Brooke Sabrsula is learning that peace must be a truth anchored in Christ. Enjoy her story about God’s peace guiding her family during one of the most traumatic experiences they have ever faced.
When I became a mother eight and a half years ago my focus shifted along with my priorities. The purpose of my life changed. I now had the responsibility to provide, nurture and care for my children. I always strive to give my children safety and structure.
About a year ago I wanted to become more intentional with prayer and scripture in our home. I started writing scriptures on my bathroom mirror, framing scriptures around the house, putting a chalkboard scripture weekly on our breakfast table and creating a small kid-size prayer table. On August 29, 2017, my vision of having structure and safety in my home literally flooded away. My husband, three kids, dog and cat sheltered in place upstairs as water started to rise in the bottom floor of our house in the middle of the night. All that we had worked so hard for over the years was turning into chaos. Not just the physical items like furniture, appliances, clothes, and cars but the intangible things like our safe haven, structure, routine and safety.
It’s true that adrenaline kicks in when faced with imminent danger, because it did, and we were on auto-pilot. Those nine hours of water rising and waiting for boat rescue were intense, scary and filled with what-ifs. It all happened so quickly and unexpectedly. Just the day prior there was no inclination that our house would even remotely flood. There was no report of the release of the Conroe Dam, so we were kept in the dark quite literally. Many areas in and around Houston were projected to flood and had warnings, none of which included Kingwood. Since our house was built 34 years ago, there had never even been water in the street. Since we were home during the rising of the waters, we were able to save some important and irreplaceable items however since we were home we were also in harm’s way. The water was over the top of my toddler’s head who has an adventurous spirit and no safety awareness of drowning.
In the wee hours of water rising, we prayed and we waited. I’d like to say we waited patiently but I definitely was NOT patient. I tried to stay calm and keep my tears at bay to help our children from getting scared. The water came in from all sides of the house. The kids’ playground in the back was submerged, I couldn’t even see the top of the baby swing. All of the mailboxes were hidden under the murky flowing lake water. The sound of helicopters hovering over our house, cabinets opening and our belongings clanging, car alarms going off, the cat howling with nerves from being crated for seven hours, the smell of gasoline filling the house from the garage when Scott bravely shut our power off, the sight of the banana peel floating by the stairs….it was surreal and it was tough. The toughest part was feeling like a failure with my biggest responsibility, keeping my children safe. I had never felt I couldn’t protect my children until those 9 hours. It’s a horrible feeling and I knew I had no control.
The latest scripture I had written on my bathroom mirror was Isaiah 40:11 “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” I kept saying it to myself and it allowed me to relinquish all control to the Lord. It put me at ease. Water reached 34 inches in our home and 8’ in the street. It had nearly peaked by the time we were rescued. Many boats could not get down our street because of the fierce current. Alas, a boat appeared. I cried happy tears and thanked God. There were four men manning the boat that rescued us, two with oars, one steering and the other watching the path ahead to alert of obstacles like submerged mailboxes, cars, and ferocious currents. We had about 15 people, 6 dogs and a cat on board. I handed off my six-year-old son and he was carried on a man’s shoulders to be the first to board the boat by ladder. I have never felt so helpless in my life as I passed my children off to get on that boat. I was the last one out of the house, carrying the pets. I will never forget pulling the front door shut against the water and locking it. Nothing about this experience says peace. It was the opposite! But, I knew on that boat the Lord was with us. These brave captains were civilians and a couple of them members at KUMC. When we got off the boat and were trudging through ankle deep water to dry land, my eight-year-old grabbed my hand and said: “mommy, right when I finished my prayer is when the boat came.” At that moment, I was at peace. I knew that I wasn’t a failure at the most important role in my life as Mommy. I had equipped my children with hope and trust in the Lord. She knew the Lord heard her prayer and answered. I knew we were going to be ok. “Be joyful in hope, patient in tribulation and faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
We are not designed to be the protector and provider. We are merely a branch of the Lord to use what He has given us to guide our family to cling to hope and find the peace in the midst of chaos. That water was not high enough to destroy my dry-erase bathroom scripture on my mirror and it STILL remains there, covered in dust and muck. It continues to remind me of courage, peace, and strength because He is my shepherd. Peace is not the absence of trouble, it is the presence of Christ.
After the demo and cleanup, which was no easy or pretty task, we brought our older kids back to the house for the first time to write scriptures and motivation on the studs. I was blown away by their innocent and hopeful words. Some may have included Astros and Jeff Bagwell (after all, we are big Astros fans), but most of them were filled with hope and trust. It was a great way for us to process our chaotic life and another moment that brought me peace. My children were once again putting their words and affirmations of faith and filling the walls of our home with them. How sweet is that? Our home will forever be encompassed in their faith and His word…. and Go Astros!
Many people told us to prepare for a marathon and not a sprint. This proved to be accurate. The time and energy it takes to rebuild, coordinate efforts and make decisions is astounding. Most of the time during the rebuild we lived with my newlywed sister and her husband. They graciously opened their home up to us. I commuted with the kids to school, work, and extracurricular activities each day which would take me 35-50 minutes one way depending on traffic. Driving with tired and cranky children daily is not the most fun but we adjusted, and I learned to crank up Christian radio when I was stressed. Scott was our fierce leader and he stepped up to the plate to provide for our family just like the Bible speaks about. Many nights and mornings we never saw him because of his hard efforts but he has been our rock and I have never felt more blessed to have him than during this time. I gained peace knowing that my husband was piecing the puzzle back together. I’d say we have grown stronger together as husband and wife and as a family.
Throughout this entire ordeal, we have been blessed with so much support from angels all over the world. Yes, the WORLD! We have received assistance and love from as far as Japan. Our family and Kingwood community have been amazing and provided for us in so many ways with hard physical labor, rides to and from places, childcare, meals, clothes, toiletries, prayers, gift cards, donations, conversation and much more. Our crazy family of five has stayed at six different homes before we were able to move back to our house 75 days post-flood. None of this has been easy but we have seen the works of the Lord and so many blessings through it all. I am forever changed, amazed and overwhelmed. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
We still have a long road ahead of us financially and emotionally, but I know now more than ever, that there is always hope, no matter the situation because God has promised us that and I continue to see it daily as we rebuild and recover. There is always peace among the chaos.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27