Spirits, Dreams and Visions

If Pentecost is a season on unrestrained joy, then there is but one clear moment that gave me the light of hope and the promise of resurrection. It was the Fall of 2009. I was growing new skin. New life was beautiful and in bloom. I honestly cannot recall the details around the origins of the idea, but somewhere in the midst of deconstructing a good party, I needed to reinvent a long love of my heart – the costume.

Lucas and I went on a blind date to a costume party. I have been known to coordinate all the adults in the family to dress with the ONE child as the centerpiece of an ensemble. I LOVE a costume. I also love the idea of redeeming the foolish scare fest of Halloween with the laughter friendly excuse for absurdity. With our trusty partners in crime, Lee Ann plugand Jake, the Hilbrich crew set out to begin a new tradition of costume fun. Everyone bought into the idea. Friends and kids and more friends began to dream of costumes and creativity. At the time, our kids were 7 and 4. We could never get away with such things in their teen years, but that night, we threw caution to the wind and gave our guests a giggle. Plug and socket was one of my favorite couple’s costumes of all time. We laughed and most importantly enjoyed watching our friend’s reactions when we were seen together.

That night, we cleared the living room furniture, learned the “Thriller” choreography and had the most fun. We did all of this without a drop of alcohol. I can remember the discussion about our menu for the event. It was important to my co-hosts that we create an environment where everyone could be comfortable and themselves, and that included me. With the tradition of our Halloween party, my family reimagined celebration. Truly, this experience became a night of joy. It was the vision and hope of a new life that was not devoid of laughter and fun. Rather it was a place where no spirits were needed to enjoy all the silliness that life has to offer.

I had no idea in 2009 that this tradition would become a staple of our family. The activities have changed. The crowd has aged. One year, we all wore homemade costumes and donated all of our costume money to charity. Some years, the party has moved outside and included the neighborhood. We have even had a swim Halloween after party. And as all good parties should, we have even had the cops show up. I thoroughly enjoyed answering the door that night and explaining to the officer that not only were we not teenagers, but we had no alcohol. We are so wild. Beginning the first year, the kids judged the costume contest. Conveniently, their favorite young adult wins every year. Some things never change.


This past Halloween we decided that perhaps the tradition had run its course. With many other activities filling our schedules, we did not plan a full weekend affair. As the time grew closer, my kids kept asking, “What are we going to be for Halloween?” I IMG_3274realized that this was more than a grown-up party. This tradition is a legacy of friendship. It is the hope and the promise that very different lives and many lasting stories, have intersected in the cul-de-sac of Sunset Ridge in full costume glory. With little pre-party prep, we held a Trunk-or-Treat this year and invited all who wanted to partake for some Halloween night (and Astros watching) fun. And thanks to a glue gun wielding 12-year-old, the spirit of Halloween is still as thrilling in our family as the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost.


P!nk: Resurrection Through Music

In September of 2007, less than 6 months sober, I went to Las Vegas…like you do. It was with a purpose. I was going to see Justin Timberlake. It was the Future Sex/Love Sound tour and one of my favorites, P!nk was his opener. Seriously, this was like a mission. Unfortunately, P!nk did not open for this small leg of the tour. Unfortunately, P!nk was not going to Vegas. Unfortunately, Good Charlotte was. For the record, JT was worth the trip, but I was super disappointed as I had already become a P!nk super-fan.

I was intrigued with her solo debut. I was totally impressed on the “Moulin Rouge” soundtrack. But then she released Missundaztood, I was hooked. Sure, the pop danceable beats made for great car jams, but songs like “Just Like a Pill” and “Family Portrait” told me that I needed more from this female badass. Her third album was less of a record breaker but there was this one song, “If God Was a DJ.” She made me dance and laugh and enjoy some great bass playing.

But THEN, she outdid herself with her fourth and fifth albums, I’m Not Dead and Funhouse. There was no irony lost on me in the timing of either of these albums. At all. There are many songs on these albums that stir things inside me, but there are two songs that just tied 2006-2008 together. “I Have Seen the Rain” (a song that she recorded with her dad) and “Sober” (need I explain?) wrapped all the hurt and pain and crazy into a musical collection.

