At Peace

Christianity Oasis has provided you with this inspirational writing titled At Peace from our Sojourn With Luz Leigh collection. We hope these short stories bring you understanding and peace within.

At Peace

Welcome to Christianity Oasis. This is At Peace from our Sojourn With Luz Leigh Collection. We hope you enjoy this enlightening reading and it helps you on your own be-YOU-tiful Christian walk.

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Sojourn With Luz Leigh

At Peace

At peace ... What does one mean by that expression? Within the past few minutes I uttered those two words to my older son who is about a hundred miles away from me. He is that much closer to the area where Hurricane Rita will be making landfall along the Texas Coast. I am sitting on a high hill in a rural area of east Texas where I am taking refuge from the storm. On the advice of David, my younger son, who is active in the emergency management program for our county, I came here at mid-day Thursday. Early yesterday he arrived at my home and told me it had been decided that our family members needed to evacuate our homes. I was in tears at these words for I had never left my home before in the face of an approaching storm or other danger. Sixty-seven years I had lived in the same little town, never experiencing enough danger to make me feel the need to leave my home.

Absolute terror struck when I realized he was indicating he and Don, his older brother, would remain behind. Mothers are not supposed to leave their children behind in harm's way. He was not speaking to me as just my son, but as a person in authority who knew what was best for me, for his sister and her family of four. With tears streaming down my face, I replied, "But, I don't want to go! And, where would I go?" All my immediate family lives within a few miles of me ... all in the path of the hurricane.

Don said we should call some of our cousins in Pearson Chapel. We tried two phone numbers, with no answer. Then he called Mary and Robert, cousins of my husband, and told them that he was looking for a place for his momma to ride out the storm. They explained that there were already a number of people coming from the Houston area to their home, but I could come there, too. In the back of my mind, I was thinking that when I got to their home, I could call one of the other cousins who lives in Pearson Chapel and seek refuge with them if Robert's home was too crowded. I would find that when I arrived at the little home on the hill, I would feel so welcome and at home, there was never a thought of going anywhere else.

David told me to prepare to leave quickly. Don would be at my home in about an hour to take me to my "refuge." As usual my computer was on and connected to the Internet where I was checking my daily emails. I hurried to turn it off, but before I did I sent a short note to Oasis, the administrator of the Christian chat room where I visit each night. In the room I sometimes help by keeping the conversation going. I told him about my need to evacuate, telling him I did not know how long I would be gone ... and if, in fact, I would even have a home to which I could return. (Remember Hurricane Rita is still on a course that looked as though she would be traveling up IH45 right behind the thousands of people fleeing from her. And my home was sitting right in her path.) A couple of hours after I sent the email to Oasis, he replied with these words, "The storm is drift." I would not see this message until about five days later when our electrical power and Internet service were restored. He was right; the storm did drift to the east, thereby saving our area from the brunt of the hurricane.

When David had told me to prepare to leave my home, did I go to my closet and pick out clothing to take with me? Or to the bathroom to pack my toiletries? No, I went to what we call the computer room where all my genealogy records are kept. The night before when the news media was telling of the impending approach of Rita, I had packed a lot of my work in boxes and heavy plastic storage bags. Not only genealogy data, but photos and much of my writing. When all these had been carried to the living room, ready to be loaded in the car, I went to my bedroom and hurriedly grabbed some articles of clothing. Since this was still "summer" weather in Texas, I chose several pairs of shorts and some jeans, along with a number of cotton T-shirts. A couple of pair of sneakers, some socks and underwear completed my wardrobe. Because three of the T-shirts I had grabbed off their hangers and rolled to be placed in my luggage had road maps on them, they would become the subject of conversation at breakfast a few days later. Two of the shirts had Texas road maps, while the third one sported a road map of the state of Alabama. No, I've never been to Alabama, but I have two good friends who live there.

