Later, Gator

I’m watching the rain pour outside the sliding glass door to the patio. Streaming from the roof onto a large blue umbrella, saturating the seat cushions and splattering the cement.

Lawns look like fluorescent green carpets in Diamondhead, Mississippi. An airbnb has been our home most of September after being deployed for hurricane Ida. I love the eclectic foliage. Live oak trees next to towering pines. Pink knock-out rose bushes circling the trunk of an elegant palm tree. Sweet potato vines crawling under cactii and holly bushes.

Home away from home!

A few more days of hurricane recovery work and we’ll get to go home. The first week we drove into New Orleans we saw hundreds of utility trucks lined up on streets with workers untangling power lines and replacing damaged poles. Cars piled into the only gas station we could find forming lines out both entrances. Anxious people filled three and four large gas cans. A large gas tanker pulled into the station blaring his horn at patrons to get out of his way. I hurried out of the store feeling the tension and stress of this struggling city’s residents. I just started praying out loud!

“Oh, Father! Help these people. Help them get what they need! I pray peace and calm over all of these distressed people, Father!

Karla told me she knew God was protecting her when a monstrous 100-year old oak tree crashed into the opposite end of the house she took cover in.

“It looks like God cupped it in His hands and moved it right over for you!”

Her face lit up.

“Wow! That’s exactly what I had envisioned!

We stood next to the torn up sidewalk and massive exposed roots. I was touched by her peace in spite of the harrowing experience she’d just been through.

Each homeowner shared stories of evacuation or loss during the storm. Some rode out the hurricane and recounted their experience. Many were without power and water for a week or two.

While my husband worked, I listened. People struggling with job loss, divorce, sickness – a variety of life’s issues on top of just having been through a hurricane.

People come in and out of our lives. I thought so much about the importance of cherishing the relationships I have, being intentional about family and friendships. And not forgetting those whom have made a personal impact along this journey we call life.

One afternoon I decided to relax with a facial at a local salon. When I pulled up the salon owner rushed to my truck.

“Im so sorry! I never do this! I work all the time!”

Her daughter just called and her mom was in the hospital. Her elderly mother didn’t want to evacuate and the heat became too much for her.

When I asked if I could pray for her she said, “Please!”, and grabbed both my hands.

“God is my center. He sent me you today.”

As I drove back I thanked Him for using me to bring encouragement to her. There was something more important than me getting a facial. It was showing kindness and compassion.

We’re all given opportunities to smile at a stranger, give a word of encouragement, or help someone. Send a card, give a simple gift, make a meal.

We have those thoughts of doing good, but how often do we act on them?

It’s easy to use the word ‘busy’. Focus on ourselves, our calendar, our concerns.

I want to be more intentional about this.

Being around strangers in need have helped me refocus on what really matters.

Relationships. Or those who cross your paths each day.

When your loved one calls, answer. No matter what you’re doing. Answer. Talk to them. Listen to their voice.

Don’t miss those moments. All that truly matters are people.

The Lazy Gator restaurant, Diamondhead, Mississippi

Sure glad we didn’t run into any alligators while we’ve been down here.:)


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