“Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” Ecclesiastes 5:2 ASV
Good morning and happy Monday. The last couple of weeks have been quite busy, but only with good. My husband and I were able to see the Newsboys and Mandisa in concert. Wow! A video about my book was released on Two Egg TV last week. Actually, it will be released a little at a time over the next few weeks. I was grateful to learn that I will be speaking twice at the National American Planning Association’s Convention in Houston next month. I am juggling book signings, work and school. In my down time I enjoy my husband, children and grandchildren. I could have never dreamed of the life I’m living. Life is very good and I’m so blessed.
Today, the Code Enforcement Officer and I conducted some site visits around town. Nearly a year and a half following Category 5 Hurricane Michael, driving around town is depressing. Blue tarps still dominate the scenery. There are people living in undesirable situations. Landmark buildings damaged by the storm are being demolished. Although slowly a normal is being realized, it is still tough.
During those moments that seem a little overwhelming, it’s nice to rest in the peace and stillness of God’s love. I enjoy knowing that He loves me for just being me. I don’t have to earn his affection through doing anything. In those quiet moments I listen for His voice.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” Proverbs 3:5 NIV
Good Morning and happy Saturday! I apologize for being behind on my postings. I haven’t forgotten about my viewers. Natural disasters are something people are probably never 100 percent prepared to handle. This post is a running diary of events that have taken place in my life over the last week and a half. The lesson follows.
Tell Me Something Good Monday (10/08/18)
Happy Monday! It’s a great time to share something good. This morning I’m thankful for messages from God. While in church yesterday morning, I received a reminder to listen to a worship service on the Rhema app. This was the second time this happened and I wasn’t signed into the app. Well, it was a busy day and I forgot about the message. Later in the afternoon I received another reminder for the evening service. So, my husband and I decided to listen. What a blessing from God. The sermon was about trusting in God and not in things.
Try Something New Tuesday (10/09/18)
Hurricane Michael is on its way. While we are working today, everyone is boarding up and preparing for the storm. Our town is about 60 – 70 miles inland and we have seen many category 2 hurricanes. The biggest threat our area has is flooding and tornadoes from the feeder bands. This may sound mild, but tornadoes have caused severe damage in the past. Often Floridians become complacent because hurricanes are unpredictable and common. Over the years I’ve seen hurricanes change directions many times. Even with today’s technology, it’s easy to fail to prepare.
Use Your Gifts to Change the World Wednesday (10/10/2018)
Good Morning. Last night we stood in line waiting for hours to purchase last-minute items. I’m thankful that I was able to fuel up my car Monday night. Our daughter, Anna, and grandson, Landon spent the night, and we are glued to the television waiting for the upcoming storm. Our son-in-law is in the National Guard but was called to work in a local prison. This morning my supervisor, the City Manager of our town, asked me to notify my staff that they should stay home on Thursday. This action caught my attention because he is very mindful of good management. The radar images are a little frightening, but also fascinating. It’s amazing to watch science advancements. We even had a discussion about how it must have been for people years ago when hurricanes couldn’t be predicted. One way we can use our gifts to change the world today is to be strong and trust God.
Forgiveness Thursday (10/11/2018)
The eye wall of Hurricane Michael passed over our home at about 2 pm yesterday. I’ve never seen anything like this storm. The view from our windows was solid white. Visibility was less than two feet. Repeatedly we heard and felt objects pivoting out of control into our home. There was a loud roar like a jet flying over as the eye-wall passed. The windows and doors shook. We closed all doors internal to our home and sheltered inside, first an internal hall and later a closet, all the while trying to keep Landon feeling safe and not afraid. During the eye of the storm, we ventured out to see what seemed like horrible destruction. Then, we hurried in to safety and rode out the back eye-wall. The second two hours was just as bad as the first. Our next trip outside seemed like total devastation.
Mornings are always better. I don’t know if it was the fresh light or God’s presence, but as we walked through our yard I became aware of how blessed we truly are. Five huge oak trees, a pine tree, and many other trees were down in our yard. One oak tree in particular that was once majestic is now a twig. Our fence was destroyed. The really cool thing was my husband’s grill didn’t budge, there was only one limb on our roof and trees down were as close as 6 inches to our home, but we were safe. God is so good.
Despite the good blessings, all we can see is destruction around us. There is no electricity, phone service, cellular reception, water, Internet, etc. My We are isolated. We were able to see the weather channel for a short period of time when we had fuel in the generator, and while Britt repaired the well and water pump. However, there is no news of our community. We don’t know what to do about jobs. We can’t contact anyone. Occasionally, we receive a text that we can’t respond to from frantic family members. We have heard rumors of natural gas fuel leaks, sewer plant leaks and other issues, but we just can’t assess the situation. It’s hot and tempers are short.