Don arrived at the appointed time to assist me with the loading of all the things I had chosen to take with me. This included one bag with my clothing and the fore-mentioned large boxes of genealogy binders. I said goodbye to my cat, stroking her soft fuzzy coat, while I told her I loved her and she would be in the Lord's care while I was away. Don asked if I were going to take her with me. "No," I said, "the cat must remain behind just as my sons will remain here." She has never been in a carrying cage and I knew that she would have to remain in a cage while we were away. I could not do that to her. I just trusted the Lord to care for her while I was away. Don assured me he would keep an eye on her for me. This was comforting to me and I knew he was doing it out of his love for his mom because he does not like cats!

With all my things loaded, we began the trek to my sanctuary in Houston County, Texas. Just as we pulled out of my driveway, I took one more look at my little home ... the one where my children had grown up, where my now deceased husband and I had spent so many happy hours ... for I did not know if it would be there when I returned. I breathed a prayer to my heavenly Father, asking his watch care over it, as well as granting us safe passage to my destination.

The trip took much longer than it ordinarily does because of the many other people heading north, hoping to remove themselves from the path of the category five hurricane bearing down upon us. Although I had traveled this road many times in the last fifty years, never had I felt such dread. I, who never stays away from home unless illness requires it, was now on my way to a relative's home for an undetermined length of time. During that drive, I talked to the Lord a lot, thanking him that I had somewhere to go, transportation to get me there, and a loving family that was looking out for me.

When Don and I arrived at my sanctuary, Robert was outside making preparations in case the strong winds reached that far inland. Plants in pots and hanging baskets of flowers were being loaded onto his trailer which would be parked inside the barn to protect the plants. Mary was busy inside the house preparing food for those evacuees they were expecting, a task that kept her busy for the next several days.

Other family members would arrive the next day ... two adults, each with their two children. All total there would be nine of us there on the hill to ride out the storm. We were fortunate in that we never lost electrical power so we were able to watch the Houston television stations and keep abreast of what was happening back in our home counties of Walker and Montgomery. The adults would occasionally change the channel on the television from the news so the younger refugees could watch a movie to break the monotony. I really didn't care what was on the television except when we were watching the news. I wanted this horrible dream that I was in to come to an end. I wanted to wake up and find it was all a bad dream and I was safe in my own home. It was at times like this I would slip away to the bedroom where I could be alone and pray. The Lord heard many prayers from me on behalf of my sons who were in the midst of one of the worst traffic jams in the history of Texas. One's job was to assist other law enforcement officers in keeping the peace among the thousands of misplaced people who looking for a safe place to ride out the storm. The other son was one of the many volunteers who did behind the scenes things like providing food for the emergency personnel, locating and acquiring portable generators for those in need, and running errands. Both of my sons and other emergency personnel were dealing with people who were not in the best of moods ... people who were frustrated, scared and upset. It took patience on their part to assist and remain sane.

Finally, in desperation, I sat outside, alone, under the big oak tree, talked to the Lord there, and began penning this little story. Writing is a great release for me in times of trouble. I had spent a lot of time Friday just pacing around the house, outside the house, walking to the mailbox, taking photos of the house and the surrounding area. I could not seem to find a place where I was at peace. Try as I might, I could not let go and let God take care of my children. As a mother I wanted to be there with them and shield them from danger.

I looked up to the heavens and asked Him to please give me peace because I knew I could not go home. I said, "Lord, I submit to Your will. Take away my fear and concern of what might be happening to my sons. Give me Your peace in my heart that I may know that they are going to be alright." I sat quietly for a few minutes and felt His presence as He quieted my heart and gave the peace I had been seeking. I bowed my head and said, "Thank you, Lord." I was not a concerned about the safety of my daughter, Heather, as much I was the sons' well-being because her husband had loaded her and their two children into their truck and headed west. They would eventually end up visiting San Angelo, Texas while escaping the storm.

Because I nearly always have writing material at hand, I took up my paper and pen while sitting under an oak tree that had stood for a century on the sandy hill and began to write this little story. The next day when the storm winds came blowing in from the north, snapping small limbs and twigs from the trees around the house, I was able to stand on the porch and feel the awesome power that was being displayed. The wind blew all day until late that afternoon. Then a calm came over the hill, much like the calm that had entered my heart. Again, I turned to my heavenly Father with words of thanks for his wonderful protection he had granted us.

