Saturday, August 29, 2009
Four years ago at this precise moment we were in the dark, hot, afraid, and alone. The air was as thick as a wet woolen blanket and the silence was so complete that it enveloped our very souls. Katrina had come through in all her wrath. We had no means of communication whatsoever. Radio stations were flooded. Cell towers had been blown down. We had no idea how bad the rest of the Gulf region was and no way to communicate with anyone farther than our neighbors across the street. I didn't know where my husband's ship was or if he was safe, or how terrified he was for me and our four children.
We had a roof. We later learned that was a huge, huge blessing. Many families had no roof. Many families no longer had a home, one of my brothers included. His was under ten feet of water along the 17th Street Canal in Lakeview, where he'd lived for over 30 years.
Because we had well water at the time, we had no water when the power was out, so the week that followed was challenging at best. Food and bottled water were depleted quickly. Clean clothes and dishes were an impossibility. The sweltering heat caused us to have to wring out our sheets in the mornings and drape them outside, where they remained limp and damp in temperatures and humidity levels above 98. The four kids were bored out of their minds. Silence does not bode well for kids. So many question marks about our condition and the future do not bode well for mothers.
Despite the uncertainty of when power and communications would be restored, of when groceries and fuel would be available, of when banks and drug stores would be able to open, we had it far, far, FAR easier than thousands of others. We still had our home, bruised and battered though it was, outbuildings blown away, fences down, but we had it and we were safe, if uncomfortable, within its walls, and we were all alive.
So incredibly many emotions have flooded through my being this day, on every edge of the spectrum. It's impossible for me to unravel it enough to bleed my heart onto paper for you.
There is a New Orleans columnist that I love. His name is Chris Rose. I've shared this article with one SparkFriend and felt like today was an appropriate day to share it with the rest of you. Chris Rose bespoke my heart so well, and I dare say the hearts of every native child of this exciting, enchanted city that I love so well. His piece today was awesome, too. (His column is at nola.com.) This is his "Dear America" piece from shortly after Katrina.
For all of us who survived it and in honor of the memory of those who did not, for all who have given of their time and resources so tirelessly, so relentlessly, so generously to help in so many ways, may we press forward, continuing to restore and improve this pearl of a port city in such a way that she will be stronger, finer, more beautiful and sassy than ever before, and may God show us mercy from hurricanes.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Today is a momentous day for me, one that I could never have imagined a year ago. I've lost 60 pounds. That's the result of the BIG news, the changes that are happening in my heart and mind day by day, moment by moment. One of my favorite verses of scripture says God gives us to will and to do His good pleasure. God's pleasure, of course, is to bless me in every way, to lavish His love upon me continually, to give me life and that more abundantly. The thing is, I can't even muster up the WILL to DO good on my own. It's just not in me. Oh, maybe I can get a desire, but not the willpower to make lasting change in my life, change at the most fundamental levels of who I am. It is only as I lay my life out before Jesus and bow my knee to His Lordship that I am able to allow Him to give me to will AND to do what is good for me. Wouldn't it be nice if we did that one time and it was over? There. That's done! Spit-spot, as Mary Poppins would say. Umm. No. It doesn't work that way. We are forewarned that we must die daily. That's every single day of our lives we get to make new choices to die unto the flesh, to crucify anew the destructive patterns in our lives, to lay to rest unwise decisions concerning nutrition and fitness, prayer and study of the Word, relationships and achievements. That's the process by which all things are made new, by which there is less of me and more of Jesus each day of my life.
Thank you for walking this road with me. It is so much easier and joyous because of you. What you bring to my life is so precious. What you allow me to bring to yours is precious, too. I appreciate you so very much.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
After all this waiting, I finally got in the water for my water aerobics class!! I was told it was two classes a week for $25/month. That's a great deal!! Then, when my three friends and I signed up, we found out that classes are Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday. On Friday morning, 7:30, there is one Lagniappe class. That's pronounced LAN-yap and it means a little something extra for nothing, a common New Orleans term. Members of all ten classes are free to attend the Friday class at no extra charge. So we get to go THREE times a week!! I am just so excited about this. My entire body felt TOTALLY relaxed and rejuvenated all at the same time. If you're like me and hate to exercise, and you need an exercise that you can love, water aerobics is it!! Pardon me a moment while I give thanks:
WATERWOMAN, I LOVE YOU! THANK YOU FOR INTRODUCING ME TO THIS!!!!!!!
Okay. *grin* That was for DawnRobin2 for those of you who didn't know. She is my inspiration in so many ways and her love for water aerobics is absolutely contagious!!
Now... about the French fries. I brought my mother-in-law to the psychiatrist Wednesday because her early dementia is causing her to become agitated, frustrated, and sometimes downright sad, which is very out of character for her. The good news about that is she is still holding her own and no medication is yet needed, thank God. That doctor's office is very near my Godson/nephew's office. Having not seen him for a while, I called to invite him to meet us for lunch since we were there.
I knew where I wanted to go, knew I could place my order confidently and be able to track it when I got home. So I happily ordered! Such confidence had I!! Then the waitress brought my plate... heaped with one of my favorite foods in all the world that I have not eaten since February: Hot French Fries! There was a mountain of them!! I could have cried. lol Oh, MAN, did they smell GOOD! Don't misunderstand, I've had French fries, but I make them at home, baked in the oven. Not these puppies! Slap out the fryer they were. *groan* I looked at my nephew and said, very seriously: I might stab the waitress for this. lol
Such a fine man he is, God love him!! Fast as a blink, he was unfolding napkins and laying them neatly on the table between us. He scooped up my plate, brushed every single fry into the napkins, fold them up, and put them on the other side of the table, where he and his secretary (who had joined us) gobbled them up, out of my reach. lol How is that for loving his Na-Nan?!
