The Unlikely Reaction to Filling Life’s Holes

waiting 2 #HFM“Oh, the joy of nothing is a sweeter something
And I will hold it in my heart.
Yes, I will hold it in my heart.” –Foy Vance

Exactly one year ago my family moved to a new state. I felt internal pressure to dive into activities, make friends, and navigate new territories because that’s what I did in our three previous moves.

But instead of going outside to become acclimated, I came inside.

I flanked myself with family. We planted seeds in the backyard. We waded in nearby streams. We paid attention to the way the summer rain sounded on our rooftop. My blog went quiet. I filled many notebooks, only my eyes privy to the words I’d share when ready.

I did not jump in. I did not take action. But I was always looking—looking for The Moment when it felt like everything would be okay in this new place. Much to my relief, there were many of those soul-assuring moments when divine connections and experiences brought tears to my grateful eyes. We’ll be okay, I often reminded myself quietly and consistently.

Despite the moments of assurance, I could not ignore the missing pieces—the important parts that made our life a life before the transition. These particular missing pieces created a painful void that could not be denied.

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Home Is Where The Hands Are

A friend I hadn't seen in over 20 years held my hand and healed my heart.

If you are new to the Hands Free journey, I will take a minute to catch you up to speed.

And it will only take a minute because when I say, “A tornado of catastrophic proportions pummeled my state on April 27th,” I don’t have to say much more.

In the days since April 27th, I have been blessed to share my story, the story of incredible survivors, and the story of healing hands. These posts, written under the Hands Free category of There Is A Reason, are some of my most popular posts to date.

It is not necessary to have witnessed or survived a tornado to gain from these messages.

You can gain from them if you simply have the desire to make the most out of the one life you have to live.

The lessons I have received from the tornado and its courageous survivors have been many; they have been powerful; and they continue to come.

But the lesson that stands out in my mind above all the rest is this: The things that matter most in life are not things.

And this message was brought home to me (literally) two weeks ago. Perhaps you were part of it, as so many of you were.

This is OUR story…

I recently traveled north to the state in which I lived most of my life. It is a place that holds special memories for me. I was educated from kindergarten to master’s degree in this state, got married in this state, and even held my first teaching job in this state.

To see the familiar sights and landscapes of my growing years always brings me comfort. Yet, it is the people I love and who love me in return that make it home.

And on this particular trip, I felt an urgency to see the people who are my “home.”

As I drove north from Alabama toward my home state, the words of so many tornado survivors played through my mind.

Standing amidst a mountainous heap of rubble that was once their beloved home, the survivors all spoke the same message: “We are alive! Thank God, we are blessed to be alive.”

They had nothing in their possession except the clothes on their backs, yet they still had their lives and the lives of those they loved. In that respect, they felt as if they still had everything.

I, myself, feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the fact that my family and our home were spared. And I do not want to waste a day. Therefore, my trip back home was an opportunity for me to grasp what matters. I wanted to hug the people who had loved me as an awkward 8th grader, stood by me as an emotional high schooler, and befriended me as a scared first-year teacher.

In the span of six days, I was able to connect with fifteen of those special life-long friends.

It didn’t matter if I last saw my friend one year ago or twenty-two years ago, I was overcome with an indescribable feeling.

I can only come up with two words: Healing Hands.

(You may recall that I used the term “Healing Hands” when I wrote about the incredible response of my neighborhood in the days immediately following the tornado.)

And now I knew what it felt like to be touched directly by healing hands.

One evening during my visit, I was surrounded by a group of extraordinary women when one friend asked, “Can you tell us about the tornado and the people you have been helping?”

I could not stop the tears.

Before I could tell my beautiful friends about the painful loss that so many were experiencing, I first had to tell them how much I loved each one of them and how the tornado had solidified their tremendous meaning in my life.

I knew with certainty that if my house had been one of the thousands of homes that were dismantled down to their studs, I would still have the love and support of these women.

The most important things in life aren’t things.