I wrote a song called “Sober”, which is actually really dark. I was at a party at my own house, I didn’t want to be there, I didn’t want anyone else there. And I had this line in my head saying, ‘How do I feel this good sober?’, it’s not just about alcohol, it’s about vices, we all have different ones. We try to get away from ourselves, and find our ‘true selves’ and then we do these things that take us so far from the truth, I guess that ‘Sober’ is ‘How do I feel this good when it’s just me, without anything to lean on?’.    -P!nk

On September 24, 2009, I finally got to see my first P!nk concert. I went with 5 of my favorite people in the world. I danced and sang and wore pink hair gel. I love music. I P!nkhave one of the most eclectic playlists. It jumps from Amy Grant to Dr. Dre and back to John Michael Montgomery without pause. But there is not another artist that can depict my highs and pissed moods and dance parties and lowest of lows like she can. And her shows! The first one I saw was the Funhouse tour. She was wild and gentle and sexy and mad and so very strong. The way she sang “Glitter in the Air” had me wanting that physical and spirit strength. This was a holy moment.

I saw her again on the Truth About Love Tour in 2013. This time I went with all girls. So great! I wore epic shoes. I sang and sang. And, I learned a very important lesson. I cannot see P!nk without being close enough to dance and sing and be in the middle of the show. The top section of the Toyota Center just did not work out for me when it came to this show. So I waited. And for the record, 3 times in almost 10 years is just not enough to Lee Lee Pinkexperience the joy I feel at these shows. BUT! This Saturday, I get to see her on her latest tour for the album Beautiful Trauma. When the tickets were released, I sat with my pre-sale code to get them. I bought two.

I have spent the last 6 months counting down. I have teased and threatened about who would be attending with me this time. Just tonight, Lucas asked, “Have you decided?” Here is the final announcement: Anna Jane, it’s your turn. But, my sweet child, if you act like I am embarrassing (I will be), if you expect me to sing quietly (I won’t) or if you tell me that it was not the most wonderful concert that you have ever been to in your whole concert-filled existence, we may have a moment. When we get home, you can tell your dad whatever you need to, but as for me and my house, we will come back to life via P!nk.


“The tough girl part of me would say she doesn’t give a shit what anybody thinks -but she’s small compared to the other part now. She keeps getting smaller. Although she’s always ready to get big again. And that bitch is crazy.” -P!nk

Recovery of Sight

If you have never read The Message version of the Bible, I invite you to try reading this story from Mark 14 though a paraphrased, story-like lens:

 They spent some time in Jericho. As Jesus was leaving town, trailed by his disciples and a parade of people, a blind beggar by the name of Bartimaeus, son of Timaeus, was sitting alongside the road. When he heard that Jesus the Nazarene was passing by, he began to cry out, “Son of David, Jesus! Mercy, have mercy on me!” Many tried to hush him up, but he yelled all the louder, “Son of David! Mercy, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped in his tracks. “Call him over.”

They called him. “It’s your lucky day! Get up! He’s calling you to come!” Throwing off his coat, he was on his feet at once and came to Jesus.

Jesus said, “What can I do for you?”

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“On your way,” said Jesus. “Your faith has saved and healed you.”

In that very instant he recovered his sight and followed Jesus down the road.

I believe that we live in a world that is filled with blindness. Sure, we may have the ability to use our eyes, but we are often blind to the hurts and needs and pains of our world. In my understanding of faith, Church is a community of people receive grace in our own blindness and then can extend God’s love to all of those like Blind Bartimaeus.

This story is in many ways a portrait of the failures and inadequacies of the disciples.  They’ve seen the amazing things done by Jesus throughout the Gospel and still don’t get it. The disciples are contrasted with Bartimaeus who is literally blind, but sees Jesus as the Messiah.

The crowd, who like the disciples are still blinded by their visions of glory and power, try to silence him.  I can imagine one of his disciples saying quietly, “Don’t bother with this guy, Jesus, he is a loser.  In the language of 2018, I wonder if it would sound something like this, “Don’t encourage or enable him.”

It’s people just like Bartimeaus that Jesus keeps pushing the disciples to open their eyes to see.  Because little has changed today. I often find myself more interested in my own spiritual health and in the name of boundaries it seems easier to shut out the cries of those who are hungry, sick, hurting, poor and broken.

