Wednesday, September 28, 2005

“Rita Is Not Invited To This House”

Those are the words I spoke to God as we prepared to leave our house on Wednesday night. We had packed as much of the freezer and refrigerator items as we could in a newly acquired ice chest. Picked up a few clothes, prescriptions, pets, and such and we were leaving everything else. The yard items were in the garage and the pictures were taken off the walls and that was about all. We live far enough inland we weren’t expecting flood waters but preparing for hurricane force wind. One last glance at the weather and it looked like Rita was going to come ashore somewhere between Galveston and Surfside – not good for Houston.


It was 8:00 pm on Wednesday, and we were heading north to my sister-in-law’s home. We were taking back roads and avoiding major highways as the traffic was already a mess. We had only one place where traffic was really bad – a 15 mile stretch of road that took an hour to cover. We spent the night in the RV parked in the Madisonville Baptist Church parking lot. It was about 12:30 am when we stopped. We were on the road again by 5:30 am. There was a stretch of about 40 miles where we got on to Interstate 45 going north. Traffic was moving but very heavy. It was amazing to see so many cars that were parked in every rest area where people had apparently spent the night. We arrived at our destination about 7:30 am – breakfast was served.

We spent the next three days enjoying the hospitality. We were on Cedar Creek Lake, so we enjoyed the fishing also. It was almost like a mini-vacation except that every extra moment was spent checking the weather and news. Conversations lasting over a few minutes included some comment about the weather. All the time I kept praying, “Rita you are not invited to our house.”

Then as the storm changed directions I realized Rita wasn’t going to my house but could be coming where we were. Once again the prayer to God “Rita is not invited where we are now!” Where we stayed we had some wind and two tenths of rain – Rita had stayed away!

Rita’s damage was far less than anyone expected. The last day she was over the water, a weather front stripped her 175 mph winds (category 5) to 120 mph winds (category 2). Landfall was in an area that is less populated so fewer homes and people were in her way than if she had come ashore closer to Houston. That means people in the Houston area are available to help rebuild the areas that were affected rather than trying to rebuild millions of homes and business.

When we returned home on Sunday, there was little evidence of Rita’s visit in our neighborhood. Our house was untouched. I know many people will say it was coincidence or something to that effect – but I know God honored my prayer and many others that Rita was not an invited guest. Elaine

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Growing Past the Pain

My heart cries out for the people from Louisiana, particularly from New Orleans. These people have lost their homes, businesses, and families. But at the same time I am very concerned about my own home, Houston, and the other places that accepted these refugees. My concern is that they will become dependent on our generosity like so many have become dependent on the government's generosity.

We see these homeless people so grateful for what is being provided but there are unsaid things that concern me. One lady stated she couldn't believe how caring everyone in Houston has been not like she was treated back in New Orleans. I hope she is referring to the short term madness that has possessed New Orleans and not her way of life.

People will give and give to help those that need help but at some point the people who need help need to start helping themselves. These people will need to start a new life. This new life needs to include a job - right now any job. They should not expect that the people of Houston or wherever will support them for the rest of their days because they had this horrible thing happen in their lives. We all face horrible things what separates us is how we respond or in the words of my mother "pick yourself up and if you fall pick yourself up again."

When we give and help other people we find ourselves - frequently a better version of ourselves. But when we work through the difficulties we do find we are much better than the person we were before. Accept help as it is intended - as short term help while beginning your new life. It takes time to work through problems, but the best time to start "picking yourself up" is today.
Bike Riding Elaine