When it was time to say good bye to each one of my “home” friends, I found myself hugging a little tighter and holding a little longer than I did in previous years. I even found myself getting in a few extra embraces. I didn’t realize why I did that until I wrote a note of thanks to everyone who had made efforts to see me.

I wrote:

There is something powerfully healing about the love of friends who have known you forever. I am so grateful for my friends who have made tremendous efforts the past few days to spend time with me and bring peace to my heart. I’m taking all the love you bestowed on me back to Alabama.

I suddenly realized that with each embrace, I was collecting. I had been gathering every ounce of love, hope, support and faith so that I could take all these beautiful gifts back to the people of my hurting state.

And while I was sheltered for six days in the loving company of my friends and family, destruction, despair, and devastation were alive and well in Alabama.

Inexplicable loss was waiting for me as I crossed the state line into Alabama.

Along the side of the road were men and women working diligently in 100 degree heat to clear enormous trees haphazardly placed along the side of the highway like a child’s toy Lincoln logs.

The size of the piles of debris they had already compiled seemed to dwarf them as if they were merely tiny specks standing next to a mountain of rubble.

My daughters’ sorrowful voices arose from the back seat, “The tornado, Mama…The tornado.”

Sights such as this do not require whole sentences.

Monstrosities such as this need no details.

I could not respond, for I knew my voice would fail me.

As I looked out to see the visible loss, I couldn’t help but think about the invisible loss, the loss that now scars hearts, dreams, souls and spirits.

How will they ever recover?

And then I remembered the way the healing hands had touched me. And it made me think of The List. The list that I had been collecting since April 27th and had yet to share. I knew it was time to share it.

Whether this list brings you hope or inspiration, there is a reason you find yourself here today.

The Angel Impact on Alabama’s Tornado Survivors:

You (and twelve different healing hands from Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Alabama) provided beautiful clothes and toys to a family who lost their home and car and are still looking for a place to live.

You mailed a pink and blue bible to two beautiful children who tell people, “My Mama went to Heaven,” but still ask their Grandma if their mother will be at church today.

You shopped for new clothes for a little boy whose mother had died protecting him in the tornado.

You took time off work so you could remove trees from people’s cherished homes.

You took time off work to comfort those who were in despair.

You took time off work to dig through the rubble of someone’s precious belongings while she cried by your side.

You recovered a family’s beloved dog buried for days under the destruction that somehow miraculously alive.

You asked your child’s preschool to collect school supplies for 400 school children in Alabama who lost not only their school, but also their homes.

You and your son unselfishly laid aside your own battle with cancer to donate and ask others to donate to those who are hurting.

You told all your friends and family about a family in need and collected a television, coffee maker, clothing, and an abundant supply of gift cards for a family who lost everything; you even offered to drive 800 miles to deliver it personally.

You didn’t even have shoes on your feet, but you dug through the rubble until you recovered someone’s beloved ring that once belonged to her grandmother and now is her symbol of hope.

You designed exquisite handmade cards entitled “Shells For Change” with proceeds of the sale going directly to families impacted by the tornado.

You sent your own daughter’s clothing even though she has yet to outgrow it because a little girl needed it more than she did.

You rallied your entire school and created 20 huge boxes of school supplies to a town that was literally wiped off the map.

You sent $1,000 to someone you did not know, simply going by faith that the money would go to two children who lost their beloved parent…and it did.

Your child made a beautiful hand made card for a heart-broken family and encouraged her classmates to join her.

You sent a gift card for groceries to a woman who fell to her knees in gratitude when she received it.

You received word of what the survivors needed desperately and within twelve hours a garage floor was covered with supplies.

You were the reason seven vehicles loaded with donated supplies reached a hurting town of tornado survivors, bringing both men and teenage boys to tears.

You offered your hands and your equipment because you had survived a flood and knew what the desolation was like.

You supplied a brand new toddler bed for a precious child who had nothing left but the pajamas she was wearing the night the tornado hit.

