Three years ago yesterday an event happened that forever changed me. It changed the way I did my job, it changed the way I cared for others, it changed the way I viewed my little town, and it changed the way I loved my family. On April 27, 2011, a EF-4 tornado at 196mph came through my little town about 2 hours after it destroyed Tuscaloosa, Alabama. That night and for the next several weeks, I had serious survivor's guilt. There were 9 fatalities within miles of me and less than a mile from my house everything was destroyed. How could this have happened so close to home? I began seeing survivors as we cared for them at work and hearing their stories was the most humbling thing I've ever experienced. The ones who were close to my age or who had young children just rocked my world. If only the tornado had turned left instead of right less than a mile from my house, I would have been the one injured. That was hard for me.
All of my life I've been an Alabama football fan (although I've added Tennessee to the mix after getting married). It seemed unbelievable that a tornado did as much damage as it did in Tuscaloosa that afternoon. The next day I heard one of the Alabama football players was in the hospital and had lost his girlfriend in the storm. It was kind of like the final straw for me. I could not imagine being 21 years old, holding my loved one in a closet and next thing I knew, she was gone. Last Fall I found out that Carson Tinker, that 21 year old kid who had been through so much more than any kid should, was writing a book about his experience. I knew I had to get that book!
It took me over 2 years to really shake the things I saw in the aftermath of that day. Carson Tinker shares how he overcame so much in his book. It isn't so much about the actual tornado, but rather how he kept his faith and chose to "be a blessing" rather than give up. He tells his story of how he spent sleepless nights just reading his Bible, how he relied on his teammates, spent hours upon hours in rehab for his injuries, and how those around him encouraged him in so many ways. He easily could have given up on his dreams, chosen to accept that his injuries ended his football career, and dwelled on the fact that he was here and his girlfriend was not. Instead, he worked harder than he ever had and is now a NFL long snapper. God has given him so many blessings, he is now giving back.
*I was given a copy of the book to read for this review. You can preorder a copy today on Amazon or Lifeway.com. It will be released on May 1.