Friday, August 26, 2016

Learning to Dream Again

Remember when you were a kid and you used to dream of what your future would hold? I remember as a little girl I dreamed of becoming a cowgirl. I would own my own ranch and have horses that I would ride all the time. I'd ride the hills in my boots and hat and chaps and vest, not a care in the world.

Slowly that dream died. I realized that would never happen. Horses were expensive to take care of and I was told my love of horses was a phase that I would grow out of. I did get to take some riding lessons and learned that I hated English style riding. Western had always been the way I wanted to ride anyway. When I finally got to take western riding lessons, I loved it. However, the horses didn't always like me. And thus after a while, my love for horses diminished and my dream of riding the hills and plains faded into the past.

As I grew, I came into the thought process that any dream I had was foolish and would never amount to anything. I wanted to be a singer in a band, but knew it would never happen. I wanted to be an author, and pursued that for a while, but decided that my stories would never be good enough.

There were things I dreamed, and let myself dream about, because they were realistic dreams. Like, I dreamed I would marry a wonderful man who loved me fully and we would have a beautiful wedding. That came true. But I never really considered it a dream. It was realistic. It was something I was sure would happen.

So, when people talk about dreams, I'm at a loss. I grew to loathe the question: "Where do you see yourself in [x amount of] years?" I hated it, and still do, because my answer never changed. "I don't know." Part of it was because God has plans that I don't even know about. I thought I was going to go to Harding and graduate in four years and then get married to a man I met in person, probably live in Texas and never work with youth. After my first year at Harding, God took me to Washington where my aunt, uncle, and cousins lived. My plan was then to live there. I got on eharmony and was only looking in that area. Then I met Tanner. A man from Ohio who loved working with the youth at his congregation. I moved back to Dallas to work at my mom's law firm and started planning a future in Ohio. Now, here I am 4 years later in Lafayette, Louisiana. On top of that, I'm working with the youth and teaching a women's class and in leadership role.

The other part of my hatred of that question was that I didn't have any dreams. I decided to live day by day, week by week. I squelched any grand dreams or hopes that I thought were dumb or unrealistic.

Recently, though, I was convicted to try and dream again. Not just dream, but write them down. Any dream. From cooking the perfect meal, to my future kids graduation and wedding and kids. I realized I did have dreams I'd been shutting out. I had labeled them as hopes.

That's the funny thing about dreams is, we can end up calling them different things. Hopes. Wishes. Prayers.

So as I started writing these things down, I allowed myself to dream without fear, without abandon. I was shocked how many I ended up writing down. And I didn't even include the traveling I would like to do or my future kids graduations and spouses/weddings and their future kids. One that will never be crossed off for me, though, is growing closer to God and learning more about him and his love.

I encourage you to dream and write down those dreams. One day I'm sure I will look on my list and see that many of them have come true and will need to make a new list. Dream. Continue to dream. And don't hold yourself back. God can do so much more that you could ever hope for. You just have to let yourself dream and then give them to Him.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Temptation of Normalcy

It's been a week and a half since the great flood of 2016 here in southern Louisiana. Houses have been cleaned out, supplies handed out, school has restarted, and employees have gone back to work. Thus the temptation of normalcy arises.

If we weren't affected, we tend to lull our way back into the routine of life. We remember those that were affected, but forget that the work has just begun for them. They can't go back to normal yet. Some are still displaced. Some haven't even begun to tear out the damaged floors and walls. Some still have water in their homes. Some have lost everything and have to think about building a new home.

We do have to do normal things. We have to work. Kids have to go to school. We have to take care of our family and do normal things. In doing so, we have to remember that others are still suffering. The temptation is to forget. The temptation is to stop helping.

Please don't fall into that temptation. Please remember those that are still struggling for some semblance of normal because their houses have been destroyed. Please continue to help in any way you can! The work has just begun. Even if people have gotten all the damage out of their home, they still have to rebuild. They still have to replenish what was lost.

