“As the rush of the season takes hold, I can’t help reflecting and thanking God for surviving a tough year! Let’s face it, we as a country endured numerous challenges that left us counting our blessings. For Shani, Samara and myself, it’s during our daily commute when we talk about the day’s events.
With January ushering in a season of unusual rainstorms, mudslides and earthquakes, the girls questioned our safety, as well as those “lucky” homeowners living in the scenic hillsides. This year was definitely a year of praying for others. We would watch the news and pray for those families left in shelters after homes and dreams slid down mountainsides.
We were still recovering from Samara’s bout with Nephrotic Syndrome and adjusting to our new, take-your-time-smell-the-flowers lifestyle when our summer heated up with nearby forest fires. Just as kids were rushing to freezers for popsicles, firefighters were heading for the hills, working ’round the clock fighting dangerous blazes set off by the summer’s sizzling heat. Many days, I would look at my office window, watching smoke, flames and teams of helicopters carrying water to mountainside fires.
Yet, fires and rain had nothing on the devastation from Hurricane Katrina – a natural disaster that left our Big Easy in shambles. With family members and friends missing, my life hinged on news reports and text messages. I rallied with a neighbor who became the family’s “transportation and housing coordinator,” fielding calls to the Red Cross, National Guard and extended-stay hotels. Not wanting to feel helpless, I became online volunteer, helping reunite families by posting messages and searching countless survivor/lost/deceased lists for names.
Our daily commuter conversations now centered on reuniting families and praying for the thousands of kids now suffering. Not only did my children send prayers, but they also sent clothing and toys to a church here that’s housing more than 200 families. And, it was during this “back-to-school” time that my kids truly understood how lives end and begin again within the blink of an eye. They now understand how people thousands of miles apart could be affected by the same unfortunate circumstance. Sometimes it takes visual examples to teach the most heart-wrenching lessons. I’ll never forget being the fly sitting on the couch when my neighbor received a call from her aunt and cousin when they reached the Houston Astrodome. The quiet tears and soft “OK’s” became strong affirmations of victory behind every tragedy.
Indeed, life is a journey that strengthens the mind, body and spirit. Just ask my girls, and they’ll tell you, “I can do all things with God.” Remember that on your walk this coming year.