Saturday, October 12, 2013

Storm Aftermath: Moving Forward With Character & Hope

There is nothing like hard times
to make you fall in love
with all the things you realize
you have been taking for granted.

I have a passion for these cattle right here.
Like never before.
For standing by my husband and supporting him and encouraging him.
Like never before.
For water and light and dishwashers and running washing machines.
Like never before.
I have a passion for our ranching way of life.
Like never before.

If you haven't read of the Storm Atlas that hit our community,
you can read my previous post here:

and this very well-written article that ran on the front page of the
Los Angeles Times this morning:

I have stared at a blank screen
trying to think of all the things to say.
All the questions to answer about our way of life
that are hitting in a tender and raw spot
with emotions just about to crack all over the place.
But there are blogs circulating doing just that.

Like this one:

This one by Dave Ollila explains the weather/livestock factors:

So I will just share a bit of my heart and story.

One of the days of the blizzard, I was snowed in at Keystone, SD,
at the South Dakota Women In Ag Conference,
I talked with my husband on the cell phone about selling calves.
He said, "I hope we still have some to sell."
And I replied naively, 
"It will be ok.  We've been through storms before.  
It's not that cold.  We're going to be alright."

Then at last I drove home on Sunday afternoon
eager to see my family.
My mother-in-law had told me on the cell phone
the highway was open and
the guys had been to the cows with steer calves and they were good.
I knew there had been loss, but that happens with storms.

I was driving home with relief feeling hopeful that maybe it wasn't that bad.

Then I saw the first bits of red and black hair, ears, and hooves 
sticking out of a ditch filled with snow
just south of where friends of ours live.
"Oh . . . no" I said out loud to myself immediately thinking of our friends.

Then more.  And more.
More and more.
Both sides of the highway.
I was sick to my stomach.
I texted one of my very best friends.  
Asking if they were alright??????

I was driving a corridor of death and broken dreams.
No words will ever adequately explain it.

I called my mom, my voice cracked and I just started crying.
"Mom, there are dead cattle everywhere.
The electric poles are broke off . . . all of them.
There's more cattle, Mom, 
and more and there... is.  more..."

"Oh.... God...." my mom barely breathed.

We lost service.
I wiped my eyes, called her back when there was service,
took a deep breath
and told her that I was ok 
and I'd call her when I got home.

All I could think of were my friends . . . and that they weren't telling me everything at home.

I did make it home and we have had minimal loss
at our family ranch . . . . 

But... my friends.  Many of my very best friends....
we not so fortunate.

There are many, many questions.
From other people and in our own minds.
Lots of "what ifs" and "why this" and "why that"...
Why them? Why not us?
It's like asking why a tornado took that house and left the one right beside it standing.
None of us know why natural disasters come
and wipe out one and leave another standing
or why terminal disease strikes one family and not another.

Yet in all that,
there are stories of hope
that would crack your heart wide open
but they are not mine to tell.

There is kindness coming
from across the globe.

This I know,
there is eternal reward that is growing
right here on the prairie.

There is hope that is alive and pulsing through veins.

There is passion stirring and character building and community strengthening.

We are remembering who we are
and what we live for.

My friend Jennifer Stomprud shares it beautifully here:
And so did my friend Missy Urbaniak here:

There will be days like this again:

But to get there, for some will take significant help.

It will take the Farm Bill passing in Washington D.C.
Yes it will.
This is no ordinary storm.  This is epic.
Bigger than we can fix ourselves.

I visited with a businessman in our community and we agreed
that if this had happened to one family in our community
we would have already put together an event,
raised funds, and started setting them on their feet again.
But this is bigger than us.

It has brought us to our knees and looking to God.
When all else has been lost,
we can know that He is the rock we can build and stand on.

Remembering this, even though it is hard, hard, hard.
Remembering it with faith instead of feelings.
And remembering it because I am seeing it happen right before my eyes and ears:

...we also glory in tribulations,
knowing that tribulation produces perseverance;
and perseverance, character;
and character, hope.
Now hope does not disappoint,
because the love of God has been poured out
in our hearts by the Holy Spirit
who has been given to us."
Romans 5:4-5

So very many are asking me what they can do to help.
This is what you can do right now.
Give to the 
Rancher Relief Fund

Also, the South Dakota Stockgrowers posted this via facebook:

Status Update
By South Dakota Stockgrowers Association

RANCHERS: We have so many incredibly generous volunteers standing by to bring heavy 
equipment, trailers, and other equipment, they want to ride, sort, build fence or do 
anything they can to help you.

If you could use a hand, please contact our
help-line for details at 605-274-1454 or dial 2-1-1

VOLUNTEERS: You can also call the helpline to register your services. Thank you so much 
for all you're doing for us.

Thank you so very, very much for your support.
If you would also like to leave a word of encouragement
in the comments below,
many will read it and I will share.
As I said before, every word of encouragement helps.
It really does.
What we need right now is this:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, 

but only such as is good for building up, 

as fits the occasion,

that it may give grace to those who hear. 

Ephesians 4:29

This is a place for encouragement and grace.

Donate to Rancher Relief Fund at Razoo

If you'd rather mail a check,

Rancher Relief Fund
PO Box 231
Rapid City, SD 57709


  1. Beautifully written, Jodene. God Bless your heart, your family, and all your neighbors, Jodene, as you get up, walk out, and go forth in faith stronger than before. We're praying. We'll be in touch!

  2. You have described the strong people of the my home area to a T in this post. Always strong, always looking forward, always as concerned for their neighbors as for themselves. No matter when I roam, and we have lived all over this country, I have never met people like those I grew up with. Their strength is unmatchable. I pray that Heavenly Father will bless all of you with healing and bountiful blessing in the day and weeks and months to come.


Welcome ~ share your beautiful thoughts.