During the days I was an evacuee, I and the others on the Pearson Chapel hill, carried our cell phones everywhere we went. I am sure I used most of Heather's allotted minutes during those days because I was either calling or being called numerous times each day and night. Just to hear a familiar voice helped me survive. I was blessed because so many other displaced people had no contact with their loved ones for days.

That Saturday afternoon I talked to Don and assured him we had survived with no damage, no loss of electrical power, etc. He said there was no electrical power in our town, but my home had survived with no damage. I told him I wanted to come home that night. He assured me he would be there early the next morning to bring me home, but for that night I needed to remain where I was. Those were not the words I was wanting to hear, but I trusted him to guide me in the best way.

That night it was hard for me to sleep because I felt like a child on Christmas Eve. Something exciting was going to take place the next day! I was coming home!! I woke up at 4:00 a.m. but lay in the bed trying to go back to sleep, for you see my gracious hosts were at last getting some much needed rest and I did not want to disturb them. The other six refugees had left late the afternoon before and I was the only guest left. Finally at 6:00 a.m. I could remain in bed no longer. I arose, stripped the linens from my bed, did a quick tidying of the room and began to prepare for the day. My room faced the east, so I opened the blinds and watched the most beautiful sunrise I had seen in a long time. It was like a message from God saying, life is good and you will be alright.

After a relaxing bath, I dressed, packed my things and was waiting for my son's arrival much before the appointed hour of 8:00 a.m. Mary, Robert and I feasted on a breakfast fit for a king ... those wonderful homemade yeast biscuits that Mary makes so well were only a part of the meal. As I bowed my head to ask God's blessing on the food, I thanked Him again for His wonderful watch care over the little group who learned much about each other during our stay in Houston County, Texas.

As soon as Don arrived I began loading my things in the car, said a quick goodbye to Mary and Robert, once again expressing to them my gratitude to them for taking me in. And then we were on our way home.

Along the highway I saw evidence of the storm's passage - trees uprooted, minor damage to buildings. When we turned onto the street where I live, that was the most welcome site. My little house had indeed sustained no damage. There were a few small branches, twigs mostly, on the ground. My neighbors were out in their yard cleaning up the debris. As soon as we pulled into the driveway and I began unloading the car, two of the neighbor children hurried across the street to help me. Jessica and Vanessa carried into the house most of the stuff I had taken with me. You remember when I was told to pack up and be ready to leave within an hour that 22nd day of September 2005, the first things I moved to the living room to be loaded into the car were my genealogy binders and the binders that contain many of my writings. The night before when I had packed the large boxes of these items with the intention of taking them to the vault at City Hall, I actually called our mayor and got his permission to do this. However, we did not take the time to leave the boxes at City Hall because once we were able to squeeze into the line of traffic, we chose not to lose our place. As I stated earlier, it was only after those precious things were ready to be loaded did I grab clothes and toiletries, so dear to me were they.

As Don had warned me, there was no electricity, but we did have water. The city had obtained a large generator which was used to power the pump on well number two, which is on land adjacent to my back yard. It was a welcome sound to hear the purr of that generator. A sound that I would live with for days to come as we waited for uninterrupted electrical power to be restored.

Don was able to secure a portable generator which we used to charge my refrigerator and to power a small air conditioner in my bedroom for a couple of hours. Then the generator would be taken to another home for a few hours. This procedure continued until the day his aunt was released from the hospital following heart surgery. The generator was then left at her house because she needed cool air much worse than the rest of us did.

Once I was back at home, and during the hours we had electrical power between the planned rolling blackouts those first few days, I would cook for my family. My sons would drop in for a hurried meal, then go back to their duties of keeping things moving in an orderly fashion in our area. Heather and her family would not have power until many days later so they, too, took their meals with me, showered and rested at my home.

Within a week all was back to normal in my household. The days I spent on the hill in Pearson Chapel will always provide fond memories of having shared time with family members. I will forever be grateful to Mary and Robert for taking me in and making me feel so welcome. Hurricane Rita left memories and I found peace.

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