Like so many other stories of healing in the Bible, this restoration of sight is about wholeness and about how following Jesus on the Way will transform us even now.  This story from scripture is really about what true sight looks like. It’s about how when we see others with the love of God in our hearts, we can’t help but extend ourselves outside our comfort zones, our walls and our familiar places. 

In the midst of the reconstruction of faith, my resurrection, a group of folks from my church began meeting together and sharing our very broken lives. We were dealing with grief and death and addiction and imprisonment and depression. We were co-dependent and inter-dependent and often non-dependent on God. We called ourselves The Walking Wounded. We were hardly walking, and many of us felt forgotten and alone in our wounds.

For some of us, that group was our only hope of seeing God. Many nights, we didn’t have words to speak or hope to hold onto. We were desperate for healing. We began praying a prayer together each week. We said these 8 words over and over and over until we believed that we were worthy and enough.

Our prayer was just this simple:

Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.

That’s it. That’s all we could pray. We said it out loud. Over and over and over again. Each week, it almost became a battle cry. That was our hope. And we believed that Jesus saw us when we prayed. Over countless pots of coffee and an endless supply of tissue, we read though the book Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning and we allowed our blind spots to become places of deep healing. And eventually, our sight was the gift we needed to trust that we didn’t have to be enough because Jesus already was. 

House Guests

On many occasions in the life of our family, we have opened our doors and spare bedrooms to friends and family. The length of stays were as varied as the reasons, but we love welcoming others in our home. The fundamental motivation for me has always been a firm belief that if I have two, and you need one, my call is to share. Some wise fellow came up with that idea.

For the first two years in our house, our 4 bedroom house had empty rooms. It bothered me from the first day we owned our home as I felt we should share our space. Apparently that stirring never went away because on many occasions, I have extended invitations to fill our rooms. Even after kids, I continually listened as people expressed needs for a room, and more importantly the need for family.

The first guests were in our home for a few months as they transitioned to college, interned in their college field of study and prepared for the next season of life. After good experiences, we began to listen intently for friends that were in periods of change. It was our prayer that if for a season we could take the financial burden of rent off the worry list, perhaps our home could be a bridge to further education, additional savings and new life goals.

During a 5 year span coinciding with my early sobriety, we hosted three different friends for varying lengths of stay. During all of these experiences, I grew. Sometimes, it was out of desperation. Sometimes, it was because I knew that someone else was seeing life inside our home. Whatever the motivation, I’m so thankful for the lessons. Some of the best of these takeaways include:

  • The not-so-subtle reminder that I am selfish. I like what I like, when I like it. After a decade of marriage, you forget what it is like to have a new adult in your space. The adjustment period with a new roommate is a great button pushing opportunity. In that head space, I was able to examine my own junk and be reminded that life does not revolve around my wishes.
  • I am not in charge of other people’s lives. As a mother of young-ish children, I was falsely lulled into the lie that my influence will determine your actions. LIE. You cannot send a 35-year-old to their room. You also cannot force a 31-year-old to do chores. Welcome to adulthood, Lacy.
  • Sometimes, you need to get out of the way. With the very best of intentions, you cannot coerce, cajole or convince others of anything. There are times when you see the road ahead, and you know the outcome, and you still have others keep walking their own path. This is hard when you talk daily at work or often on the phone, but when you share a roof and see the daily grind, staying out of decisions becomes imperative.
  • Space is just that. Almost immediately upon the exit of our last house guest, we shifted to a new season that called for more room in our home. I will tell the story later, but I must say, it was yet another reminder that we are called to use all that we have, even the rooms of our house, to respond to the needs around us.

I would not trade these years for anything. Some of my favorite conversations and jokes and nicknames from my kids came out of sharing space with dear friends. I often look back on these seasons and wonder who was helping whom. I needed adults and friends and trouble making sidekicks. I needed laughter and distraction and memories. To all of those who have called our house a home, I am grateful. And to all who have a spare room, I wonder if there is someone you need to learn from?

