Wednesday, September 24, 2008

After the Storm

Hurricane Ike was an unusual storm, to say the least. I've weathered other storms and can honestly say the damage from this one was much worse than anyone expected. Electricity and phone service was/is out from Galveston Island, TX to Lufkin, TX (170 mi. inland) and College Station, TX (140 mi. inland). East Texas is filled with lots and lots of tress. As pretty as they are and as they provide much needed shade for the HOT, HOT summer temperatures, they also cause a tremendous loss of property and business when something like this happens.

Hurricane Ike made landfall with category 2 wind speeds and a category 4 storm surge. We live nearly 100 miles inland and the winds were still howling at speeds of a category 1 with gusts up to category 2 when it arrived at our home. The damage from falling trees in our area devastated many homes. Galveston Island, Bolivar Peninsula, and Chambers County have been completely destroyed. The devastation down south is as bad as the hurricane of 1900. Because of modern weather technology and radio combined with television, tens of thousands were able to evacuate, thus saving lives, unlike the 1900 hurricane where no one knew it was coming.

We personally lost 5 trees, 4 behind the barn and chicken coop and our beloved 60+ year old pecan tree that shaded our front yard and house. God's hand of protection was certainly upon us when the pecan tree went down. It stood about 10 ft. away from our boy's bedroom and it fell toward the road. Our rabbit hutches were mangled and crushed by the falling trees, fortunately we are/were not raising rabbits as this time. The winds blew three roof panels off our barn and some of the siding off our house. We are so blessed that we don't have any significant damage, just a bunch of clean up. Psalm 91:9-10, "Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy inhabitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling."

Part of our barn and chicken coop are behind all these tree tops. Aside from a temporary reduction in eggs, our chickens fared very well. Here's a photo of the damage to our rabbit hutches and dog house. Again, we are/were not raising rabbits at this time, and we didn't loose any of our animals.
Only three roof panels were lost on the barn. Fortunately, no one was standing in front of these flying panels as they were stuck into the ground as if they were spears thrown by a giant.
Missing siding from our house. Interesting that every time we decide to do a home improvement project we discover that our 65+ year old home was actually built out of what appears to be scrap and/or left over material from other building projects. The loss of siding isn't as terrible as some may think. Because of this we've discovered that the lower 3' x 3' corner of the house has rotten wood that needs to be replaced. As soon as our local hardware store gets a new materials shipment, Mr. B will repair all this, many hardware store shelves are currently bare.

I don't know what sort of news reports the rest of our nation is receiving with regard to Hurricane Ike, but if y'alls local news is anything like ours, they are most likely doing their best to report every negative story they can dig up. Therefore, I will share some of the "good news" we've been witnessing through all this.
~ Neighbors helping neighbors without having to be asked.
~ Families spending good, solid quality time together talking and playing because of the loss of computers, cell phones, video games, cable television, temporary closing of schools and businesses.
~ A cold front! Yes, our Lord sent us cool weather after this storm which is extremely unusual. The temperatures generally rise up to or over 100 degrees after a hurricane and no a/c or fans because of no electricity makes it unbearable. We've had evenings in the low 60's and daytime highs in the low 80's combined with low humidity - so refreshing, we wish it was like this all summer long!
~ Federal, state and local officials effectively working together so distribution of aid could begin less than 24 hours after the storm. Everyone living in the Gulf Coast area is consistently told to stock up with at least of 3 days water, non-perishable foods, and fuel because it generally takes a MINIMUM of 3 days to get aid to devastated areas.
~ Minimum amounts of flooding in the inland areas. The hardest hit inland areas received only 8-10 inches of rain. Yes, that's quite a bit for most folks, but it's a small amount for a storm of this size.
~ Our old church was selected as a point of distribution (POD) for ice, water and emergency meals. The positive comments from the National Guard and other volunteers from around the nation was wonderful. My source tells me that Texans received so many compliments because of their hard work, community spirit, and generosity even though they were personally experiencing losses of property and/or income.
~Our state has been blessed by thousands of aid relief workers and restoration personnel from all over the U.S. and Canada coming to help us. It has truly been a blessing to welcome all these folks. We appreciate everything they have done and are doing to help us get on the road to recovery.
John 16:33, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Weathering Out

I was planning to post Part 2 of my article "Godly Stewardship" this weekend. However, it appears that our Lord has some other plans. Hurricane Ike is scheduled to make landfall this weekend. Although we are not close enough to be affected by the storm surge, dramatic flooding, and exceedingly high winds, we do expect some wind, a significant amount of rain, and a loss of electricity (especially since it seems as if we loose electricity everytime drops of water fall from the sky).

