Remembering Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina has made the news on August 23-31, 2005 as a Category 5 Atlantic Hurricane that cost a thousand fatalities and damage costing $125 billion. It was tied as the costliest natural disaster in US history.

It was first monitored on August 23, as a tropical depression. Over the next two days, the designation of Hurricane Katrina was detected and it made landfall between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Florida as a Category 1 hurricane. It then rapidly intensified as it passes the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  The next afternoon, Katrina became one of the strongest Atlantic storms on record and made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane on the 29th of August. A storm surge of more than 26 feet high occurred slamming the coastal areas of Gulfport and the Mississippi rivers.

In New Orleans, officials believed they have dodged a bullet for missing Katrina’s direct hit of intense winds. Not long after, the levee system broke due to Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge. By the afternoon of August 29, 20% of the city was underwater. A mandatory evacuation was then ordered by New Orleans’ mayor. As the levee system continued to give way, the remaining residents who were not able to leave their homes dealt with a city that is 80% underwater by August 30, 2005.

There were shortages of food and clean water which caused some lootings in the neighborhoods. It was not until September 2 that military presence was provided to mobilize the distribution of food and water.  As recovery began, donations from other countries were coming in and the levees were rebuilt. The population of New Orleans then fell by 29% between the fall of 2005 and 2011.

A decade after, flaws in the construction of the levees and flood protection system were acknowledged.  Since then, New Orleans allocated $15 billion in federal funds to increase the heights of earthen berms and upgrade the floodwalls and floodgates. The city was successful in making improvements with its defenses as it held the Category 4 Hurricane Ida in August 2021.

by Cheryl Hawkins

Categorized as Article

Losing to the Mind

People are designed to be vulnerable. The mortal life span, the limited humane abilities, and the mental capabilities we are able to grasp are some of the limitations we have as beings on this Earth. People tend to be easily influenced by external forces that could and would penetrate their minds. 

The mind can play such a cruel game to humanity. Losing to the mind could mean an ugly turn of events. However, God doesn’t want you alone in this battle. He knows how much pain you are going through and does all He can to reach out to you and aid you in the never-ending battle you face each day.

From Isaiah 41:10, the Lord shares precisely this line:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. 

Have you ever heard voices in your head trying to plant doubt and fear in you? Dark spirits will try and attempt to invade your soul. They will constantly attack the weakest part of your shield and infest your mind.

Everything we accomplish is the product of a battle won against temptation. Every time we deny sin, we step out of a yet gruesome battle within our spirits. 

Losing to the mind and giving in to dark thoughts is uneasy. But there is not a doubt that the Lord is with us throughout these encounters. When we ask for strength, He delivers, and when we seek to support, He arrives. We may not see Him, but He is there. We may not know who He is or what He looks like, but He is there, waiting for us to accept all He has to give for us- all we deserve.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. -Deuteronomy 31:6

by Cheryl Hawkins

Categorized as Article

Mistakes Make Us Perfect

The beauty of being human is that we are free to be imperfect beings. Every flaw and every failure are a lesson. This is God’s way of teaching us how to be ourselves amid all our chaotic encounters. The main point is- our mistakes make us perfect in the best possible way.

The full potential of knowing who we are as human beings allow us to put ourselves in a humbling position. Regardless of social judgment and prejudice, the fulfillment of spiritual contentment grants us freedom and awareness to get through life without giving in to the temptations of evil. Through this knowledge, we will always be set in strong faith through the course of our lifetime; and by God’s grace and salvation, the wonders of being free will lead us to a beautiful life.

What should we do when we start to doubt our identities? How do we recognize our uniqueness?

Try to reflect on the following bible verses:

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them. – Genesis 1:27

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. – 1 John 3:1

God has already made sure that His children will become the church. No matter how we look at it, He made us this way, and so, this way shall we be. 

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will have not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. – 1 John 3:2-3

Being His instruments of peace, love, and care does not require us to be popular, well-spoken, wealthy, or strong. We are all capable in our own little ways. The things we do are the things that make us who we are; and thus, our mistakes make us perfect.

by Cheryl Hawkins

Categorized as Article

The Tenth Commandment

God has given us all that we are deserving in this world. Through Him, we are living and breathing air that His eternal love has blessed upon us. As such, the Lord has given us the ability to be free to do the things we want to do with these blessings. However, some may mistake this freedom as a chance to sin against others.

In Exodus 20:17, God has declared what we now know as the Tenth Commandment that says, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.”

No man is made the same. This is a fact that everyone can agree upon. The things we do influence our life’s purpose, and what we achieve are what we call ours. However, sometimes we just want to own what others possess. We call this Envy. We’ve all experienced jealousy at one point or another because human as we are, there is no doubt we make rash decisions just to “make up for what is lacking of us.” Despite how much we try to do our best, it always feels as if it’s not enough. This is the work of evil; no matter what we do, we see failure and misery amidst our life’s work, and it drives us to make irrational choices.

But, worry not because the Lord is here to guide us. Regardless of any achievement, big and small, He knows He made us well and that we are living up to the name He has given us. The time we have here in this world is a temporary phase of living. He knows by heart what we all genuinely desire- happiness, contentment, love, and peace. The tenth commandment is a testament to this goodness. Our God knows that what we need in life can only be found when we walk with Him.

by Cheryl Hawkins

Categorized as Article