By afternoon the generator was out of fuel. My first thought was to siphon some fuel from one of the vehicles. It sounded like a good idea, but modern vehicles are made to prevent such things, probably due to theft. We finally decided to try to find fuel for the generator despite apparent dangers. That’s when we discovered we were totally blocked in. We were able to maneuver around all trees on our road. Then we carefully traveled around downed trees, spaghetti power lines and downed poles on the highways to drive about an hour north. There we found long lines for fuel, when it was available. In a society where cash was rarely needed, now credit cards were no good. No cash means no gas. We thankfully live next door to my husband’s parents who gave us cash to purchase fuel. This small task took more than four hours and placed us in position of maneuvering the same obstacles at night and after curfew. If we were not allowed to return home, where would we go? What would happen to our pets? At times like these patience is important and that’s when it’s the toughest.
We did make it through. While we were out of the house, we saw devastation beyond our imagination. We were able to see photos of some of the damage in our area. We made contact with some of our loved ones and were able to understand a little more about the extent of damage in the area. We were also able to make contact with our son. He lives in Tallahassee and we are so thankful that he is okay. Isolation is difficult to handle. We also learned the company my husband works for is critically damaged. I recalled the many people who didn’t want to build to State and Federal standards, and often took out their frustrations on my staff and me.
Today was definitely a day to ask for forgiveness and forgive others.
Spread the Love Friday (10/12/018)
It’s Spread the Love Friday! What now? My husband and I started the day with morning Bible Study. Coffee is a luxury item. By the way, it’s hard to keep track of days. This morning I had one bar on my cell phone and was able to speak to my boss.
Today, there is a new level of desperation. People are looting houses, businesses and offices. Business owners I spent so much time assisting are now facing devastation. One contacted me begging me not to condemn the building housing her business. My heart melts. I learned that the home of a sweet friend from church, whose husband died only a couple of months ago, was looted. People have been waiting for many hours in line at gas stations that don’t have fuel. Some need medication. It’s a little cooler, but still very warm. My heart goes to my coworkers who are working hours on end, and my friend, who is interim County Administrator and still on maternity leave who has been on call.
The best way to spread God’s love seems to be a comfort to others.
Last night we learned my brother and sister-in-Law are alive. They finally cut their way out of their home yesterday. My aunt was able to leave town too, which made me especially grateful since she has medical needs and lives alone. On the home front, my wonderful husband cooked us a hot meal on the grill. Britt is definitely gifted in his cooking skills. He made shepherds pie in a cast iron skillet. Haha. It’s amazing what can be done with a few supplies, but we are aware our supplies will dwindle with time. After dinner Anna heard someone in the house. As it turned out, it was Dominic playing in Landon’s toddler tent. What a relief!
This morning we were greeted by our son-in-Law. What a great sight! They took a drive into town and reported back no damage to their home. We still do not have much contact with the outside world. However, I did hear from my friend and her daughter who are blocked in and low on water. It’s hard to find help for people. Help is stretched thin.
This afternoon we took another road trip for supplies. Some areas look better. While I was away, I was able to make contact with family and friends. I was also happy to receive a phone call from my boss, who was checking on me. I was so excited to hear that he needed me and my staff on Monday at work to help rebuild the city. In some ways this is a bit too soon, but after investing twenty years in this community I can hardly wait. On the way home we heard a Laura Story song on the radio and we had a discussion about the future of our town.
Tomorrow was supposed to be a special celebration at our church. Our church is among the damaged structures.
Praise the Lord it’s Sunday! The last few days are a blur and I feel exhausted with the situation. This morning we chose to stay home and study our Bibles. As I was reading I realized the importance of helping others. So Britt and I reached out. It’s so easy to hoard supplies when they are running low, but God provides when we have faith. Of course, I already knew this, but trials don’t always bring out the best in us.
This afternoon we surveyed the damage. The City is destroyed. We also checked on a couple of friends along the way. Tomorrow we both return to work.
Tell me Something Good Monday (10/15/2018)
It’s Monday and tough to go to work with messy wet hair and a sweaty body. I did manage to wash my clothes and get a cold shower. This is one of those days I wish I could wake up beautiful. I soon discovered that many had worse damage than we had experienced. Emotions were high and I watched my coworkers as they broke down in tears. I cried too. I tried to reach out to those in need.
My department’s assignment was to walk the streets and pick up trash. That was very tough. Within an hour the heat had gotten the best of me. I poured water over my head and down my back. Another department head had left his utility vehicle and trailer for our use, which worked out well. We delivered food to shut-ins in the community. What a great feeling to help others.
City workers have been blessed beyond belief with free food and fire, police, and linemen workers from around the country helping us. Everyone is positive and doing all that they can to help.
Try Something New Tuesday (10/16/18)
It’s Try Something New Tuesday and I was glad to get a different assignment. While that seemed to work out, tempers seem to flare with anxiety. I started the day with tears and felt pressure all day. Most of the day we worked inside. Later in the day I learned of an income based apartment complex requiring residences to move out within 72 hours. So far, there is no resolution. So sad.
