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Tag Archives: Hurricane Ike

A Gate in the Fence

Fences and gates have a specific purpose. They keep unwanted people out of your yard while keeping people safe inside a confined area. Or, as dictionary.com says:

Gate

  1. a movable barrier, usually on hinges, closing an opening in a fence, wall, or other enclosure.
  2. an opening permitting passage through an enclosure.
 Fence
  1. a barrier enclosing or bordering a field, yard, etc., usually made of posts and wire or wood, used to prevent entrance, to confine, or to mark a boundary.
  2. Informal a person who receives and disposes of stolen goods.

In my “mommy mind” a fence has this definition:

  1. A necessary enclosure to keep bad guys out.
  2. An even more necessary enclosure to keep my kids from running down the street in PJ’s or worse.
  3. A tool to keep the dog in the yard so I don’t have to walk him.
  4. Informal??? Call it what it is – Thief or accomplice of one.

Ok, for those of you who know me, meaning, you’ve been over to my house and really know me, you’ll know I’m just kidding. I don’t walk the dog – my husband and kids do.  Not to mention, my kids play in our front yard ALL the time in PJs. And we don’t have a fence. But if we did, that’s what my reasoning would be. One more thing… wouldn’t it be interesting to have REAL definitions in the dictionary? Most of our neighbors do have a fence, so we are semi-surrounded by that wonderful barrier. Just as wonderful as it can be, it is still a barrier. So what happens when our kids want to play with our backdoor neighbors? BEFORE, there were a few choices. They could

  • A. walk down our street, along an somewhat busy street then up the neighbor’s street
  • B. climb a ladder into the backyard of different backdoor neighbors into a yard where huge Dobermans and German shepherds lived with just as big mounds of…ahem… or
  • C. cut through an elderly lady’s yard without her knowing and showing complete lack of respect and integrity since we gave our word we wouldn’t do that.

All of the choices were not ideal, until Hurricane Ike blew through (remember?) and provided an unexpected solution. Actually, it blew down the fence. Well, not enough to destroy it, but enough to create an awkward, uneven, unstable barrier. There were lots of commands “Don’t touch the fence!” But it stayed for awhile longer. Until the day our neighbor’s repaired it. When they did, they built a gate. A gate in the fence to connect our families. It wasn’t just a let’s save the kids from having to walk through a mine field or down a busy street type of gesture. It was an invitation. An invitation that said, “We are always just a few feet away. You are welcome to join us in this journey of life.”

Now before you picture us having BBQ’s and swim parties every week, we don’t. In fact the gate is used far too infrequently. But it’s there. It has come in handy when we needed something done in our house while gone on a vacation. It has been used to share books. Our family has provided meals during sickness. Broken dryer? Go through the gate.  The gate even provided a 6 A.M. wake up call for walking buddies to gather strength – physically, mentally, and spiritually.

A few weeks ago, we opened the gate for our families to share a meal. After dinner, the conversation wasn’t “How about them cowboys?” Ok… so it was, but then AFTER that, they looked into our eyes and said, “So what’s really going on? How are you doing – REALLY?” That is friendship. Well, I have quite a few friends who wouldn’t ask such a question, so it’s more than friendship. It is Jesus in community. Going from “We are neighbors; we are here” to “We are living as neighbors, through this journey of life, in whatever way we can.” That is living life together – stepping through the gate in the fence.

Building bridges or gates in fences will do no good unless you walk across or through to connect.

My challenge to you today: Build a bridge or gate in the fence and take the first step to live life together with another family.

The Day Hurricane Ike Blew Peace My Way

Today is the anniversary of Hurricane Ike. It is also the anniversary of a life changing day for me. It is what I like to think of as my most peaceful day and the day that changed my parenting. Remember the day I (almost) died? Well, this is the continuation of that story.

