Snow covering Texas. Who would have ever thought? 

I have lived in the mountains of Colorado for the past 12 years and I would see news reports about those poor Texans and their one to three inches of snow and it would seem so dramatic to me.  I hate to admit just how laughable I thought it was.  So when the Winter Storm Warning came to my phone now that I live in Texas, I giggled and laughed it off.  I was so used to living in Breckenridge and getting daily Winter Storm Warnings that would bring more than a foot of snow and life still went on, that when I got an alert about the small accumulation I did nothing. Silly Texans (I thought to myself and probably said out loud to my kids.)

And then it came and EVERYTHING shut down.  Not only did everything shut down, but we lost water and power for nearly a week.  This winter storm brought Texas (and most of the country) to a halt and I was shocked.  But then I realized what I didn’t understand until I was directly impacted: Texas wasn’t prepared and it wasn’t for a lack of preparation.

In Colorado, they have road crews and their energy department is prepared for the cold temperatures and heavy snow.  Not only are the officials prepared, but the residents are, too.  And it is a form of preparation that can’t really be taught with 24 hours notice and a Winter Storm Warning, but it is learned after living in the mountains and going about daily life in those conditions.  Texas wasn’t ready just because they shouldn’t be. And I wasn’t ready just because I thought it was a joke.

Thankfully, I did get my act together on day one and my family was fine.  We lost water, but I had my bathtubs filled and so much clean water in buckets and cups before we lost our water.  I knew to get rid of the ice dams on my roof before the sun came out.  I knew to keep one room as warm as possible without electricity and we hunkered down in that room with blankets.  I had candles for the dark nights and games to play when the kids didn’t know what to do without WiFi. I became the neighborhood “expert” on the snow and it was great getting to “coach” my neighbors when they were worried. I didn’t have great food because I didn’t rush the HEB before the storm, but I had enough food to feed my family and our friends who stayed with us. I am thankful that in my ignorance and my “I’m-from-Colorado-I-know-everything” mindset, that my family was fine.

It was a terrible time for so many people down here.  We were cold and hungry and thirsty and smelly.  Many had broken pipes and icicles hanging from their ceilings and they were scared and overwhelmed.  Some people lost their lives.  It really was a disaster and I had no comprehension until I became a Texas transplant.

The snow shutdown taught me a few things.  First of all, it was yet another opportunity to walk in the shoes of another and gain an empathy I was lacking. I feel like 2020 and 2021 has given us so many opportunities to see alternative points of view and this was no exception. I also realized how blessed I am to live in a neighborhood where neighbors were so willing and EAGER to help one another.  It was encouraging and humbling and it made my heart so happy.  My neighborhood was amazing during the storm and I loved witnessing how we all did everything we could to help and encourage one another. I saw God bless me with knowledge that was only from Him (like getting water ready before I needed to). I felt him guide me toward preparation and it was great to show my kids how I asked for wisdom and how He showed up.  

And I loved that electronic-free time with my kids. I loved playing Rummikub and Yahtzee and Sorry and Candy Land and Blokus by daylight and candlelight. I loved getting creative with my kids about meals. I loved teaching them about flushing toilets with water from the tub. I loved opening my home to friends who were colder than we were. I loved the time spent with my loved ones when the world outside seemed to stop. In the chaos, it was a blessing to my soul of slowed-down family time. That is something I have really loved about the craziness of 2020 and 2021.

I don’t want to discount how hard the storm was for so many. I don’t want to forget the lives lost.  I don’t want to lose my perspective on how traumatic it was for so many. But I also don’t want to forget the blessings and the lessons that came with it for me. At the end of the day, for me, the shutdown gets chalked up in the highlight column when I look back on the year.  I am thankful for my family as we were scattered across the state, each in our own dark and cold homes and how we came out of the storm better and with great memories.