You Don’t Have to Have the Answers

It is hard to update and explain because so much is happening, and I feel like I could write about it for days, but the first thing I need to express is just that I’m being stretched. I know the stretching is for my good, and I’m proud of how we are expanding to overcome and coping with all of the changes and challenges of the past month, and we are so grateful for the people who have surrounded us with love and support. I really do trust that we will be fine eventually, but I still would love to know what is next. So I’m stretched. Stretched in not knowing, stretched in learning to receive, stretched in balancing gratitude with healing.

We have now lived in the beautiful treehouse (as Lucy has named it) for a week, and let me tell you, we love this place. It is an apartment in the upstairs of a metal barn on 10 acres in Northwest Houston owned by very generous friends who took us in with love.  It is fully furnished, and although it isn’t a longterm solution for us, it is an incredibly generous short term solution that allows us to live together with privacy. I don’t think I could pick a better place for us to heal and rest and decide what is next. It is a bit of a drive to the girls’ school, but we don’t mind it. The girls are staying in a room right next to us, which has been helpful as nightmares are still a concern (for all of us, really, but for Grace and Lucy most of all). Nearness to the kids is a gift right now.

Along with nightmares, we all continue to be a little jumpy and easily startled, and each of us is processing in our own way. Lucy constantly wants to play hurricane, I’m usually Harvey, she’s Irma. I know this is normal to play through it, but we are watching all of the girls carefully to help them navigate the effects of the storm. It’s hard for me as an adult to process all that’s happened, I can’t imagine Lucy’s little 4 year old mind. So we are working to communicate and give each other grace.

As we have started to look ahead, we have realized how different we all are in the way we view change. Rebekah and I, the adventurers, pretty quickly started dreaming about what is next, maybe moving somewhere, enamored with the freedom of options. Justin and Grace, the cautious ones, immediately clung to every ounce of stability. They needed some things in our lives to be the same and to steady us. I had to realize, as the parent of a special needs child, that I needed to listen to Grace when she expresses concern about the future.

We don’t talk about this publicly very often, but our sweet girl has overcome so much. We moved to Katy on the advice of her psychologist and neurologist, because Katy ISD is one of the best districts in the city for special needs children, and that decision has paid off. Grace is extremely smart and high functioning, and most people wouldn’t even realize she has special challenges, but in her last school environment she did not do as well. Now, my child is thriving in school, not only excelling in academics but socially as she builds precious friendships. Within weeks we saw a marked change in every aspect of her life, affirming our decision. So when we had to move out of our home after it flooded, and we started discussing possibly moving districts or even schools within the district, it was incredibly stressful for her. At first, I did what every parent does, I gave her thoughts the weight of a child’s in adult decisions. But Justin and I quickly read the fear under her words, and we realized we are seeing our daughter succeed in ways we have rarely seen in her life. So continuing to support her is incredibly important to us. After thought and prayer, we decided that getting her back to her classroom and her friends and giving her stability was our top priority. This house was an immediate gift in that direction, as was the response of our school district after Harvey. Twelve thousand Katy ISD students have been immediately affected by the flood, many of those displaced. The district has worked hard to accommodate us even though we now live far away. The state has officially declared our family homeless, which was humbling and super weird to have happen, but it allows our kids some benefits like school stability and extra support that are necessary to us right now. Wherever we live, Grace has a place in that classroom, and for that we are really grateful.

We are working hard to find a permanent place to live close to, but on higher ground than, our damaged home. Because of the number of homes flooded in Katy, the rental market is insane. After really discouraging web searches, Justin looked at 4 homes in one evening, all were immediately spoken for, unsuitable, or quickly raised prices to a point where we could not afford them. When you have so many damaged homes, everything gets snatched up really quickly, and then there are the people who use the natural disaster to turn an unreasonable profit, and we won’t be a part of that. Our amazing real estate agent is helping us with options either to buy or to rent, but that market is suddenly very challenging. If you are the praying type, we could use it.

But despite the challenges, we are persisting in every attempt to take our girls back home to Katy as quickly as possible. As soon as we have updates on that front, I will write again. But for now, we are healing and growing in this beautiful peaceful treehouse. God is good to us. I feel His peace and provision in ways I didn’t imagine possible. People have been remarkably kind and generous, I can’t tell you how loved and supported we feel. The Church is doing what the church does best, loving on hurting people. It makes me proud and teary and humbled, at a time when I needed to see it, honestly.

For months, I have been learning about daily bread. Each day, I get what I need. I’m trying to learn to not worry about tomorrow or next week or next year, but to be grateful for today’s provision. This entire experience has been the culmination of that lesson. What do you do when you can’t do anything but trust? You trust.

Nichole Nordeman, one of my favorite artists, put out an album right before Harvey came through and upended our world, and I have clung to it these past few weeks. Right now the anthem of this part of the journey is Hush Hush, and every word of it rings true for where we are.


“One cup of water at a time, ’til you remember you are mine. I’ll love you back together.”

I don’t need to have the answers, but I know they will come in time. In the meantime, I feel loved and safe, and I recognize how miraculous it is even to feel this way. I’m grateful. Thank you for reading our story, and for loving us through it. YOU are a big part of why this isn’t a negative experience for us, and we are thankful for you.