You bought a prince costume for a little boy whose heart ached for a mother’s return that will never come.

You sent nourishing homemade chicken noodle soup to three families who needed comfort in every form imaginable.

Your little hands gave away your favorite books.

Your little hands gave away your favorite princess dresses.

Your little hands gave away your favorite stuffed animals.

You took a moment out of your busy life to see if someone you cared about in Alabama was OK when you saw the news and images of the mile-wide tornado on national television.

You cooked food for the first responders to the disaster who hadn’t eaten in days.

You played “Amazing Grace” to an incredible woman who would give her life to have her daughter back with her children.

You joined your fellow Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts to organize, load, and distribute loads of school supplies to children who would have been buried under three feet of concrete had it not been for the forethought of their school officials.

You organized a blood drive that created a supply great enough to save hundreds of lives.

You gave your precious time and your precious blood.

You made a cross from the iron scraps of leveled homes so that the distraught owners would forever have a piece of their sacred residence that had once been their safe haven of love, memories, and family.

Your class made cards so the people of Alabama would know they are loved.

Your small hands collected butterflies from a Cirque Du Soleil show and made a beautiful poster for a special boy and girl.

You generously gave your family heirloom dining set to a family who must start over.

Your loving child donated her charity money, as well as her entire savings, after hearing the devastating loss of a precious family.

You asked, “How can I help?”

You asked (again and again), “How can I help?”

You haven’t forgotten that on this very day people are still hurting, still searching, still digging, and still mourning all they have lost.

This is only a fraction of the healing hands that have touched the broken hearts across Alabama; this list only contains the first-hand experiences I have been blessed to witness. There are thousands more just like these.

Just as the hands from my “home” friends had a comforting presence on me, the healing hands from around the country have touched Alabama. And these gestures translate into love, hope, dignity, grace, respect, and compassion.

And what makes the impact even more powerful is that the givers did not know the receivers in these acts of kindness.

The Angel Impact is alive and well, my friends. And it has hands that are healing.

I am simply the messenger on this journey to grasp what matters. It is by the grace of God and by every angel listed above that I have this message to give:

It doesn’t require money to have healing hands.

It doesn’t require education, prestige, or status to have healing hands.

It doesn’t require beautiful words or flowery gifts to have healing hands.

It doesn’t require a large group or a big organization to have healing hands.

It only takes ONE….one person with a desire to help in any way that person can.

No act is too small; no act is too simple to create the impact of healing hands on a broken heart.

And I conclude this post with a picture taken on one of the days my husband, Scott, served on an UMCOR Early Response Team.

In a field of splintered, broken pieces where not one household item was recognizable, Scott pulled out a Bible with miraculously undisturbed pages.

The section that jumped out from the page and made his hands tremble was this:

The islands have seen it and fear; the ends of the earth tremble.They approach and come forward; each helps the other and says to his brother, “Be strong!”
-Isaiah 41:5-6 (King James Version)

The journey to grasp what really matters has brought me here.

And now things have become clear.

THIS is what it’s all about: dropping the meaningless in our lives, letting go of distraction in order to grasp WHO matters.

The things that matter most in life are not things.

Whether it is a natural disaster, a man-made disaster or a life circumstance disaster of our own doing, the only thing we may have left is one another and the healing hand reaching down to help us up.


What does “home” mean to you? If you woke up tomorrow and your residence and everything inside was gone, what (or who) would you still have?

Can you think of someone in your life that needs a healing hand? Even if you simply take a moment to ask, “How are you?” and provide a listening ear, the impact can be great.

*If you are interested in writing an encouraging note or directly helping a family impacted by the tornado, feel free to use the “Contact Me” link above.

No act of kindness is too small to those who will be putting the pieces of their life and their heart back together in the long days ahead.

Shells of Change

Shells of Change

We are merely shells until we are filled,
Inner greed and self-obsession silently killed.

We are merely shells until we are washed clean,
Soothing painful scars and hurts unseen.