My Favorite Bar

I grew up watching the TV show Cheers. It is one of my mom’s favorite shows and there is something magical about the moment that Norm walks into the bar and they all greet him. As one who ponders people and behavior, I have realized that much of my appreciation for the moments in that bar come from the diversity of characters. Diane. Sam. Carla. Cliff. There is a common ground of life and understanding around the bar.

As a young adult I often aimed for that mark. I would find myself longing for the connection of friendship and acceptance around a common drink. Unfortunately for me, my wiring for alcohol meant that I was less like Rebecca and more like the mean ass that Woody would have to throw out for over indulgence. Often, my attempts to create a comedic and warm drinking environment ended with me alone and miserable. As a newly sober person, I found myself with an overwhelming nervousness in the face of social situations. With few exceptions, walking into a party or restaurant or even a friend’s house was cause for anxiety over the “norm” of beverage offerings.

I found that as friends became homeowners and host, one of the first entertaining pieces in their home was the assembly and perfection of a quality bar. Whether it was great high ball glasses or a selection nice of wines from trips and travels, part of modern adult-ing seems to focus on being able to ask your guest, “What can I get you to drink?” While I am introverted in my energy source, I have always loved having people in my house. I grew up in a home that was a gathering place. I desire for people to know that my doors are open and safe. As I tried to find a way to welcome friends, I found myself constantly struggling with my lack of a celebratory beverage station.

When I put down my life sucking beverages, I immediately picked up extra doses of caffeine. This is a common reality for many of us in recovery. Walk into a meeting anywhere and you will find a coffee pot. Coffee and soda and energy drinks are the staple of those trying to work out the shakes and the pains of sobriety. Some tend to moderate their caffeine better than others, but like all things in my life, I know no moderation. None. A decade later, I start the day with hot caffeine and about noon I switch to cold caffeine. All day.

Let’s just pause for a second. I know this is not healthy. I know I should drink water. I know all of these things and yet my Hydro Flask carrying family still cannot change my evil ways. Let’s just leave this discussion for another day. Thanks.

In 2010, a life altering event took place. One that has changed my ways of entertaining and my love for all things drinking. I purchased my first Keurig brewing system. With this purchase, I created a corner in my kitchen that is appreciated much like non-alcoholics choose a fine bar set. In the original spacial design, I searched for my assorted cups like a treasure hunter. I made a game of the collection, choosing a $2 limit for each mug and in the process obtaining the must hilarious finds. Over the years, friends have added to the collection from their humor and travels.

Picking a mug to drink from became a game in personal taste and mood. I could tell the emotions of my friends by the day’s cup. If inspiration was on tap, a mug exclaiming sparkle or positivity was chosen. If the tone was spicy and instigating trouble, the choice was the “proud to be a bleeding heart liberal” or “introverts unite in their own separate spaces” drinking accessory. Whatever the mood of the morning, evening or late night, my coffee bar became a place that I found comfort. I knew it was safe. I had treats for all – cocoa, tea and even cider. I have even been known to offer a cup with floating glitter on the surface. We meet all the needs at this bar. This little corner is a gathering post of my home. I don’t like to cook. I often pretend that I don’t know how to use the other kitchen machinery. But the Keurig’s, volumes 1,2 & 3, are my absolute favorite.

The simple act of finding a new bar was a resurrection moment. Many small groups, card games and back porch chats have been fueled by this corner. Many hard conversations, celebratory moments and comfort have been brewed in my Keurig. For all of those that have picked your mug and all of those that will find their way to our home in the future, I raise my glass and give you my best Norm like welcome. Pull up a seat. All are welcome at this bar.



Resurrection Through Connection


As I began to come into my new ministry skin, I was grieved by the lack of connection in the church for those that I served in my student ministry days. In increasing numbers, I found them disconnected, uninterested and put off by the Church. I could not make sense of this chasm. I spent more than a decade of my life pouring my heart and soul into teenagers and as they made their way through college, they were far from community.

This took a painful self-examination season, but what I discovered was hard. I found that in an attempt to connect and create avenues for students to find faith, I had inadvertently created caves for teenagers within the walls of church buildings. They loved youth activities. They wanted to go to camp. They even chose to spend school vacations with their peers on church trips. The adults were cool. The conversations were relevant and they even seemed to enjoy the Bible study.

