UPDATED: Contribute to Oklahoma Disaster Relief

Here are ways you can help the disaster relief efforts in Oklahoma:

(I will update this as I find more info.) Oklahomadisasterrelief

Tornado Relief drop-off locations around Metro OKC (via KFOR)

Donate blood to the American Red Cross
or text REDCROSS to 90999

Operation BBQ Relief

Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma
or text FOOD to 32333

BCGO Disaster Relief Fund

Text STORM to 80888 for The Salvation Army USA

Convoy of Hope
or text CONVOY to 50555

Tinker Air Force Base Emergency Family Assistance Center — call (405) 739-2747 to adopt a Tinker AFB family directly affected by the tornado

Register to find your lost family members

Helping children deal with traumatic events

“Brighten the corner where you are, and you will light the world.” –Dean Koontz
If you can’t help out through tangible donations, look for a way you can show compassion within your circle of influence today. And tomorrow. And every day after that. You don’t know what greater good might come tomorrow from your tiniest act of kindness today.



Green Bambino, the cloth diapering store, is taking donations of disposable baby wipes, disposable diapers and baby formula.

Dignity MemorialĀ® network of funeral, cremation and cemetery providers is making its Compassion HelplineĀ® available at no charge to the families and friends of the victims, as well as other community members affected by this event. The toll-free number designated for use by members of the Oklahoma City-area communities and their families is 1-800-854-8080. Free grief materials are also available.

Old Try will donate $6 to the relief effort from any Oklahoma T-shirt sales.

The Okay See will donate to the relief effort 100% of these T-shirt sales.

Memorial Road Church of Christ has a list of accepted donations as well as ways you can get directly involved with the disaster relief. Call (405) 478-0166 if you know families or individuals who need help at their property.

Oakcrest Church of Christ, 1111 SW 89th Street, Oklahoma City. (405) 631-5534. The church has set up a shelter for storm victims and is receiving relief supplies.

Tornado and Truth: In the Aftermath of May 20, 2013

Moore, Oklahoma -- May 20, 2013 -- photo by Marshall Brozek via KFOR

Moore, Oklahoma — May 20, 2013 — photo by Marshall Brozek via KFOR

I sat down to write thinking that I was numb.

But considering all the thoughts that come to mind, I don’t think “numb” applies.

My house is a wreck because we hurriedly packed up emergency supplies and essentials, in case we had to flee to a neighboring church basement or my parents’ storm shelter.
But I have a house.

My dishes are dirty because nobody had time to do them today.
But I have dishes.

My clean laundry is scattered across the dining room and living room because it was in the way and nobody bothered to pile it in one place.
But I have clothes.

My bathroom rug is soaked because the cat found the vase of Mother’s Day flowers we were hiding in there.
But I have a pet.

My conscience is bothered because I had chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert tonight, even though I’d told myself I would resist.
But I have enough food to eat.

My baby is whining and crying instead of sleeping because she spent the evening overstimulated and got to bed two hours late.
But I have a living, breathing baby.

My husband isn’t home to help me take care of the baby because he’s out buying items for us to donate to the relief effort.
But I have a living, breathing, generous husband.

My mind is full and my heart is heavy and I don’t know how I’m going to sleep tonight.
But my mind is whole and my heart is beloved of the Creator of the universe, who gifts me with rest and peace.

Considering these truths, I cannot feel numb. I cannot but feel overwhelming gratitude coupled with compassion for those who suffered loss today.

Compassion: “feeling with” another, especially in that person’s pain.

I won’t turn away from their pain by letting myself become numb.

My Congress with a Fickle Woman

This post originally appeared yesterday on Unstressed Syllables. Maybe I’m a cheat to re-post it here — but I thought my Court Can subscribers might like a chance to read my latest adventure, too.

Near Chickasha, Oklahoma

In case you haven’t heard, we Oklahomans had some excitement this past Tuesday.

50 Humans, 5 Cats, 4 Dogs, and a Partridge in a Pear Tree*

Said excitement is how I ended up in the basement of the church building across the street, wondering if I’d still have a neighborhood when I emerged, much less an apartment.

It was stuffy; it was crowded. There were leggy preteen girls running up and down the basement corridor. The whole place was crawling with people I didn’t know. (And if you know me, you know that’s not my favorite type of social situation.)

When we arrived, a woman thrust a blanket-wrapped bundle into my friend Brian’s arms and said, “Will you hold him? I have to go to the bathroom, I’m so scared.” As she hurried away, we unwrapped the bundle. I thought it was going to be a baby. It was some kind of scrawny terrier with mournful eyes and long mustaches.

Ed, my husband, is an amateur radio operator (aka ham), so he glued his ear to his radio as we hunkered in the hallway. Brian retrieved a map of Oklahoma City, and we pored over it, looking for the county names coming in over the airwaves. Logan. Canadian. McClain. When I heard mention of the western part of Oklahoma County, I realized I was clenching my teeth.

We’re in Oklahoma County.

10 for 10 — But I Can’t Count on It

Since Ed and I moved here three-and-a-half years ago, we’ve had a tornado scare every spring. And without fail, every time there’s a tornado headed our way, it lifts somewhere west of us and passes us by.

The same thing happened on Tuesday, May 24, 2011. We huddled in that basement for an hour, while the temperature rose, the humidity increased, and the dander of unfamiliar pets got my sinuses draining. (Yum.) A tornado touched down to the south (and I said a silent prayer for Moore and Norman). My heart ached as the radio told us of massive destruction in Piedmont to the north.

But the tornado coming up from Chickasha (and it might be the one in the picture above; I don’t know) never reached us. I don’t know if it blew itself out, or if it’s the one that touched down to the south. Either way, we got an “all-clear” of sorts. We gathered up our two terrified cats and went home. After the tornado sirens, the near-silence was a blaring siren all by itself.

Once again, nature’s devastation passed us by. There’s a lake less than a mile west of our area, so maybe the temperature change around the lake has something to do with it. I don’t know. I only know that so far, every time a tornado has headed straight for us, it has spared us.

But Mother Nature’s a capricious lady. I know I can’t trust her. She’s beautiful, always. Even in the midst of tornadic destruction, I recognize the raw beauty in that unimaginable power. But I’ll watch her from a distance, thank you. If she glances in my direction, I’m taking cover.

Don’t look at me, Mother Nature. I’m just a bug, I promise — never worthy of your closer attentions.

Moral of the Story

What does all of this have to do with writing? Nothing, really.

Oh, you can draw conclusions, if you like, about the application of fear and adventure to the writing process. “Remember these emotions,” I might tell myself. “Lean on them when your characters are in trouble.”

Or, I could advise us all to observe people during a crisis and use those observations for character development. Really, I gleaned something from Tueday’s adventure about every part of the writing process.

But today, I’m not thinking about any of that. I’m thinking about the families who lost loved ones. I’m thinking about the people in Piedmont whose homes now resemble piles of broken matchsticks. I’m thinking of the devastation in Joplin, Missouri (they got hit far worse on Sunday night).

I’m thinking about how control is an illusion. I’m thinking about how I’m not the one in charge, and I never will be.


*Some assembly required.