Last year after Christmas I purchased a ticket with a friend for the Joyce Meyer’s Love Life Women’s Conference. In July I learned my friend would not be attending with me. I was thankful she gave me her ticket hoping to invite another friend to join me, and share hotel and travel expenses. I had not been able to find anyone, because as the year progressed my friends had made other plans. I had been waiting for the conference to be in Florida for years, and with tears in my eyes I tried to cancel my hotel room. I was unable to accomplish what seemed like a simple task. However, I was able to reduce my stay by one night and my sweet administrative assistant agreed to go. What a blessing! So, next week we will be gone a couple of days. It’s not the ideal time, but it will probably renew our spirits.
Use Your Gifts to Change the World Wednesday (10/17/18)
It’s Use Your Gifts to Change the World Wednesday and I feel worn out from stress and work. Last night I went to bed about six pm, because I couldn’t seem to hold my eyes open. The day started with me preparing some maps for an early meeting without the Internet, but I was happy because I had figured out a way to use my blow dryer before leaving home. I was also glad to be working on a project with another department. It gave me a chance to do something positive.
I was grateful to receive a special gift from my staff for boss’s day. What an honor! I also had an opportunity to deliver 250 meals to shut-ins. I hope to be able to do this tomorrow. The saga of the people being forced to leave their apartment complex continues. I hope this can be stopped.
Forgiveness Thursday 10/18/2018
It’s Forgiveness Thursday. I need to ask for forgiveness for my tongue. It’s easy to get short-tempered and you never know who’s listening. As someone representing city government, it’s important to be positive and smile. Yet, I find myself crying sometimes.
We are having daily Department Head Meetings where State, electric company, solid waste and other professionals are giving reports. Most rumors are untrue. I also noticed water levels are rising, but flooding is minimal at this point. All week there have been people giving out food and helping the community, despite their own situations.
Spread the Love Friday (10/19/2018)
It’s Spread the Love Friday. Between having staff at the Emergency Operations Center and one person out taking care of personal business, I’m left with my code enforcement officer and myself. We started the morning comforting each other. One thing that I can’t stress enough is how even when we trust God, we can still feel stress and emotions.
I looked around this morning in our meeting and realized that it’s easy to get caught up in our circumstances and forget what is going on behind the scenes. I saw sleeping eyes and exhausted workers. These folks have been working non-stop for days to ensure we have the things we take for granted, like rivers free from human wastes; hospitals and nursing homes where people are comfortable; trash removal; streets where people can drive safely, electricity and other utilities; and so much more. Often behind the scenes workers go unnoticed, but they contribute greatly to our quality of life.
During the course of the day, I contacted other cities to find out what they had done for emergency relief after storms. Everyone I called was beyond helpful. What a blessing! I worked late trying to take care of business, which helped me to feel a little relief.
Time for Yourself and Family Saturday (10/20/2018)
Good morning. It’s Time for Yourself and Family Saturday, and I’m at work. We have a City Commission Meeting today, where one of things I’m going to be addressing is how to temporarily change development and permitting requirements to make things easier for our citizens. After I catch up on work, if I have time, I will try to catch up on some school work. With no Internet, cell phone or electricity at home, it’s hard to study and I’ve fallen behind. We are hoping to have electricity by Halloween.
I did have a nice morning chatting with Anna over iced coffee. I’m so blessed to have a wonderful family. My husband and I talked this morning about how blessed we are. So many people had much worse. Anna also mentioned she saw where bodies were washing on shore and families were being found dead in their homes. I have lived here 52 years and we have never seen anything like this.
No one could have known and therefore, very few were prepared.
This morning I’m reminded of the sermon I heard on the Rhema app. The minister said we need to trust in God, not in things. Proverbs 3:5 tells us to “lean not on your own understanding”. It’s true. No one could possibly understand the whys of the past couple of weeks. In Philippians 4:6 Paul instructed the people to not be anxious about anything, but to always turn to God with prayer, petition and thanksgiving. You may wonder what there is to be thankful for in this type of situation. I can tell you everyone I have spoken to is thankful to be alive. In fact, every person I have asked how they were, despite how much damage they have had, they all say I’m blessed. Guess what? It is difficult to unplug from technology and take cold showers, but it’s not the end of the world. In fact, I’m beginning to get accustomed to my new routine. There are some inconveniences at work that require extra steps that take more time, but we are working through it. Sometimes loss of things and trust in God brings us closer together as a community. After all, it’s not things that bring happiness. We are taught in Matthew 22 that what’s most important is to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Natural disasters remind us of the importance of these simple teachings. Maybe Laura Story is right. Maybe our blessing come in raindrops and the trials of our lives are our mercies in disguise.