But something changed when they tried to find a church home. For those that were even interested, they often reported that, “it’s just not the same.” It was from this place that I had to admit that in an attempt to keep them engaged, connected and out of trouble, I had participated in the great tragedy of student ministry. I had failed to help them connect to the greater body of the Body. Rather than helping them appreciate the ancient traditions, we created contemporary (and separate) spaces. Rather then teaching them to learn from adults that don’t always think like them, we created space and activities for them to huddle in teen packs.

It was from the grief of this experience, and the inability to make peace with my part in that history, that I committed to a ministry of connection. Ecclesia – Clear Lake was filled with 20 somethings. Many had come from student and para-church ministries that taught them about the love of belonging. I was determined to help them fall in love with the inter-generational calling of the Church. Fortunately for me, I was not alone in this passion.

Our Lead Pastor was a former student guru, and we embarked upon a season of intentionally pouring into these young adults as they found their place in the church. Our first group was made up of 12 of the most passionate. Many were recent college grads. Some were single, some married. Some were plugged in and serving in the community and others were hovering around the edges trying to figure this church thing out. We loved them all. We met twice a month and talked and studied and lived life.

Each of them was asked to have a mentor that they met with outside of the larger group. One of the young women in the group had known me for years. She asked if I would be willing to serve in this role for her. I was thrilled and terrified. By all accounts, she had it all together. She loved Jesus, she loved people. And she was so damn kind. What in the world did she think she was going to learn from me? For months, we met regularly and my admiration for her passion and story and life grew and grew. We shared our heart for people and in the next breath all of the things that we struggled with. We would talk about the things that inspire and infuriate us. And at the end of every conversation, I would say to myself this is CHURCH!

This was in 2009. We are almost a decade past that season. My friend has yet to live in the same state as I do for most of that time. And yet there is holy, sacred space that is carved out in our hearts for those that walk into the trenches of life with us. For those friends that hold your hand over email or text or Facebook and it feels they are sitting next to you in the best of days and the hardest of pain. With or without knowledge, the men and women that sat in the rooms of this group were doing that for me. I was in a formative stage, struggling with fragile broken wings. To this day, I can receive a call or message from one of these friends and I immediately am transported to a time when I can feel myself coming back to life. The death was falling away and a new life was being born.

Life in the Face of Death

There are people who we meet in a particular season and then they are gone. And then there are people who are forever friends. You know the ones. The ones that no matter what road you journey down, somehow it just seems that your life twists and turns and reconnects. I have a friend like that. I met her when I was 24 and she was 15. We are 9 years apart, and our stories are so different, but the weaving and winding and journey, well, they are life. I watched her fall in love for the first time. She was one of the first people to babysit my first-born. I cheered her on as she graduated from high school and went off to college. I celebrated with her at her wedding. When you are lifetime friends, you share the blessings but that also means you share the hard days. The really, really hard days.

November 5, 2008. I woke up with excitement in my heart. The night before, I watched my country elect the first African-American President of the United States. Not only did I see the need for and desire a change in our national rhythm, I was on the precipice of breakthrough in my own life and it just felt right and good. I went to work at the C.O.R.E. office at Gloria Dei that morning after dropping Ally off at pre-school. As I drove up Egret Bay Blvd. just before 9am, I had no idea how my world was about to shift courtesy of the approaching intersection.

Minutes after I passed the new overpass intersection at El Camino Real and NASA Rd 1, an accident occurred. I did not know it at the time, but by all accounts I missed witnessing the event by only seconds. I worked in the office for the next few hours, picked up my kiddos at school and prepared for the evening. On Wednesdays, we had our small group in my living room and I always looked forward to dessert and good conversation. I received a call that afternoon that a car accident had taken place. The details were unclear. The outcome was unknown. One of our group members would be at Memorial Hermann that night, so two of us left for the hospital while the others began praying in earnest.

As we drove to the trauma hospital, it seemed unreal. Could all that we were hearing from the EMS reports and updates be true? How can a healthy 23 year-old be driving to work one minute and on life support the next? I can honestly say that the next few weeks were a blur. It seemed like yesterday that this young man was breakdancing and playing his trumpet on Easter morning at our youth service. And my sweet friend. There is not one part of her fairytale story of young love that makes sense in the world of brain injury and Neuro ICU and the jaws of life. This is not how the story should go.

