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Welcome!

Welcome to Amazing God Stories!  Christian allegories, parables, analogies, fiction short stories as well as creative nonfiction stories that show the variety of amazing ways God has been working in my life. And if He has done all this for me, I can only imagine what He’s been doing for you!

My top three goals are simple:

#3.  To brighten your day with a little entertainment, for you to leave feeling a bit better than when you arrived.

#2.  To inspire you to keep on keeping on in your own walk with God.  God is working in your life as much as He’s working in mine. Maybe something I’ve learned or experienced will help you get through a rough patch or to grow in your own desire to know God.

And the #1 reason: To glorify God – to acknowledge and thank Him for all the ways He has been faithful to me! From the day I met Him, He has been by my side. He’s been my Friend, Coach, Counselor, Father, Teacher, Comforter, Defender,  Provider, and a million other things.

This blog is my way to shout to the world that GOD IS AMAZING!

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If my stories do what I hope they will do – like, comment, follow, and/or share them!

It would mean a lot to me to to know that they are being read and to hear what you think!

 

 

Malformed Pieces

“Uh oh,” she said as she picked up the next tiny plastic piece. “This one won’t fit.” She dropped it into a growing pile of malformed pieces and picked up another one. “Perfect!”

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Usually the repetitive task of fitting the tiny pieces into their places on the sticky grid gave her mind a chance to relax as it daydreamed about problems and goals. But this time as she placed the well shaped piece carefully on the grid, a thought interrupted her wandering mind.

“When you don’t let God trim off your rough edges, you won’t be able to fit into His design as well. Not only won’t you fit within your boundaries, you will bother those around you.”

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She stopped to consider that. “It’s true we all have baggage we bring into our relationship with God, things from the past we hang on to even though we no longer need them just like this tiny piece still has a piece of its manufacturing process attached to it. And I know I fight each time He wants me to let go of something. Maybe there’s a bigger picture to Him wanting to trim me. Maybe sometimes it’s not so much about me as it is about His bigger picture,” she thought, freshly determined to be more cooperative the next time He starts trimming.

She got back to work, still musing on the importance of being trimmed. Then another thought entered. What about all those other pieces in that pile of malformed pieces. There’s more than one reason a piece can’t fit correctly on the grid.

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She picked up the black piece. Totally misshapen.

“Like when we refuse to let God do anything in us. We are still saved – still a piece – but pretty much useless in the design.” She thought about what she had been like when she entered her relationship with God, and she was very glad she wasn’t anything like that anymore. Transformed was a very real fact in her life, unlike that poor piece.

And the tan one?

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“Hmmm,” she thought about the two pieces clinging to each other for a few minutes. “My relationship with Jesus is a very personal one. When I walk with Him, I have to do it alone. It’s just me and Him. He wants me to cling to Him, not anything else. He can surround me with others just like each of these pieces are surrounded by other pieces, but I cannot insist on having someone in the same place I’m in. It just doesn’t work.”

She put the malformed pieces back into their pile and picked up the next perfect tiny plastic piece. As she placed into the design, she breathed a prayer.

“God, form me to fit the spot You have chosen for me. Help me to let go of what holds me back so that I can become part of Your big, amazing design.”

And her heart swelled with peace and contentment, knowing God heard her prayer.

 

(Disclaimer:  I am not promoting this brand of diamond painting. Actually, there’s another brand that I find superior to this one, but this was the only brand that had this specific design and so I went with it.)

Devastation or Beauty:  Where Does Your Mind Dwell?

