Month: September 2017

His Stormy Outlook

JB and I are the Opposites Attract kind of couple. I am usually pretty optimistic and positive about life. He tends to look at things with a different perspective. As a matter of fact, we have joked about the fact that if he ever wrote a blog, it would be called My Stormy Outlook.

We discussed the idea of having him “guest blog” a My Stormy Outlook post today because he has a story to tell…but he has homework to grade and football to watch, so I will try my best to share a bit of JB’s Stormy Outlook.

It has been a few weeks since Hurricane Harvey roared across south Texas and dumped an unimaginable amount of water on a good chunk of our beloved state. The pictures we have seen and the first-hand accounts we have heard have been incredibly heartbreaking.

JB has a tough outer shell, but he’s a big softy inside…and his heart hurts for the people who are affected. He has 24 years of military service behind him and I know he misses the ability to GO and DO when something bad happens.

Just a few days after Harvey hit, our pastor announced at our Sunday morning church service that our church would be sending a disaster relief team to Houston. JB jumped at the chance to sign up to do something.

Yesterday JB returned home after a long weekend of extremely hard work. He arrived exhausted, saddened by what he saw, and thankful he could go and lend a helping hand.

He spent one whole day helping clean out a home that had been shut up since the storm. He met the couple that lived there. He watched with great heartache as they realized there was very little left to salvage of their possessions. All day long, they made trip after trip carrying their water-soaked belongings out of their home to pile them on the curb.

The next day, JB helped gut another home. The household goods had already been removed, so he spent the day pulling over 400 nails out of the ruined drywall. The flooded homes have to be striped of anything the water touched.

In the area where JB and his team worked, the homes were anywhere from four to 12 feet under water during the flood. This means many of the homes are being completely gutted down to the frame of the home.

The devastation is so tremendous that many Texans are left to completely start over from scratch. Everything they owned from clothes to cars were destroyed.

However, what impressed JB during the weekend was the spirit of the clean-up crews. From short-term volunteers…to ones who are there for the long haul…they are dedicated to doing the most dirty, difficult work to help the flood victims move forward. Most of the volunteers that JB met were well over 50 years old. Those with the time to give tend to be older, but they are not letting age stop them for doing what they can to help those in need.

With great sorrow in his eyes, JB told me how massive the clean up truly is…which means it will be a painstakingly slow process for these homeowners. It will be quite some time before they can move back into their homes and try to find some kind of new normal in a place that doesn’t quite look like home anymore…a place with all new furnishings but few keepsakes of the home that once stood there.

What is even more mind-boggling is that there are people in the same kind of recovery mode in Florida, the Caribbean, and our northwestern states. There are a tremendous number of people trying to put back together the pieces of their lives after storm and wildfire damage in just the last few weeks.

This post does feel more Stormy than Rosie, but sharing JB’s story is important. Many of you care and want to know how those affected are doing. Many of you would like to be able to do something to help as well.

There is a wonderful organization that has been on the ground helping from Day 1. They are called the Texas Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief. The money you donate to them will go directly to the those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

JB and his team worked directly with this amazing group. Some of the great work they are doing that JB witnessed was:

  • Preparing food for the volunteers and the flood victims
  • Providing trucks stocked with washers, dryers, and showers
  • Organizing and running the clean-up efforts in damaged homes

We can tell you with confidence, your support of the Texas Baptist Men will go directly toward helping Texans in need.

As I think about all that JB has experienced, these verses keep coming to mind:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
 ~Psalms 121: 1-2

I love these Psalms, because they remind us that in times of trouble, the Lord will send help. He won’t leave us all alone. He will be there to see us through troubled waters.  Sometimes we even get the opportunity to be that help for someone in need…and that can turn a Stormy Outlook…Rosie.

 

Just As It Was 16 Years Ago

You may have noticed there wasn’t a blog post from me last Monday. I actually wrote seven different drafts of which 0 turned out to be something I was pleased with enough to post. That lead to a discussion with my editor, JB, that I can only describe as “creative differences”.

Bless his heart…I’m thankful he hangs in there with me.

At some point we did agree that it was late…and a post just wasn’t happening…and we needed to “work on it tomorrow”.

Well…Tuesday was a crazy busy day from sun up until sun down with no time to write…and then the rest of the week flew by in a blur…which brought me to a point where I finally acknowledged it wasn’t happening.

Maybe someday I will go back and rework one or more of those posts, but today, this is on my mind:

America, you are beautiful and I am so sorry you are hurting.

As you and I know, America is struggling with her fair share of issues right now.

All at the same time, we have wildfires, floods, and hurricanes harming our loved ones. We have no control over the damage being done, but we can certainly be there to help those who are in great need.

Many of our country’s citizens have firmly taken a side in the political warrings that plague our nation. Of course, we cannot control what others believe or support. Shouting someone down, “educating” them with online articles and memes, or lecturing them on how they are wrong probably isn’t going to change anyone’s mind.

I truly believe living your convictions in a kind, passionate way has a much greater impact on those on the “other side” than anything you scream at them.

Today is the 16th Anniversary of the most horrific terrorist attack on American soil. For those of us old enough to have experienced that day in real time, the horror of it will never leave us.

America changed drastically that day and things have never been the same since. It was a time of tremendous loss, but we united in such a beautiful American way. We bravely rose from the ashes and stood strong together.

Old Glory was proudly flown on homes and buildings across this great nation. Our congressional leaders sang God Bless America on the steps of the capital. The churches were full and the name of God was called upon freely. We cheered each other on and celebrated our survival. We were all on the same team: USA!

Sixteen years later, the memories of shock, confusion, fear, heartache, and pride all stay with me. I distinctly remember how that day unfolded. The details are clear and the feelings are still very strong.

I was heartbroken and yet incredibly proud of my country in September 2001.

Funny…but sixteen years later I feel very much the same about the current issues our nation faces. From the natural disasters to the man-made ones, I still feel so sad for the damage done, but also pleased with the good we are seeing in so many people across this great land of ours.

I know there are people who don’t feel this way right now. They see the bad stuff that is happening and they are discouraged. It is very easy to get depressed if you focus on the destruction and negative choices.

But I want to encourage you to turn your focus to the good. There are people really stepping up to help others. Some are truly listening and trying to do something to make a positive difference in our country.

Despite the ashes that are falling down, the waters that are rising up, the storms blowing in, and the turbulence of differing opinions, every day citizens of this country continue to quietly reach out and help others in need. You may never know their story or even see the fruit of their labor, but they are still making a difference in our nation just the same.

There really is an incredible amount of good in our country. The next time you get discouraged by the negative news of the day, I encourage you to purposely look for the good happening around you. If you look for it, you will see it.

There is still heartache in this world, but God is still great, and Americans are still good. Just as it was sixteen years ago today.

 

 

 

 

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