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IMG_5813There is an amazing engineering feature in Houston.  It is called the Buffalo Bijou.  This is a creek for most of its existence, meandering from downtown Houston due West and into the region of Katy.

Katy is my home town and the Buffalo Bijou is familiar to me and my fellow residents.  We appreciate this cavernous grassy canyon snaking through our community because it is a constant reminder that it is ready to take away the deluge of water that visits our part of Texas several times a year.

When there is no rain and the weather has no prediction of precipitation, I along with my fellow Texans overlook this massive amount of real estate.  Green grass lines the banks of this very large creek and overpasses allow traffic to flow unimpeded.  But, it is always ready.

Most of the year a small creek travels through this piece of land.  The slow-moving waters do not cut much of a trail through the dirt.  Most adults could easily leap over the creek without much effort.

I bicycle along this body of water and marvel at its great expanse.  For miles my bicycle wheels roll along the cement trail that lines one of its banks.  Several times I cross a bridge to keep my journey going.

But, then there are those storms, those Texas-sized storms that drench our home with lots of water.  Drains, and canals flow into the Buffalo Bijou.  It comes quickly and flash flood warnings dominate the airwaves to keep people away from flooded areas.

Torrents of water turn a normally calm creek bed into a raging river.  In a short period of time a calm quiet creek fills up that entire flood plain and muddy waters threaten to lap against the massive concrete bridges that gives people safe passage over the rising waters.  I paused for a picture and to marvel at what makes people feel so small and helpless.

When God turns on the spillway of the heavens and stalls the weather front to hold a pattern over Houston, we hunker down and hope for the best.  Neighbor encourages neighbor.  It is the way of the image of God seeping through the desperation of men who find themselves in need of a helping hand.

Good engineers designed a lot of Houston to weather such moments.  I am grateful to those very good planners who looked beyond the pleasant sunny days.  Their planning for these occasional horribly rainy days has given me peace.  I thank God for them!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

FullSizeRender-4Water, we need it to live.  Too little and our lives are in serious jeopardy.  Too much and the threat to lives is unbearable.

Texas is my adopted home state.  We came when a drought plagued this great land.  There was not enough water to transform the brown grass and cause the landscape to bloom.

People told us stories of the Spring when wildflowers and Blue Bells decked the hills and blanketed the meadows.  Now, with too many years of too little rain brown dirt was all that the great state had to show off.  Ranchers rationed water to their livestock and farmers judiciously grew crops based on what water they could secure for a meager harvest.

Now, the rains won’t stop.  The deluge from the heavens keep coming.  Our streets are flooded and the homes of too many are now soaked.

The tragedy of an Austin family that rendezvoused for a family gathering over the Memorial Day weekend threw me intoIMG_5781 a moment of quiet reflection.  A number of them were gathered in a house.  The swollen river rose and swept the house away.

How does life go on as usual after such a story breaks?  Many of those precious lives are still missing.  What of those who survived?  How do they ever pick up and keep going?

The faith of that particular family is their center.  They have turned to God for comfort and strength.  Prayer for them is not just a perfunctory euphemism, it is an expression of life, real life.

I am inconvenienced with the rain.  It reroutes my driving and it slows down my commute, but I do not have the grief of lost loved ones that weigh down my soul.  In my busyness I paused and prayed for them.

Many other stories of people whose homes were taken over by water make my inconveniences pale into insignificance. Flood waters did not invade my home.  They did not ruin the floors or furniture in my home.

FullSizeRender-3The filth in the flood waters did not litter my garage.  Muddy silt is not all over the floors of our home.  My vehicles are not ruined by water filling up my transmission or begin the rust process of a slow death to my car.

My fellow Houstonians and Texans have been devastated by the abundance of water.  But, I have been spared and for that I am grateful.  Together many of us will clean up, encourage and restore others who have been hit the hardest.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

IMG_3034The temperatures were cool.  My morning weather check made several decisions for me.  I would wear my riding jacket.  My fingered gloves were the choice of the day.

