No Dead End Here

Meet Charles.

This was once his granny’s house. Charles grew up playing around these trees in Panama City.

Now this was all his.

Until Hurricane Michael tried to blow it all away.

Charles didn’t leave when he heard Michael was coming. He brought his two dogs inside. He had ridden out other hurricanes in Florida. He’d ride this one out the same.

But this storm was like no other.

When Michael finally left, Charles opened his door. And he wasn’t sure where he was.

Everything had changed.

Charles found his chain saw. He began cutting his way out.

It took two days to make it to his neighbor’s house.

When he saw his neighbor Tonya and she saw him, they couldn’t believe their eyes. They hadn’t been sure the other had survived. Now they embraced.

Charles and Tonya live on a dead end street. They had not received much help, even weeks after the hurricane.

Charles grew despondent.

The loss seemed too great. He no longer wanted to get out of bed in the mornings. He couldn’t sit on his porch in the mornings as he once did to watch his animals and look at the birds in the trees.

His neighbor Tonya called us by mistake. She thought PAR, our disaster recovery group, temporarily volunteering in Florida, was FEMA.

We cleared up the misunderstanding. But we showed up anyway to assess their damage. Because God makes no mistakes.

Tonya’s downed trees we could handle.

But Charles’s trees?

His losses seemed too big for us, too.

Yet Charles was grateful we came and looked.

At least he no longer felt invisible. He thanked us for seeing, for caring, even if we couldn’t help.

We showed up at his house the next day anyway. Maybe we could do a little. An hour or so.

We stayed all day. And we went back the next.

We made a dent after all. And more importantly, we made a friend.

Charles was a veteran. We all fell in love with Charles, but Rob, a young vet in our group, made a special connection.

Rob went back the next day, and the next, to visit Charles. Charles wants to cook for Rob’s family this summer.

When we presented Charles with a gift card to his local hardware store, he was overwhelmed.

We all were overwhelmed.

When we carve a path out for others, it brings light to our path as well.

When you can’t see a way out, look way up.

There are no dead ends that God can’t break through.

Just ask Charles.

* * *

Every person we met had a story about Hurricane Michael. This is just one. I’ll share more in the weeks to come.

Have you ever hit a dead end, literally or figuratively? How did you get out? Please share in the comments.

sharing with CarolineMary,
JoyRandomosity, Anita

“You Are” – Children’s Book

My granddaughter is 9 months old now. We’ve already read many, many books together.

The latest book I want to show her is “You Are: Speaking God’s Word Over Your Children” by Emily Assell.

Precious child, you are

On the outside, it’s a sturdy board book with pages that lay flat (always a bonus!). The illustrations by Lauren Copple of animals in nature are beautifully simple with a touch of whimsy.

But the inside content is also special. Each page has a one-line message to a child about their worth, with a Bible verse printed underneath.

While I think the words themselves may be too complex for a little one to understand (they are abstract and dense, “Courageous one, you are an overcomer“), the reader can rephrase the messages using age-appropriate words.

I’ve packed this book in my suitcase for my next visit to my grandbaby’s house. She won’t understand the words at this age, but as we sit together and look at the pictures and talk, I hope she experiences the security of being loved.

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Do you have a favorite children’s book that you like to read to a child again and again? Please share in the comments.

My thanks to Tyndale House Publishers
for the review copy of this book


Want a Good, Long Life?

Do you want your good days to last forever? And your bad days to get over quickly?

How do we sustain a good life for the long haul?

The secret to a long life may be complex and dependent on many things.

But the secret to a good life doesn’t have to be a secret.

Read it all here: “How Do You Live a Good, Long Life?

Love Life No Secret Psalm 34

* * *

We’re studying Psalm 34 this month at Do Not Depart. Will you join me there?

sharing with MareeLyli, Susan, CrystalDeb, Kelly,
Lori, Rachel, RandomosityDebbie


But Are You Different Enough?

Are you different enough?

You’re probably quite different from your spouse. In more than one way.

But are you different enough?

Instead of viewing your relationship differences as negatives, what if you used them to your advantage?

Here are 5 ways to use personality differences to build up your relationships, not tear them down.

Read it all here:
“Are You Different Enough? 5 Ways to Use Differences in Your Relationship”

Your goal isn’t to become exactly alike, but to sharpen each other’s uniqueness.

* * *

I’m writing today at Beth Steffaniak‘s blog, Messy Marriage.

Will you join me there to see 5 ways we can use our differences?

You can find the whole series, “Lessons Learned in Marriage” at Beth’s blog.


sharing with Lyli, Susan, Crystal,
Kelly, Deb

5 Links, Books, and Things I Love – November 2018

What was a highlight of your October? What are you looking forward to in November?

1 Second Everyday

[If you can’t see the 1 Second Everyday video, click here]

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5 Things Around the Web

1. Why You Can Be a Kinda Contemplative Christian
by Ed Cyzewski

“It is far better to begin imperfectly, to be ‘kinda contemplative,’ than to have no silence, no centering, no attempts to reach God in the stillness of our souls.”

