The fourth week off of school (April 6-10) was already scheduled off because of Spring Break. I had no intentions of doing anything special, we were quarantined after all. I was looking forward to a little less pressure though since there were no assignments due.

Becuase I had experienced so many wonderful “porch blessings” the week before I was seeking the Lord about how to pay it forward. One by one the opportunities arose. I had older neighbors and church family who needed masks and santizer which I happen to have extra of since we had the flu this year! I had another friend who needed toilet paper and packing tape. I happen to have plenty of that too!

I was also able to loan out some Bible based children’s books. On top of that, the kids made Easter cards for the retirement center for a card drive. They turned out really cute and felt good to be able to give back.

Spring Break 2020 was shaping up beautifully, all things considered. We were outside everyday and on Wednesday, April 8th, the kids were in their swimsuits  making a slip and slide with the water hose.

I got videos of them on my IG story laughing and splashing in the warm sunshine. I added the background music “I’ll stop the world and melt with you. You’ve seen the difference and it’s getting better all the time” because it seemed fitting. That night we were all hanging out watching “The Chosen” series when a Tornado siren started going off. We calmly gathered in the basement hall. Then the power went off and it was pitch black. You could hear thunder, sirens, wind, and cracking branches, but we couldn’t see anything. SJ started crying because she was so scared. I realized my phone was about to be dead and I was kicking myself for not having more of a charge on it. I texted my mom at 10:30 pm with the message “Power went out and my phone is almost dead. Trees went down. Sedona is scared. Pray for us.” Once the storm seemed to die down a bit J and I went out to collect the blown over trash cans and patio furniture in the rain. We surveyed some of the damage in the dark. It looked bad, but we were fine and so was our home. SJ was the most shaken up. She takes her cochlear implants off every night to charge them, but she can’t hear anything at all when they are off. That night, for the first time ever, I told her that we could switch to disposable batteries and she could leave the devices on while she slept. It was the security of knowing she could hear if there were an emergency.

We all laid down in sleeping bags and couches in the basement that night. We happened to have this lantern that is solar powered by the sun in the day and then looks like a flame when it gets dark. I’ve gotten compliments on it before, but now it was actually very practical as a night light for all of us as we slept.

I was the first one up the next day. I went outside and felt so deflated as I walked around.

I looked at the trees blocking the road (other than a path carved out by some heroic neighbors to insure road access). I saw an old pine tree of ours completely uprooted and laying on the ground. The neighbor behind us has a trampoline that went over their fence and landed in the yard next to us. Our chimey cap went across the street and into another neighbor’s yard. My biggest concern at that point was the electicity. I had two refrigerators fully stocked with hundreds of dollars worth of food since we were staying at home through the pandemic. I was also worried about not having a way to charge our devices. I know internet is somewhat of a luxury, but at this point we had been stuck at home for three and a half weeks with our screens being our only connection to our friends and family and now that was stripped away from us too!? My husband couldn’t work without power.

I got in the car and turned it on to charge my phone. Then I did what any good millennial (barely, I’m 37) would do and I made an Instagram story explaining our plight. I also posted it to Facebook. I started getting texts and calls immediately checking in on us and offering suggestions, or help. The first thing I did was get ice for our coolers. Driving around and seeing houses that had been hit and roofs blown off, I realized how we had it mild compared so many of those around us.

It felt weird traipsing into the gas station wearing a mask and looking disheveled. It was like Could my life get any weirder right now?.

Soon after that I got a text that said “Natalie call me about a generator. We can probably help you out.” I called and it was a client from my photography business. I had photographed their daughter’s wedding back when I was pregnant with Ellis (5 years ago). They were so kind to bring us a fully functioning generator to save all of our food and charge some of our devices.

My parents, who I hadn’t seen in weeks due to the quarantine, also swooped in to help. They brought Chick-fil-A for the whole family and a couple of chainsaws.

We got to work cleaning up the yard and ordered pizza for dinner. The food might have been saved, but there was no way to cook anything!

The next day we got a call from more people wanting to help. Our yard was fine now but there was devastation all over the neighborhood.

A family from our church came with a chainsaw and helped our neighbors clean up all the fallen trees in their yard.

There were still tons of roads closed. At one point J went out and could not get back home until finally a fire marshal came to the scene where cars were lined up. The informed the utility workers that they had to leave access to come and go.

We still had no power and were scheduled to record two church services back to back that night for our online services. I hadn’t showered in days and wasn’t feeling up to it, but there were others in the worship band in the same boat and we all agreed to just power through. The kids stayed at my parent’s house because we had no lights or heat and the temperature had dipped down to freezing. I don’t remember the last time I felt so completely defeated.

Our power came back on Saturday morning. I was beyond grateful to have a hot shower. We drove down to my parents to pick up the kids and on the way home we stopped at Walmart so that I could pick up a few things. I grabbed some bags of candy and a couple of steaks while I was there because the next day was Easter…