April 27.

Two hundred and eleven tornadoes – in one day.

Two hundred and forty three deaths – in Alabama alone.

Six months have come and gone since that horrific day that forever changed our state.

And, even though it felt like it wouldn’t, life goes on.  But not without it’s scars.

So many people’s lives were destroyed that day.  They lost family members, houses, jobs, schools, and had their belongings spread quite literally throughout the southeast.

And yes, there’s insurance.  But insurance isn’t easy, insurance isn’t enough, and insurance doesn’t replace lives.

Although we personally only had minimal damage, seeing others hurt so significantly from the storms definitely made it’s impact on our family.

At the breakfast table the other day, after finishing up saying the blessing, Ali elaborated on why she had prayed for us to have a good day.

“Sometimes I ask God that we can have a good day, because I don’t want there to be any tornadoes…and I don’t want God to forget.”

I know that taking Ali to see the devastation forever changed her life and mindset.  She has a sense of anxiety about natural disasters that she was previously oblivious to.  And I know that she, like me, lives with the fear of another horror-film-worthy day.  But it has also instilled in her a new level of tenderheartedness.

She especially remembers the library.  Every time we go to her nice, pretty, undamaged library, she recalls seeing this one:


“Mommy, the kids in Pratt City don’t have their library any more, do they?”

Because of her visit to Pratt City, Ali has a tender heart for the children that lost so much, and I want to help her foster that compassion and teach her how to use it to bless others.

So, after Build-A-Bear sent me the bears to give to random strangers which turned into such an amazing experience for Ali, I asked them if they would like to help provide gifts for children who lost everything in the tornadoes.

They quickly replied, and shocked me with their generosity.

“All we can send right now is 25 bears – would that be enough?”

Um, yes!!  How awesome!

Soon afterward, Two giant boxes of a delightful mixture of bears were delivered to my doorstep.

To allow Ali and her friends to have a part in blessing their tornado-stricken neighbors, we had a Bear Condo Decorating Party.


We talked about the kids that lost all of their stuffed animals,


Explained that they had the opportunity to be a blessing to these children,


And set them to work meticulously coloring the Bear Condos.


They asked questions about where the kids were living,


and they talked about what it would mean to have their house hit by a tornado.


After they finished, they took great joy in picking out the specific bear they wanted to gift in their masterpiece of a box.


We will be delivering these bears for distribution to Alberta Baptist Church:

Alberta Baptist Pre

…or at least that’s what it used to look like, before April 27th, where it was in the direct line of attack.

Alberta Baptist 2(Thanks to Mary Kathryn of Mathews Family Happenings for sharing these photos)

Despite their own destruction, the faithful members of Alberta Baptist are tirelessly serving their community, a community which needs help desperately – this photo only captures a tiny slice of their damage:

Alberta City

It could have been us.

I don’t know if our state will ever fully recover from that day, but I am thankful for the opportunity to help Ali contribute a tiny bit to that cause.

23 thoughts on “Christmas, Eight Months Later.

  1. I LOVE THIS!!!

    How awesome is Build-a-Bear for donating those bears!! This is such an amazing way to teach Ali to be a blessing to others! We are the hands and feet of Christ, and it’s opportunities like this that really let God shine through us!!

    You are an awesome mom!

  2. What a blessing to be able to teach Ali about caring for people who have less than her. It’s got to be hard showing her that destruction, but you are making her life better by helping her develop empathy now. So loved this post today!

  3. My granddaughter has the same anxiety after they drove through Fayetteville, NC after the tornado that hit there. Now when ever there is any type of bad weather she is very concerned and wants to know where everyone is.

    That was extremely generous of Build a Bear and how nice that Ali and her friends were able to be part of the blessing of giving these bears to some children who lost everything.

  4. Thanks for making me cry again. That is such an awesome thing you are doing I do not have words to express how I feel. Ali and the other children will always have a great feeling for people who have had tragedy and how to help. Seeing the pictures of the church really shows a small part of what can happen to our lives in seconds.

  5. What a wonderful experience for Ali and all of the children involved. Like Ali, Jeffrey is very anxious about bad weather these days as well. A sense of their innocence was torn away from them on that dreadful day. Thanks for sharing about Build-a-Bear’s generosity. I’ll keep that in mind when doing my Christmas shopping.

    1. That is a good way of putting it – a sense of their innocence being torn away. It’s hard to see your kids go from being completely carefree to having worries and anxieties, but it is a part of life.

  6. That is fantastic. I love that you involve Ali in so many of these projects. My question for you is does Ali expect one for herself? Whenever I do things like this my daughter always expects that she should get the sane thing. I never give in to that demand but then her attitude of giving is never as generous as I hope it will become.

    1. When we were first going through the bears, she asked if she could have one. But once we talked about how many stuffed animals she has and how the kids whose houses were destroyed in the tornado have none, she didn’t ask for one anymore. I think it’s pretty natural for kids to want one of everything they see, but whether they are at an age where they can fully understand the reasoning or not, it’s always good to try and explain it. I think the effect of seeing the tornado damage was probably the first time that Ali fully understood what it means for someone else to not have everything she has.

  7. Wow, that is so cool! I have never been to Build-A-Bear but I am very impressed with their company! And what a fun idea to get the other kids involved. I know the whole thing was such a tragedy but you guys have definitely used it for good…teaching your children empathy, compassion, and the desire to help others!

  8. Hands and feet of Jesus,…I think Adrienne said it well and you are teaching Ali to see with God’s eyes and to have a heart for others. Awesome awesome awesome! Praise God for your sweet heart!

  9. I loved this post. I must say that Build-a-rocks. Our lives were changed that day. Not everything about the tornado was so bad. Yes, losing our home and “Stuff” was and is very hard. I can’t stand the thought of not having my children’s homemade Ornaments on our tree this year. I can’t ever look at my children’s baby books again. Even after saying all of that, I can find good in that day. Family, friends, and even strangers gave so much. They helped with clean up, bought us food, opened their homes and most of all gave us love. My children had to deal with losing their home but they were able to really see God through this. Everyone was doing what we are suppose to do as Christians. This Thanksgiving, we are blessed and have so much to be thankful for.

    1. Brandy,

      That is such a powerful testimony of the impact that people can make on other people’s lives. The fact that you would say that you can find good out of the storm is amazing!! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  10. Tonight as I was tucking Luke into bed he asked me if the tornadoes were going to come back in the summer. He asks about tornadoes all the time, and the only damage he saw was from his seat in the car as we were driving through Tuscaloosa about a month ago. It’s amazing what they pick up on and what they don’t forget.
    Sorry we missed the box decorating party, that’s so awesome that Build A Bear donated those gifts for the victims!

  11. What a sweet post! Those bears will be really special to the children who receive them, and you have helped Ali to learn to help others.

  12. Build a Bear ROCKS!!! I love people like you who are “do-ers”‘and get ths done in the world. I hope that I am always a contributing member of society.

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