In a crash course on the Glasgow Coma scale and Medicare and Nerts, I was thrust into a new world of pain and devastation. But something happened in these desperate hard places. We were a few weeks post accident and I was learning about rehab facilities and meal scheduling and one day I realized I was not holding on for dear life. In the midst of the overwhelming pain of Kristen and Brandon’s journey, my strength-less legs had been given a steroid shot of purpose. When my friend could not stand or breathe or drive or carry weight, I had a job to do.

Ike had propelled me out of myself and joining team Brandon gave me a mission statement. I had a charge. I had a fight. And most importantly, I was not looking at my weaknesses and inefficiencies but rather focusing the strength that I did have to help others. Sure, I had “served” others before, but this was different. It was in this season that I learned that my joy was found in the beautiful messy journey of authentic life. My friends knew my pain. They knew my inadequacies. They knew what I could offer and what I could not. I could be completely me and completely broken and completely enough, all at the same time. This was possible because I knew from first hand experience that there is nothing more authentic than staring death in the face and holding on tight to the ones you love in the process.


What is Eastertide?

Happy Easter!

Did you know that it is more than one day?

Easter, for Christians, is a 50-day period. The season of Easter, or Eastertide, begins at sunset on the eve of Easter and ends on Pentecost – which I cannot wait to tell you about! The season of Easter gives us a chance to reflect with more depth and breadth on the profound meaning of the resurrection of Jesus.

Easter is a day, but it is so much more. It took us 40 days to journey to the cross, so it just seems fitting that we take even longer to live in the after party. This is the time when we cast aside the pensive nature of waiting and fully devote ourselves to the act of celebration. Just as we were invited during Holy Week to enter into darkness and contemplate how we have in our own ways crucified Christ, we now are invited to live in the resurrection as we celebrate the risen Christ and honor the things that bring us new life, both big and small.

For fifty days, we are called to view all of life through the lens of a Sunday feast. Rather that fast, we are called to dwell in the abundance of the kingdom of God as we name and celebrate our places of resurrection. I must stop for a moment and point out a piece of resurrection joy that I have only recently embraced. The hope of resurrection is not a feeling of happiness. Matter of fact, it is not a feeling at all. Our hope is found in the critical aspect of the unseen knowledge that it is our Creator that holds together all of the hope and love and trust and grace that we don’t have the human capacity to explain or express.

I say all of this to remind myself and others that we do not have to be in a season of happiness to rest in the joy of resurrection. I would go so far as to say that it is actually a MORE profound Easter proclamation to be in the midst of pain and injustice and death and cancer and depression and the desire to drink and still continually trust in the restoration of Jesus. That kind of hope will preach a powerful sermon.

For me, living in resurrection is not a scripture quoting, WWJD spouting, prayer bead grasping, KSBJ listening experience. Let me be honest, some days, I just don’t feel very Jesus-y. Instead, living in Eastertide is about showing up on the hard days, suiting up for the battle days and praying up on the powerless days. Because when I do that in the midst of all that life throws at me, I realize that my acts of relational connections and writing and reaching out to others in hope are the best ways for me to be a person of Easter.

The invitation of Eastertide is to look for moments in everyday life and lean into them as you seek to live out and celebrate the kingdom of God and the renewal that it brings. This means in the obvious times and in the times that feel anything but celebratory. Eastertide and the continual proclamation of resurrection is a call that in all things – did you hear me say that? all things – God is doing a redeeming work in you and me.

Resurrection Sunday

When you are in darkness and see the flicker of light, you run. Sometimes the running takes you away from the light because light is painful. But, there are times when that small spark is hope. For one that has lost their hope, the promise of a new beginning is a miraculous gift. My resurrection day story is by all accounts a bit odd. What to many seemed to be a season of darkness became the moment where light broke into my darkest days.

I am a Gulf Coast girl. For more than 35 of my 42 years on this earth, I have lived on the coast of Texas. Since the first year of my life, there have been named tropical weather systems. Some of them have been significant in damage and loss of life. I can still recall watching the eye wall of Hurricane Alicia go over my house as an eight year old. In September of 2008, a storm by the name of Ike formed in the Gulf of Mexico. On September 13th, it made landfall over Galveston , at 2:10 a.m. as a category 2 storm. Ike caused extensive damage in Texas with high winds, a significant storm surge, and flooding. 