So to briefly catch you up… we don’t exactly have a home right now. Last Monday, after three days of an exhausting but effective “shelter in place” hurricane strategy during Harvey, we woke up to flooding in the park behind our house and an evacuation order because the Army Corps of Engineers was flooding our neighborhood to protect an overwhelmed Levee nearby. We were told the water would rise rapidly, and would remain flooded for weeks. We quickly prepped what we could in our one-story home and loaded our three kids and our dog into our car while a Coast Guard helicopter flew over our house at about 400 feet. I’m not sure I’ll ever forget that moment, or the shock of it.


The girls in their seats, holding their lifejackets.

Justin and I were tense with one another as we loaded the car, both dealing with the stress and panic in different ways. I kept losing my phone, Justin his wallet. I wanted to leave immediately, Justin thought we may have more time. I gave each child a life jacket to put on in their carseat, in case we needed to abandon the car in route. In Houston, over and over the news tells you the roads are the most dangerous place to be in a hurricane and a flood. But now they were telling us to get into our car and leave, but not telling us where to go. We drove out of our neighborhood through the only exit that was passable, the other one was already flooding and will be under water for weeks more they are saying.

As we drove north, toward higher ground, I started to feel better. This was a good plan, we would now be safe. There were very few cars on the ground, everyone looking as worried as we did. We had plans to try to make it out of Houston, and if that didn’t work, we had three friends waiting to receive us. Whichever house we got to first was the winner. But my heart began to fall as every road we went down was flooded. We turned back time and time again, growing more afraid and frustrated. We drove backwards up a highway that was flooded. Finally, all routes out were exhausted. We weren’t even sure if we could get back home at that point. My heart was racing, I couldn’t feel my hands, my face and skin felt like they were burning. I called my sister, a nurse, because I thought I was having a panic attack but I needed to make sure it wasn’t something more serious. She reassured me, it’s a panic attack, it will stop when you are safe.

We finally saw a couple of police officers in front of a grocery store. We pulled in and I got out to ask them what to do, bursting into tears as I approached them. “We were told to evacuate – but where should we go? The road to the shelter is flooded.” They didn’t know either, they empathized with our question. They said the parking lot was full of families in our situation, told to leave but trapped in by water. They suggested a parking garage close by, stay on the 5th or higher floor, wait out the storm, in a few days the roads will open. My mind went blank. Days in my van with my kids and our dog, no restroom, no bed, in a hurricane. I went back to Justin and the girls in the car, wiping my tears, trying to control my fear. We started driving again. We saw a hotel, maybe they’d take us in. I joined the line in the lobby, making reservations at other hotels on my phone just in case. It was full. So was the second. And the third. Justin called and found us a hotel close by, I booked it on my phone while we drove. Thank you God. We checked into the 6th floor, the top floor. We snuck our dog in. We started to figure out meals. My panic attack calmed a little, but wouldn’t stop. We were still south of another failing levee, flooding on all sides, helicopters surrounded us day and night. My body wasn’t fooled – we weren’t really safe. Two more nights passed and I was unable to sleep. I tried crying and meditating, praying and walking up and down the halls – nothing worked. We hugged and talked to other evacuees as the hotel filled with people as wet and desperate as we were. So many difficult stories, so much loss.

Three mornings later the sun came out and we left Houston, the moment the first road opened. In the time since we have rested at my mom’s house in Dallas, trying to figure out what is next. I have slept quite a bit, and used anti-anxiety medications to right my body. Justin stayed for a day and then headed home. He has worked with countless kind people to gut our house, getting out everything we can salvage. So many people have given to us, gifts and money and gift cards. Every show I had through the entire month of September cancelled, my sweet parents are processing their own version of grief and fear.

So while it is still happening, and while what is next is still unsure, I needed to write about it. Because it occurs to me that there are about a dozen ways to look at this.

Yes, in one sense, we are homeless. But in another sense we have had so many offers of places to stay. We went from one home to many. We have options, which is grace to us.

We have been through a trauma, yes, but we are strong and safe. We know now what we can handle. Our marriage was stretched, yes, but it is strong. We have held each other. I took care of things at the house when Justin was in shock and couldn’t prepare, Justin took care of me after we left when I was so weak I couldn’t function.

In one sense, my girls have lost a great deal. They may have trauma effects for decades. But they have gained perspective and wisdom. They know stuff is just stuff, they know we don’t walk alone, they know people are good. They may have lost some of their clothes, but they are wearing beautiful clothes given to them by people who love them. They will know empathy and kindness, service and gratitude, because of this event. They will watch us overcome.

My shows are canceling faster than I could ever book them, but I will know by the end of this My provider. He knew all of this and none of it worries Him. We will be fine. We will have plenty. He will open some door to provide for us, He already is. People we don’t even know are giving to our family. It is humbling but unbelievably precious.

We don’t know what is next, really. We feel stuck on the big things like where we will live and where our kids will go to school. But we have options. We are free to choose the life we want.

When we moved to Houston from Dallas, we were leaving home. We knew nobody, we had no family. Three years later, we have two homes. We didn’t lose one, we gained another. We genuinely love Houston, we love our city, we love our people there, we love our home. Our family in both places are holding us up right now, we are so grateful.

My mind wants to turn to scarcity in this, it really does. It wants to obsess over every loss, every unknown detail. Justin and I have joked in recent months that we are cursed, because there are times where it seems our family just can’t catch a break. But that isn’t truth, it isn’t the whole story. We are blessed. We are strong. We have enough. We are safe. We will overcome.

We have plenty, even after Harvey. And for that, we are grateful.