The Brave Phone Call

Last month, while my husband was traveling, I took the boys to a birthday party for a friend of ours. On the way out the door, I glanced in the mirror and made sure to wipe away any blush I may have put on my cheeks for church earlier that morning. Why? Because I remembered who one of the guests at the party might be. A friend of a friend, this person only ever crossed paths with me at events at this particular friend’s house. It had been a few years since I’d seen her, but I distinctly recalled a hurtful comment she’d made to me at the last party that we’d both attended. And by smearing away any traces of make-up, I felt I’d removed any ammunition she might have for additional remarks about my face.


Here’s what went down back in 2014:  Although I’d been sick for over a week, I felt better on the day our friends had planned to host a party for their little boy. I thought my face looked gray and wan from having been sick, so I put on some make-up in hopes of perking up my appearance.

During the party, I met the friend of a friend (let’s call her Harriet, because it’s not even close to her name), and we talked a bit. Later, as we circulated through the backyard party, Harriet and I intersected again. She explained how she’d recently begun selling a skin care line. Then she declared with alacrity, “And you have rosacea!” In case you don’t know, rosacea is, according to, “a chronic form of acne affecting the nose, forehead, and cheeks, characterized by red pustular lesions.” Wow. Apart from some wrinkles and a few freckles, there was nothing on my face–except the inexpertly applied blush. Maybe the pinkish-red shade of the make-up led her to this on-the-spot diagnosis.

My response? “No, I don’t. I’ve been to dermatologists before–concerned about getting checked for signs of skin cancer–and I’ve never heard that.” A moment later, I walked away.

Fast forward almost 3 years later to the party of last month…Remembering that Harriet would probably attend this party, too, I scrubbed at the blush–and hoped I could avoid conversations with her.


God must have heard my inner chatter about those plans to avoid Harriet, because He said, Nothing doing. She and her family arrived about the same time my boys and I did. And we were some of the first comers. So…not really feasible to avoid her. Buffered by our mutual friend (although neither of these women knew of my wish to avoid interaction with Harriet), we 3 women talked a little. Harriet asked me a question; I answered. Then her next comment felt a bit challenging, and it rubbed me the wrong way. Plus, I was T.I.R.E.D. and flying solo as a mama for 11 days straight. And my next response to her was more reactionary, a little more intense than I’d intended.

More people had arrived by that time, and I wandered off. For the rest of the party, Harriet and I didn’t cross paths again. By the end of the evening, I’d been contemplating approaching her to explain–why I wanted to duck when I saw her coming, why I’d been testy with her. But in the busy-ness of getting children ready to leave, I didn’t pursue it. I planned to text my friend who hosted the party for Harriet’s information and then call her in the coming week.

After getting Harriet’s contact info, I called her. I apologized for my abrupt comments during our conversation at the party (that I’d recognized had startled her while we were talking). I told her that her question sounded a bit confrontational–but that I probably read into that question of hers because of what had happened a few years before. I apologized for having tried to avoid her. She explained that, after the conversation at the party 2 days before, she’d then tried to avoid me. She’d assumed I was exhausted, knowing my husband was out of town, but she also wasn’t sure about wanting to talk with me anymore. When I explained about her rosacea comment, she actually remembered the conversation. I knew back then that she’d probably gotten caught up in excitement about her new side business; I willingly gave her the benefit of the doubt, believing she hadn’t intended to be hurtful. She apologized sincerely for the offense of the comment and accepted my apology, too.

rotary phone

It’s unlikely that I’ll see Harriet again anytime soon. But that truly doesn’t matter. God’s Spirit impressed on me both the need to apologize for my own brusque words to Harriet as well as to be vulnerable enough to acknowledge how I’d been hurt years before. My honesty gave her the opportunity to understand more about the situation. If I’d never shared this with Harriet, she’d have had no way of knowing that those words of hers had bothered me, had even stirred up insecurity. I couldn’t have held her responsible for information she didn’t have. But having the information meant she could then deal with the impact of her words.