I realize that there are many folks out there who may be very frightened of this coming storm. If so, please know that we pray for your safety and peace of mind. We can't stop the storm outside, but our Lord can stop the storm of fear that rages within.

I am actually looking forward to the silence that comes from the absent buzz that one only notices when the electricity goes out. I am looking forward to eating supper by oil lamp. I am looking forward to a marathon game of Monopoly and maybe a couple rounds of Scrabble. I am looking forward to reading aloud to the children. I am looking forward to finishing up a crochet project. I am looking forward to indoor camping!!

So, when all settles back into routine (and the electricity will once again power this computer), I'll be back with "Godly Stewardship, Part 2". See you in a few days ...

Friday, September 5, 2008

We Have a Riddle Box WINNER!!

Mrs. Hester, the very first response, had the correct answer:

A RIVER can run but never walk, has a mouth but never talks, has a head but never weeps and has a bed but never sleeps.

(I hear the applause, don't you?) Thanks for playing!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Riddle Box

What can run but never walks, has a mouth but never talks, has a head but never weeps, has a bed but never sleeps?
(please post replies in "thoughts from friends")

My Kids Wore Combat Boots

Yes, my eldest child, AB and his wife, KM, are U.S. Air Force veterans. AB enlisted only a couple months after the U.S. invaded Iraq and KM enlisted a few months later. I am very proud of their decisions to serve our nation. They are now civilians and working on building a "normal" life.

A very close, dear friend of mine, just returned from her son's graduation from basic training. Her son and my son, JP, were/are childhood friends. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy. I am proud for her and her son. I am confident the Lord will use the U.S. Navy to continue growing her son into the man he was created to be.

As a mother whose experienced "handing the apron strings" over to the U.S. military, I can relate to the various fears, concerns, pride, joy, and yes, even sadness and sometimes helplessness that mom's go through while their children are serving our nation. We worry about their physical safety during this time of war. We not only worry about them being sent into combat, but we also worry about the angry, hateful, anti-military civilians who may inflict harm upon them because they choose to defend even those who hate them. We are concerned about their spiritual growth or maybe even lack of. We experience a pride that can come only from realizing that he/she has made a commitment to serve our nation unto death if necessary - that type of pride is difficult to express. We share in their joy and excitement of new adventures and experiences. We all share a sadness that comes from being separated from them, often by 1,000's of miles. Unlike those whose sons or daughters get into trouble or an accident while attending a college of their choice far away, we can't run to rescue our military children during a time of crisis because the military stands between us and them.

How does a mother handle this melting pot of emotion? AB had been out of high school for a year before he decided to join the military. Our family had been experiencing a very difficult time of rebellion with him, so his decision was actually a welcomed relief for us. Although relieved on one hand, I still experienced the above mentioned emotions. My first and primary emotion was one of fear since our nation had just invaded Iraq and tens of thousands of young men and women were being deployed into combat weekly.

My first born. Since I was a teen aged mother, I had literally lived my entire life for him. Words will never express the depth of fear that gripped me. When your child enlists in the military during war time, the possibility of losing that child is totally and completely in your face. During this time, I looked to the Bible for an answer to my fear. Our Lord is always so very gracious and kind to His children when they are heavy burdened. Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 - "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." In studying God's Word, I found not only the comfort I needed but the promises listed for each of my children in the left margin of this blog. Our Lord did more than answer one prayer, He gave me promises to cling to for each of my children - no matter what their futures may hold.

There are times, as I am sure with all mothers, that I experience emotions of doubt or worry regarding my children's spiritual growth, or maybe even stagnation of such. Whenever I sense these emotions creeping in, or I receive some discouraging news about one of my children, I look at a photo of my precious child and I quote the scripture promise the Lord has given me for that particular child. No matter the circumstance, no matter the nay sayers, I stand on God's Word. I know beyond any shadow of doubt that God will honor my prayers for my children because I know that God is a God of His Word. He will not forsake me. Isaiah 49:16 - "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me."

I often hear people state that they wish they had a manual for life. In reality, if they own a Bible, they do. The Bible will address any situation we find ourselves in. The Bible provides us with comfort when our hearts are shattered beyond repair. It will stop fear and doubt dead in their tracks. It will show us a way to light and life when we find ourselves in the dark. It shows us how to achieve order when there is chaos. It offers us instruction and correction when we are lost. The Word of God will bring us hope when we are facing hopelessness. Today, I'd like to encourage you to look to God's Word, the Holy Bible, for comfort, peace and sustenance in all things.