumstances and i really look up to you for that.

    im very lucky. my apartment is fine. my family (although not in clarksville), weren't affected by the flooding. but my heart definitely goes out to those who lost everything.

    keep your head up. God WILL provide :) thanks for your encouragement. God Bless :)

  3. a friend emailed me a link to your blog and said i had to read to read it, that your testimony thru this trial is amazing. and it is. i love hearing how God is sustaining you thru this time. your perspective is beautiful, and i'm sure it is not easy to keep such an optimistic view 24/7 right now.

    God is still good, isn't He?

    i can't replace the invaluable things that you have lost. i don't even know if you'll need them, but last week i got a set of pots & pans, used them once, and because of changing living situations i don't need them now. they're not top of the line, but if you could use them please shoot me an email and i'll ship them up when you're ready. stokedauntjen@gmail.com

    may your faith continue to be challenged and strengthened thru this. and may your love for Jesus continue to grow deeper.


  4. This makes me want to cry! Shared tears, shared laughter...you have enriched our lives and continue to do so in the toughest of circumstances. Sing on, Susan!

  5. Gretchen, I think that Patty Senter, Debbie Hoffius, and Melodie Walenius are organizing on the First Norfolk end of things, so you can check with them. Thanks so much! And definitely send those boys my way!!

    Nikki, thanks for your encouragement and I'm so glad that you're okay!!

    Jen, thanks so much for your sweet words, and at this time I am unsure of where I will be living and do not have a space to store anything. I am honestly still just working on basic necessities for everyday living at the moment. Thanks so much for the offer of ptos & pans--please pass them to someone in your area who is in need!

    Gail--love you! I managed to salvage (albeit watered down and runny) quite a few letters from you today! It was so exciting! :)

  6. I saw you on the LPM blog. God will bless you as I have had several knocks on the head from Him like that over the years. We don't need a house - we are His temple. The blessing is the falling in love with Him over and over again. Rene aka Loved Back to Life

  7. I've never met you but was sent this blog through a friend. Its encouraging to hear your strength and the reminder that its all just stuff. All we really need . . . is Him.

  8. Susan, I'm sooooo glad I came here today and read your perspective on this tragedy you are experiencing. It's touching and inspiring.

    And I will pray for you.

    In His Grip ~ Rachel Olsen

  9. LovedBacktoLife,
    (Love your name!) Thanks for your encouraging words and for reading!

    Lauren, so glad you were encouraged. You're right! He's all we need.

    Rachel, ecstatic that you are inspired and thanks so much for your prayers.

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  11. My Dear Sister in Christ: You are right to focus on what you DO have. That is what the Lord would have you do. Yes... Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is merciful, He is constant, He is righteous, He is LOVE. He is so many wonderful and beautiful things and He will never leave you or forsake you. You know this, and it warms my heart to witness your faith and your testimony to that very fact. Yes dear sister, please continue to bring the Good News... YOUR good news. It is inspiring and it has touched me deeply, as I'm sure it does others. Thank you for sharing it, Susan. I pray that the rest of your journey is as beautiful. May God bless you and keep you.

    In His Love,

    Sandi Miller
    Clarksville, TN

  12. Sandi,
    Thanks for your encouragement. I pray you and your family have made it through the flood okay. May God continue to glorify Himself in our city!

  13. Amazing. Your faith is an inspiration.

  14. Wow. What a powerful message. I'm praying for you.

  15. Wow...
    The words are hard to type because of my tears.

    Praying for YOU!!! mightily.

  16. Susan,
    Heard about this thru a tweet by Lindsey Nobles. You are an inspiration. Love the honesty and hope you are living out through your singing. Wear those gray sweats joyfully as I think God's glory will be shining too brightly for folks to notice.
    Bless you and thanks for sharing!

  17. Susan, we lost everything a while back and the day the house went God led me to Psalm 26:8 (I have loved the house "that I have lived in"). Then in Psalm 27 He assured me that I would find a dwelling place in Him. Hebrews 3 describes a house not as a place or structure but a legacy, a fulfilled life - your life and the memorials it leaves behind for those who follow you. That is what He meant when He said to David, "I will build you a house" (2 Sam 7: 11-12). He will establish your house - and it will be a refuge to many and a dwelling place for God. "I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor His seed begging for bread" - He will hold you and lift you up. He is redemptive and His plans for you are good.

  18. Susan,

    Caught your blog on twitter from a repost from Lindsey Nobles. Thank you so much for sharing your heart so openly, and you are oh so right. One year from now you will not only realize that you did not really need those things, but in fact, you will look back and realize just how strong of a testimony it is that you have been restored beyond your expectations! Thank you for your gracious nature. Even in your struggle, you still have the confidence to recommend that someone share their pots with another instead of hoarding them to yourself before you are ready. That is maturity in faith!

    Be encouraged, be steadfast. Stay focused on the haves and not the losses.

    "He will keep in perfect peace the one who's mind is steadfast because they trust in Him..."

    Thank you for being a blessing to many you may never meet.

  19. Good Morning Susan,
    I also was directed to this blog by a twitter repost from Lindsey Nobles.
    Thanks for sharing so openly about your hurts, but mostly I'd like to say thank you for sharing about your hopes.
    Thanks for showing us a TRUE love of Christ that clings and glorifys in the midst of unimaginable struggles.

    2yrs ago(Mothers Day wknd)our home was threatened with raging brush fires. 30 homes in our area were destroyed. We were forced to evacuate by the police/firefighters. We had about 20mins to gather our belongings. Although our home was spared. Our lives were forever changed from that moment on. We realized how overrated "Things" are...

    Psalm 13:5-6 "I trust in your love. My heart is happy because you saved me. I sing to the LORD because he has taken care of me."(CEV)

    Thanks for your words, your spirit, and your soul lifted in song.
    Blessings and many prayers to you.

  20. Ever since Lindsey twittered about your crisis, I have been preoccupied by it. I came home tonight to this thought - God works at two primary levels: through a bigger context and at a personal level. Thus He worked with Israel as a nation, yet still wrote personal stories about the individual actors in that greater drama. At a grand level your city is in crisis and will take time to heal, yet God is doing something personally significant in you and through you that will touch many lives. That is what He does and He collects such personal stories in His personal scrap book to remember the years we have walked with Him. He created the world and the atom, the sunset and the flower - though awesome, He still touches our lives with the finesse of a great artist - and so perfects us.

  21. Josh, Jason, and Heidi: Thanks so much for your prayers!!

    Sara, I'll definitely be wearing the grays with a big smile! :)

    Peter, thank you so much for the encouragement. Redemption has been a huge theme in my life (obviously! as a believer, it should be! :), but particularly the past few months, and ESPECIALLY the past week! On your second post, I was absolutely floored by your words. You are SO, SO RIGHT! I am really going to have to sit in that one for awhile. In complete awe of the Maker, the Weaver of Time!!

    Chad and Melinda, thank you both for your encouragement and prayers. I'm keeping Scripture given to me very close to my heart during this time. Thank you!!