Miss D. & This Texas Storm

As I reach out to my students, family, friends, and neighbors to check on them during the most challenging winter season yet, I am humbled. This year the snowfall and below zero temperatures are setting records and causing the worst power and water outage our city has ever seen. I can’t help but remember a time when I was a kid. I only share these experiences because they may be helpful to some and because one day, I hope my children find value in my lived experiences just as I now see the value.

Some of you may already know this, but for those of you who don’t, I need to preface this with, due to difficult life circumstances, I was in and out of foster care growing up. I once lived with a woman named Miss. D. She was about 80+ years old, and although I did not know its value at the time, she survived the Great Depression. She wasn’t the nicest person, and her house seemed to always smell like boiled cabbage, YUCK. She was too picky about how much food was on our plate and made us eat what she provided, or we went to bed hungry. I didn’t like that rule then, but I get it now and ask for forgiveness for any selfishness I swam in during my youth days. It was the early 1990’s and the little house we lived in had running water and electricity. Since I was six, I thought she had some bizarre rules. We could not turn on a light at night, and we could not run the water. She had a sink full of water in the bathroom, kitchen, and a tub full for bathing. This water was not allowed to be drained for an entire week. Cold baths, anyone? I remember how weird it felt when I would get in trouble for turning the light on or for trying to turn on the sink water. I lived in that house for around a year before my mom got us back. I recently visited that home and captured a picture. Looking back, I remember her telling us stories about not having water growing up due to a drought. She did everything to save and ration her resources.

Seeing our community struggle so much this week is so difficult. I have seen those with bad character, and I have seen MANY with AMAZINGLY generous hearts. I will focus on the good because where your focus goes, your energy flows! If we focus on the bad, we will only see the bad, and if we focus on the good, we can find good all around! I watched as people shared how to melt snow to make water for boiling and drinking or cooking. Our community shared their houses with strangers and neighbors since over 20,000 were without power. I have watched as my church opens its doors to both campuses so that people have a warm spot to rest from these weary winter storms. They used buckets of baptism water in the restrooms! Our local Chick Fil A has given free meals to the church to feed warm meals to all displaced from their homes. The local Hardin Simmons University President helped take care of 700+ students and helped provide water and power to community members. A man named Tony Perez and his fantastic team is giving out free burgers and drinks to those in need in our community. A family gave up their Airbnb because it was vacant and had water and heat to house a family in need. A family provided water to students in need. People thanked our power linemen and community officials for the sleepless nights and cold days of overtime they have put into trying to help solve this crisis. To put it simply, we have amazing people in this world willing to work hard to help others.

Sometimes it is hard to see the bigger picture while struggling through the path before us. Maybe we can use this as an opportunity to tell our children about the Great Depression. Perhaps we can ask them to help us figure out how to help our neighbors who may be struggling worse than we are. Some may accuse me of being an idealist, but I believe there are beautiful lessons to be learned in the more challenging days we face. It is up to us to know. My brother and I survived about 12 months of rationing water and eating cabbage in elementary school while living with an older woman full of wisdom, charity, and very uncompromising when it came to resources. She survived the depression for 43 months and also the second World War for about six years. If she could live through all that and provide a home for crazy little children full of energy, we can do anything. We can survive a week of whatever this is. We are tough! We are TEXANS! We are Texas Strong yet again! Sure it will be uncomfortable and sometimes unsafe. Living with Miss D has taught me that we can do anything for some time. Reach out to your neighbors. Help wherever you can, and make sure you ask for help if you need it! Sometimes the most simple act of kindness can make all the difference in the world.

-Love Steph

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