Saturday, September 27, 2008

That Little Thing Called Ike

It has been a while since I have blogged, e-mailed or chatted on the phone.  A little storm called Ike took them away for the last two weeks...and I have to say, I am grateful.
Thankfully we have power, although 20% of Houstonians still do not, two weeks after the storm.  We lost power 3 times, but this time we think it is here t
o stay.  But again I say, I am grateful.
This is the tree in front of my parent's house.  Trees were like this everywhere, just split in the middle.  Others were completely uprooted.

The first two days, I was pretty frustrated.  We drove around our area, dumbfounded by the devastation.  Fence after fence blown down, trees on homes, power lines laying on the streets...our community hasn't seen such widespread destruction in literally a hundred years. Gas was out, food was gone in the grocery stores, and slowly spoiling in our fridges...

Sure, we may have lost the food in our fridge and a part of our fence, and maybe we had the pleasure of sweating in our home a bit more than I would have liked, but we have a home.  

We and our families are safe.  Thank you, Lord.

The past two weeks we have built amazing relationships with our neighbors.  We also had the joy of housing Adam's mom and my dad (my mom was smart enough to stay in San Antonio!)  We ate by candlelight, rejoiced over our gas stove, and relished in little things like having enough ice to keep our cooler cold (when there was no ice to be found elsewhere!)  The second time our power went out, a neighbor 4 houses down offered to power up the entire street's fridges.  What a blessing!  It was quite a sight to see....our little coldesac was laced with extension cords trailing out of every home.

I thanked God for my husband as he boarded our house up and helped me prepare everything, and as he held me while we listened to the sounds of the hurricane (a sound I will happily go without hearing again for the rest of my life!)  And I even had the pleasure of hearing a tornado, too.  Wow Ike, thanks for introducing me! (said with THICK sarcasm).
Adam boarded up the back of our house; this large window is in our living room, and since every room in our house has a window, we decided to board this up and camp out in the living room during the storm.  When the storm hit us full on, around 3 a.m., we went to the living room and waited it out.  It chilled out around 6.  

Our phones (including cells) were out for days and still have issues...we were contacted only through text.  We had two Sundays of church without electricity, and they will remain 2 of my favorite services ever.  We have an amazing church, expressive in worship, but this past Sunday, 2,500 believers in our congregation gathered, fans in hand, to worship God in the midst of great loss.  They were shouting praises.  I have never heard our church sing so loudly.  Our pastor brought one of the best sermons I have ever heard him preach.  Instead of focusing on ourselves and our situation, he focused on seizing the moment to reach others, serve them and most of all, share Jesus.  Praise God. 

So that is just what we did.  Without power at the church we couldn't do our desk jobs, so for the last 2 weeks we have cleared trees on roofs, fed the hungry in low-income apartments that had lost all their food, and beautified community parks that looked like, well, a hurricane had hit.  I have never enjoyed so much being on this staff.  What a blessing to serve together, loving our congregation and going beyond the church walls.
One of the days we served together; this day we were taking buckets of water from our house to an area that still had no water a week and a half after the storm.

So, I thank God for that little thing called Ike.  I praise Him for being with us, literally, in the midst of the storm.  And I continue to lift up those who have lost every material possession, and pray that they would come to know the Truth that they can never lose...Jesus.

Monday, September 01, 2008

You Are Never Ready

Are we ever ready to lose someone we love?  I have pondered this question for the last few months, as I watched our precious friend and mentor, Dick Hill, walk his sweet wife Dot home.

And my answer is no.

We are never "ready" to say goodbye.  No matter how long we have to "prepare," the loss of someone we love is truly impossible to imagine until it happens.

And it stinks.

For 8 years Dot struggled with an illness, yet never complained.  Her faith and trust in the Lord remained strong.  She stood by her husband in the ministry despite constant setbacks in her health.  Her eyes were always on the Lord, never on herself or her situation.  I never heard her ask "why me?"  I only saw her and Dick seek ways to glorify God through their trial.

Their love was incredible.  Awe-inspiring.  He died to self to be with her, hold her, take care of her.  She cared for him by encouraging him, never complaining about his busy hours at the church, always reaching out to congregation members.

I will forever cherish my conversations with Dot.  She gave me wonderful advice on how to be a minister's wife, how to balance personal life with the church, how to prioritize my marriage over all else, second only to God, how to trust the Lord in ALL circumstances and worship Him at all times...

Despite the suffering and loss, it is times like these when we see Jesus more clearly.  When we realize His promises are real, and because of Him, Dot is more alive than ever, worshiping her Savior.  We cling to that truth.

Please pray for the Hill family.  Pray for Dick (husband), Ashley and Alison (daughters) and their families, for peace and strength during this time.