Home from the hospital for only three days, we were glued to the TV. Reports of a Hurricane were on every channel. My sister came in to help take care of all of us while I was settling in at home. She stayed only 24 hours before leaving because of the storm. She did leave for us some of her famous crawfish cassaroles in the freezer! What a blessing! While many Houstonians left town, that was not an option for us. We didn’t want to be too far from the hospital and I couldn’t travel. After being in the hospital so much, I had no desire to leave home!

The workers at the clinic where I learned how to take care of my IV and drain gave me enough meds to last for weeks, since they didn’t know what the weather would hold. They also gave me a strict warning: Keep the medication COLD. If there is any way to keep your fridge working, do it. If not, you will need to let emergency workers know you NEED ice for medical reasons.

We didn’t have far to look to find an answer. Our neighbor had passed away recently and had a powerful generator. We asked the caretaker of the house if we could borrow it. They graciously allowed us to. Another neighbor offered to keep it powered and find gas daily in exchange for some of the power. That was a tremendous blessing. While most people powered a fan, lights, radio, or TV, we powered our fridge.

The day the storm was going to come through, we met our back door neighbor. He invited us over for a prayer meeting. The idea of that blew me away. At this point, I still wore only gowns, not real clothes. Looking at my coffee cup print PJ’s and knowing I couldn’t walk that far, even if it was just to the other side of the fence that separated us, I knew I couldn’t attend the meeting. I committed to pray all evening for safety and salvation. I had a feeling some would come to know the Lord during this storm. Little did I know…

I remember sitting, praying, and looking our big picture window. The news of possible doom and destruction floated all around us. Looking outside, everything was calm. There was a beautiful green cast to the air. I marvelled at it all. I did not remember a time of ever feeling such peaceful contentment. In the midst of the storm to come and the storm I recently emerged from (and in some ways was still in the midst of) the biggness of God and the value of life overwhelemed me in a cloud of peacefulness. I worshiped and prayed.

After dinner that night, my daughter came up to me and said, “Mom, you just almost died and now the storm is coming and people might die. What will happen if I die?” In my state of calmlness, I spoke peace over her. I assured her that God takes care of us and can carry us through this. If we were to be called home to Him, it would be only because it is in His plan. I then began to share with her the story of salvation. It is a familiar story in our house, and one she could have told me about. While it was familiar to her, it was not yet HER story. That night, I was able to pray with her as she asked Jesus to come into her life. Now the salvation story was hers. (If this story is not yet YOURS, please skip over to this page right now to read how it can be yours!)

I have trouble putting into words what I felt that night. I don’t think there is a word adequate enough. Peaceful? Gratitude? Thankfulness? They are not deep enough. The Lord gave me a second chance at life. Then He blessed me with the gift of leading my child to Him. From that moment on, my parenting changed forever. We are not promised tomorrow. I decided to parent everyday with that thought in mind. What do I want my children to learn? How do I want my children to think of me? I went from a hurried, yelling, frustrated mom into a (trying to be) patient, calmer mom that teaches to the heart with God’s Word above all.

Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.                  Ephesians 6:4

I think back on those weeks without power. God gave us many miracles. My parents had power within days of the hurricane. They had actually been out of the country. As soon as they arrived to the states, they came over. When their power was restored, they drove us to their house, then took our children out of town, to my nephew’s wedding. I felt sad that I couldn’t make it, but so grateful for my family and all of those who helped us during this time. (My mother-in-law spent weeks and weeks in our house taking care of the kids during the hospital stays. Out of town sisters came in to help, one left her family – and homeschooling her children – to stay for a week and help my kids adjust to school.) The day my parents returned home from the wedding with the kids, our power came back on! Only a few streets in our neighborhood had power. I believe without a doubt, our street had power because of that prayer meeting at our neighbor’s house. Some think I’m crazy, I think it was yet another miracle in the long line of miracles He did during the many storms Hurricane Ike symbolized in my life.

The bridges that are built in the midst of a storm bring life changing stories of survival and hope.

There was another blessing Hurricane Ike blew in as it blew away fences and trees. I’ll share that story next week!

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