We are merely shells until we are shining in the sun,
The moment two hands stretch to become one.

We are merely shells until we are held upon an ear,
Whispering, “Shhhh…I’ll quiet your fears.”

We are merely shells until we are polished by a wave,
Radiantly beaming from each life that we save.

We are merely shells until change comes from our hand,
Calming the mighty winds that shift the fragile sand.

I have learned on this journey to live Hands Free that the most meaningful things are unplanned. The things that matter most simply unfold if you let them.

This was not the post I planned to write today, but the words found their way to paper because I could not stop them from coming.

There is a reason.

The inspiration for this poem came from talented artist and writer named Barb Black. She lives in Washington. I live in Alabama. She does not know me; I do not know her, but we were brought together by a storm. I translated Alabama’s tears into words; she reached out to wipe them.

Barb has designed a beautiful note card entitled, “The Winds of Change,” for the survivors of the devastating tornados that hit Alabama on April 27th.  The proceeds of the cards will directly impact two families that have lost more than words can describe in this post. You can read more about Barb’s beautiful gesture here.

Barb’s name was #27 on The Alabama Angel Impact List that I have been keeping since April 27th.

There is a reason.

And you can bet this Hands Free Mama will take time to say “thank you” in a post that has yet to unfold; I am still processing it in my dreams. (Those are the best ones.)

But for now, I leave you with this:

Have you filled your shell today?

Have you filled someone else’s shell today?

You might find, like the 27 angels on my list, that when you go to fill someone else’s shell, you end up filling your own.

That’s just how it works.

Isn’t it beautiful?


We are all called at some point to reach out to someone in pain. Perhaps the Alabama tornado tragedy has not been the right time for you. No worries, for your chance will come, my friend. There will be more storms, figuratively and literally that will bring a chance for you to reach out. In fact, I am certain there is a storm going on in someone’s life at this very moment; someone you know is going through a storm every single day of the year. Find out who it is and then fill…fill…fill…that empty shell. And watch as your shell begins to shine like never before.

*If you are interested in purchasing a set of the individually hand made “Shells of Change,” note cards click here.

Some Rain Got In

I didn’t want my four-year-old daughter to be thrust into the agonizing side of reality, not this soon.

I knew this day would come, as it has for all of us, but I wanted to shield her from the pain of loss, the finality of death, and the worry of the unknown for just a bit longer.

But there are things I cannot control, so I am trying to see the positive.

Twenty days ago, I would not have been able to tell this story. But today I can.

And there is a reason.

Whether the “storm” you or your child faces is literal or figurative, may this message remind you that from within the painful depths of a scar, light can be found.

Bring on the light.

This is my story…

In the minutes after an EF2 tornado tore through my neighborhood upsetting the balance of tranquility and safety, my neighbors ran out of their homes. People began immediately surveying damage, moving fallen trees, removing mangled trampolines from unbelievable places, and placing tarps over punctured roofs and blown out windows.

All three exits and entrances to our community were impassable, so the only help we had was from each other.

Whether your own home had damage or not, everyone came outside. There was a need to be simply together, either assisting one another or processing what had taken us all by complete surprise.

Since there was no school, no electricity, and limited phone access, my daughters and I walked around the neighborhood for several hours, stopping to ask people how they were doing and asking them whether or not they had suffered damage.

As we walked, we continually spotted sights that made us gasp. It is not every day you see enormous, historic old trees completely uprooted like matchsticks along our daily thoroughfare. Suddenly you realize how truly small and vulnerable you are.

It was the trees without tops that disturbed my oldest daughter.

She said, “It looks like a huge axe came through and chopped off their loveliest part, Mama.”

My youngest daughter was especially perplexed by our good friends’ loss of their chimney. She perseverated on the fact that the tornado had just blown their chimney right off. It became her job to check every home we passed to see if they still had one.

If she couldn’t spot a chimney, she would point her little finger and with utter dismay report, “Their chimney blewed right off, Mama!”

