Of all that I lost in the great flood of 2016 — pictures, recipes in my grandmother's handwriting, antique furniture I grew up with, vehicles, every wall and every floor, every single thing that was touched by seven feet of water in our home — I was struck by these three Bibles.
Our wedding Bible: It is the Bible my brother, the Rev. David Glenn Atkinson, held and read from as Reggie Hope and I promised to honor each other all the days of our lives. My brother held that Bible as I stood there in silence wondering if I could really "do" this again ... for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health 'til death do us part. I had done it once; was I strong enough to do it again?
Reggie's Pastor's Bible: How many times has my husband held this Bible in his hands as he read God's word Sunday after Sunday and every day in between, to the one, to the few and to the many, as he tried tirelessly to answer what God had called him to do. I saw those memories cross his face for a fleeting moment as he looked at his Bible and then returned to scooping up the treasures of our lives to throw in the trash heap that is now our front yard.
My birthday Bible: Reggie gave me that Bible on my first birthday as Mrs. Stephanie Hope, March 18, 2013. It is inscribed, To: Stephanie Hope, Proverbs 31:30. From: Reggie Hope, 2 Corinthians 5:17. I will leave it up to you to look up those two verses.
As I write this, it's been two weeks since we evacuated. Our home has been gutted down to studs and concrete. Items saved are covered in mud and on tables in the garage, and we are able to live in our driveway all through the magnificent generosity of friends.
So, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness or health, 'til one of us dies, here we are. We smell bad, we are tired, we have almost nothing, but we are together. I will keep these three Bibles. They will be tangible reminders of “from whence our strength comes” to keep on keeping on.
*Stephanie Atkinson Hope lives in Denham Springs, Louisiana. She is a member of Faith Crossing United Methodist Church in Walker, Louisiana.