As some of you know, my town was hit by Michael, a strong category 4 hurricane, (wind speed just 2 mph less than a category 5) in October. It’s been just over 2 months and devastation is still seen everywhere. Many businesses are still not reopened, and many of those will never reopen leaving many people jobless. Long lines and completely filled parking lots plague the few department and grocery stores that have opened. Contractors and their workers’ vehicles flood the streets so making a quick trip anywhere is no longer possible. Blue tarped roofs are seen everywhere as well as downed and broken trees, debris piles taller than the cars driving past them, and a multitude of damaged buildings. Some areas of town are still without electricity and internet. Many people who lost their homes either had to move away or are living in tents because there is no housing left. Schools have to share facilities since many schools were completely destroyed. There is not one building, one lot, or one person in our town untouched. Instead of concentrating on Christmas, many are exhausted from navigating insurance and contractor paperwork while trying to avoid the many scams that pop up in situations like this, jumping through FEMA hoops, or trying to find a job they can walk to since their cars were damaged along with their homes. Very few Christmas lights can be seen, and parents are desperately trying to seek ways to get some presents to their children. The more fortunate ones compete for the toys still available at Walmart, but many more don’t have the finances and have to stand in lines for many hours to get a chance to pick out some donated toys. Even worse, a good number of people have had to resort to begging strangers for help because they don’t have the transportation or health to even get to the toy distribution sites.

On the other hand…

After most volunteers and relief agencies have left, we are still being surprised with truck loads of toys, blankets, jackets, and other supplies arriving from people living in other towns near and far. More than a few Facebook groups have been created solely for the purpose of providing help to those who need it from insurance and contractor concerns to housing and shopping question. Quite a few people both local and distant have formed networks to ensure every legitimate need is taken care of to the best of their ability. Some people have opened their yards/land to house displaced people living in tents providing them safety, meals and hot showers. Many new friendships have been created and neighbors are watching out for each other now that fences no longer separate them. And the beauty of God’s creation can still be seen from the dazzling night sky (much clearer now since we have fewer street and commercial lights) and the breathtaking sunrises/sunsets (less trees = more view of the sky) to the delicate blooming flowers and the gorgeous beaches.

As I think about the people I’ve met and the people whose Facebook posts I’ve read, I wonder why so many are depressed and angry while many others are hopeful and encouraging. I don’t think in this case the answer can be found solely in their relationship or lack of relationship with God. It’s true that for many Christians, their faith is giving them the strength to keep moving forward. Yet I know just as many strong Christians who are depressed and hurting as non-Christians who are positive and optimistic. No, I think in this situation the answer might lie more in their heads than in their hearts. Where do their minds dwell? The devastation all around that is real and not going away any time soon? Or the beauty that is also real and not going away? Each is just as valid as the other. Yet for some reason it’s way easier to dwell in the devastation than to see past it to the beauty.

Maybe when we pray for people in devastated areas – not just here in Panama City but throughout the world – we could add a short sentence before our amen. It may not seem like much, but it might just make all the difference.

“Father, open their eyes to the beauty that is still around them.”

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Devastated pavilion surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation at St. Andrews State Park, Panama City Beach, FL, taken on 12/24/18 by Linda Schnepel

 

 

 

To Be Able To Curl Up and Sleep Like a Dog

Perfect, she thought as she looked at the bear leg she had just finished making. She dropped it into the tub and picked up the next leg, already stitched and ready to stuff.

She had spent the previous day at her sewing machine stitching a seemingly unending pile of bear parts while her embroidery machine was kept busy stitching out names, dates, and short poems. By the time she had finished it was dark and she was stiff. At least that’s done, she had thought as she stretched her back muscles and headed to the kitchen for a quick dinner. She had imagined how good it would feel to climb into bed and go to sleep in the quiet, empty house.

But that didn’t happen. No matter how hard she tried, her mind wouldn’t stop thinking of all the things she still needed to do and her body couldn’t get comfortable. Finally, hours before dawn, she gave up and got out of bed. She carried the tub of bear parts and embroidered fabric to the comfortable rocking chair, turned on Netflix to continue her binge watching of Cheers, and began the tedious process of stuffing the bear parts, hemming the seams by hand, and clipping the embroidery threads.

Now it was getting close to noon and she was only half way through the bear parts. Sighing, she began stuffing the leg she was holding and let her gaze wander over to the dog laying so comfortably curled up on the nearby couch.

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And she began to feel envious. Why couldn’t she just curl up and sleep like that? Why was sleep so hard for her and so easy for this dog?

Maybe it’s because the dog isn’t worried about the future.

But I’m not worried, she thought. I just have so much to do and not so much time to do it in.

