Thankful in Houston – After the storm

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I am THANKFUL! My family and I are okay, having gone through the most devastating storm to hit the city of Houston, and our neighborhood was not adversely affected.

For three days the news of the situation in south Houston kept getting worse. Each time I watched the heart wrenching pictures on TV, all I could do was offer prayers for the city and its people and be grateful we were still safe. Initially all we had in our area north of the city was heavy rain. However,  driving around yesterday, I saw neighborhoods a few miles from us that were completely under water with a throng of rescue boats lining up for the search. Between the news on TV, the frequent emergency alerts blaring on my cell, rescue helicopters hovering over the neighborhood, talking to friends in nearby areas who were flooded but thankfully evacuated, the continuous rain, etc, I felt shaken and apprehensive. I prayed some more.

As the news worsened, reporters who tried to remain politically correct in their religious views began to soften.  An evacuee, Jeremiah, who made it through miles of water by rescue boat with his young son and just a backpack was being interviewed and stated, how grateful he was. “Thank God we are safe,” he repeated three times. When he walked away, however, the reporter said, “This young man just thanked his lucky stars that he and his son are okay.” I thought, “All you had to do was quote the man correctly.”  Later though another reporter who was welcoming a whole neighborhood coming by boat repeated several times, “Thank God you are okay.”  By the evening news, on the report that a load of people had been safely evacuated from an area, a reporter shouted “Hallelujah!”

Does it have to get that bad before we call on the name of The Lord?

The reports of strangers and volunteers putting their lives at risk to help others were the uplifting stories that showed the human spirit still prevailed in hopeless times. People, including myself, began to think, “How can I help?” Facebook and NextDoor overflowed with neighborhood helpful information: what supermarkets, stores or gas stations are open, what roads are clear or flooded, what place is offering shelter, where one can volunteer, where to donate supplies, etc.

When the severity of the storm was announced, we realized that it might be several days before the stores were re-stocked.  My sister, a former military, and I went on a “recon” (recognizance) tour and posted open facilities that we passed. We stood in line in the rain for an hour a and half to get more provisions from a Walmart that happened to be opened among closed or flooded stores. I was able to pick up air mattresses and food supply for my church (Light of the World Christian Fellowship) that is sheltering evacuees.

This morning when I opened my eyes to a ray of sunshine filtering through the blinds, I jumped out of bed glorifying God and stared at the beautiful sunrise.  My friend Kristen who lives in the bay area in Galveston posted a view of the beach this morning: blue sky and calm splashing waves. Harvey moved on and the news flash is: the waters are receding! We made it through.

We may be broken, but we can build again! We are alive! We’ve been granted another opportunity to experience God’s glory on this earth. Political correctness is out the window. Let us all  feel free to praise Him and shout Hallelujah! For sunshine, for blue skies, for calm splashing waves, for people helping and loving each other, for hope.

Here is my offering to uplift the spirits of all of those connected to the city of Houston, all affected directly or indirectly by hurricane Harvey. Stay strong.

Be encouraged in The Lord. Keep on pressing on.   https://youtu.be/-OEtOJWPynE

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I Choose to Be Thankful

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Two weeks before the Thanksgiving holiday I was feeling particularly upset.  Overworked. Fatigued.  Frustrated.  My body felt like a wreck and I was emotionally and mentally drained. Everything got on my nerves and I was heading toward a private pity party.

Wait! Danielle. Stop complaining. You have so much to be thankful for.

For the next ten days every time I felt like complaining, I reminded myself to be thankful instead.

Wednesday – a full day on a blocked schedule with no breaks in between. I am completely worn out when I leave work.  Then I think about Thursday when I only see two classes and have an extended conference time. Woo Hoo!  Breathe. I get to catch up on my back log. I choose to be thankful!

Right upper arm – hurts like a new wound at the site of the scar where a growth was removed eight years ago when I reach to grab something on a shelve. Happens often. Doctor said there is no new growth. A Google search informed me that this is common. The nerve endings in the area of the scar are disconnected or something.  This will be a lifelong occurrence.  Okay then, let’s see.  I can still hold my beloveds in a bear hug. I can still lift my hand to praise The Lord. I choose to be thankful!

Need more sleep – hit the snooze all three times that morning. How I wish I could stay in bed, asleep!  One of my students, a bright and engaging young woman, appears to drag every morning that week. What’s wrong? I ask. “I’ve been going through some anxiety issues and am unable to sleep at night,” she replied.  My recommendation: chamomile or verbena tea, milk and honey, music…  Whoa! Here I am complaining and I’m getting at least six solid hours a night.  I choose to be thankful!

Right ankle – broken in a car accident when I was ten years old, buckles under as I walk.  I stumble.  This happens occasionally.  No heels this week Ms. Thing.  Podiatrist’s X-ray done a couple of months ago diagnosed arthritis and soft tissue damage in the area.  But, Ah!  I’ll be able to wear heels on Sunday, right? I am able to stand and walk? Dance at Zumba class?  I choose to be thankful!

30 minutes for lunch – I hate to eat in a rush. Bad for my genetic digestive issues. An older man, a teacher aide, comes into the teacher lounge. In a conversation about food he mentions being tired of eating soft foods, the only thing he’s able to process.  He initiated dental replacement back when he had a full time job and before turning 65. He got as far as partial implants. Medicare won’t pay the $10,000 cost of the remaining dentures and he can’t afford it on his own. I was chewing on a piece of chicken. I choose to be thankful!

Getting older is sometimes disconcerted. Why did I have to check the mirror when I was wearing my glasses and noticed all the grey eyebrow hairs? Wait! Once I “do” my brows, in pencil or gel, all you see are well arched brows.  Make up, what a blessing! I choose to be thankful!

Follow up doctor visit – apprehensive before I go. I am under medical observation because of a genetic illness in my blood that has the potential to become serious. My latest tests look great. Doctor gives me a clean bill of health, a six-month reprieve until my next visit.  I choose to be thankful!

Missing my husband – I burst into tears at the thought of how long we’ve been apart (I working in Texas and he in New Jersey). Lord! This is hard, but you have a plan. I know. Also, absence does make the heart grow fonder. I have a loving and fulfilling (albeit long-distance) relationship with a wonderful man. I look forward to every visit with great anticipation.  Our time together is so much richer particularly because we miss each other.

On this Thanksgiving morning, when I felt his presence asleep next to me, later when we busied ourselves in the kitchen preparing our version of the holiday meal that included Haitian style turkey legs and of course rice and beans, when we shared the festive meal in an intimate setting with my sister and two of her children and I prayed over the blessings of family, love, health, a beautiful home, a good job, great relationships, and so much more, I had very good reasons to be thankful!

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