Due to the size and the anticipated path of this storm, a voluntary evacuation is now being issued for New Orleans,” the mayor announced. “We will take questions at the end of the conference. For now, it’s important to detail what citizens need to do to prepare.”

Feverishly, I copied the blue and white list on the screen.

Important documents? They’re in the in the living room.

Medications? My prenatal vitamins were in the kitchen, my inhaler’s in my purse.

Food for the road? Thank God, I just went grocery shopping we’ve got the makings for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for days!

Mayor Nagin said we needed three days worth of clothes! Clean and ready to go.

Cell phone? Check! Charger for phone? Check!

Cat and cat food? Check and check.

That was it.

I looked at the suggested list. It felt incomplete. What if we never came back? What about our knick-knacks, our pictures, the wedding gifts that I’ve been saving for a “real first home” instead of this ministry apartment in the middle of a dangerous under resourced neighborhood in New Orleans?

I knew we were due for a storm. New Orleans is notoriously known as the city in a fishbowl. I did not, however, expect the storm to come just months after we moved into the neighborhood, newly married, with a toddler, and a baby on the way. I had hoped maybe we’d have at least a few more years of blissful ignorance before the big one hit.

A Category Five Hurricane barrelling down on us and I didn’t know any other way to navigate the storm but to fret.

I rushed around our little apartment, worrying, tossing every valuable item into duffle bags, repeatedly checking our bank account, waiting for my husband’s living stipend to post.

I was an anxious presence fleeing from the storm.


“Please come in for a grievance meeting” the letter from our landlord said. We are in negotiations over an issue that could affect our tenancy and true to form, I fretted for hours after reading that letter. I carefully planned our argument, then printed out documents to support our case. I paced and read tenancy laws, I wanted to be prepared to spout some legalese at him and prove that we can’t be pushed around. I sat and played out all the possible outcomes of that meeting. One outcome had us living on the street underneath the Boston University Bridge. In another outcome we received a flourishing letter of apology. I was an out of control tempest.

The next day as we walked up to the building I realized I forgot an “important” document highlighting all our requests and to say I was a mess would be an understatement. “It’s hopeless,” I said to my husband as we walked up to the landlord’s office.

I was an anxious presence weathering our housing storm.


“Jesus,” my friend prayed holding my hands and whispering in the middle of a Starbucks blocks away from MIT. “Help us learn to stay centered on you through all these transitions. Help Osheta trust you for the church plant, housing, the kids, and her ministry. You keep us centered while everything seems stormy around us.”

Weekly, my friend prays for me to be a non-anxious presence in the midst of life’s storm. 


This is a common encouragement we pass to each other. It’s our version of passing the peace of Christ.  By praying for Jesus to keep us centered, we remind each other that Jesus is our stabilizer when life feels out of balance. He is our peace in the midst of the storm.

Many people read the story of Jesus sleeping while the storm raged, tossing the boat to and fro, and they find peace that God Almighty slept, but I get a little annoyed. Jesus sleeping while the disciples fret over their safety, is like my son playing on his iPhone while I’m rushing around to clean for company? Hello?!? Don’t you see me sweating out over here?

But I don’t think Jesus slept to tick the disciples off. I think he slept because he wanted them to learn to navigate that storm without anxiety. He wanted them to trust the he’s so for them, he’s got their back, and he is their ultimate center such that even though he sleeps, they can sail that ship with calm hearts and collected minds.

I wonder, if the disciples could grab hands and say, “We know Jesus is our center though this storm” could they have stood at the bow and yelled, “peace, be still?” I wonder if they could be an non-anxious presence in the midst of their storms could they learn to sail that ship across to the other side without Jesus’ rebuke of “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

Like Louisa May Alcott, I do not want to be afraid of the storm, I want to learn how to sail my own ship. I think it looks like staying centered on Jesus and confidently pressing on even I cannot see him. For the times he feels so far away, as if he’s asleep, I need remember that he’s so for me, he’s got my back, and he’s my ultimate center that I need not worry. Because of Jesus, I can be a non-anxious presence at the helm, in the midst of the storm.