As she continued to stuff and stitch throughout the afternoon, she thought that if she could finish stuffing all the bear parts before dinner, she might have time to attach the arms and legs to the bears before bed. It will make for a late night, but maybe that would make it easier to sleep. Then tomorrow morning she’d get up early and begin working on the pillows. I’ve got to get them done by tomorrow night or I may not have time to work on them again for days, she thought.

See?

See what? She shook her head as she finished stuffing the last bear leg as the sun went down. She wasn’t worried. She was just trying to get it all planned. So much to do. And not just her sewing. She also had laundry, cleaning, and writing. How would she ever get it all done in the next two days?

See?

That question again. Why? She WASN’T worried. If she didn’t plan it out, she’d end up not finishing them in time. So her mind had to stay busy working out the details. That’s not worrying. Was it?

What was the dog doing earlier today?

She was curled up and relaxing.

Looked cozy, didn’t it?

Yes, I would love to just curl up and sleep like she does.

Why don’t you?

Because I have so much to do! And besides, it wouldn’t do me any good. I can’t sleep even when I try.

Why not?

Because my mind keeps thinking of all the things I have to do and my body won’t relax.

Sooo… you spend all day thinking of what you have to do, and you spend all night thinking of what you have to do?

Um… I guess so.

What would happen if you didn’t think so much?

I wouldn’t get done.

Really?

Um…

What are you getting done while you toss and turn all night?

Nothing?

That’s right. Nothing is getting done. So what if you just let Me handle all those thoughts at night? Then you could curl up and sleep just like the dog. And get the rest you need.

You?

Don’t you trust Me? Don’t you think I could do a good job planning your day? 

Yeah, but…

You trust Me with your life. You trust Me to keep you safe and to provide for you. Can you trust Me in this area also?

She thought about the dog again as she ate dinner. Should she let go of the plans she so tightly gripped and allow God to handle them for her? It really would be nice to be able to curl up and sleep so easily and comfortably. But how would it work – God making the plans?

I’ll tell you what to do and when to do it. All you need to do is relax and listen for My voice throughout the day. I’ll keep you on track to meet every deadline. Will you trust Me?

As she attached the arms and legs to the bears later that night, she thought about all the times she had put her trust in Him over the years. He had never let her down. In fact, things frequently turned out a lot better whenever she did give them to Him.

As she got ready for bed, she made her decision. Yes, Lord. I will trust You, I give you all the things I need to do and ask You to plan out my day tomorrow.

Wow, she thought. It’s amazing! It’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders! Now all I want to do is curl up and go to sleep!

And she did.

 

Isaiah 30:21

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

 

1 Peter 5:7 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 

Dear Determined One (from Someone Who Loves You series)

Dear Determined One,

I see you there, no longer content with the limited view allowed by lying in your bed. I see you there, working so hard to sit up so that you can see a much larger part of your world.  You have learned that there is more in life than what you had once thought and you want to see it all. So you work on it day after day, never giving up even though you see little progress. What you don’t realize is that the progress happens inside first, hidden from everyone, even from yourself.  As you exercise, little by little, your inner self is strengthened and built up until one day you make it to that sitting position that you were so determined to achieve. And I will be there with everyone else celebrating your victory! Don’t give up, sweet girl. When it’s time, it will happen.

Always,

Someone who loves you

 

1 Timothy 4:8 Amplified Bible (AMP)

For physical training is of some value, but godliness (spiritual training) is of value in everything and in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come.

 

Do you hear God speaking to you in these letters? If so, it’s no coincidence.  As I write to my new granddaughter, I can hear God speaking to me. And my prayer is that you can also hear Him speaking to you for He loves us even more than I love my granddaughter.

 

The Guys in the Yellow Shirts

She walked outside early that day to get a head start on the heat. There was a lot to do – way more than she or her husband was capable of doing in a day. And before long the temperature would be in the high 80’s making it even harder to work.

She looked at her yard.

 

Several large trees had been blown down, roots pulled up out of the ground leaving large holes. Other trees with broken trunks were lying across the sidewalk. A set of bare trees with broken branches were leaning towards their neighbor’s house. There were many large branches, wooden fence boards, and shingles scattered across the yard. And leaves everywhere!