It was not cold enough for me to wear long pants.  My riding shorts would do fine.  Once I was out on the road and pumping my legs up to my cruising speed, enough body heat would keep me comfortable.

The rains from the last two days soaked up the ground.  Scattered puddles on the road made an agility ride essential.  Dodging pockets of water was a lot better on bicycle than splashing through them, causing a rooster tail behind me and giving myself a muddy shower and a skunk stripe down my back.

Yep, past experience can be seen all over my previous description.  It takes a longIMG_3038 time to wipe down my bicycle after a wet ride.  If I can avoid it I will.

Down our artery thoroughfare I peddled.  My destination was our Buffalo Bayou culvert.  After the large amount of rain in this past week, I was curious to see what kind of water run-off was represented in our flood control outlets.

Forward thinking engineers made sure that the flooding from thunder bursts in our Texas region would be channeled away from the homes of its residents.  The weather reports noted a warning for flash floods.  A lot of water had fallen over our city of Houston.

IMG_3040The bridge over the Buffalo Bayou spans a creek that is usually 8 or 10 feet across.  However, the expanse is very large.  This visit over the flood plain surprised me.

Now, a muddy river taking up nearly the entire width of the Bayou was steadily pushing tons of water to the East.  It was clear that the rains that fell did leave a massive impact in our region.  Our drought in Texas needed this turn around.  We were getting used to the “moderate drought” conditions signs.  Most likely someone will start taking those advisory signs down.

I watched as the massive amounts of water moved undeterred to the lowest point on the temporary river banks.  Fish, snakes, alligators and turtles were no doubt exploring new territory lazily allowing the flood waters take them on a new journey.

The parched land was getting a good long drink.  Our Creator was taking care of the land.  His personal touch was amazing to watch.

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

During breakfast at Cannon Beach, along the Oregon coast, we were all laughing at the table.  We all shared in common that we had left our rooms to make our way to the dining hall, then turned around and went to retrieve our rain jackets.  It was raining in Oregon.  Big surprise.

We adults were shrugging our shoulders in common experiential belief.  Afterall, there are only two kinds of weather in this Beaver State.  One is that it is raining.  The other is that it is raining some more.

Yes, the old saying is that Oregonians never die, they just rust away.  For those in Portland, the beauty is not the downtown skyline but Mt. Hood majestically standing in the Eastern horizon.  She is beautiful.

But, she is also practical as a weather barometer.  If you can’t see Mt. Hood it means that it is raining.  If you can see her, it means that it is about to rain.

Of this is more apocryphal than factual.  We Christians have a pass on complaining about the weather.  It is a release valve for the pressures of life.

The actually does shine in this state most suited for a vast quantities of ducks and other water fowl.  When it does, Oregonians relish it.  They celebrate it by closing their umbrellas, peeling off rain slickers and passing the sunblock.

Warm sunrays have a way of invigorating the soul.  Anxieties take a more realistic view.  The heart can slow its pace and the blood pressure can subside.

The smile that wants to erupt from our face finds an open invitation.  Soothing sounds of the ocean lapping on to shore crescendo and melt away anxieties.  Seagulls caw melodically into the brightening sky.

A single day of sun in Oregon makes everyone forget the countless days of rain that have preceded it.  What was once a seemingly endless series of precipitation have been set aside with a forgiving sun-soaking few hours that wins the vote of every tourist on the beaches and streets of Cannon Beach.

Behind us all is a full day of beach walks, surf splashing and sand castle building.  A wonderful meal, great worship and a concentrated time of being in the Word lead us all to the spectacular moment of all.

Throngs move toward the beach once more.  Total strangers stand shoulder to shoulder to ooh and ah at a common favorite event.  The sunset on the Oregon Coast is spectacular. 

photo credit: brucefong photography

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