Monday, August 28, 2006

One Year Later


August 29, 2005. The day that changed all of our lives. A lady named Katrina who turned out to be not such a lady after all. She took so much from us, and offered nothing in return, save her howling winds and brutal surge.
And where are we today? One trip down our ruined coastline will tell you. Oh, there are a few glimmers of hope here and there. If you look closely, you may see a few brave souls rebuilding along our beautiful "emerald coast", with its pristine white beaches and breathtaking views. The glimmers grow brighter and brighter the further inland you drive. Construction is everywhere. Unfamiliar tongues are heard in the neighborhood grocery. Progress is being made, but that progress is in baby steps.
Gone are the familiar haunts, the favorite eateries and the gorgeous, stately antebellum mansions that lined the shore. In their place are only the ghosts of conversations and happier times, sheets of twisted metal and piles of debris.
What Katrina could not take from us was our spirit. The spirit of our land, our South, our Mississippi. The pioneering spirit of our forefathers and steel magnolia mothers. The spirit that has become the very backbone of our recovery. Yes, we have mourned, but that season has now passed. A new day has dawned here on our beloved coast. A day full of promise and hope. Will it be different? Oh yes. But hope, sweet hope is what we cling to.
I will be participating in a sunrise memorial service tomorrow to mark the first anniversary of that fateful day. We will be standing in a place where the surge was at its worst, across from the remains of our beautiful church facility. We will remember those who lost their lives, the bravery of our first responders, and recount the lessons that Katrina taught us. Lessons we must never forget.
Please join us in a moment of silence tomorrow to remember all we have lost here in our devastated region, and for those who are continuing to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
May God be with us as we continue to recover.
Happy Monday and
Much Love

** Photo of our ruined church facility post-Katrina. It was almost completely destroyed by the massive storm surge and wind. The remains have since been demolished, and our congregation is meeting elsewhere as we are in the rebuilding phase (at another location). God has been amazingly, incredibly faithful. He continues to add to our numbers and bless us abundantly. How Great is our God...

28 comments:

Big Mama said...

What an incredibly beautiful post. Uplifting, sad, hopeful...all at the same time. I'll join you in your moment of silence tomorrow and pray that the hope continues to build.

Amy said...

It seems like only yesterday - I can't believe it's already a year since this happened. I often shed tears last year while reading about the devastation Katrina left behind, but it's even more meaningful to read an account from someone I "know".

Zach said...

Wow, I remember seeing all that. I can't wait to see y'all's new church!

Susan P. said...

Jennifer, that was the best post you have ever done. What a remarkable tribute and recount of the devastation AND hope that was brought forth because of the disaster. The spirit in which the post was written is exactly why and how your Mississippi will come back better and stronger. God bless you all.

Angie said...

This post is absolutely beautiful and what a wonderful tribute to your great state. I cannot imagine what it must have been like. Although we do live on the SC coast (right where Ernesto is heading), we have never experienced devastation such as this. And I pray to God we never do. But there is hope in this post that life goes on beyond the devastation. Thanks for the reminder! *hugs*

Trixi said...

I only live 4-5 hours North of you and yet it seems like a world apart, when I see that type of devastation. I remember it well. I will be thinking of you today.
Blessings,
Trixi

Laurel Wreath said...

What a beautiful post and a great reminder. God can make anything to be beautiful and be used for his glory. Yippee!

Maggii said...

I was in Biloxi in April for Easter( A trip which unfortunately also became a funeral trip as my brother was killed in a trucking accident the very day I was traveling to visit him) and was shocked at how vast the devasation was....I mean I had seen it all on TV and had a pretty good idea...but seeing it for myself was such a shock! So many landmarks gone...like others have said it's hard to beleive it's been a whole year and the area is still in such devastation...

Becky said...

Thank you for that post....it was a beautiful tribute full of hope for the future. I think much of the rest of the country doesn't realize what all STILL needs to be done in the Gulf Coast even a year later. How was the service?

Lela said...

Very eloquently written. I, too remember that day a year ago here in Louisiana and how our lives have changed since. It seems like a lifetime has passed in the past year. But the Lord has used that to teach my husband and I many powerful lessons and I am thankful. So, here is to the future, we put our trust in God's hands.

Sister said...

Jennifer,
I dearly love my home state of Mississippi. You've written a beautiful post that truly captures the spirit of our wonderful heritage. Bless you and all Mississippians who are living in the aftermath of what happened one year ago today.

the SmockLady said...

