Monthly Archives: August 2016

One tough mudder

Eight days ago a devastating flood hit our city.

Since the roads became passable my wife has been itching for a way to get involved helping folks who have been flooded. This does not come as a surprise to anyone who knows her…

Our church is very centrally located and has been serving as a hub for the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief teams that are coming to the area to help. Virtually every time there is a disaster, the volunteers from SBDR are among the first on the scene to provide food and construction/demolition assistance. So, Peggy went to the hub and got herself assigned to a team.

I am always proud of my wife, but the work I have seen her do the past few days has been awe-inspiring. Going into these flooded houses to remove the debris and get them prepared for construction is a nasty business, and August in South Louisiana is not exactly a hospitable climate. But every day she goes and works her tail off to help.

Since today is Saturday, my son and I did not have to go to work, so we were able to go see the work Peggy has been doing. The need makes you want to cry, so the work provides an outlet for exertion over emotion. It is just amazing.

Today I saw my family help two families take the first steps to getting back on their feet for good. What makes it so cool is knowing that this is going on all over the city from thousands of people who were not flooded and just want to do something to help those that were. My son and his wife drove in from New Orleans to help, too.

This is how Louisianians respond. Help those who need help. My Texas girl is fitting right in.

Wouldn’t Chip and Joanna be proud?!
I sure am…

A cleansing flood

Be careful what you ask for…

Exactly one month ago today Baton Rouge experienced a horrific tragedy. In this space I specifically asked God to “please have mercy on Baton Rouge and send Your peace to our city.”

I did not specify how I wanted Him to do it, I just asked. Needless to say, thirty-plus inches of rain is not really what I had in mind.

But it has worked.

When the rain began five days ago, it didn’t seem like that big a deal. When it didn’t stop on that Friday it started causing a few problems. When it kept going on Saturday we knew we were in for something. But I don’t think anyone could have predicted this…

Today we were finally able to get out and see the damage. What I saw was devastating, amazing and healing.

I drove to the neighborhood where I grew up. In the forty-five years since I moved away from Baton Rouge for the first time, the demographics of the area have changed. Jones Creek divides the neighborhood but showed no prejudice inflicting damage to houses on either side.

As I drove through I spotted a group of young men “mudding out” one of the houses. It was apparent they had been busy because a huge pile of wet and ruined property was out in the front yard. I stopped and asked them if I could go get them some food or something while they worked. One of the men told me they had just eaten but thanked me for the offer. He asked me what I was doing in the area.

“I grew up in the house on the corner of Cuyhanga and Sierra Vista. The one that sits right on the creek. I just wanted to see how bad it was damaged. How many houses have you guys already mudded out?”

“We’ve pretty much done this whole end of the street. Gotta get it out quick so it doesn’t ruin everything in the house,” he said.

At this point the owner of the house joined the conversation. He was an older gentleman and had heard me say where I grew up. “You a (the name of the family on the opposite corner)?” he asked.

“No, sir. I grew up across the street from them. We left in ’72.”

“These men are lifesavers, and they have helped us all. No way I could have done this by myself.”

The young man I had initially addressed said, “That’s what neighbors do, Mr. Joe.”

I told them all good luck and got back in my car. Mr. Joe was white and probably 80 years old. The young man and his entire working crew were all African-American and in their thirties. Keith told me he owns a construction company and his guys came over to help him help his neighbors.

Stories like this are happening all over the city. People helping people, because that’s what neighbors do.

I shouldn’t be too surprised God used a flood to clean things up for us. It’s not the first time He’s done it that way…

Flooding in our neighborhood

Thirty Years

Peggy and I got married in 1985. I’ll be generous and simply say Peggy’s parents were not thrilled with the idea.

We were both still in school. She had three semesters remaining as an undergraduate and I had four quarters of law school to complete. Both of us would finish in August of the following year. Her parents really wanted us to wait a year until we had graduated, but we had already waited two years longer than we wanted to wait.

Their reasoning was that Peggy would not finish school if we got married. Again, I think their reasoning was that they did not want her to get married to me. Otherwise, their fear showed a real misunderstanding of their own daughter. Nothing was going to stop her from graduating, not even the threat of withholding tuition money. In the end it was an empty threat — they paid for her entire education, and we were very thankful to them for that.

Marriage was actually a real boon to her grades. When we were dating we would stay out too late just because that was the only way we could spend time together. Once we were married we could go to bed at a normal hour since I didn’t have to take her home.

In the three semesters we were married she had a 4.0 GPA. It almost made up for the fact that I had almost flunked her out of college as a freshman, but that is a story for another time.

Entering the summer of 1986 Peggy needed fifteen hours to graduate. Baylor only allows students to take twelve hours in the summer. I had already been offered a job in Dallas starting on September 2, so if she could only take twelve hours she would have to drive back and forth between Dallas and Waco for a semester to take one class (this was in the days before online classes were an option — “online” didn’t exist yet).

Peggy went to the Dean of the business school and asked for an exception. He graciously allowed her not only to take fifteen hours but to substitute a class for another required class that was not available in the summer. Undeserved grace, but it does help when you have a 4.0 GPA in your major.

As I was sitting in the house today watching it rain (and rain and rain) and watching the reports of flooding here in Baton Rouge, the pictures below popped up as memories. And generated a million other memories.

Peggy graduated from Baylor University with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration thirty years ago today. In some ways it seems impossible that it was thirty years ago. In other ways it seems impossible that it was only thirty years ago.

Her parents were wrong about her. And me. But they made it all possible.

Peggy did the rest.

August 16, 1986
Diploma in hand

Happy Anniversary!

Tonight Peggy and I went out to dinner to celebrate our 31st anniversary. Our anniversaries are generally pretty happy, and cool, because we celebrate many of them in Colorado.

It is a great tradition that started on our honeymoon, and it works out that just about every year we are ready to get out of the heat for a week and enjoy some cool weather. This summer we have been lucky enough to get plenty of cool air and mountain time, but it is still a special treat to celebrate up here.

Today we went for a hike and saw an abandoned mine, then we went to Sapphire Point for an annual photo op. We go to the Point every year because it is an amazing vantage point from which to see Lake Dillon and the surrounding area. It doesn’t hurt that it is also a stunning place to take a picture.

We always try to go out to dinner to celebrate our anniversary. We have one or two places that usually end up being the “spot”. It is kind of cool to know a place so well that you know exactly where you want to spend a special occasion. Dinner tonight was great, then we went back to the condo to hang out on the back porch.

Does it get any better than sitting on the deck in August and needing a jacket or a blanket?

We sat outside tonight and talked about the trip and the memories we have created this summer. Each year when we visit it feels like the end of the summer, even though we will have two more months of high temperatures when we return home. This trip is the symbolic close to our summer, so we frequently sit outside and reminisce about the things that have occurred. In many ways it has been a tough year, but coming here always seems to make us remember the good things that have happened, as well. It is a great reminder to give thanks for all of the things that happen to us.

Happy Anniversary, Peggy. I would do every step of it over again. But I’m even happier just to keep moving forward with you.

At Sapphire Point — beautiful sights…
Anniversary dinner