Home » Katrina – I’m No Exception {Part Two}

Katrina – I’m No Exception {Part Two}

{This is Part Two of three part series. Read Part 1 here.}

The grief follows me as closely as my shadow and never leaves me – never will.  There is no escaping that pain.

Yet . . .

Experience has taught me the closer I stay to the light, the smaller my shadow is.

Jesus spoke these words in John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

I have learned the closer I lean into and on God, climbing into His arms for comfort and crying as He holds me close, the stronger my relationship with Him becomes.  And there is no place I would rather be than where I am with Him today.

I feel as though I survived not only the Hurricane that caused so much destruction around me, but the storm named Life that attempted to destroy me from the inside out.

It is only because of my God, who loves me so much, that I am a survivor.

God blessed me with a new community of friends.

God cleaned out much of what had hindered my relationship with Him from growing and deepening. Pride, a confidence born from following all the rules.  A feeling of being invincible because my life was going well.  A false sense of security in the wrong things, choosing to hide behind the facade of a great life…the list goes on.

“People” love to throw out Well, you know, God will never give you more than you can handle.  To which I now gently respond… I believe God will never give me more than He can handle.

Something else I’d hear from others (and grew weary of hearing) is a scripture from Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called to His purpose.

I had always missed the part about “all things” and being called to “His purpose.” I figured I loved God so I was covered because of my goodness.  What a stinking mess I was.

And still am.

Yet…

I believe so strongly in grace, redemption, and forgiveness.  They keep me humble and filled to overflowing with the Spirit of God who comforts me in my grief and brokenness.

So this I know:  Storms come and storms go.  Storms change our surroundings. I will never be the same, yet I have grown to understand that I don’t want to be the same.

This woman I am today- Janet –  knows God in ways she never thought possible.

And that knowing has come from leaning into Him and into His Word…like this passage…

Jesus is talking to His disciples in John, trying to prepare them for the days ahead when He will not be physically with them.  It is a concept frightening to them.

All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:25-27

Do not be afraid covers a lot of territory in my heart as there are so many things I can fear.

Yet…

The unthinkable has happened to me so many times now that I feel God confirming Jesus’ words:  I am not to live in fear. I am not to be troubled. God has sent His counselor to dwell in me.

Friends, I struggle so very, very hard with this.

Yet…

Of all the storms that have hit me, the constants have become God’s love and His never failing presence deeply embedded in me. I would never have asked for any of these things to have come into my life, yet, in His power, His love, His abiding in me – I continue to get out of bed every morning, looking forward to where and how I will see God each and every day.

Because . . .

He is ever present in this world we live, friends.

While my life is defined before Katrina and after Katrina, God has healed me and laid a comfort in my heart that allows me not to long for the past but to rest in the present – in Him.

So many would define their lives as beginning before Katrina and ending after,  but God has shown me how my old life ended with Katrina and a new life began in the years after.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

Maybe your storms are as big as Katrina was to millions. Maybe your storm is but a blip on the radar but still overwhelming you. Allow Him to enter deep into the places you have never allowed yourself to go.  Open your heart to His healing.  Overcome the fears that keep you a prisoner.

Father God,

Oh, the tragedies these storms have brought into our lives.  Each of us has so many – many that we have never even spoken aloud. We know You know each and every one of them. Please take our hearts in Your hands and begin the healing that will restore us in new ways. Allow the scars to always remind us of what we were, yet never define who we will become.

Through Your healing and the Light You have promised, You will always be with us. Make our days brighter. Use us, Father, to be a reflection of You to the dark, ugly place the world becomes in the storms. Be the light to chase away the darkness. Show us the way to maneuver through the storms and come out in the light that comforts us and strengthens us.

It is with great gratitude we thank You, Father, for how You love us and how You reveal Your word to be true and alive as we experience Your promises to us. Forgive us, Father, when we become weak again and forget what life looks like when we turn it over to You. We praise You in the storms, Lord.

Amen.

As a side note – I always post quite a few pictures on my blog. I love taking pictures, and I love the memories photos evoke in me:  who I was with, where I was, what was going on.

Oddly, I was unable to take a single picture during those recovery days of Katrina. I saw so much. As I drove endless numbers of visitors and volunteers, they snapped thousands of pictures.  I knew every street through St. Bernard Parish and the Ninth Ward. I saw the houses with the freshly painted red X’s and could tell the stories of many of the people who had lived there. I always remember the chill deep in me – unspoken to others in the car – when a new X appeared – even a year or more after the storm. Still…I could not take a single picture.

I wonder about that often, not quite sure about why that happened to me.  But, I am grateful for those who did take pictures.

Especially my good friend, Ted Jackson.

Please take time to open this link and see the incredible project he has created to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. His stories and pictures are a tribute to the caring person he is. You will be blessed to read his stories.

I’d also like to share a song with you.

Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005. Our relief efforts began just a few days after. On August 30, 2005 Casting Crowns released their album Lifesong. Sometime in October I heard a song from that album: “Praise You In This Storm.”  It dropped me to my knees. I asked everyone to listen to it. I couldn’t believe the timing of it and how it perfectly reflected my own feelings about what was going on in me and around us all.

As you listen to it, I pray it will touch you. Our storms aren’t always predictable. We knew Katrina was heading our way. A direct hit on New Orleans was everyone’s worst nightmare. At the last minute it turned to the north and made landfall on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. It was as though New Orleans had been spared, but no one ever predicted the magnitude of the levee failure or what that meant to the lives there.

None of us can predict the exact place our storms will land, how our “levees” of self protection and false confidences will fail, or what the fallout will look like.

Yet, our God is faithful.

This I know – I am no exception – God loves me too.

4 Responses to “Katrina – I’m No Exception {Part Two}”

  1. Beth Griffiths says:

    Janet: Heavy sigh! I am so moved by your words: “Experience has taught me the closer I stay to the light, the smaller my shadow is.”

    Truth has never been spoken so beautifully. Thank you for sharing your heart and your life with us. I’m holding you, and all of the Katrina survivors in prayer today.

    • Janet Reeger says:

      Beth – Thank you for reading and thank you for your prayers for our community. God has been so present in it and I am grateful to be able to share His story. He truly loves us and His healing is so beautiful.

  2. Krysten Case says:

    Beautiful, Janet.

    “A feeling of being invincible because my life was going well. A false sense of security in the wrong things, choosing to hide behind the facade of a great life…”

    To this I can relate. Praying alongside you for us all.

    • Janet Reeger says:

      Thank you Kristen. It’s such a crazy deception of the enemy and it works by keeping us distracted and off balance. Covering us all in prayer for God to continue to reveal His presence in our lives so we may rely more and more on Him. I appreciate your comment and thanks for reading.

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