She looked at her tools. One hand saw. One large pair of shears. One smaller hand shears for pruning. One wheelbarrow. A rake. And a shovel.

How in the world would these simple tools help them clear the huge mess? Sighing with resolve, she knew if she didn’t get started, the mess would only get worse as the grass grew to cover shingles and nails and other potentially dangerous things. She decided to start with the fence boards. They wouldn’t need any tools and she could drag them to the street. At least most of them. Some were still attached in large sections and would need to be cut into smaller pieces before she could move them.

As she dragged the fence pieces, her husband got the hand saw and began sawing the fallen branches into more manageable sizes, pulling them to the street and tossing them into a separate pile to cooperate with the city’s request to keep the debris sorted for easier removal later.

They worked in silence for about an hour, then her husband called to her. “Can you come help?”

“What do you need?” she called back as she stopped dragging a board to wipe the sweat from her face.

“Help me get the rest of this branch to the street.”

She carefully walked over to him, looked at the branch,

“You think we can move this?”

“I think so.”

“OK. Let’s try.”

They each got a good hand hold on the branch and began dragging it. Or at least attempted to. The branch was heavier than they thought and no matter how hard they strained, they could only move it an inch or two at a time.

“Could you use some help?” came a man’s voice from the direction of the street.

They looked up, startled, to see a man in a yellow shirt standing outside a car parked next to their growing pile of debris, smiling at them. On his shirt were the words “Helping Hands”.

“We sure could,” answered her husband. “Do you have a chain saw?”

“We have lots of chain saws.”

“We?”

“Yeah,” the man answered, pointing to a long line of cars behind his. “We’re all from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we’re here to help.”

She stared in disbelief. There must have been at least half a dozen cars and trucks, all filled with people in yellow shirts who were jumping out, picking up a variety of tools, and heading for her yard.

They quickly got to work sawing and dragging and chopping. She watched for a little while then went inside to hide her tears but continued to watch them work from an upstairs window. She was awed at their efficiency and cheerfulness as they worked.

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After awhile she rejoined her husband in the yard.

“This is a miracle,” he told her. “This is nothing short of a real miracle.”

She nodded agreement as the leader of the group brought over a slice of a tree.

 

“We like to leave a little something to the people we help,” he said as he handed them a slice of the large uprooted oak tree that used to stand in the middle of the yard.

Tears in their eyes, she and her husband explained how they had bought this oak tree when it was tiny and half dead from a hardware store and had enjoyed watching it grow over the years. She was surprised at how much comfort holding this small slice of the tree brought her.

Within an hour, her yard was clear of all the fences, branches and tree trunks they could manage. The leader approached them again. “Sorry we couldn’t do the set of leaning trees or the broken giant pine tree. You’ll probably need to hire a licensed contractor for those,” he apologized.

“No, no, no!” they said. “You don’t need to apologize! You’ve done enough! More than enough!”

A group photo was taken, hugs were exchanged, and then just as quickly as they had arrived, the group of yellow shirted angels left to look for another family to help.

There was still a lot of work to do such as picking up the shingles, searching for nails hidden in the grass, moving landscaping rocks and potted plants away from damaged gardens, and digging up few fence posts that had survived but without all the branches to work around, it would be so much easier and faster to get it done.

Tears slipping down her face, she thanked God for His love and care. She hadn’t asked Him for help with the yard, but He knew what they needed and provided it anyway.

What an amazing group of people!

What an amazing God!

The Unicorn on the Ceiling Fan

She sat back in the recliner thoroughly enjoying the chance to relax in the silence of her daughter’s almost empty house.

She thought about her life the past month – the devastation to her whole town by the strong almost category 5 hurricane, the maze of insurance claims she and her husband were having to navigate, the abundance of contractors wanting them to sign away their benefits, the multitude of needs being posted each day by desperate people, the crowds and long lines at the few stores that had managed to reopen, the mountains of debris along every street, the power lines still laying on the ground in areas where linemen have not yet had a chance to work, the horrendous traffic as residents and volunteers and contractors try to get from place to another, and her growing need to be in more than one place at a time. She wanted to be at home helping her husband deal with all the decisions that had to be made and working towards restoring their home. But just as much she wanted to be here with her daughter with her new baby while her son-in-law was working out of town.