Hi, I found you via another homeschool blog, but what caught my attention was your title, Mississippi Girl. I grew up in Gulfport and no longer live in MS. I wish I did though. I am glad I found you though.

Beautiful post, I'm so sorry for all you and your freinds have lost. I grew up attending the First Presbyterian Church right next door and I had many friends in my years that attended First Baptist as well.

the SmockLady said...

Hi, I found you via another homeschool blog, but what caught my attention was your title, Mississippi Girl. I grew up in Gulfport and no longer live in MS. I wish I did though. I am glad I found you though.

Beautiful post, I'm so sorry for all you and your freinds have lost. I grew up attending the First Presbyterian Church right next door and I had many friends in my years that attended First Baptist as well.

Kate said...

My my my - that picture has a thousand feelings but speaks millions. SO much has been done, yet still SO much to do. Good 'ol Mississippi will rise above this that's for sure. Thinking of you ... :)

smhgrace said...

A thought-provoking and beautiful tribute!

Diane said...

I visited Gulfport/Biloxi just a month ago, and I was amazed at the damage still evident. The closer we got to the coast the greater the destruction. Almost all of the beaches are still closed due to the debris in the water and on the beaches. I pray next time I visit it will be restored to as much of its former glory as can be done.

God Bless y'all as you rebuild your homes and churches. Lightning struck our church steeple 4 years ago and burned it to the ground. God has blessed us with a bigger, better building that most of us members physically helped to rebuild. He turned a tragedy into a blessing for us, and I pray He does the same for y'all.

Beautiful post, and well-written. :-)

Tammy said...

So beautiful...
I've been watching so many accounts on television over the past few days. so much heartbreak mingled with hope and renewel.
Isn't it good to know that buildings are not the Church...we, His people, are His Church!

Blessings to you and to your neighbors as you continue to go though this recovery and renewel!

Jenn said...

Thanks for that reminder and for the perspective!

Mississippi Girl said...

Thanks to everyone for all of the sweet words! The service this morning was beautiful and we were even on ABC's "World News Tonight"!
So nice to hear from fellow "Mississippians" (Trixi, Sister and the smock lady).
Please keep our coast in your prayers.
Jennifer

Anniesue said...

Thank you so much for sharing. It is a great reminder to those who don't live nearby. We are still praying for our fellow Gulf Coasters (and keeping an eye on the Weather Channel!)

Melanie said...

Hi-
Came over from BooMama. I, too, posted on Katrina today. I didn't go through it, but have gone through other hurricanes. Thank you for your update and the reminder. You are still in my thoughts. And I am glad to see someone post about Mississippi- I feel like you have been forgotten in the media.

BooMama said...

I have tried to comment ALL DAY LONG. :-) Blogger has not been my friend.

I linked to your post a few minutes ago - such a beautiful, touching tribute to a place that will always be home. I'll never forget seeing a picture of your church the day after Katrina...I think that was the first time I realized how devastated the Coast was - and I've thought about your church so many times since.

Well done, Miss Jennifer.

Canaan said...

Beautiful post! Thank you for that! May we never forget! I miss that beautiful drive down Hwy. 90 in Biloxi and Gulfport. Now I can't drive it without crying.
I linked your post off of my blog!

Gail said...

Beautifully written Jennifer. I live north of Jackson but our church has taken a few trips down to the coast to partner with another church there. It's been a while since we've been and I know the progress is slow. Is that First Baptist in the pic? I've been there before.

keri said...

hi, came over from boomama...is that church in biloxi? i came to biloxi/gulf port back in april on a mission trip and remember seeing it. it was such an eye-opening trip for me. i was just so glad to be able to see the devastation for myself. its beyond words. and i was amazed that after 9 months it still looked the way it did. the task at hand is overwhelming. i pray that the hope of the people can still remain high! thanks for your wonderful post and tribute!

Mississippi Girl said...

Hi Gail and Keri-
The church is First Baptist Gulfport. The skeletal structure you see in the pic has been torn down now (about a month ago) and demolition continues on the rest of the buildings on the property. The property is currently for sale.

Christine said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope it is a wonderful, thoughtful and thankful remembrance tomorrow. I'll be praying.

Eagles Wings said...

Wow, I remember seeing a photo of this church in the news after the hurricane.
What a beautiful post.
God Bless y'all as you rebuild your homes and churches.
It's so hard to see, but as a Floridian we know it doesn't happen overnight - rebuilding from Hurricanes, it takes years...
Keep on keeping no and Keep the Faith! God Love you!