I didn’t approach this phone call with the expectation of receiving an apology from Harriet–although I figured she might offer one. And I certainly wouldn’t have demanded one. What I did hope for, though, was mightily fulfilled–that 2 sisters in Christ could wade through a potentially messy conversation with humility and compassion and, in the end, arrive at a unity rooted in authenticity.

The next time I see Harriet, I’ll be the first one at our friend’s party to greet her.



My MeToo Experience…Or One of Them, At Least

The other day on Facebook, I noticed a friend had referenced the MeToo stories circulating on social media, in which women acknowledged the sexual harassment and assault they’d faced. Her post mentioned how she’d experienced MeToo moments in elementary school, middle school, high school, and on into adulthood. I paused at that, wondering about sexual harassment that occurs when we’re that young.

girl staring at sun

Then I remembered a couple incidents in my own childhood. Oh, yeah.

The first MeToo story I can recall took place in 6th grade. A boy who sat across from me in English class had apparently been annoyed with me that day; maybe we’d had an argument. I don’t recall what prefaced his outburst, but what I DO remember were his narrowed eyes and his exclamation of “Flat-chested!” hurled at me as an insult.

I was not even 12.

That particular comment hurt me very little, actually (I didn’t think much of this boy, anyway). But my second MeToo experience caused far more damage.

The summer I was 13, I’d bought a new one-piece bathing suit. A rainbow of pastels, with a little ruffle around the hips, the suit initially came without straps. After trying unsuccessfully to wear this suit (and maneuver in the waves) at the beach strapless, I went home and sewed on some elastic strips from my mama’s sewing basket (after I tried dying them in a bath of purple dye made from food coloring; the tint held for one wearing, but the straps themselves lasted.) The straps I’d made looped over my shoulders and held up what was–to me–the perfect swim suit.

pastel candy

Later that summer, our church youth group packed the church van and drove to a big, busy, crowded water park for their “faith and family” day, or something like that:  Christian bands were slated to play, for instance. Several of my friends and I started that day at the wave pool, which is what it sounds like–a pool with mechanically generated waves. If you pushed through the waves, you could reach the opposite side of the pool, which was a regular swimming pool. That’s where we were headed.

My friends moved faster than I did through the waves, but I was making progress by myself. About that time, a curly-haired boy about my age made eye contact and smiled at me. I don’t remember smiling back; I was preoccupied with getting to the side of the pool with my youth group friends. A minute or so later, I noticed that he had walked closer.

The next moment, I saw him swim by–behind me–and felt a noticeable pinch on my rear end. He surfaced a few feet away, smiling and half waving at me. I was incensed. Livid. Absolutely indignant. And I did something in response that I probably shouldn’t have done on “faith and family” day at the water park, with youth group friends and chaperones around. I flipped this boy off. Without even giving it much consideration, I stuck up my middle finger and glared at him, then I kept making my way, alone and feeling more so by the minute, to the spot where my friends were swimming.

sunglasses at the pool

I practically shook with rage. How dare he do something like that to me? What makes him think he can do that to MY body–pinch me on the butt–just because he wants to? And I’m supposed to accept it, just like that, because he felt like doing it? 

I didn’t have enough language at such a tender age to put words to all that this incident surfaced in my heart and mind. And I don’t think I told anybody. Not a soul. Because even then–in the summer of 1987, at 13 years old–I think I assumed that this was just “something boys do.” I also remember thinking something along the lines of this being the “first time” I’d gotten pinched on the rear by a boy–as if I expected it to happen other times, too, and there’d be nothing I could do to stop it.

I’m raising boys, so maybe there’s something I can do to stop it–simply keep teaching my boys that there are parts of our bodies (including their own) nobody else can touch without that person’s permission, for starters.

I’ve never actually regretted flipping that boy off that day at the pool, although he looked properly stunned when he saw my gesture. If I had to choose, I’d still prefer that 13-year-old Allison to have reacted the way she had–instead of shrugging it off as just “something boys do.”

