Friday, July 07, 2006

Like a Machine!

Alright, this is our kid, Sam. He'll turn 7 mths. next week. He started crawling about two weeks ago. You'll hear us say quite often how proud we are of him and proud to have him. Here's a little run-down of what he's doing: crawling, pulling up on anything and everything that's heavier than he is, eating solids, and making noises. I think noises are a seperate category all to themselves.

He started making coughing noises a week ago and now fake coughs all the time. Blowing bubbles seems to be a lot of fun, also. AND, Sam has a squeal that he is practicing in all ranges and pitches.

I titled this one 'Like a Machine,' because Sam is going all the time, until it's time to take a nap. His crawling takes him over obstacles like toys, pillows and mom; and his pulling up on things has lead to several good head bonks. We love Sam and are so excited watching him grow and become who God has made him to be! He is all boy and all fun!

It Seems Katrina Happened Only Last Week

I just spent 5 days with 14 middle school kids. That is 120 hours of non-stop, around-the-clock, in-your-face attention from 14 kids who have more energy than 50 adults combined. For the first 3 days, we gutted houses in New Orleans. That means, we walked into a house that had been flooded with at least 8 feet of water, and some houses had 12 or 15 feet. The water had subsided months ago, but the damage was still as real as if it had happened yesterday. My kids carried out ruined furniture, shoveled mud and dirt, broke down walls and ceilings and carefully moved salvageable memories for 3 days. At the end of those 3 days, we rested. Destruction is hard work. On the fourth day, Sunday, we worshipped with a local church, then went sight-seeing in New Orleans - Cafe du Monde, the Aquarium, etc. On the fifth day, we came home tired, worn out, but somehow wanting to go back. God is good.

I'd like to comment a little on what I saw. The amount of destruction from Katrina is overwhelming. Block after neighborhood block have houses that are still waiting for something to be done to them. As we were gutting a house on our first day, I began to realize the enormity of what happened. And I don't mean on a national, state, or even community scale. I mean the enormity of personal loss and upheaval. Let me explain.

Let's say you are 45 years old and you and your wife are holding down good jobs. Your kids are in school, your mortgage is never late and your cars are over half paid for. Food is always in the fridge, and leftovers even have to get thrown out every once in a while. The dog gets his walk every day. Then, if fifteen minutes you lose everything. With enough time to get in your car and take what is actually important to you - your family - you leave it all behind. Your house, which isn't a house but a home. Inside are not pictures, but laughter hanging on the wall, proud tears standing on the mantle, and beauty on the table by the bed. Left behind are all the cool-evening suppers in the backyard, the bicyle rides around the neighborhood, the walks with your wife. You're not leaving behind wood and sheetrock. You are leaving behind your life.

You find a motel to stay in for a while. And then reality sets in. The house isn't paid off and you still have to make payments if you want to keep it. But you can't live there. You still have your jobs, so you can't work on your house. So, you find a new place to live. But, now in addition to all of life's normal costs, you have a second mortgage and the anxiety of trying to figure out what to do with your first home.

That is what stopped me cold. I grew up middle class, which means you don't have the luxury of paying cash for a house, a car, sometimes even a computer. Both my parents are teachers. Good people, the best, in my opinion. They love God and they love their family. Recovering from something like Katrina seems almost insurmountable. I know FEMA is doing some things, like paying for living space, but that can't go on forever, in fact, it can't go on much longer. I'm not going to try to get into the good or bad of the government. I am going to get into the church, though.

I believe this disaster has been monumental for the body of Christ. Baptist, Methodist, Catholic, Evangelical, Protestant, whatever. Differences aside, the body of Christ has taken a huge step in reclaiming its heritage - helping those who cannot help themselves, loving the hopeless and feeding the hungry. I believe the true nature of the church is shining in New Orleans. The church is who is gutting houses. The church is who is sitting with owners and listening to their stories. The church is loving people. The government isn't in there gutting houses. And it's not their job. It is ours, it is the church's. And we are doing it. Not out of obligation, but love. God bless the church. I can go on, but think I'll save it for another blog. Peace.