As she thought, her eyes wandered around the room, taking in the drawn shades providing privacy, the assortment of baby furniture, the black and tan dog energetically chewing on a rawhide bone, the small porcelain unicorn sitting on the ceiling fan, the beautiful new teal area rug, the…

WAIT!  Was that what she thought it was?

She looked back at the ceiling fan.

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Sure enough, there was a small unicorn sitting right up there just above the revolving blades.

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She stared up at it. What was it doing up there? Who would have put it up there? It’s so out of place it was hard to believe that it was actually there. It should be on a shelf, or on a dresser, or even on a window sill. Certainly NOT on a ceiling fan!

And then she thought how much that little unicorn was like answered prayers. We think we know where the answers should be, but many times we will find them in completely startling and unexpected places, often surprising us with God’s sense of humor.

She chuckled to herself as she thought about how amazing her God continued to be. No matter what struggles and decisions she was facing, no matter how bad things looked around her, He always managed to find a way to make her smile. And frequently in the most unlikely places – just like that unicorn on the ceiling fan!

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Restoration

 

I don’t think I want to do this. It’s too much work.

Yes, it is a lot of work.

What if I don’t do it? What if I just let things stay as they are?

You won’t be happy.

But I can live with it.

Sure. You could if you insisted.

I mean, what’s wrong with living with some damage? It’s easy enough to cover it up.

The problem will still be there.

But if I can’t see it, I can easily ignore it and get on with my life. I don’t have to spend a great amount of time and effort on fixing what I don’t see.

What about the damage you do see?

It’s not THAT bad.

Really?

OK, so it does look bad. But I can learn to ignore that too. After all, no one expects everything to be perfect.

It’s not about perfection. Restoring what’s been damaged makes your life so much nicer and more comfortable. And getting to the root of the damage prevents further damage from occurring.

But there’s so much stuff that has to be moved. IMG_20181102_091158658

Yes, there is a lot of stuff that has to be removed.

And it’s soooo much work! And inconvenient and uncomfortable.

Yes, it is. But it will be worth it.

I guess you’re right.

I always am.

So, who do I get to do the restoration?

Me.

You?

Yes.

How can you fix all those things?

I have my ways.

Are you miraculously going to fix everything? Even the roof and siding?

Roof and siding?

Yeah, that’s were the most visible damage is.

That’s not the kind of damage I was talking about.

You’re not talking about the damage to the inside of my house?

Nope.

What kind of damage are you talking about then?

The damage to the inside of your heart.

Oh.

Silence

I don’t think I want to do this. It’s too much work…

Faith is Believing God. Period.

She absently picked at a scab on her leg as she held one of her old journals and read a conversation about faith she had had with Jesus years ago.

“Jesus, this is still not too clear in my head,” her younger self had written.

What wasn’t too clear? As she was about to turn back a page or two in the journal, she stopped just in time. Her finger was covered in blood! Great, she thought as she put down her journal and picked up a nearby napkin to place over the blood oozing out from the freshly opened wound where she had removed the scab. Holding the napkin in place with one hand, she picked up the journal with the other hand and continued searching for what had not been clear.

Her younger self had been writing about faith and had referenced Hebrews 11:1-6.

She knew that Heb 11:1 started with, “Now faith is…” but couldn’t remember exactly what came next. Something about things not seen.  Feeling that it was important to know the rest, she picked up her phone and opened the Bible app. Suddenly, out of the blue, her nose began dripping.

“What now,” she thought as she removed the napkin from her leg and tore off a clean portion. She shifted uncomfortably on the couch as she blew her nose. Trying to see without her contacts, which she had not yet put in that morning, resulted in an awkward position as she had to hold both the journal and her phone close to her face. And her dog had decided to camp out on her legs restricting even more movement. She tossed the napkin into the small trash can she kept by the couch. Dabbing at her leg with the rest of the napkin revealed that the bleeding had stopped. Good. She threw the rest of the napkin into the trash can and picked up her phone, but before she could start reading, she noticed a growing pain in her left hip and on the left side of her neck. “Oh no,” she thought as she put the phone back down. “It’s like something doesn’t want me to read this.” She pushed the dog off her legs and completely re-positioned herself.