*For the record, I know not ALL boys do this. Nor do all men perpetuate harassment or assault. And I am thankful for those men. Women need good men in our lives, and we need to raise our sons to BE good men.

Gifts: Big and Little, Obvious and Disguised

Just a few days ago, my family and I returned from a vacation in New York City. Thanks to the generosity of some friends/ministry supporters who live in Manhattan, we were blessed to have free housing during our visit. Their apartment in East Harlem gave us a place to sleep at night, as well as a kitchen to prep some of our meals. We saved additional money that way, although we did buy quite a few hot dogs and pizza slices while we vacationed.

Seeing the city from the Empire State Building.

I’ve loved New York since I was a 20-year-old college student serving there for a summer on an inner-city mission project. I went back to NYC in 1999, leading a group of college students (as I worked with Cru at Mississippi State) for a week of urban ministry during spring break. After 9/11, I went up to New York for a long weekend to assist with some of the Cru response to the attacks.

Before this recent trip, sixteen years had passed since I’d walked the streets and ridden the subways in this most amazing of cities. It had long been a dream to take my children on a trip there. I love it when dreams come true.

Hugging a tree in Pelham Bay Park, at the top of the Bronx.

Although I could write many words about our experiences in New York, I want to begin at the end:  the plane trip home. On the flight to New York, I sat beside Woodrow and then sat by Garfield on the flight home. As he prepared to watch a kids’ movie on the screen in front of his seat, I contemplated my options. The book I’d tried to download had stalled, so I had no book to read–I prefer an actual book I can hold in my hands, but the one I’d gotten from the library and saved just for the trip was in high demand. I couldn’t re-check it and had to return it to the library before we left for New York. And the screen facing my own seat wasn’t working. I considered asking for help with it but then decided against that. I’ll just read my Bible, I thought. And I’m glad I did.

Windy day on the Staten Island ferry.

I read through the first few chapters of the book of Acts and wrote down some thoughts in a little notebook I keep in my purse for jotting down to-do lists. The Lord taught me on the plane that afternoon as I drank tea and ate sweet potato chips delivered by the flight attendants. He taught me about His character.

In Acts chapter 3, verses 1 through 16, Peter and John–apostles of Jesus–cross paths with a disabled man who’s known by all as a beggar. Indeed, he begs for coins each day to supply his daily bread. Peter and John have no money to give, but instead they heal him–and his life is changed. You can read the story for yourself here.  

Although I’m sure I’ve read this passage numerous times, it struck me anew on the plane that day. Here are the thoughts I recorded about it…

This crippled man, who could not provide for himself, begged daily. Everybody knew him as a lame beggar. He asked Peter and John for money, as he did of everyone who walked by him. And he did need those few coins for his meager, bare-bones existence. He needed to have those alms in order to survive. But–BUT–what if God wanted to say NO to the request for a pittance and instead give this man what he needed AND MORE? To give him so MUCH–something so BIG–he’d no longer need to beg. HE WOULD NO LONGER NEED TO BEG. And he’d no longer BE a beggar. This is what God did; He did NOT give the man that for which he asked. God gave him more than he even knew to ask. But first God HAD to say NO to the pittance before He presented the jackpot. 


God did a form of this for me on the plane that afternoon; instead of presenting me with a working TV screen so I could watch the news or a movie, He offered me fellowship and interaction with my Creator. He said “no” to the pittance so He could give me the jackpot. And He performs this same kind of work in bigger, deeper ways in our lives, over and over. Oh, to have eyes of faith to recognize it. 

Of all the treasures from our New York trip, I’m especially thankful for that non-working airplane TV screen.


First Pick It Up, Then Lay It Down

This week, I made a final, definitive decision:  I closed the doors on the women’s stewardship group–originally called Women of Vision–that began in the summer of 2016.

