Thursday, October 12, 2017

I will not waste this year!  Neither flood nor displacement will seize this year. This conviction continues to grow within me, one of the rich lessons of trauma.
Although I've lost a good portion of my stuff, intimacy will not be recorded on my inventory.  Intimacy...the desire of my heart! I'm reminded today that we were made for just that. Intimacy is not a waste of our time.
Last night, in the bustle of Wednesday night church activities, I locked hearts with another woman who too had walked chest deep through the waters. Her eyes brimming with collected tears, she poured her evacuation story in detail and I listened as if my very life depended on it. It did! Listening to the stories has become my passion; no waste in that. Whether we realize it or not, we need storytellers and ready listeners.  This is how we all will pass through the waters. 
And this is how we deepen our relationships.
The courageous both spill and absorb life's narratives.  Are you doing both?
But even more importantly, I draw near to the God who hears, the creator of intimate relationship. Jesus stops, Jesus really listens, and Jesus weeps. 
As a novice writer, I'm clearly eager to disentangle my thoughts, but my true desire is to become a good listener like Jesus. Listening will not be a waste of time.
He who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life. . . . Anyone who thinks that his time is too valuable to spend keeping quiet will eventually have no time for God and his brother, but only for himself and for his own follies. 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Monday, October 9, 2017

Sunday night draws to a close. Even though I know I should call it a night, I fight sleep. Waking up means a new week of paperwork, endless calls and more work in a place I don't recognize as home anymore.
Another Sunday night,  finding myself in a battle to see the good in all of this...again, the joy!
I return to the counting of gifts.
I'm profoundly grateful for tenacious love! I'm girded by a small army that doesn't give up on me. They listen once again to my story, my sorting out of this ongoing chaos. They feed me with meal after meal, but even better, with helpings of hope and acceptance of my ever-changing moods. They anticipate my every need. They show up again and again. Tenacious love! They understand that love runs a marathon ; it's no easy sprint. Their talk is gentle, brimming with kindness and they push off my feeble attempts to pay them back; they want nothing from me.  Tenacious,  like our Father's unfailing love.
I'm learning to live open-handed, receiving grace instead of grasping for it. I tend to get grabby when my faith falters. How can I forget His faithfulness so easily, especially with this army of mine?
" Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Do you leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home  Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ' Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' " Luke 15

Tenacious love...

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

How are you holding up? I desperately needed to feel compassion from those closest to me. I sent out updates, hoping they would grasp the reality of the flood. I made excuses...their lives are too busy to take on my pain.  I needed them to hug me from afar.  But very few family members showed up. I never expected their physical presence, but I made the assumption that they would offer emotional support. 
I placed that expectation on them. But this week, I was able to own it as mine and release it.  It has been tearing me up, keeping me from moving forward. So I begin to grieve another loss, the expectation that my family will walk alongside me and rescue me when I think I can't take another step.
There is so much collateral loss in this flood. It often seems as layered as our piles of debris. We must name and grieve each one just like the physical loss.
But as we inventory, we must look hard for the unearthed treasures.
Just like the unexpected photos, children's artwork, slips of paper scrawled with truth found in the rubble, we have to hunt for the joy, the gifts, the purpose in our uninvited catastrophe. 
It's truly been like Thanksgiving for me each day. So much goodness to celebrate, my list too lengthy to share. Each turn is decorated with generosity, wisdom and kindness. A month ago, there was not a first floor storage unit to be found in West Houston, but one came open and a Sunday School class has funded it for several months. My spiritual family continues to show up to pack and demo. Sometimes, I have no idea what I need, but they just seem to know. Cookies, chocolate, mold spray, masks, even a needed hammer...the blessings flow. 
I wonder how many times I've failed to show when a loved one really needed me. I hope that has changed because of Harvey.  Yesterday, a motherless child on my street begged for a hug. His brother ran for his as well. Sometimes we just have to let go of our to do list and just show up in the middle of the rubble.

