Depression draws you inward. It makes you self-centered. I’m not saying this in an accusatory way. Depressed people are anything but arrogant. The self-centeredness is a focus on the self as a negative entity. And it’s not a conscious thing either. But it definitely makes it hard to see anything outside of how you feel in that moment.

This past weekend moved me farther along the path away from depression, although not because of something good. Hurricane Harvey has been destroying areas where I used to live, work, spend time. The hospitals that cared for our daughter are in affected areas. The food bank where I worked is getting ready to do some major gathering and distribution of goods. I have family, friends, and acquaintances who are dealing with flooding, washed out roads, and a whole lot of waiting. I know some are doing whatever they can to help their neighbors, and others who are just stuck. Parents who have medically fragile children, single women, folks with missing pets, and countless other stories fill my Facebook news feed. I keep seeing pictures of the devastation, and trying to glimpse familiar landmarks.

We alternated between local news and the weather channel all weekend, while obsessively stalking our Facebook friends in south Texas. Right now, we know we need to wait to help. Heading south only adds us as problems in the mix. But we are ready to go when the call for help comes. We will be watching for the right ways to volunteer and the best ways to help with goods and services.

Please remember, if you feel inclined to box up a bunch of old clothes and toys and send it down to Texas – DON’T. It’s not helpful. Hold a yard sale locally and send the money. Pick a reputable organization. Sending “stuff” means that volunteers have to spend time sorting it all out to make it useful. The time could be better spent directly serving in the cleanup efforts. Plus, in disasters like this, mail service is often suspended.

We will be working with our church body’s district office, where 100% of donations will go to help those affected by the hurricane and its aftermath. Volunteer coordination will be happening through them in the coming days, weeks, and months. If you are a Christian, consult with your church for ways to give. Most church bodies have a way of helping during a disaster like this. If you don’t have a church to go through, or yours is more independent, check into organizations like the Red Cross. I could give my thoughts on various charities, but this is not the time or place for that. Just make sure you look up the information yourself for the charity you choose. Don’t give through a random email, text, or phone call. Scammers are extremely talented at making folks think they are giving to legit orgs only to take the $$ and run.

Keep praying for Houston and the surrounding area. It’s going to be a long road ahead for them.