Once comfortable, she picked up the journal and reached for her phone. Again her nose began dripping. “Where is this coming from?” she wondered, exasperation creeping into her thoughts. “I don’t have a cold, no allergies, and I haven’t been crying. So what’s the deal?”

After blowing her nose again, she reached for a notebook and a pen to record Heb 11:1 – but somehow she managed to grab the wrong side of the pen and got ink on her hand. Staring at it in unbelief, she thought, “OK, this is getting crazy.” Determined now to read what she was being distracted from, she picked up her phone, found Heb 11, and began reading.

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

She read the following verses about the creation of the world, Abel and Cain, and Enoch. Then she got to verse 6: “and without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”

Was that what her younger self was confused about? Why? It seemed straightforward enough. She put her phone down and picked up the old journal.

“Jesus, this is still not too clear in my head. Please explain it more clearly.”

“Faith is knowing My Father knows best and that He’s in control. And that He can and will do what He says. Faith is not questioning but accepting…”

She thought about how God had been teaching her about believing Him for over a year. Really deep down with no reservations believing Him no matter how things look to her. It was easy to believe Him when everything was going well. But did she still believe Him when things looked as bad as they did now weeks after the category 4 hurricane had ripped through her town? Did she still believe He even existed when everywhere she looked she saw devastation and hurting people and needs that far exceeded her income?

Yes, she did believe. And she chose, moment by moment, to keep believing each time fear, worry, stress, or complaints tried to rise up in her. Although God understood these things, He was not pleased with them because they were evidence of a lack of faith. If she gave in to fear and worry, she would be saying that she didn’t really REALLY believe God was taking care of her. Maybe even that she had no confidence in His ability or desire to take care of her. And if she began to complain, she would be saying she wasn’t happy with His care and didn’t want to accept what He had chosen to allow in her life – like He wasn’t really in charge of everything after all. Instead, as she chose to believe God loved her, was in control of everything, and was taking care of her, she found peace replacing all those stressful emotions. Bottom line? Faith means believing God. And acting like it.

So THAT’s why all the distractions. Someone didn’t want her faith affirmed with a message that was as much for her today as it had been for her all those years ago. Today, when so much of her life seemed to be controlled by someone and something else, she knew He loved her enough to use an old journal to confirm to her that He IS in control and that He IS taking care of her like He had promised. Not only taking care of her basic needs, but also surprising her from time to time with amazing rewards – just because He said He would. Knowing this, she knew she no longer had to focus on her own needs but was free to seek ways to help other people with their needs.

Now that’s faith in action.

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Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

 

(NOTE: I did draw a picture to go with this blog, but weird stuff continues to happen that prevents me from getting it from my phone camera to here. Like how I’ve been able to transfer pictures from my phone to my computer using hot spot but can no longer do so as of yesterday when internet was restored on my computer. And yet when I try to use internet, it tells me there’s no connection. And how my phone can get on Facebook just fine, but tells me I have no internet access when I try to get on WordPress so I can’t add the drawing directly from my phone to my blog. But one day, hopefully soon, I WILL get this figured out and be able to add my own drawing!)

Hurricane Michael

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Once again life gets in the way of my blogging. This time, by Hurricane Michael. I live in Panama City, FL. Our town now looks like a war zone. Trees down everywhere. Most buildings have varying degrees of damage from minor to total destruction. Power lines down everywhere. Many areas were flooded. We have no power, water, or phone service. My area of town is not expected to get power until at least Oct 24. No telling when we’ll get phone service.

BUT

God is good!

My house is still standing with only moderate damage. My husband and I will have a lot of clean up to do but we are not homeless.

People are coming from EVERYWHERE to help out – from clearing roads and restoring power lines to providing food and water and even housing. Neighbors are being more neighborly. And life goes on even without hospitals and vets and fast food.

Our town may be devastated, but we will survive and rebuild!

In the meantime, I will be returning to Panama City tomorrow morning and will be once again without communication. If you don’t hear from me, don’t worry. I’m fine. And I will be back! Again!