You may have read the posts I wrote about our fundraising to provide support to World Vision’s clean water fund and the mother and child health program. Our most recent project involved buying diapers for the Orlando Union Rescue Mission. In addition to a women’s clothing swap, we sold everything from books to patio furniture to acquire money we could then use in supporting ministries that show God’s love in tangible ways.

spider lily
Spider lily: fall wildflower in Mississippi which I’ve never seen in Florida. One of my favorites.

But at the tail end of 2016, after several fruitless email messages with the World Vision staff member who represents the Women of Vision program through their organization, I learned we could no longer officially be a Women of Vision chapter. Unbeknownst to me, when I geared up to start a Women of Vision group in Orlando, the entire program was undergoing a re-do. Little by little, I noticed the resources I’d counted on having available no longer appeared on their site–discussion questions and study guides we could use for content when we met together; stories; videos.

I began cobbling together my own devotion-type presentations on Scripture that addressed giving and generosity and caring for the needy. Since Jesus reportedly spoke more about money than heaven and hell combined in the New Testament, there is much to mine for study. Yet I hadn’t anticipated whipping up discussion topics and questions from scratch. Then I noticed that our Orlando Women of Vision group wasn’t listed on the Women of Vision site promoting groups around the country. I saw a few chapters from a few cities listed–but not ours.

Needless to say, this raised questions for me. Finally I spoke and emailed with the World Vision employee in the know. Since the program was being revamped, our little group wouldn’t actually qualify as a genuine Women of Vision entity any longer. New requirements for fundraising were to be set–either $10,000 per year or $10,000 per event, with 2 major events required per year. At the time of my conversations with this staff person, that hadn’t been settled. But clearly (to me), our group of 6 was not positioned to raise between 10 and 20 thousand dollars annually. Four of the 6 of us are missionaries already raising our own financial support. The idea of organizing lavish banquets or golf tournaments (or some other colossal event) to achieve this level of fundraising didn’t appeal to me.

pencils with yellow ribbon

So…we surrendered the Women of Vision name (as was required) and forged ahead. We continued to meet, to pray and talk and read God’s Word. We tentatively planned a fundraiser for last spring that we postponed due to lack of interest (and my family’s plans to go to Colorado). We bought diapers for the Rescue Mission, over a thousand of them. And then we spent the summer apart. When I returned, I contacted our small group to gauge interest. Three of the 6 of us needed to step out for various reasons–health or job travel or classes. That left 3, including me.

I talked with Jesus about this and told Him that I needed to see at least 6 women commit to our group in order to believe we had the momentum to move forward. I reached out to a handful of other women at this point, none of whom agreed to join us. The other 2 women remaining in our group weren’t able to recruit more individuals, either.

Then I had planned a meeting for the 2 remaining women plus myself for earlier in September–but Hurricane Irma changed our plans, to say the least. And then, finally, I believed the time had come–to lay down this one-time dream. I sent a message thanking the final 2 women–Pam and Eva–for their desire to honor God and serve others; I wrote about how thankful I was for how God had let us partner with Him in meaningful ways. Collectively, we raised around $1200 for Gospel-centered services. I’m exceedingly pleased that we as a somewhat diverse group of women–ethnically, in our marital status, even in our personal faiths–joined forces to do good work. And that work was fruitful.

dream big sign

I still believe God’s Spirit led me to pursue and embrace this dream, one I’d held for several years, that of gathering a group of like-minded women who would connect with God’s heart for the physically poor and work to help meet those needs. I believe God led me to lay down this dream, too. Some pursuits are just for a season. 

I remain at peace, settled in my heart, confident in what God allowed us to accomplish. I also remain at peace about the necessary ending of our group. I’m not especially keen to pioneer anything new at this point.

locusts on shirt
Me, just hanging out with empty locust exoskeletons in my parents’ backyard.

For now I’m simply content to be still, allowing the Father to embrace me even as He leads me to lay down the dream He had once led me to embrace.

I learned through this experience that I’m not really a people gatherer; I am many things–passionate, communicative, detailed–but not a successful people gatherer. But I wasn’t afraid to try. And that’s another thing I’m not:  afraid to try.