~ * ~

2. The 17 Phrases that ‘Scare’ Introverts the Most
by Jenn Granneman


#9, 11, 17 . . . a lot of these made me laugh because they are so true for me.

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3. Why Can’t More Than Four People Have a Conversation at Once?
by Corinne Purtill

“It’s called the ‘dinner party problem’: A table of four or fewer people may happily converse as one, but a party of five or more will splinter fairly quickly into separate conversations of two or three or four people each. What is it about the number four?”

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4. In a Breaking World, We Can’t Handle Knowing So Much
by Cameron Smith

Information overload. I feel this exactly. Do we have to know everything?

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5. Year 40 – Moses Lost in the Desert

Moses - Lost in the Desert - GPS

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5 Things with Words

1. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Voted America’s Best-Loved Novel   


I loved the Great American Read series this summer/fall. While To Kill a Mockingbird is not my all-time favorite (and #2 Outlander wouldn’t make my list at all!), I’m good with the remaining top 10. It was fun being reminded of favorite books and discovering new ones to read, such as The Prayer of Owen Meany. I’m almost finished with it.

See the full results here.

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2. How Many Books in Your Home?
by Naaman Zhou

How many books are in your house? Even if you’re not reading them, just their presence might make you smarter. So they say…I’m not sure myself.

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3. Why Are We Still Teaching Reading the Wrong Way?
by Emily Hanford

Kids can learn to read when they’re taught properly. So why are we not using the proven methods every time?

~ * ~

4. 10 Solid Gold ESL Teaching Tips to Maximize Your Students’ Talking Time
by Ryan

But these tips aren’t just for ESL. They are good tips for ALL of us in our explanations and conversations.

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5. Four Books I Recommend to Bring Us Together 

Books bring us together with people we would never meet otherwise. Here are four books I recommend from what I finished this month.


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5 Things I Love

1. Done! #Write 31 Days

This is the last year for #Write31Days with Crystal. I decided on a new theme at the last minute—Handmade: Find God in Your Story. It about wore me out keeping up. But I’m glad I did it.

THANK YOU to all who commented on the three questions a day throughout the month, either here on my blog or on Instagram! I learned so much about you and your walk with God.

You have encouraged my own faith!

Handmade - Finding God in Your Story_tw

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2. Great American Read

great american read

While we were killing time in Nashville waiting for a Rob Bell talk, we stumbled across a book fair. And a PBS booth with The Great American Read!

Jeff’s pick, The Alchemist, ended up coming in at #70. One of my favorites, The Book Thief, was #14.

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3. Liz Hurley Ribbon Run 5K

We finished the Ribbon Run again!

Jeff volunteered for the fun job this year of holding the grandbaby while we did the race.

I walked for Christi, the daughter of one of my best friends. Christi was diagnosed with breast cancer this year and went through chemo. And now appears to be cancer-free, praise God!

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4. Hurricane Michael Cleanup

Jeff and I got to go to Panama City, Florida, last week to do cleanup work with our PAR disaster relief group. It was difficult to see all the destruction. But we were blessed to meet family after family who are doing their best to get back on their feet.

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5. My Favorite Bee – First Halloween

bumble bee

My favorite little bumble bee and Winnie the Pooh, too. We were so glad Morgan and family got to come up for our family’s Halloween Party again this year.

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5 Things on the Blog

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What was a highlight from your October? What are you looking forward to in November? Please share in the comments.

previous Links and Books

Hurricane Michael Aftermath – Get Close – Day 31 of Handmade


Sometimes you have to get close enough to see. With your own eyes.

To touch with your hands. To hear with your ears.

So you can feel with your heart.

I’m in Panama City, Florida, this week. But not on vacation.

We did that a month ago. Stayed on the beach. Played in the water. Ate fish at night.

Hurricane Michael Visits

Then 2 weeks later, Hurricane Michael visited Panama City, Florida, too.

Now we’re back getting closer to this place than we’ve ever been before. Now we are in homes and in neighborhoods and meeting people who live and work here year round.

And they are hurting. Around Panama City and further east is a war zone. So many beautiful trees were broken off or ripped from the ground and became missiles in roofs and windows and vehicles. Homes.

So as we get our hands on the mess, we are closer to Panama City than we’ve ever been before.

It’s Personal

No longer will the wait staff at our favorite restaurants here be nameless faces. The staff at the condos will now be more real to us than ever. The cashiers at the grocery stores will be personal to us.

The people will run into around town might be one of our new friends.

Because this is more to us now than a vacation destination. This is somebody’s home.

And it’s personal.

Please don’t forget the survivors.

Keep praying. They want that. They need that.

Three Questions

Here are our three questions of the day:

(1) If you could travel anywhere you’ve never been, where would you go?

(2) Do you have a favorite vacation spot from your childhood or currently?

(3) Who do you think God wants you to really see that you’ve previously overlooked?

* * *
What are your answers? Please share in the comments.

My answers

(1) Probably Europe

(2) Anywhere with a good beach

(3) The people in front of me this week in Panama City

Get the whole Handmade series here

Handmade - Finding God in Your Story