Choosing joy is easy in good times, but it's most important when things get rocky. Our family was one of millions under mandatory Hurricane Matthew evacuation orders last week, and as we learned more about the storm that was set to directly hit our coastal town, we faced a mountain of emotions and unsettling decisions—and they're still ravaging my mind, even after we've returned safely home.
Where will you go? What do you take? What do you leave? When do things become "normal" again? As we navigated the decision-making process of making the house storm-ready and packing up our lives, we loaded the "good" car with our precious pups, clothes, important documents, irreplaceable items, and simply headed for the hills.
As you've heard by now, Hurricane Matthew battered the Carribean, Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas this past weekend with drenching rain, high winds, and incredible storm surges. 7th & Palm's home base in Bluffton, South Carolina, was hit severely by the storm, and while we were blessed not to sustain any critical damage to our home beyond a few missing shingles and some intense yard cleanup, our beloved Hilton Head Island and several neighbors in Bluffton have experienced severe damage. Many of us took shelter in hotels, with friends, and with family for almost a week, and we waited. We waited for the storm to hit. We waited for the official word that it was safe and clear to get back in our cars and return. And as we drove back, we saw serious remnants of the winds and water—power lines were (and are) still down in many places, roads flooded, trees fell in staggering numbers, and people were outside along the edges of roads and neighborhoods with phone cameras held up, taking walks to report back on the condition of neighbors' homes. Our town is resilient and making record progress, but full recovery, especially on the island and in neighboring areas, is months away.
And yet, we're choosing joy. When choosing to follow Jesus, we're not promised a life filled with perfection and easy living. And while we can't control the things that happen around us, we can choose to make the best of bad situations. We can choose our actions and our attitudes. And in the face of a storm that could have killed us, crushed our homes, and dampened our spirits, we're incredibly blessed to come out of it relatively unscathed. We're moving forward and staying thankful for everything we have. 7th & Palm is still fully up and running, and we're being as strategic as possible with our time so that we can serve our community and help the surrounding areas heal and recover in the coming months.
For our lowcountry friends that need help with recovery or are ready to serve and help our community, here's what to do:
If you need any kind of help as we recover from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew, please call the relief hotline at (843) 295-2408. Mobile relief teams are now on site in Bluffton from the Samaritan's Purse Disaster Relief Team and the Billy Graham Association Rapid Response Team. LowCountry Community Church will serve as a command station in the coming weeks to provide relief to the lowcountry during the coming weeks.
Local and ready to serve?
Report to LowCountry Community Church (meet in the Café, adjacent to the main parking lot) at 7:00am or 12:00pm for safety training. Shifts are 7:30 - 11:30am and/or 12:30 - 4:30pm. You may choose to stay for one or both shifts to do yard clean up, cutting down trees (tools provided), raking, and cooking meals. Work will continue for the next several weeks, except on Sundays.
- Bring your own food for lunch and snacks.
- Water and sports drinks will be provided.
- Wear long pants and close-toed shoes.
Note: 14- & 15-year-olds may volunteer with their parents or guardians who are legally able to complete a waiver of liability form on their behalf. 16- and 17-year-olds may volunteer with a parent/guardian or adult who are legally able to complete a waiver of liability form on their behalf.
Not local, but want to help?
You can donate to relief efforts, assist homeowners by serving for 3+ days as a volunteer, or serve as a day volunteer if you're close by. Get more information on how you can volunteer or donate to relief through the Samaritan's Purse Volunteer Network.
7th & Palm, LLC was created in 2015 in order to build a business that allowed us to give away more time and resources to help others. Even in hard times, we choose to not waver on our commitment to our 1/1/1 giving pledge to give back 1% of our time, 1% of our profits, and 1% of our products in order to give back to the local and global community—at a bare minimum. And you can be a part of that by voting with your dollar. All of our stationery, gifts, and home goods are designed by artist Andrea Smith and sourced exclusively from other small businesses and vendors located in the United States.