Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Katrina’

Sometimes we ask, “How does this end?”

But does it really ever end? Or are endings really new beginnings?

Here are some of my favorite “endings” that actually opened the most amazing doors to new beginnings:

The first evening of my mother’s “running away” from dementia, that helped her feel both at home and free from home, all at once.
Soiled toes after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. We thought our beaches would never be the same, but God was gracious to restore in due time, as He always does.
What sea stars do when they free themselves from their captors out of children’s beach pails and escape back to the sea, alive and free again!
The end of a rum runner schooner from 2 centuries ago…nobody has the $ to rescue it, so it just keeps eroding on a remote beach, a treasure to the few who frequent the far reaches of the peninsula, a legend to those from afar…

2014-02-27_18-29-59_630_thumb.jpg

The end of a virtual fantasy and the beginning of an indestructible, eternal bff-ship.
The end of life as we knew it pre-Katrina…once the grief passed, the rebuilding was mostly emotional, projected onto the current landscape should you visit NOL.
The end of David’s life, 6 weeks in a coma and no hope…but the doctors had us sign papers to authorize unorthodox treatments and I stood glued to the wall praying as they applied said treatments in the form of laughing gas and yelling at him to hang in there and stay with us….and he did, and turned 19 last month.
Hurricane Ivan’s destruction, 2004, year before Katrina – rocking my baby in my lap singing hymns as our ears popped when the winds hit 130 and we could no longer hear trees falling around us, but had to trust totally in the Lord..our kids remember that night and our faith and serve God with gratitude to this day.
The ending of a century-old era, my Cubbies losing. Oh, ye of little faith! God delivers if You sit tight and see what He has in store!
Elizabeth died some days after this 93rd birthday…but her death was the beginning of a new legacy of strength, courage and untold creativity….Just open your heart to what lies ahead.
Death of hips – yeah, finished the marathon in David’s honor, but was sidelined early in life with titanium and polyurethane shortly thereafter….pace thyself!

The end of anonymity – red flag hair day unexpectedly revealed last Sunday. God reigns in all things!

Thank You, God, for endings, which usher in brand new opportunities and beginnings. You are the Omega and the Alpha, and everything in between. You’ve got this! May we all embrace endings as we would beginnings….both bring new life and growth.

Read Full Post »

How ironic that the Weekly Photo Challenge for H2O came about as Hurricane Matthew was barreling up the Southeast Coast of the United States.

Please join me in offering up thoughts and prayers for our friends affected by this powerful storm.

Better yet, choose a way to Help those who did not ask for this much H2O!

Our bloggy buddy Mr. 3D , very close to Matthew’s ground zero, was keeping us abreast of the events until they presumably lost power…but I bet he will have some great photos of the H2O in his neck of the woods soon.

I really wish I could have photographed Matthew; I have enjoyed capturing storms in the past and was actually slated to have been there until Matthew, Southwest Airlines and God (not necessarily in that order) grounded me in no uncertain terms.

Phoo.

Instead, I offer some of my shots of Hurricanes Katrina and Ivan’s handiwork, two disasters I’ll never forget but which I am glad I rode out, mainly for the sake of being able to be present to offer aid and assistance to its victims in the aftermath:

Please, God, grant the people in the path of today’s storm mercy and faith; help ensure their every need is met and may they be blessed with resilience and peace.

God, I am humbled in Your having stopped the path of other storms as a result of this storm.

Father, Your impeccable timing has not escaped us and we thank You for Your perfect will and for guiding our hearts and lives.

As i compose this post in the sympathetic winds and Sandy Breezes of Hurricane Matthew from the next coast over, we thank You for delivery, forgiveness and purity as You purge clean and wash all things anew in the wake of destruction and darkness.

Thank You, God, for making good out of bad, wisdom out of tears, clean out of dirty and safety out of peril.

Please bless our friends in Matthew’s path and may they rise stronger out of this H2O.

 

Read Full Post »

An initial, embittered response to disaster and necessary abandonment, for this Weekly Photo Challenge. Given time, abandoning bitterness can yield more profound opportunities for growth and enlightenment.

Katrina

During the height of destruction, it’s easy to imagine that God has forsaken us, that nothing but evil has befallen us. How often have we mistaken a blessing for a curse? Or vice versa?

Here, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, we had more questions than answers, and way more assumptions than facts. The author of this boarded up window laments, “Thanks, Katrina, for nothing.”

Indeed, those of us who survived were left in Ground Zero to make sense of the universe, surrounded by nothing that made any sense to any one of our senses.