We live less that a mile from Galveston Bay in League City. Our area was a mandatory evacuation zone. At the time, I had a 1st grader and a 3-year-old. We went to my parent’s house on the west side of Houston. While their house would see the rain and wind, they were safe from the storm surge. The storm surge at our house was a foot from our foundation. Our house was spared flooding and major damage. I cannot say the same for many of my neighbors. Wide spread power outages were significant and property damage was extensive. According to a Hurricane Ike Impact Report by the Texas Engineering Extension Service, damage in Texas from the storm was estimated to be $29 billion. 

As the roads were safe, residents came home and began to assess the damage. Almost immediately, area churches began to band together to assist the community. Our church was without a building of our own, but with eager and willing workers, we joined with others to begin the clean up. To help coordinate, I attended a meeting with church representatives to expedite the joint effort. Quickly, it was clear that my best skill set for this task was to help organize from the administrative end. 

Within days, I was immersed in full-time relief coordination. With a team of amazing women and men from across skill sets, the organization was in full swing. Within weeks, it was clear that this was a long-term commitment. When school returned for my girls, I spent my weekdays working in the office of one of the most active recovery efforts in the Bay Area. More than 3,300 volunteers worked as a part of the C.O.R.E. Alliance base camp during the 6 months following Hurricane Ike. More than 200 homes were cleaned and sanitized and the rebuild portion of the team helped non and under insured community members with recovery. 

The leadership team of the organization had no idea about the two-fold disaster relief effort that was taking place in this time. By all accounts, I was a capable, organized and results driven leader. They had no idea that one of their key participants was literally being brought back to life daily. On the days that I felt worthless, I would walk in the office and answer a call from a desperate homeowner that had 4’ of water in their home. If you ever need perspective on gratitude, place yourself in the path of someone who has lost everything to a natural disaster. When you stand in the driveway and have lost everyTHING, and yet can still have hope and love and grace, it changes everyone around you. 

For months, I listened to the voices of those that were hurting and those that were helping. With each passing day, resurrection was taking place. New life was being breathed into my heart and soul and even my body. What began as a natural disaster on September 13th, became a moment of breathtaking wonder. The people who I met, the clients we served, the way that our church dreamed and worked and loved opened the tomb of my heart. What was a cold, lifeless place of pain was washed with the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. And through the broken debris, God rebuilt my purpose. As I watched my community come back to life, I was grounded in the assurance that no matter the strength of the storm, no matter the power of destruction, I have a Creator that longs to work healing and restoration in the darkest corners of my despair. 

Happy Easter!

Easter, The Day of Resurrection

Easter. This is it. THE celebration.

Easter is the holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Scripture tells us that this occurred three days after Jesus was crucified by the Romans and died. Easter concludes the season of Lent. This is the moment in the rhythm of Church life when we recognize where our hope is based. If all of the other things fall away, the fullness of our faith is expressed in the instant that we recognize that the tomb was actually empty. The story is not just a story. The prophesy has come true and Jesus is alive! 

Just like every religiously significant holiday, the opportunity to jump on the commercialization band wagon is high. Bunnies and eggs and chocolate and hunting for money and baskets and all of the things make for interesting celebratory tools are fascinating replacements for a day that should be about the fullness of the Christian story. I cannot wrap my brain around how a 12″ chocolate bunny embodies the forgiveness. I digress.

Even before I could understand the significance of this day in my spirit, my family cultivated a love of the celebration. As a child, Easter was one of my favorite days. We dressed up, we hunted eggs, I stole eggs from my siblings baskets. It was great. As I grew older, the Easter traditions continued with eye rolls about pantyhose and still more egg stealing. As I have aged, my tunnel vision on the message of the season has increased. Even more so than Christmas, I resist the bombarding noise of the advertised chaos. I just want this season to be about Jesus! While this holiday has always had a rhythm of celebration, it was only as I experienced some dark and deadly places in my soul that I found the appreciation of the resurrection. Without walking into the darkness, I had no appreciation for the light.