Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Proverbial Calm before the Storm

You may be relieved to know that I did the smart thing and decided NOT to drive back into the category 3 hurricane just yet...after much anxiety, mind you. It feels so strange to be so removed from what's happening in Louisiana. Who knew living there for a mere five years would make you this attached? Just when I thought I was dying to get out of grad school and move away, here comes a hurricane to remind me just how big of a spot Louisiana holds in my heart.

I keep having tons of Katrina flashbacks, and while I'm glad I won't have to hear the wind roaring and the rain pounding, I'm longing to get back as soon as possible and jump right into volunteering. Sometimes you just don't get to be the first responder, and that's ok. I'm excited about the work ahead and praying that there won't be as much as I'm anticipating.

So to all my friends (and surrogate family) in southeast Louisiana, be safe and know that you are all in my prayers. Jesus has calmed many a literal and metaphorical storm before, and he can calm this one down to a 1 or a 2 before it hits too...if He so chooses. other, much happier news...CONGRATS TO JENN AND CHRIS! I am so blissfully happy for you two, and I can't wait for the celebration ahead...even if it is going to interfere with one of the biggest football games of this season. ;) Love y'all!

Also, congrats to my Tiger football team for a sound win over ASU, who turned out to not be so hot, hot, hot after all. In case anyone is wondering, my QB pick for now is definitely Hatch, but I think they're both still finding their wings. Overall, I feel much better about the QB situation and am looking forward to what could be a season that surprises critics in quite a good way.

Praise God it's football season again! GEAUX TIGERS!!!

Goodnight from Oxford. May God keep all of you in Louisiana safe in the coming days.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Not-so-happy Anniversary for Katrina

It sure doesn't seem like it's been three years since Katrina changed life in the Gulf Coast as we know it forever, but it's true, and what better reminder than another hurricane looming in the Gulf? Great. Katrina had innumerable, profound impacts on every industry under the sun and every person within at least five hundred miles of the eye, but I think for me personally it was a time to grow up and a time in which I saw God around every corner.

In the week and a half or so I spent volunteering at the medical center at the PMAC, I saw things I never thought I'd see and heard stories I never thought I'd hear. God opened my eyes to a lot of things about Himself in those days, and when it was all over, I didn't want it to end. Once school started back up again, the PMAC was still an active hospital for a little while longer. I remember being so angry with the administration for making us go to school while those people were still in there...not because they were in our way but because I thought it was a whole lot more important to be volunteering than sitting in class. I rebelled by procrastinating a whole lot school-wise and dropping by the PMAC after class for some extracurricular triage volunteering.

Those days taught me that little old you can make a matter how small it may seem. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and during Katrina I saw that lived out daily in my fellow volunteers...especially in those refugee volunteers who evacuated New Orleans themselves but couldn't sit idly by and wanted to help too. That sense of purpose was dually intoxicating and humbling, and I loved every difficult, rewarding second of it.

So as I watch projections for Gustav, I'm processing a flood of memories (no pun intended). I got news today that the PMAC is again being readied to be a medical center. Am I ready for round two...if need be? You bet.

If I can make it back into Louisiana that is. I'm taking a much-needed vacation after the crazy, emotional summer I've had and going to Oxford for the weekend. The plan is to try to make it back before Gustav does.

So if you're evacuating from New Orleans and see a little blue Mustang on the other side of the interstate, that'd be me. I'll be the only idiot driving INTO the hurricane. :)

May God see us all safely through another storm if He so wills. As with any storm of life (as I've learned so well), He's always in control.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Why I Love Artsy Fartsy Olympic Ceremonies

Tonight I watched the Games of the XXIX Olympiad come to a close while spending some quality time with a few of the surrogate families God has blessed me with in Baton Rouge (shout-outs to the Taylors, the Russells, and the Staples). I don't think I've ever missed an opening or closing Olympic ceremony since I have been old enough to remember them. I'm such a sucker for all that drama, dance, music, and art and how each country uses those elements to create their own unique Olympic celebration with their national twist. China sure did outdo themselves this year, and London will have a tough act to follow. I've never been so amazed by the human feats performed in a ceremony as this one. It also really made me want to get a light-up drum and a high-collar red and gold dress. :)

Opening ceremonies are definitely my favorite. The closing ones just mean I have to wait another two whole years before the next Olympics. Despite the ceremonies' artsy fartsy quality (as my mom fondly calls them), I adore them still. For one, they always remind me of just how huge God is. Some people find the Parade of Nations entrance to be a dull tradition, but I love watching one country after another walking in their cultural dress and seeing the spectrum of skin colors. It's God's handiwork personified on a global nation at a time. God made us all uniquely, and He loves us all uniquely. Wrap your mind around that one.

Secondly, the olympic ceremonies serve as a reminder of what life on this planet is supposed to be like and what God intended it to be like --- harmonious. The Chinese zeroed in on harmony as a theme for this year's opening ceremony, using the character for harmony in various artistic movements (including that incredible moving type act...I'm still in awe over that one). The Olympics has always been a time of putting aside differences for a time of friendly competition, but to me, it's a little bit more. I looked at the Bird's Nest, full of people from every corner of the world, and saw a glimpse of what God must have had in mind for humankind from the beginning (and for that matter...what we'll see in Heaven one day). What do I mean? Why...harmony of course. Harmony that puts aside petty differences in order to glorify a higher cause. In this case, it's the Olympics, but one day, people from every corner of the globe, a sea of multicolored faces, will join together in Heaven, put aside our past lives and glorify the God who made us and loved us all so uniquely. I can't wait to experience that in person one day.

Come to think of it...I'd even be ok with seeing a glimpse of that in person. Anybody up for London 2012? ;) Let's make a trip of it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Fresh Start for the Inbetween

Being a twenty-something is a funny thing. Part of you feels like a genuine adult who's ready to take on the world and stand up and be heard, and part of you feels like a little girl who's all dressed up in mom's heels that are five sizes too big. This crazy stage of life is where I find myself these days. Since I graduated in English lit from LSU in May 2007, I've weathered a few major storms of life, and after taking a long break from the blogging sphere, I'm ready to write again with fresh wisdom that only comes through seeing God work in mysterious ways. Nuggets of wisdom I learned during the past year might pop up here from time to time, but I'll mostly write about the little lessons the Holy Spirit is teaching me in the present...and about those funny, random little oddities of daily life of course! Don't worry...I'm still wordy nerdy witty Stefanie at heart. Some things never change. Wordy nerdy witty Stefanie just grew up a lot since she last blogged her little heart out, so this is my fresh start...a fresh start during the great inbetween of life - the early twenties.