Nothing looked the same, sounded the same, felt the same. Even the military meals dropped in by helicopter sure didn’t taste the same as the local cuisine to which we are accustomed.

But somehow, by God’s grace and a little Cayenne pepper, we got through. God granted sun the next day to shine down on the war zone so we had light to free ourselves from under the rubble. He granted us fellowship so we could reorganize ourselves, honor the loss of our loved ones and rally together to clean up and rebuild.

He gave us determination and energy to right the wrongs and gave us vision to give us hope to move forward.

God helped us to redefine our sense of humanity and our purpose in the bigger picture, which is created by the little things we do daily that make a difference.

Strength came out of vulnerability. Purity and clarity out of filthy mayhem. There is nothing like a fierce storm to dislodge us from settling for status quo!

And then God brought healing and renewal – new rainbows with vivid colors, more brilliant than before!

Nothing was the same, and while we grieved that and those which were lost, we also celebrated that which was gained – things that had not been evident or possible before the terrible storm.

Ultimately, instead of “thanks for nothing,” we found ourselves giving thanks for EVERYTHING – for more than we’d ever envisioned.

And God saw that it was good.

He promised He would never leave us nor forsake us. Indeed, God never abandons us, and we are never abandoned – we are only in various stages of the process of achieving greater things which bring us closer to Him.

Dear God, thank You for understanding our fears and doubts as we encounter life’s greatest storms. Thank You for never abandoning us even when it feels like we are traipsing through the wilderness in darkness and uncertainty.

We trust You in that You have never let us down. Please forgive us when we don’t remember. We know You love us. And with each new miracle, where You steer us through yet another storm, we seem to love You a little bit more. Yet how quickly we forget when facing new stress and duress!

We are so grateful for your greater plans which are so much bigger than we could ever envision from our limited perspectives. We thank You for the light that shines brightly the next day, bringing light from darkness and hope from despair.

Thanks, God, for never abandoning us and for always being there.

Read Full Post »

As Hurricane Katrina approached in August, 2005, this popular restaurant in Spanish Fort, AL (157 miles east of New Orleans) boarded up and sent the message to “Please Pray for New Orleans.”

But then, the sense of community grew to be as far and as wide as Katrina herself…

Katrina Oyster House

In memory and honor of the both the lost and the survivors of Katrina, who know the true meaning of “community.”

Click here for more communities..

God, thank You for our communities – although we bow our heads to worship our gizmos and gadgets in virtual communities, we humans know that we cannot survive without each other, regardless of dimension.

Thank You for being there in our greatest times of need, for loving us through those with whom we share space and time. And for the blessing of perpetual hope, even in the face of disaster.

Your hand touches us through the loving touches of our neighbors; Your greatest gifts to us are given to us through the selfless sharing of others.

Like a goody box filled with gifts that minister to all five of our senses, You provide us with all we could ever need.

Thank You that Your love can reach and fill us completely by both those known to us as well as by complete strangers. This, surely, is the community You intended. May we see You in all we give and receive this Christmas season.

Read Full Post »

How do YOU decide how much money or time to give to a cause?

Many Christian churches at this time of year may have a “Commitment Sunday” or something like it – a day when people can fill out a pledge card indicating what they intend to give to the church over the next year.

Some churches may not have the resources or the nerve to formalize this event, so they may simply set aside a sermon dedicated to the virtues of giving.

Although the plea to give may vary greatly from one denomination to another, the message boils down to the same thing: It takes money and time to run this place. Please give.

I greatly admire the many pastors, ministers, rabbis and priests whom I have heard give such a message – largely because the task of crafting an invitation to give is such a terribly tricky one. The message needs to hit home, it needs to be sensitive (since money is a such a touchy topic) and it needs to be moving.

The ability to develop a sermon which achieves all three of these things is surely nothing short of a miracle, and certainly requires at least a heaping tablespoon of divine intervention.

I’ve heard some really great sermons on giving and some pretty lousy ones. The great ones leave me feeling eager to give, willing to trust God in a genuine way – as opposed to foolishly pledging some amount that in my situation would be fiscally insane.

The great ones render me moved beyond words, amazed at the power of God and humbled at the nuts and bolts of meeting the needs of the church as an organization with which I choose to affiliate. They are empowering, motivating and cause me to feel included and hopeful, a part of the solution.

They also make me ponder what God’s will might be. Prayerful giving is a must.

The not-so-great sermons are the ones I unfortunately remember the most – and are probably the reason why so many people groan when it comes time to pledge to any cause. The worst ones leave bad tastes in the soul such as guilt, shame, fear, threats and even confusion. One pastor about four denominations ago in my walk urged us to “give hilariously.”

