I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy
– “I Want to Leave a Legacy” by Nicole Nordeman

and

I was sure by now,God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it’s still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
“I’m with you”
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

Chorus:
And I’ll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm
– “Praise You in the Storm” by Casting Crowns

Whenever I hear these songs on the radio, I am immediately taken back to an event that occurred five years ago. Hurricane Katrina. She needs her own sentence. I don’t know if I am just slow at processing things but I am still not finished “processing” Katrina. Honestly, something reminds of that horrific day almost daily. I still mourn the loss of various “things” in my life. I still grieve for those who lost loved ones. I still miss the old “normalcy” of life down there. I live over 600 miles away now but I feel like I am “home” when I am on the Gulf Coast. I have said that before on this blog but it is still true. I love the Gulf Coast.

However, lately, my thoughts when I hear the above songs are not sad. It makes me feel like I have turned a corner, so to speak, in processing everything. I don’t know if it is because I am a mother now but I think more about legacies left in the wake of the storm. Namely, I think of my parents. I have always been raised in church and I have always observed them giving of their time, talents, and money to help anybody that needed it. They never asked for anything in return. I never thought much of it until after Katrina hit. Then, in the aftermath of the storm, people from my family’s past started emerging, one by one, and helping my parents out. Here are a few examples:

1. My uncle who is a remote anchorman for CBS in Charlotte, NC travelled down to “check on the house” under the guise of reporting on the storm. He did both. He called us and told us that my parents house was still standing but that the road ended at their house. What we know now is that the road was still there- it was just under a pile of debris from all the houses that were demolished due to the storm surge (fancy word for big ol’ tidal wave.) My parents immediately started making plans on heading back and housing friends who were having to rebuild their houses. However, those plans changed when they finally got back down there and discovered that their house had been submerged under 8 feet of water. Now, they were the ones needing help.

From Katrina


From Katrina

2. The place I worked at in TN, Appalachian Outreach, sent a group of college students to my parents house to gut the house. I taught a couple of those students at Carson-Newman College, went to church with a few, and worked with several others at AO. They gutted my parents house in a matter of days. It probably would’ve taken weeks for my parents to have done it.

From Katrina


From Katrina

3. The music/youth minister at the church where I grew up in SC is now serving at a church in Virginia. Their church held a fundraiser for Katrina relief. They raised enough money to buy the sheetrock needed to sheetrock their entire house.

4. The church where Travis served as minister of education and where we got married, FBC Dandridge, TN sent a group down several times to help out. The group I really remember was the group of senior adults who came down to put in the insulation and hang the sheetrock.

5. My mom ran into someone she knew in Gulfport one day and somehow or another, managed to hitch a ride back to South Carolina on an ambulance.

6. My grandparent’s Sunday School class had a collection drive to get furniture and such for my parents to help refurnish their house along with food and water for them and the rest of the Waveland, MS community. I know there were recliners and a refrigerator among the items.

From Katrina

7. The father of the ring bearer and flower girl in my wedding drove that truck full of items from #6 down to MS and then drove it back full of attic items (one of those items was my childhood crib which Sam now sleeps in) and some of the wooden furniture that my parents thought could be salvaged.

From Katrina


From Katrina

8. Various friends down in Mississippi helped with the new plumbing, HVAC, electricity, etc.

9. Mr. Louis and Mrs. Kathy let my parents live with them until their got their FEMA trailer.

From Katrina

10. The church where Travis served following Katrina, FBC Marrero, LA received some money and shared some of it with my parents. It was enough to buy the hardwood flooring for their entire house.

To a non-believer, they would just look at this above list and think that it was all just a big coincidence and a by-product of people caught up in the emotion of the tragedy desiring to do their little part to help. However, I know that was not the case. I KNOW that all of this was arranged by God. My parent’s have always been devoted to following God and helping others. Sometimes I’ve wondered how stuff/places that might seem insignificant at the time become a pivotal part of the recovery process.

Following God isn’t easy. I am positive that my parent’s would rather have not had to deal with all the craziness of the post-Katrina world. However, they constantly used it to remind others, and me, of God’s faithfulness, love, and protection for His children.

From Katrina

Travis and I were actually living in New Orleans when Katrina hit. However, we didn’t have any damages to our apartment because we were off campus at the time. The only things we lost were whatever we had in my parent’s house. Personally, that has been the hardest part of the healing for me. I struggle A LOT when I visit Travis’ family and they still have their photo albums of Travis and Trey as kids. There are pictures on the walls of them as infants. Travis still has his high school yearbooks. Some of Travis’ baby clothes still exist. This is where I struggle the most because those items that tend to be passed down through the family are gone on my side. My grandparents have a lot of pictures so Sam will have those one day. However, my yearbooks swelled up like 3 day old roadkill and the pages were all glued together so they had to be thrown out.

From Katrina


From Katrina


I have one or two baby pictures of me because I kept forgetting to return them to my mom following our wedding. Thankfully, God can use my lazy forgetfulness. 🙂 Those pictures safely road out the storm in New Orleans- that sounds funny. Some of my “stuff” survived because they were in the attic- stuffed animals and my crib are the two items I think of first. I do LOVE the fact that Sam sleeps in my crib and when he grows up and has children, I hope my grandkids get to sleep in that crib as well. That crib has become my one big family heirloom and I think that is part of the reason I am not more proactive in “promoting” Sam out of it. I don’t want to put the crib in storage. Yet, at the same time, I don’t feel like we are supposed to have another child right now so that is NOT an option. 🙂

Anyway, all those items were just “things” but those “things” are attached to memories and family history. I would love to be able to pass them on to Sam but will now have to do it the old-timey way, verbally. I want Sam to know the importance of legacies and I want him to know his Mom’s family legacy. One that was tested in the flood-waters of Katrina only to come out stronger and more passionate than ever before. I want him to know that even in the midsts of storms, God will be there in the form of Christian friends and family who will always be willing and ready to help in whatever way they can. I want him to learn to be a blessing to others. I don’t want him to do it in anticipation of receiving anything in return though. I want him to do it because that is what Christians are supposed to do. I want him to do it because that is what my family does- we are helpers who rely on God for strength during hard times. That is our family legacy and that is what is important.

From Katrina


Steph

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