Monday, September 25, 2017

The trucks with the big claws turned on our street this afternoon. Our turn for the city to haul off the growing pile trash had finally come without warning. I'd left my biggest, most intimate possession for the last: the bed. That beautiful sanctuary in which we had laughed for hours, playing our own version of Name that Tune into the wee hours of the morning, the safe place to shed our tears and prayers over our children, the soft surface where I gingerly massaged Rob's swollen feet in those last days. 
Of course, we would not have kept it much longer than the "replace every eight" recommendation, and even in this situation, we would have simply run to the store to purchase a new one...together.
But this was our bed that I was placing on the rubble. Our bed is forever gone.

The grief counselor says write, write, share...tell your story over and over.
And yes, I need to so badly. I'm falling apart, feeling overwhelmed and abandoned. The people I would rely on the most to help me solve issues are just not there for me. However, God continues to bring those that want to Harvey Angels.
So for my sanity, I'll write and share this journey with those who are truly interested in what it is like to go through a catastrophe on your own. 
I'll let those that don't subscribe to my blog, know when a new post is published; that will allow those who just don't want to continue to hear about Harvey to skip my story.
Interestingly, there are still two types of friends that continue to send me a personal message after a Facebook post: those drowning in their own flood and the friends who really want to pray very specifically. 
I want to connect with both of you. You can subscribe here, send me a pm or just comment on my FB notification. 
As we are all in this together. I so want to hear your story.  And don't forget, it's history.

Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2

Friday, September 22, 2017

I suggested to my pastor last night that we need to spill our grief on paper, so again, here I am.
Yesterday, I met with a contractor. We walked through each room and again, just as with the insurance adjustor, I felt the overwhelming task of rebuilding sweep over me. Judging the remaining piles of things to inventory and the foreboding weather, I temporarily closed up shop. I could not face another day of rain falling on debris plus the devastation of the hurricanes, the earthquake, friends' personal loss rendered me useless. 
 I needed some normal: a visit to my hairdresser, a sweet dinner with some of my favorite people, an opportunity to gift someone else.  And I needed a lot more Jesus!
So many lessons rise from this rubble. Most strikingly, I've accepted that family comes in many forms. Most of my relatives are far removed from this disaster; they can't even fathom the catastrophic effect Harvey has had on the Texas Gulf Coast. Though only a few have reached out to me, God has provided a faithful spiritual family. Most escaped the physical devastation of the reservoir release, yet, their empathy and compassion surrounds me  through each and every day. They act out of love, not survivor's guilt; they are God's lavish gift. My newfound family calls, advises, listens, provides. They truly ease the pain of being separated from my relatives. 
I'm duly learning that just as my damaged foundation needs repairs before rebuilding, so does my life's footing. As this new chapter ensues, even though unwelcome, my emotional and spiritual health must be shored so the bricks will stand firm. For me that requires respite, community, much prayer...and an occasional trip to the salon.

Monday, September 18, 2017

God sent me a team of amazing women and men on Saturday.  I was leaking hope until they arrived to divide and conquer. The men from my church tore out cabinets, sheet rock, appliances and some nasty gypsum board from my home's exterior walls. The women washed and packed fragile items that no longer have homes. Then, a sweet couple came and rescued my carload of books, saving me a trip to donate my large collection. That's after they had already washed all of my clothes.
After everyone had left, I stood in awe of the work they had completed, blown away by the sacrifice of their weekend with their families. I can't even describe the outpouring of love. Overcome with gratitude, I just wept and thanked God for this gift I could never repay. And I felt hope rise once again.

Later, I ventured off my street, surveying the rest of my neighborhood. I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of destruction. The further I drove, the greater the stench and heartbreak.  The piles look just like mine, but something about seeing it all run together helped me drop my self-pity and encouraged me to care beyond my own tragedy. 
So today was  a day to process and worship. The loss of Rob's things are taking its toll and I will need to seek counsel on how to trudge forward in my journey of grief...once again. I took some time to reflect on how I'm going to allow something beautiful to come from the rubble. As I've said before, I don't want to waste this tragedy.
Sunday night is quickly coming to a close. I'm thankful for a day off to rest my weary legs and soul, yet I feel a sense of dread.  I don't want to face  another work week of decisions, piles to pack and discard, and that ever-present and necessary MASK! But I know who will see me through the rubble.