by Annette Bridges. © 2006. All rights reserved.

When I think of the thousands of families displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, I can’t help but travel back in time when my life was traumatized by a storm of events.

It wasn’t a hurricane. Nor a flood. But it was equally devastating and for me, just as sudden.

I was ten years old that September evening, taking my bath getting ready for bed when my mom unexpectedly came through the door. She promptly whisked me out of the tub to make a quick departure to escape from her bitter and angry ex-husband – my dad. I was never to see my home or my dad again.

There was no time to pack, so we left with what little could be grabbed in a flash. All that was once part of my life – my toys, my books, my dog, my friends – were now very far removed.

For the months that followed, we were homeless with little money.

Some have asked my mom, what enabled you to survive such terrible conditions?

Call it a can-do spirit. Perhaps a positive attitude. Or a cheerful outlook. Or a never-give-up perspective. My mom could never be brought down, stopped or hindered – for long, anyway.

Or she has been asked, how did you hold onto hope when everything you once owned was lost?

I can only explain that it had to be her faith. Her faith in a new concept of God she had recently been introduced to. A God that is good and omnipotent. A loving God who will steer His children safely amid any storm. A God who has given His children the ability to prove evil powerless. A God who sent His son, Christ Jesus, to teach us how.

With her faith, came hope and expectancy. With her faith, came the vision to see good and to find new opportunities. With her faith, came peace of mind and yes, joy.

My memory of those childhood days is not of lack, uncertainty or fear. I never even thought of myself as homeless or poor.

Some may look at my childhood experience with sympathy or regret. But those days for me transformed into a great gift. A lesson in how to beat the odds. How to overcome the insurmountable. How to begin anew when all is lost. How to find something good in every moment. And the assurance, as the old saying goes, that “The darkest hour precedes the dawn.”

And there was a “dawn.” A new home and a happy life for both me and my mom. That included me being reunited with my dog.

My mom says these words from a poem called “Mother’s Evening Prayer” by Mary Baker Eddy, brought her much needed peace and confidence during downhearted and dismal days:

“Love is our refuge; only with mine eye can I behold the snare, the pit, the fall: His habitation high is here, and nigh. His arm encircles me, and mine, and all.”

So as I now think about all those precious families struggling to regain some sense of normalcy in their lives, I want to whisper in each of their ears and say, “Don’t lose your hope. Have faith. All will be well again.”