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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!

A Stranger’s Prayer, a Waterpark, and Miracles!

Our summer plans involved lots of frugal activities. By frugal, I mean FREE. When I found out my nieces and nephews were coming into town, I wanted to do something very memorable. My first thought was to splurge and get tickets to the waterpark near us. Then I priced the tickets. At first I thought, we can do that! We haven’t spent much this summer on fun stuff, it’s about time we treat our kids to something fun! I talked to my sister and the kids and everyone was on board. Then reality hit. There is NO WAY we could pull off $350 for all the tickets. Plus parking. Plus snacks. My sister and parents offered to help. Then, I told them how much. After the large gulp, they said they would still help. It just didn’t feel like a good decision.  I couldn’t fathom spending that much for a day of activity – even if my parents and sister pitched in to help. I cancelled the plans and we decided to hang out at a pool. (Insert a sarcastic “yay” right here.)

The week before the cousins came in town, our church had a family VBS. On the second night we walked in to see a door prize containing tickets to a local water park. THE waterpark. I looked at it longingly, but didn’t count on winning. I’ve been known to be at an event where they have doorprizes for all but a few people… and I’m one of the few… that don’t win.

During VBS that night, a stranger asked to pray with our family. She was one of the prayer partners for the event and prayed a special prayer with us. She specifically prayed financial blessings on us. It felt strange having her pray that – and I immediately felt a tingle in my Spirit, like God was saying “Just Watch.”

After the prayer, the very next event in VBS was the announcement of the door prize. As they were walking the basket to the stage, I felt a nudge to pray. I said no. I mean, I NEVER win those things. I felt the nudge again, so I prayed something like “God, that sure would be cool, but I get it that I don’t usually win. I just hope someone who will really appreciate it wins.” And then – Our name was called!  I count it a true miracle. God sure showed me!

The day for the waterpark comes! I have eight excited kids. We packed lunches and water. My dad gave us some money for everyone to get a treat. That added another level to the excitement! (Remember, Happy Kid Day and Seven Tips for Saying NO? I don’t splurge on special treats much.) After paying for parking and a miscalculation on how much the tickets were, we were not going to have enough for each kid to have their own treat. I caught the miscalculation in enough time to run by the bank, but also prayed that God would continue to provide.

Let me insert a cool fact about the tickets – Usually when you win a family prize, there’s a standard package of four tickets. That’s great, unless you have a family of  six. The number of people I was responsible for getting tickets for – five. Guess how many tickets we won? Five. Coincidence? I think not.

As we’re standing in line to purchase tickets for my nieces and nephews, another small miracle occurs. The lady next to us gave us a coupon. One of those really really good coupons. The money we saved using the coupon, plus the money from my dad provided EVERYONE with a special treat. When it came time for the kids to spend their treat money, I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, I was SHOCKED. They didn’t spend all of it. They came back with change. A few of the kids decided to share their snacks. Did you catch that, they shared. Without prompting. It was a definite proud mom/aunt moment for me.

All day, I watched the joy on the kid’s faces. They didn’t complain, argue, or fuss. They took care of each other. My joy was complete. I felt my cup overflow. Floating down the lazy river, I prayed prayers of thanksgiving. I prayed for the stranger that prayed for us that night, for the people who gave the tickets, for the lady in line who gave us the coupons, and for my dad and sister who provided the rest of the tickets.

I’ve yet to tell you of the most meaningful miracles I experienced that day – My nieces and nephews. I love being with ALL of my nieces and nephews (I’ve been an aunt since I was ten and grew up with the older ones.) This visit, I saw significant life changes – miracles of the heart! I saw things in all four of them, but want to tell you about two of them. The oldest niece with me that day is almost 17. Her love for the Lord has been blooming this year. This summer she has already been on a mission trip and worked as a camp counselor. I knew she would be on fire for the Lord, but I didn’t expect to see her heart shine so much. I’ve seen kids on fire for the Lord, aglow with love and service for Him – usually with a glow that is lit brightly at camp then fades in reality. She had a different shine. It was real and deep. She went out of her way to help me or others. She gave up something she really wanted to do when she realized I needed help with the younger kids – and with a smile. I felt like I was seeing her come out of her cocoon into a lovely young lady with a servant heart. My nephew had a similar growth experience. He recently returned from church camp where he began his relationship with the Lord. I noticed a change in his life. The chains of frustration and anger that had bound him were gone. I saw a young man free of his past.

Celebrating Miracles – tickets to a waterpark and tickets to new life. Whatever your miracle – celebrate it! I am thankful for each miracle I saw that day. Building Bridges – Connecting Families – through miracles.

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