How Much Should I Give? vs. How Much Should I Keep?: Growing Toward Faithfully Frugal

I have supper in the Crock pot right now:  split pea soup. I am finally–FINALLY–using up the remainder of a bag of dried split peas we bought at a bulk store long ago. As in, almost two years ago. I know, I know…those peas are old.

boys on rocks in stream

But I have set my course to fix meals from the freezer and pantry, using up what we have and stewarding well what’s already been purchased (or, in some cases, given). Instead of allowing those split peas to languish for another year, I’m putting them to use.

I’ve been spurred on by a short little e-book I recently read…Faithfully Frugal:  Spend Less, Give More, Live More, by Kari Patterson.  You can find it at Amazon, which is where I bought it.

I’m so inspired by this book. The author delves into the teachings of Scripture in regards to our relationships to money and how we view it–and the Christian’s purpose of frugality:  Christian circles think of building wealth SO THAT we can be generous. But God says to be generous SO THAT you can build wealth. More and more, I find myself convinced that the way to store up treasure in heaven is to give it away on earth, to “give both mites,” as the author writes, referring to the poor widow in the New Testament who threw her final remaining coins into the Temple offering and was pointed out as an example by Jesus for her wholehearted giving.

money planted in dirt

Patterson doesn’t imply that we give away all our possessions or take a vow of poverty or allow our children to starve by “giving both mites.” She explains that our giving, when we give God our whole hearts and entrust all our money to him, can move from religious obligation to relational opportunity. We push the entire pile of our money over to the Lord, allowing him to call the shots and viewing it as HIS money. And this is worship.

“The joy is found when we give both mites,” she declares. She writes that our goal should not be MORE money–acquired by scoring a deal or saving a dime, getting all the stuff we want as long as we get it at a cheap price. Our goal, as Christ followers, is generosity.

open hands with money

“Our enemy,” Patterson states, “is not debt, high prices, inflation, or a recession. Our enemy is greed…” With her words, she compares the concepts of foolishly frugal and faithfully frugal, and she references the Biblical parable of the rich fool. From Luke chapter 12:

16 And he [Jesus] told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17 He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18 “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19 And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21 “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

The person Christ calls “fool” in this story likely scrimped and saved and worked hard in order to amass such an amount of earthly wealth. But his end-goal was for the here and now, seeking gains for self. Faithfully frugal, conversely, seeks gains in eternity, for others and not for self.

My heart for living simply and frugally has been refreshed; I’m renewed in a desire to ask of the Lord:  How much should I keep? instead of How much should I give? 


Now cue the cooking from the already-bought foodstuffs in the pantry, trying to be faithful with what we have in order to free up more resources for giving. Patterson gives enormously helpful practical advice in her book, too, regarding taking steps like this.

So instead of buying boneless, skinless chicken breasts at the store last week (which I find so much easier to use), I bought 2 whole chickens. I cooked one in the Crock pot and had Mike pick the meat from the bones. I frankly find that process disgusting, but he truly doesn’t mind and even wanted to do it. Then I took the “frame” (the foodie word for the bones/carcass), dunked it back into the Crock pot–which, by the way, is getting quite the work out–and made bone broth with it. I now have plenty of nearly free broth for use in dishes from chili mac & cheese to chicken pot pie (made last night) to the soup I’m making today.

There’s a deeper sense of purpose, a heightened awareness of the sacred nature of serving, when I labor long in the kitchen knowing I’m nourishing my family and increasing our capacity for generosity, too.

One question Patterson poses to her readers on the journey of becoming more faithfully frugal:  What one non-essential item could you go without this year? How might you answer?

“Giving is the only antidote to materialism.”–Randy Alcorn, The Treasure Principle 


Daring To Hope: Book Review

Earlier this summer, I joined the launch team for a new book called Daring to Hope:  Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful, by Katie Davis Majors.