She then was quick to note if they had a hole in their roof or missing shingles. Little did I know that surveying roof damage would become her latest obsession since Polly Pockets.

Later that evening a tornado of epic proportions was predicted for our area. This time we were prepared in the basement with a surplus of flashlights, a battery operated weather radio, water, and other necessities.

Thankfully, my husband was with us this time and had the insight to also gather our bicycle helmets, (which I take this opportunity to make a public apology to him for joking about his thoughtful, perhaps life-saving, action).

While many precious lives were lost, destroyed, and turned upside down in those horrific hours, my family remained safe, unharmed, and untouched. I am determined not to go a day without being thankful for that fact.

Our home and our possessions were intact; yet, it saddens me to realize that something was lost.

My four-year-old child’s perception that life is safe, predictable, and void of devastation and pain was completely wiped away.

I would like to deny this truth. I would like to say I am over-reacting. But I can’t and this is why…

Here is the new reality:

*My daughter doesn’t say “Nortado” anymore. She pronounces “Tornado” perfectly. It is now part of her frame of reference. She knows how to say it, what it does, and how it can literally tear life and limb from its innocent bystanders. Furthermore, she uses the words “destroy,” “dead,” and “orphan,” like they have always been part of her vocabulary.

*My daughter doesn’t live in the world of Disney movie endings anymore. She now knows that a kiss or a magic potion cannot bring people back to life once they have died. She knows many people were killed in the storm…even Mommies, even Daddies, even little children just like her.

*My daughter no longer believes that just because we live in a brick home we are safe from the destruction of the outside world.  She saw with her own eyes that strong wind, flying debris and falling trees can make their way into the safe sanctuary of our walls. Furthermore, she heard her mother cry out to God, the only One who could protect them when all other sources of protection are futile.

*My daughter no longer thinks everything can be repaired instantly or return to “good as new” condition. She monitors the roof damage on certain houses in our neighborhood and asks me to drive by them daily. She is terribly disappointed to see many are still not repaired or that some are only half way finished. She now knows damage like this takes time and effort to repair. And she is sadly aware that some places, some people, and many lives will never be what they were before.

But then there is also this…

*My daughter doesn’t think she is too little to make a difference to someone in pain.

*My daughter realizes she has far too much and it is her DUTY to give some of it to someone who has less.

My daughter welcomed the opportunity to give her beloved princess dresses and special toys to a three-year-old girl who lost her home and all her possessions.

*My daughter now knows that when it is all said and done, she doesn’t want “stuff” in her hands; she wants a hand in her hand.

*My daughter now knows that if she were hurt or abandoned, God would send angels to come to her aid.

*My daughter knows she holds the words to ease someone else’s pain, and this is the gift she was meant to give in her lifetime on earth.

My daughter sang "Amazing Grace" to two little tornado survivors and their grandmother.

Those are the things I try to focus on when I wake up in the middle of the night with tears streaming down my face as I try to shut out the heart breaking stories and scenes of loss that are now engraved inside my brain.

And like my daughter, I too, am fixated on the blue tarps that still sit atop my neighbor’s roofs.

I find myself repeating this mantra:

A hole was made. Some rain got in…but so did some sunshine, so did some sunshine.

Then I think about my daughter’s heart:

A hole was made. Some pain got in. But so did some compassion.

And so did a greater understanding about the preciousness of life.

And so did her desire to help someone else in only the way that she can.

This was not the way I wanted her to learn these valuable lessons. This was not something I would have chosen for my daughter, for my neighbors, for the good people of my state.

But it happened. And you better believe I will use it for good.

A crack was made.

Some rain got in.

But now out of that very crack, light has come pouring out.

May my child’s newfound light shine where it is most needed.

Bring on the light.


I think we can all agree that life can be cruel, throwing us challenges and heartaches when we least expect it. It can be tough on us as adults, but we tend to worry most about how these experiences affect our children.

