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Refuge In A Storm

Feb 16, 2018

What could have been chaos and hardship in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey turned into respite, healing and deeper friendships for two Houston’s First couples and their mentors.

Refuge In A Storm

Houstonians’ lives, property and businesses are being made whole again after Hurricane Harvey unleashed unprecedented flood waters throughout the greater Houston area last August. Steven and Faith Knudsen and Jon and Meghan Kidwell, Blueprints Life Bible Study members at The Loop Campus, were displaced from their homes after the historic flood and found more than temporary lodging with caring mentors.

Preston and Susan Abbott are empty nesters, and seven years ago became mentors to young couples in the Blueprints LBS. As Harvey’s rains came down and the floods came up, the Abbotts began making plans. “We knew we were going to have people in our home,” said Susan. “The night of the hurricane when the rain was sitting over Bellaire, we knew it could be bad for some people in the class. Preston began making calls to help the next day.”

Meghan & Jon Kidwell with Anna (left) and
Faith & Steven Knudsen with James and Lizzie
Faith, Steven and their babies, Lizzie, 2, and James, 1, had just moved from Pearland to Bellaire two months earlier, and Lizzie was having trouble settling in. Then Harvey’s flood destroyed the first floor of their new home. Looking to Faith’s parents for shelter was impossible since their home in Meyerland took on several feet of water. “God met our needs when we didn’t quite know yet what our needs were,” said Faith. “He used the Abbotts to speak into our lives for years and years before, and after the flood their home was like an oasis for us.”

Meghan Kidwell had taken her mother and daughter Anna, five months old, on an overseas business trip before Harvey hit. Jon found himself knee deep in water at their Braeswood-area condo. “I was so thankful that Meghan and Anna were not here,” said Jon, community executive director of the Weekly Family YMCA. “I was trying to help get buildings open to organize shelters for people who were displaced. I finally left my house to stay with a friend a few days before flying to Meghan’s parents’ home in Michigan to get my family.”

The Kidwells joined their friends, the Knudsens, at the Abbotts’ home, near Katy, Texas, after returning to Houston. The couples and babies settled in to upstairs bedrooms and began an adventure in living together under one roof. “It was a transition at first, but communal living was so much fun!” said Faith.

The couples bonded over game nights and had ice cream just about every night. “I think I’ve tasted almost every flavor of Blue Bell now,” said Susan. Lizzie announced one night around the Abbotts’ dinner table, “This is our family!”

The roommates found ways to help each other during their stay. “A system seemed to emerge,” said Susan. “They even mowed the yard, took out trash and replaced all the kitchen cabinet hinges so they would close softly after finding one had broken. They were all so willing to help. It was such a joy!”

The Abbotts, Kidwells and Knudsens
at one of many family dinners together
Blueprints class members brought food every two or three days for the first couple of weeks to help the refugees and their hosts. Nearly four months of togetherness included managing work schedules. Steven, a consultant who travels weekly on business, leaned on Faith to meet with contractors and make decisions to get their home back in shape. “Some of the girls in the class watched the Knudsen kids so Faith could meet with contractors,” said Susan. “I was glad she was able to process some things with us while Steven was away. The insurance and contractor decisions were stressful.”

In an “only God” circumstance, the YMCA of Greater Houston promoted Jon and moved him to a work location where out of town volunteers and first responders were being housed during search and rescue efforts. It was only 15 minutes from the Abbotts. Nearing the end of the Kidwells’ stay, the YMCA promoted Jon again and moved him back to the Weekley Family YMCA, within walking distance of their home, which was nearing completion.

Susan’s elderly dad was hospitalized after a fall in December, and he leaned heavily on her for care. The couples handled everything at the Abbotts’ while she was gone each day. “They took care of our dogs, had supper ready when I got home, and even picked me up from the hospital when I was too tired to drive home,” said Susan.

Though the Knudsens and Kidwells were friends before Harvey, they emerged as much greater friends in the aftermath of the storm. Their relationship with the Abbotts also took on a deeper dimension, not just as friends, but family.

“Lizzie was right when she said we became a family,” said Jon. “We do consider them our family, and we miss seeing them all every day. As hard and traumatic as it was to go through, God did some incredible things in all our lives. I wouldn’t change it.”

Next Step

Life Bible Studies at Houston's First are one way that people develop friendships and find encouragement and support through the challenges of life — just like the Kidwells and Knudsens found. And, it's a place where you can be an encouragement to others, too — just like the Abbotts.

Life Bible Studies are offered at each of our campuses, so explore the options online or ask a Guest Experience Team or staff member at your campus for assistance in finding one soon.


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