Here in Florida, we’ve had a rough week. As most of you know, we had an unpleasant visit from Hurricane Irma. I haven’t been on social media for over a week due to preparations, taking shelter, getting back on my feet, and let’s be honest—social media was the last thing on my mind!

The picture above shows my house pre-storm. We boarded up each window and door with aluminum shutters. Luckily, we suffered very little damage to our property and I thank the Lord we managed to get through the hurricane safely. Still, the toll it took on us emotionally and physically will be felt in our community for weeks.

The past week I learned a lot about myself….and others. I learned how resilient and brave I can be when the time calls for it. Two days before the storm hit, I helped my husband install many shutters. I climbed a ladder at night, in the pouring rain, holding a drill bigger than my head, screwing in shutters into the wall. My knuckles are cut, my body bruised, and muscles that I haven’t used in ages are screaming in pain. Still, it felt like I needed to chip in and do my share in ensuring our home was safe. As far as other people, I also discovered a lot about humanity.

People come together during a catastrophe, putting aside differences and opinions. When Irma was just days away, my neighborhood grew closer and stronger. We live in a brand new community of only fifty homes. Everyone looked out for one another either by helping board up a neighbor’s house, lending tools, sharing supplies, or simply giving a kind word of reassurance. We were scared and tired, but we weren’t alone. We felt out neighbors’ love and compassion, each one of us going through the same emotional distress. Despite our own fears, we grew strong, knowing that as a community we could face this together. And we did. In our immediate area, we suffered power outages and broken limbs. Some trees were down and debris scattered everywhere. But we are safe, with little damage to our property. Many people in different locations in Florida weren’t as lucky. Many lost their homes–or loved ones.

Power is now restored in my area, even though many still go without it. It’s crazy to think how we take everyday commodities for granted. Two days without electricity and we were going out of our minds. The house was steaming hot, food in the fridge started to go bad (until my wonderful husband used a converter to power up the fridge and one single map in the home), all wireless and cellular connection was down (with three kids addicted to electronics & family and friends desperately trying to reach us), and the home was swallowed by darkness (especially since the shutters were still up). It sucked. But we were alive and thankful to be here. So we improvised. We went on car rides to take advantage of the car A/C. Our kids played board games for the first time in a long time, and actually had fun! We gathered together around candles and sang songs, told jokes, and asked each other what we would do once power was restored (our oldest immediately shouted “Watch Bobs Burgers!”).

Our community is hurting right now. Things will get better and we will move on. Still, there’s a lot of work to do and we are commited to getting it done. This is our home. We will stick together and heal.

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