A few years ago, I read the first book penned by Katie Davis (who was not married at the time), called Kisses from Katie:  A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption.  In it, Katie tells her story of quitting her cute, comfortable life in Tennessee–cute shoes, cute boyfriend, cute car–to move to Uganda, where she wanted to serve God by serving people. Initially planning on teaching there for a year, Katie stayed–adopting orphaned children, fostering others, and caring for the sick and needy and desperate. She started the organization Amazima Ministries which ministers to people through education, medical care, spiritual nourishment, and job opportunities.

And now, she has written this second book. As a member of the launch team (I didn’t have to audition for this or anything; I just expressed interest in it and then received the invitation to join), I received an advance copy of the book–which goes on sale October 3. I read it in Mississippi while my family sheltered there to escape Hurricane Irma. It stirred my heart, to say the least.

Each and every single believer in Jesus Christ–I’m convinced of this–must walk through the dark forest of questioning God’s goodness at some point. For most of us, I believe that happens in ways both big and small throughout our journeys of faith. But usually there is one period in life, some particular barren season, that forces us to wrestle with the doubt (or even disbelief) of God’s goodness.

hands in lap

We may sing the praise song “God is good/All the time/And all the time/God is good,” and we may declare that to others. But still, we will face a crisis of faith sometime in our lives where we gaze at our circumstances and dare to exclaim, “How can you be good in this, God? Where is your goodness in this place?”

When I worked with Cru serving students at Mississippi State University, one of my co-workers shared this thought:  In order to get to great faith, we must go through great doubt. I believe those times of wrestling and questioning are ordained by God, deepening both our trust in Him and our fellowship with Him. If we continue pursuing Him as He pursues us.

For me, the season of the most raw and gut-wrenching doubting of God’s goodness entered my life while I lived as a missionary in Romania. I was single and young. And I felt so alone, isolated, and unknown there. Although I appreciated our tiny team, we didn’t connect relationally as I had hoped and expected (and, in a sense, been led to believe). I watched other teams like mine when we visited each other or met up at Christmas time, and I felt cheated. Those teams had inside jokes and seemed to enjoy each other’s company in a way I didn’t notice with my own team. I had a roommate who also came from the States, but we worked with different ministries. At times I sensed she didn’t want to open her heart to a friendship with me because she knew I would leave one year later.

Early in my year there, after an argument (and subsequent tears and reconciliation) with my Romanian team member, I stood in the parking lot of my apartment building and thought–This doesn’t feel like home. Yet I’m not supposed to be back in the U.S. right now. So…no place feels like home. Throughout the year, God would remind me that my home was with Him. Through that year, I felt the ultimate question of God’s goodness–Is He always good? And is He always good TO ME?–regardless of my situation–was settled. I still, throughout my life, ask God to show me His goodness at times. Or to help me recognize His goodness in circumstances that hurt and hurt and don’t let up. But that question, on the whole, has been answered.

After all, as we heard a pastor in New Zealand state almost 13 years ago, the truly important questions of life never even arise until we step into faith in God. Is God good? Does He have a purpose for my life? Why does He allow pain? We’re never required to ask those if we never enter into faith.

woman and child with basket

And it’s this overarching topic that Katie Davis Majors, my sister in Christ, asks of God in her new book Daring to Hope. She especially cries out to God regarding the hope she nurtured for a woman dying with AIDS, who lived with Katie and her baker’s dozen daughters while Katie cared for her needs. Believing God to be capable of miracles, Katie hopes and prays and trusts for healing. Yet this friend dies. And Katie asks–God, why did you let me hope so hard when you knew that you would allow her to die anyway?

Yet through this heartbreak, Katie grows to know Jesus in more intimate ways. She fights her way toward gratitude–and toward hope. She writes, “In the dark season, He doesn’t leave. In fact, He draws near. He whispers that loving people is not in vain because in loving people I know more of Him, regardless of the end result.”

We can wonder why; we can wait; we can wrestle and struggle and question and yet still cling to Him. And that, my friends, is the life of faith.

