So I am sitting in the New Orleans airport with exactly 18 minutes left of free wifi. So I shall have to make this quick! I hope to add pictures when we transfer planes in Houston!

My husband was at a medical conference in New Orleans last week, and Katie, my 17-year-old, and I came with him. I spoke twice (in Lafayette and in Kenner) last week, and we went on a swamp tour, explored the French Quarter, ate some amazing food, and had a great time.

But all of us are left with a heaviness. Much of the French Quarter is beautiful, but we managed to hit New Orleans right at the party time for St. Patrick’s Day, and, to be frank, it was a big drunken mess. One night my husband and I went in search of food at 10:30, after one of my speaking engagements, and it was busier than it usually was at 6:30. And it seemed like everyone was drunk.

And one evening we went to the Red Fish Grill on Bourbon Street (AMAZING food), but to get there we had to pass the Hustler club, several strip joints, and some other unmentionable places. One store had a T-shirt emblazened with “I support single mothers–One dollar at a time!” Outside a strip joint we saw a woman who obviously worked there, smoking, but wearing what she likely wore on stage (which was just about nothing). And she looked so haggard.

Most of the women walking around wore clothes that were so tight they weren’t even flattering (seriously; Katie and I thought the whole French Quarter could be a What Not to Wear episode). We saw a guy standing on TOP of a car as it snaked through the streets, and then, when he was about a block ahead of us, he decided to moon everybody.

Voodoo stores were everywhere.

One store had a sign that said “Haiku for Abandoned Ghosts”. We puzzled over that one for quite a while.

I know that sin exists in the world. I know that much of the world sees “partying” as fun, and sees the chance to let loose in New Orleans (or Vegas) as the highlight of their year.

But if that’s so–then how shallow is most people’s lives?

Katie and I had a lot of talks this week about how empty it must be to go to a Bachelorette party where you start drinking at 2:30 in the afternoon, and likely won’t even remember it the next day (she’s planning a spa-at-home party for her sister’s Bachelorette bash this summer). We talked about what it must be like to pick up a stranger in a bar. We talked about how alcohol and relationships don’t mix (in fact, large quantities of alcohol don’t mix with much at all).

It’s interesting how different New Orleans is from the rest of the state, which is very conservative. But New Orleans has a history of the occult, nominal Christianity, and slavery. Perhaps it’s no wonder that it’s become so hedonistic.

It’s easy to feel superior–like “we” are so much better than “them”. But instead today my overwhelming feelings are both sadness and gratitude. I have a great heritage where I was raised to want something more. And God reached out and got a hold of me at a young age, so that this kind of lifestyle was never appealing.

Instead I have love. I have fun that I can remember. I have a husband I love, and I don’t have to live the lonely life of the bar scene. I have a family all around me. And it’s because God got a hold of me and helped me to make good choices.

This world needs that message–that there is something better, far more fulfilling, than partying. I don’t know how to help people see, but it is so necessary.

That woman’s face outside the strip joint will haunt me for a long time. Jesus loves her. Yet what are we doing to help her?