I am grateful for our congregation here at Riverside. People have been volunteering non-stop over the past week and a half. We have had trucks come in full of supplies and people have swarmed in. Our members have helped unload every truck and get supplies to those who needed it. We have had teams go out and gut houses. We have had people make and deliver meals to those that needed it. We have had people open their homes to neighbors who needed a place to stay.

If you are unable to help in any of these ways, please consider donating money. Riverside Church of Christ is collecting funds to help those affected by the floods. Especially those who don't have flood insurance. To make it easier, we set up a gofundme page. We are so grateful for the funds raised so far and the generosity of so many people. We are also grateful for those that have traveled here or plan to travel here to help clean out houses and start repairs.

Thank you for your help in whatever way you were able to help. Most of all, thank you for your prayers. God is awesome and He always provides.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Flood Adventures

If you don't already know, Lafayette, Louisiana and surrounding areas were hit with a major storm this past weekend. The news channel was calling it historical and the city was in a state of emergency. The rain started Thursday night and didn't stop until Saturday afternoon, but only for a moment. At our home, it drizzled and sprinkled on and off the rest of the day and Sunday was clear. Flooding started mid-morning on Friday and hasn't stopped. Though there hasn't been any rain in Lafayette, the draining from areas are flooding other areas because there is so much water.

Tanner and I are heartbroken for those whose homes are flooded and those whom are stuck in their homes. We are also very grateful that we only had a very close scare.

Saturday morning, just before 6 am, we were awoken by our alarm. We have a flood sensor in our garage so we would have a warning before water got in the house. We shut the alarm off and started assessing. I found that the flood insurance we bought when we bought our home, expired when our mortgage company changed to Wells Fargo. I started looking to see if we could even get insurance that would cover that day or the next and Tanner tried to relax and sleep a few more minutes on the couch next to me. (By the way, if you get flood insurance, it's not good until a month after purchasing.)

A little while later, the downstairs toilet gurgled and Tanner became wide awake. He was in go mode to prep the house and make sure everything we could get off the floor was up. I, however, broke down as I was sure the house was going to flood and started blaming myself for not checking to make sure we had flood insurance a long time ago. (Tanner is the one who is great in chaos. I am so grateful for that. He becomes me rock when the sobs commence.) He convinced me to start helping, giving me smaller tasks at first until I calmed down.

We got most everything up on canned food and moved the things in the bottom shelves of the bookcase we didn't care if it got destroyed to higher shelves. The other bookcase had all the books removed from it's shelves and moved upstairs and then when on cans as well. The downstairs toilet's water got turned off, and plans were made to put the couch on top of the table behind it and our kitchen table to be put on cans should water start entering the house.

As water continued to rise, we watched the news, TV shows, and outside the windows. Tanner made a "wall" of bricks encircling the step from the porch into our house to try and keep water from getting in due to any wakes that might be made from someone driving by. He also thought to put the back of my car up on jack stands to keep water from getting into it as well.

When the rain slowed to a drizzle and the water started to recede, we made a run out to find sandbags and get some milk and cereal and water bottles in case the reports of wave two decided to try and flood us again. When we got home the water was completely off our porch.


Thankfully, the waters have receded and there the ditches were only full when I left for work this morning. (Route to work only had a few puddles.) However, many people we know had their houses completely flood. Some up to 3 feet of water in their homes. There is still much flooding and some of our friends still can't get to their houses to asses the damage.

We are so grateful to all those who prayed for us and those in the surrounding areas. Please continue to pray for the surrounding areas and pray that though there is rain in the forecast, it will stay away. God is amazing and gracious. The support we have seen all weekend and continue to see today is amazing and I am so thankful that there are people so willing to help out there. Many individuals were out on their own boats helping rescue people from their flooded homes. It warms my heart to see the serving heart of so many people.

Currently, Bayou Church is collecting items to help those in need and our home congregation, Riverside Church of Christ, will have a truck there from Disaster Relief in Nashville, Tennessee at 8 am tomorrow (8/16/16) filled with clothes, food, cleaning supplies, and more.

Please join me in keeping Southern Louisiana in our prayers. To those here, continue to be safe and diligent. It's still a wild world out here.