**You can pre-order Daring to Hope at the Amazima page here.



A Storm By Any Other Name

Wilma. Andrew. Hugo. Betsy. Allison. All these are past names of hurricanes, some more well known than others. It was 1995 when a hurricane sharing my own name made an appearance in the U.S.

I lived through quite a few hurricanes as a child, most notably Hurricane Frederic in 1979, when I was 5. This storm tore apart the low-to-the-ground tree house Daddy had built for my brother and me and left a giant pine tree toppled onto our roof.

In 1985, Hurricane Elena swept through south Mississippi. Our home at the time didn’t have air conditioner, but losing power meant we lost the ability to use our multiple box fans. My nana, a widow since I was age 3, left her home in town and sheltered with our family in our house out in the country.

In early September 2005, days after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, some Cru staff–including my husband and I–joined a non-profit group serving people impacted by this storm.

Newly pregnant with Woodrow, barely able to keep in touch with my parents (whose cell phone coverage was nonexistent during the storm and spotty immediately after), I felt frustrated with helplessness. When I heard from my sister, who’d spoken with our parents, that Mama and Daddy had run out of ice and almost depleted their food supply following Katrina, I cried on the phone with her. Katrina pounded south Mississippi and south Alabama as much as the New Orleans area back in August 2005; my parents–and grandparents–went without power for many days. For a short time each day following the storm’s devastation, they’d run my grandparents’ gas generator so as to have a little time with the air conditioner. I felt paralyzed to do anything to help. Even if we drove from Orlando up to Mississippi, bringing food and water, we couldn’t buy any gasoline there to get back home.

So when the opportunity arose for a team of Cru staff to serve hurricane evacuees in Lafayette, Louisiana, Mike and I jumped on board. We linked up with a ministry helping to connect churches around the country with people rendered homeless due to Katrina. Church families participating in this program agreed to house (for free) a certain number of people in need in apartments for 3 months; they would also assist with food, accessing available government benefits, transportation, and job searches.

Our job was to coordinate the matching up of people with churches. Most all the churches volunteering to host people existed outside the state of Louisiana. And most all the people we met sheltering at the Cajundome in Lafayette didn’t want to leave their state. Who could blame them? But most churches in Louisiana were already at capacity, helping and serving those whose lives had just been invaded by this storm.

But the evacuees’ time at the Cajundome arena would soon come to a close, and these folks needed to find housing. We stayed 10 days and watched people (mostly from New Orleans) drive away in church vans and buses headed to Chicago, Little Rock, Georgia, and Texas.

Although rewarding in some ways, this work was intense and often stressful. I had multiple nightmares during our time in Lafayette; once I dreamed that the Finney family–mom, dad, a couple of teenage children, one of whom was diabetic–whom we’d dropped off at the bus station so they could travel to a sponsoring church in Marietta, GA, had missed their bus. In my dream, they were walking down highways and across bridges to get several states away, from Lafayette to Marietta. They’d shared with us that, after the hurricane, they’d walked out of New Orleans, where Mr. Finney worked as a bursar at Tulane University. I don’t remember how far they walked, or how they landed in Lafayette, but I woke up in a panic, thinking we needed to jump in our rented mini-van and go find that family walking their way to Georgia.

Today, though, over 12 years after Hurricane Katrina, my family and I face a different storm. Hurricane Irma has already begun to make its presence known, and the four of us will evacuate from our home in central Florida this afternoon. Starting out with a full tank of gasoline, we’ll set our course for south Mississippi, to stay with my parents. There’s stress involved in this, too, but our boys are excited to visit Grandma and Grandpa.

allison and boys on swing

I’ll bring some photo albums, baby books, home school gear, along with the basics we’d need for a quick road trip. We don’t know what we’ll find when we return, but stuff is replaceable.

No matter the circumstances–storms within or storms without–I want to turn to Jesus and cling to Him in any of life’s storms. No matter their names.

Nahum 1:7 The Lord is good,

a refuge in times of trouble…