It felt so good to stare one of my biggest downfalls in the face and say: I. Will. Not. I CHOOSE to not touch these because they are dangerous for me and I deserve HEALTH. Hallelujah!!! This, my precious friends, is a work only God could do.
I'm sorry I have not been blogging much this week. I am the NOT morning person of the century. With school in session and my baby now in junior high, we get up at 5:30 *UGH* She catches the bus at 6:30. (When I carpooled her for elementary, we left the house at eight. I miss that!) So my body is still adjusting to the new hours and I'm beat. Now I'm adding the water aerobics class three mornings a week, so juggling all I need to accomplish just got harder but, OH, so much sweeter!! With God, ALL things are possible. I am so rejoicing in Him!!
I ran across a few more old photos and I wanted to share two of them with you in addition to the one I put on my SparkPage. It's so weird to see yourself as a baby, huh? It is such a wonderful thing, though, to know how your parents and family felt about you as a brand new human being, how cherished you were, how hopeful they were for a wonderful life for you. It's not a very far leap to understand how God looks upon us, His beloved children for whom He has SUCH purpose, such plans, such amazing, endless love.
This is me with my Mama and Daddy. Oh, how I miss them!
This little tree was given to me for my first Christmas by a friend of my three brothers, who were all teenagers when I was born. I had that tree til I was in my mid-twenties. Cute, huh?!
Sunday, August 16, 2009
I am so blown away by the outpouring of love, of affirmation, of encouragement, the warmth, the kindness of words that literally wrap around my heart like huge hugs to my entire being. To say those two simple words, "Thank you," is so inadequate to express the measure to which you have filled my heart, total overflowing abundance. You have become so important to me, to my every day, to most of my thoughts. You know that feeling when you are young and in love and consumed with your love, and then you begin to meet the friends and family that come with the package deal? You're so thrilled to belong, flying high on the affiliation and acceptance that comes by simply belonging to someone. I feel like that about my SparkFamily, the circle of caring souls who bring SO much to my world. Your blog comments have flooded my being with so much warmth and goodness and I thank you. I just wish there were bigger, more powerful words I could use to express it. I do not do you justice.
Friday, August 14, 2009
There have been times in my life where I have been sustained by the goodness of others. Those times were so humbling, humiliating even. I knew that the hand of God Himself was reaching out to me through His children. We were so needy in my first marriage, and in the early days of my present marriage as we tried to claw through the debris of our first marriages. I can remember crying out to God, asking when it would be my turn to do the blessing. I knew it would come but it wasn't coming fast enough. I think in order to be a cheerful giver, you have to learn to be a cheerful receiver. The only way to do that and maintain your dignity is to recognize and acknowledge that EVERY good and perfect gift comes from God. He uses His kids' hands sometimes to deliver the gifts, but they come directly from His heart. He loves us SO very much, so completely, and it is a love that is not in any way hinged upon our behavior, good or bad.
I've shared with you about my friends who have cared for me in my darkest hours after the injury and amputation. They gave unreservedly, unabashedly, selflessly, relentlessly... and they did it with joy, no less. Still, I knew I was imposing into their lives, taking them away from family and tasks that needed to be attended. I could never in ten lifetimes make it up to them. No amount of money could ever repay them for their love toward me, for not only meeting my needs, but for holding my hand, crying with me, encouraging me, praying with me... much like you do, here on SP.
The only recourse, then, is to pay it forward, to coin a phrase from the movie. Whenever I see a need someone has or if they should mention something they want or would enjoy, I get tickles in my tummy. I get so excited because I've found someone to bless!! It is in that way that I am able to return the love others have shown to me. As I pray for their situations to improve, and they WILL, they are able to then bless others, and so on, and so on. It's an endless cycle of love. That is God's desire. Jesus said they would know we are His not by the name over the door of our church or the bible school we attended or the tithe statements given out at tax time or the volunteer hours we rack up. He said they would know we were His by the love we show to one another. THAT's how we win the world for Jesus. THAT'S how we give hope to the hopeless and set the captives free.
I wanted to share Melanie's first day of junior high with you.
I realized that I shared everyone with you and Bill's ship with you... but not Bill! I need to remedy that!!
Lastly, I'm not sure how this happened, but SparkPeople informed me that I've been named a SparkPeople Motivator, that enough votes had been sent in to qualify me as one. Huh? Me?!! I'm still the size of a side of beef here, and so many have reached their goals or are SO much closer than I am. It blew me away and humbled my heart. A friend was once praying for me, a lady who is very sensitive to the things of God. I was laboring over how to meet my stepson's needs during one of our more difficult rounds with him. I felt so depleted. I had no idea which way to turn. She said to me: Missy, you DON'T have what Billy needs. What you do have is a very large serving tray. Bring it to the throne room and hold it up to God. HE has what your kids need and He will fill the tray with those things. Your job is to simply return to them with God's fullness and serve them His gifts. That is the desire of my heart. To serve to those in my world what gifts He has for them, all unto His glory. Thank you for allowing me to share His love and my love with you on a daily basis. You are precious to me.
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