Survive!

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The roses which cover this arbor have a name and a story. The official name is now Peggy Martin. The nickname is “survivor.”  In the middle of our final move away from this garden and home this past week. we had vivid reminders of the origin of this rose. Our area has been covered with the waters of a devastating, history-making flood. The Brazos River crested 2 days ago at a record-breaking 54.81 feet, As water surged from the river, entire neighborhoods were flooded and evacuated  or stranded, roads rendered impassable, fields of crops and cattle inundated, and lives changed forever. There has been so much loss of property and livelihood.

The survivor rose is a symbol of this heartbreaking picture.  In late August 2005, Category 4 Hurricane Katrina created this type of destruction in New Orleans on an even larger scale.Levees were breached, and  85 percent of the city was underwater.  This rose  was the only rose among over 400 antique roses surviving 20 feet of salt water over the garden of Mrs. Peggy Martin, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, Mrs. Martin  lost her parents, her home, and commercial fishing boat in the storm. When she was finally able to return to visit their property she was heartened to see the lush growth of her climbing rose, a testament to its toughness and status as a true survivor.

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Our roses covered an arbor which has provided shade and shelter for children playing, birds nesting, and a place for quiet respite.  This too, reminds me of our present circumstances.  We have witnessed the hospitality and shelter of our community. Our church is a Red Cross shelter, where many evacuees have received a place to stay dry and sleep, meals, and help from many volunteers. Our emergency responders have diligently and consistently worked to rescue, assist, and keep us all informed and protected as much as possible. Many have responded with generosity and caring in a variety of ways.  Neighbors have helped both neighbors and strangers. As Mr. Rogers once said, in trying to help children absorb the impact of tragedies, we can look beyond to the helpers.

I am thankful for the Grace that enables us to be helpers, to offer peace to one another, and that hope remains.

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The Color of Hope

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Texas has received devastating damage throughout the state delivered by deluges of rain, tornadoes, and rivers out of their banks. 46 counties have been declared disaster areas. In our town alone, a severe storm system which produced more than 11 inches of rain in 11 hours began a week that finds the entire metropolitan area of Houston in the throes of  historic flooding. Lives have been lost, homes destroyed, motorists stranded. Rivers continue to rise.  The Brazos River, near my neighborhood, is expected to reach flood stage tomorrow.  We have a good levee system here and should be OK, but two nearby communities which are near other stretches of the river are already evacuating. I pray for strength and peace for  those who are suffering tragedy and for those who will face unknown trials in the next few days. And I claim hope, the kind of expectant waiting that provides strength and endurance and perseverance. .It is so needed for those in the throes of crisis now.  It will be needed in the days to come as people who are hurt and grieving must begin to rebuild not only their homes but their very lives.

in the Jewish faith, blue is the color of hope, in Christianity, purple candles in the Advent wreath symbolize hope, a time of waiting and hoping. Others say green is the color of hope as it comes to us when spring is on its way, in hope and expectation of a new season of growth.  I like that.

Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!  ~ Romans 15:13    The Message

Celebrate

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”  ~John Milton

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Today, as we celebrate July 4, 2013, I am thinking of ways I show gratitude for the land in which I live and considering the ways in which I experience life in this place.  I have lived in another country, gaining a world view expanding experience and a new awareness of the freedoms that are often taken for granted in this country. As I gather my red, white, and blue bouquet from the garden this morning, I am thankful for the everyday blessing of my home, my community, the country I call mine and those who have given themselves through the years in unselfish service.