It may not be a tornado, but there are plenty of destructive forces that can change lives in a moment…divorce, disease, loss, death, financial problems, the list is long and devastating. But instead of seeing the scars upon our children (or on yourself) as purely negative, try and see the positive. Focus on the opportunity for growth, increased strength and character, and a chance to ignite a newfound compassion that did not exist before.

From the site of the scar a beautiful light can come pouring out. And the light might just be bright enough to heal a broken heart.

There Is A Reason

As I help my Alabama neighbors salvage anything from the desolation that is now their life, I am being overwhelmed with powerful messages. And you need not be a tornado survivor to gain from them. These messages are for anyone who wants a wake-up call about what truly matters in this one life we have been blessed to live.

When I began this Hands Free journey nine months ago, I did not know where it would take me.

I didn’t plan to come here, to a place of introspect so deep that it hurts.

But this journey has taught me the most meaningful things come from the unexpected, from the unplanned.

And then there are The Reasons.

There is a reason I decided my journey to grasp what really matters should be open for the whole world to read.

There is a reason I am privy to people’s most inner pain and struggle to find meaning in their life.

And as of late, there is a reason I found myself hugging my daughters against my chest in a dark basement praying for the safety of our lives.

And there is a reason my husband was among the first responders to the destroyed homes and collapsed lives of incredible survivors.

And there is a reason that “Now Is The Time,” the entry posted one day after the worst natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina occurred, has become my most popular post to date.

There is a reason my blog subscriptions have dramatically increased in the past ten days.

There is a reason I wake up at 3:00 a.m. with words so moving that I stumble to the kitchen to write them down.

There is a reason the messages derived from the killer tornados of April 27th are coming faster than I can write them.

And the reason is yet to be revealed.

But I do know one thing: These messages are at the heart of what it means to truly grasp what matters in this precious life that could so easily be gone tomorrow.

And to be changed by them does not require that you survived a tornado, ever witnessed a tornado, or even heard the word “tornado.”

You merely have to have a tiny, yet undeniable inner urge to make the most out of this one life you have to live.

And you do. Because that you are here.

And I hope you will stay as I write these messages that were created in the chaos and rubble of a tornado, and in the hearts and souls of its survivors and angel helpers.

And these life-changing messages will fall into the category, “There Is A Reason.”

These messages will come on no particular day and will be in no particular order. They will come when I least expect them, yet they will come when someone most needs to read them.

They will come simply because I have no other choice than to write them.

And to deny these messages would crush the very heart of what it means to be Hands Free…which is what brought me here in the first place.

And there is a reason.

You may find yourself in a place you didn’t plan to be,
Seeing things about yourself you do not want to see.

But I implore you, even beg you, if I may,
Not to shield your eyes, not to look away.

For it’s when delving deep that a silhouette appears,
An outline created from hidden hurts and darkest fears.

Of the person you have always longed to be,
Through the eye of the storm, we can finally see.

My friends, I hope you will stay to see your silhouette.

There is a reason.


Do you ever feel like your life is a chaotic storm? Do you find the way you live your life in conflict with what your heart and soul truly feel is important? Do you ever long for a “wake up call” about just how precious each moment here on earth REALLY is? Well, I didn’t plan to come here on this journey, but my eyes have been opened. And I am not going to look away.

Where I am going is painful; it is not pretty, but through it I am gaining momentum against the excessive distraction that blinds me from what really matters. Through the eye of the storm, I am able to see.

I hope you will stick by my side. Together we will get to the heart of the matter. And that is where I long to be. How about you?

Healing Hands

I am part of the “Me” generation, a generation that has been described as selfish, preoccupied, distracted, and egocentric…among other things.

And I have been guilty of living up to every single one of those characteristics.

But there are times when I rise above it.

And when I do, I want to believe that a little trait of the “Me Generation” is striped away.  I would like to hope that a fraction of my unsightly self-centeredness disappears, never to rear its ugly head again.

