Tag Archives: rebuild

Treasures Discovered After Natural Disaster


“The storm blew in more than it blew out.” ~Joplin Tornado Survivor

On May 22, 2011, a tornado 7 miles in length ripped through the town of Joplin, Missouri. In a community of 49, 024 people, Joplin lost 160 people and nearly 8000 structures in a few deadly moments.

joplin tornado

I recently spent a day in this southwest Missouri town helping rebuild homes. While most of the debris has been cleared, there are many homes, schools, and trees that are vacant. Despite all the loss and destruction this town has endured, I was blown away by the strength and gratitude I encountered.

I left that day saddened yet awestruck, wondering how this community could be grateful after such a deadly disaster. I was gracious to hear one woman’s story of how she survived after the tornado left her home with only one wall standing.

A Treasure to Find Something Positive Amidst Something Horrible…

As I listened to her story, I heard her resilience, gratitude, and the determination to live in spite of great obstacles in her way. Here’s what she shared about what’s helped her see the treasures along her path of rebuilding her home and life:

  • Be grateful for what you have. Your loved ones that are still living. And, the memories and the time you were given with the loved ones you’ve lost.
  • Hold onto your faith. Know that you are not alone. Lean on the strength your faith brings.
  • Accept help. Watch for people to step up and help you do the things you can’t do by yourself.
  • Allow grief to come and go. Let the mourning flow. It will pass, but first it needs to flow.

Her house has been completely rebuilt in 7 months by volunteers donating their time. She freely opens up her home to these volunteers and has made lifelong friends. Among the volunteers are people like you and me from Missouri and surrounding states.

The debris is mostly cleaned up, but there is still a lot of work to do. While some homes and businesses have been rebuilt, many more homes and schools are still in the process of cleaning up and rebuilding. Life has gone on for these Joplin residents, but they still need our help.

How can you help this community rebuild?

Volunteer by calling a Joplin church to schedule a work day. Donate money to help with building materials and even school textbooks. Help in anyway you feel called to lend a hand. It is literally taking a nation of volunteers to rebuild this community, so every hand makes a difference.

This town has lost a lot, but it has found treasures in the memories, the strength, and the volunteers. They may have lost their homes and loved ones, but the tornado has not taken their resolve to rebuild and live in spite of the destruction.

A story of survival, healing, & hope told by the people who lived through it.


How do you hold onto positives in spite of difficult times in your life?


Related Posts: Encounter Meaning Amidst Disaster; 5 Ripple Making Steps to Liberate a Life

Love, Care, Donate: Joplin still needs our help rebuilding. Donate Here.


Photo Credit: “Under the Rainbow” by Hartwig HKD; “Absolute Destruction” by John Daves

Encounter Meaning Amidst Disaster

Our house sits in a neighborhood nestled in a bustling city. It has a small town feel with the big town amenities. We have started our family in this house. This place that we call our home is where we connect, unwind, and grow.

We grow attached to our homes. They are treasured and maintained in hope that our house is with us for years to come. And, sometimes, taking our house for granted, forgetting how blessed we are to have this roof over our heads.

A Wake Up Call

It was a regular day, like any other day until the tornado sirens sounded. I stopped in my tracks and diverted my glance out the window. I didn’t notice stormy weather brewing. Despite my confusion, I led my son to the basement to wait out the sirens.

I had a hard time sitting still. I returned upstairs for my son’s toys and my purse. If the worst happened, I wanted my cell phone.  Back in the basement, I thought of more items I’d like to bring with me to safety – my laptop, camera, and cash.

Then, it hit me. Are these material possessions what I want to cling to, if this was my final moment alive or in this is house? No. I realized I wouldn’t cease to exist if I lost these material reflections. It would be hard, and I would mourn, but I could rebuild.

Meaning Amidst Disaster

Many have lost their homes and loved ones in recent and previous tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis. How do you rebuild your life and home after loss?

“You can spend your whole life buildin’
Something from nothin’.
One storm can come and blow it all away.
Build it anyway.” Anyway by Martina McBride

Finding faith, hope, and peace to keep moving forward. Being grateful for what we do possess, our lives and days left to live. Reaching out to others. Doing for others what they can’t do for themselves. All are ways that we uncover meaning amidst disaster.

Maybe you  haven’t been impacted by a natural disaster, but you’ve been through some stormy seasons. When facing the storms of life, remember that your skin is your home. No one and nothing can take away your spirit,  values, strengths, passion, or your thoughts.

Be At Home In Your Own Skin

Home is a place you can be yourself.

Worry less what others think of you.

Embrace all of you, the darkness and the light.

In your home, find joy in the tiniest moments,

Comfort for the pains you wade through,

And share in the celebrations and fullness of life.

Be your own reflection of what you cherish.

Hold your memories, ideas, and connections.

Living in your own skin,

Where the home is where you are.

What comforts you in the storms of life? Please share how you rebuild after loss.


I am writing this post in honor of those who have lost their homes and loved ones in the recent tornadoes in Joplin, Missouri ( 2 1/2 hours from here) and throughout the Midwest and Southern United States.

To donate to the Salvation Army disaster relief efforts, text the word “JOPLIN” to 80888 for an automatic $10 donation, call 1-800-SAL-ARMY (1-800-725-2769) or go to www.salvationarmy.us.

To support the American Red Cross disaster relief, text the word “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation, or call 1-800-Red-Cross (1-800-733-2767).

Photo Credit: “The Day After” by Angelo Amboldi