There are few things in life I find truly hilarious, so to pair money with “hilarious,” still has me scratching my head over that one. Besides, I believe charitable giving is a solemn, thoughtful, private act, far from hilarious. I think I understand what he was shooting for in theory, but it certainly didn’t help me decide how and what to give.

Money makes us squirm, from the guy who wins the lottery and suddenly has as many new “friends” as he has new dollars, to the guy who’s one paycheck away from bankruptcy. This should be our tip-off that money is indeed the root of all evil!

Nonetheless, the need for and use of money is our lot in this life, a force with which we must contend. Why, then, do people get so weird when it comes to giving?

I saw a reaction from someone who recently received in the mail a brochure and pledge card from a church. This person ranted that “it’s all about the money, that’s always what they’re after, that’s all they care about – it never fails – you go somewhere and eventually they hit you up for money.”

I tried to soften it by reminding this person that although a church is a place of worship and a place to connect with God, it still has utility bills, upkeep and other expenses like any other business or home.

But the heart of this person was hardened, and they preferred to think of their partaking in the month of Sundays as a free ride, something somebody else should pay for. And they turned their back and refused to go back.

Whose loss is THAT?

Giving, according to the Bible, should come from the heart. It is a willing act of sharing what originally was not ours to begin with. Our resources didn’t just drop into our lap, and it took a great deal more than our own God-blessed efforts to acquire what we have.

Really, we could all be disabled and unable to work, unable to play, unable to do anything but rely on the charity and good will of others – it only takes a snap-second to wind up in that situation.

So contemplate the sources of what you have on hand when you consider the extent of your giving. While giving shouldn’t cause a personal financial wipeout, it should definitely arise out of a deeply gracious acknowledgement of what you have on hand and what you believe is in your heart to give back.

Giving back – that’s the key.

And perhaps it’s not just money that you need to consider giving. God blessed you with talents, too – talents that can benefit His people, the neighbors the commandment says, we are to love.

A truly gracious receiver will never be insulted or judgmental about a gift of any size, no matter how small. And they will receive with the utmost of thanksgiving, something we would do well to remember as we Americans sit down to our next holiday feast in about a month.

No gift is insignificant. Every gift has meaning – remember the widow giving her only two mites. The smallest gifts can be the most meaningful and powerful.

I would be remiss not to add that giving is often an act of trust. The sky could fall tomorrow (read: wars, another Great Depression, disaster, Tribulation) – there is no way you or I can pledge anything with certainty. Every choice we make is a gamble and banks on the assumption that we will wake up tomorrow and life will be the same as it was yesterday.

On the morning after the big hurricane, our ears still popped after the 130 mph winds we withstood huddled with our children in an interior hall.

We went outside as angry clouds churned themselves northeast, giving way to sun. The sun afforded us the light to see that our world was no longer what it had been yesterday.

Katrina Destruction

We had no jobs to go to – everything was closed or destroyed, and even if anything was open, we couldn’t get to them because of the fallen trees and debris everywhere. There was work to be done, but it wasn’t the work we were used to in our workaday world.

Katrina Road Sign

Neighbors came outside as the morning progressed; we assessed the damage and assembled in the street. Together, we made plans to survive.

Neighbors with chain saws would take to the trees. Neighbors with freezers with no power and thawing food would take to the grills. Neighbors with generators would take to the neighbors who needed cool air, oxygen or other life-saving needs. Neighbors with boats took to the flooded roads down by the bayou to look for lost people, pets and to recover floating valuables.

We rolled up our sleeves, came together and collectively, made the best of everything, even though everything was the farthest thing we could imagine from status quo. Two weeks later, we were able to get through to main roads and road crews, National Guard and the Red Cross were able to get through to us.

There are so many ways to give. Please, dear friends, do not be turned off or scared away when your favorite organization or church you appreciate asks you for money, talents or resources.

That organization or church can only be as great as the collective greatness of those who nourish, feed and give back to it, both in times of feast and in famine. You never know when you’re going to need them.

Best yet, there is no greater feeling than to give, and to give willingly and cheerfully. Don’t worry that it’s not as much as the other guy, not as much as you’d like or as much as you think you “should” give.

Just give.

You will be blessed tenfold.

(Jesus wasn’t joking around when he fed the crowds with a few fish and some scant bread. And this is what turned up at my house early this afternoon when I got back from church after putting my meager pledge card in the collection plate (black drum in my child’s hands, red drum on table)):

2013-10-27_14-21-47_941

Read Full Post »