In desperate times, there are hands that rise to the call. Even hands, like my own, that most often think of personal needs and the needs of my own tight circle of friends and family.

This weekend, I witnessed what can happen when hands let go of the material, the insignificant, the unimportant, to grasp what really matters.

This weekend, I witnessed what becomes of hands when they come together and reach out outside their inner circle to those in despair.

They become Healing Hands.

Because when tragedy strikes your backyard, a cold harsh reality hits you between the eyes and breaks your heart in half.

Suddenly you realize the difference between “us” and “them,” is a matter of five miles, is a slight change in wind direction, is the placement of your home.

With a frightening realization you discover the difference between “us” and “them” is a radical cancer cell, a clogged artery, a misjudged runway, a reckless driver, or a deadly undertow.

You realize the difference between “us” and “them” is simply being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

You realize it could have just as easily been “us,” instead of “them,” standing in utter despair and shock wondering where life as you once knew it has gone.

Your only prayer, your only saving grace, comes in the form of a healing hand.

And despite what you might think, a healing hand does not require extensive effort, excessive monetary funds, or even a large amount of time.

In fact, if one hand reaches out in some small way to help, the results can be astounding.

If one hand expresses care and concern to one single person, the impact can be immeasurable.

In a small neighborhood with limited, sporadic, and in some cases, non-existent electronic communication or power, this is what healing hands can do.

In a matter of hours, my neighbors filled my garage with supplies for those devastated by the storm.

In two days, a small community packed seven trucks and SUVs full of needed supplies for the tornado victims.

Because of these healing hands, a mother had her first meal in three days.

A hungry baby finally received a bottle of formula.

A traumatized child held a stuffed animal and cried.

A pair of shoes was placed on a battered pair of feet that had gone for days without.

A father who used his body to protect the lives of his family was given new clothes.

Someone received a bar of soap, batteries for their depleted flashlight, clean diapers, hand wipes, a chance to quench his thirst, a chance to catch her breath, a chance to see a brighter day ahead, a chance to see they are not forgotten.

And because of these healing hands, there were tears. Lots of tears. Grown men and teenage boys wept at the sight of seven truckloads packed full of supplies given by people they had never even met.

And as we stood side by side in prayer with those who had endured sights and sounds no human being should ever have to bear, I thought to myself:  This could be me standing here wondering how I will ever get my life back.

This time it is not me, but it is my brother. It is my sister. It is my neighbor.

And there is no question what I must do.

I am simply the messenger on this journey to grasp what really matters. And by the grace of God, I have this message to give:

No matter how close or how far you live from destruction, disaster, poverty, homelessness, desolation, disease, and pain, there is someone within arm’s length who needs your healing hands.

Put down your cell phone, your remote control, your to-do list. Set aside your schedule, your calendar, and your list of daily activities.

Set aside your own agenda and your own needs; let a tiny part of that “Me Generation” that lives inside all of us completely fall away.

Let go of the daily distraction that we are so easily fooled into thinking MATTERS and instead go Hands Free and…

Hold someone up for air.

Hold someone who can’t stand.

Hold someone into the loving light of hope.

Hold someone in the grasp of your healing hands.

Because there is a very thin line between “us” and “them.”

And one day, one terrible, devastating unforgettable day, you might just wake up and find yourself on the other side.

And I pray that a healing hand will reach for you, my friend.


A personal note from the Hands Free Mama:

My source of communication since Wednesday has been sporadic, but at certain times, I have been able to receive messages and phone calls of care and concern.  And although I haven’t been able to respond to each one personally, I want you to know something: Your concern and well wishes matter more than I can ever express in words. In so many ways, you have let me know that I matter to you. And that is all any of us really want in life, just to know we matter. I will never forget every single one of you who reached out your healing hands to my family, my state and to me. Thank you. Thank you.

I will be in touch personally with those of you who have asked for a specific family to be an “angel” to once I get those specifics and regain Internet connection to my home. The Angel Impact lives on in you.