Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Man in the Baggy, Brown Suit

  By Charlotte Everbach
            In 1987 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer. There had been no warning signs.
            After a hysterectomy I had six chemo treatments in the Lakeland General Hospital.  They were so difficult that I had to go in the hospital for five days after each treatment. I was very, very sick.
            Every day a little man came to my room and said,  “Do you want me to pray for you?”  He had a kind face and wore a brown baggy suit. Every day I said, “Yes,” and he did.  In fact, he prayed…and he prayed… and he prayed. I would always go to sleep during the prayer and when I woke up he was always gone.  The next day I would always apologize for going to sleep and he would say, “That’s all right.”  Then he would start praying again. Again I would go to sleep, and when I awoke up, he would be gone. This continued during the six weeks of my chemotherapy.
            I asked the nurses who the man was and they did not know.
            I know.  He was an angel.
            The prayers of Father Jim Shortess and my friends at Good Shepherd were so important during my healing. But I will never forget the little man in the baggy, brown suit.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Epiphany for a Sorrowing Soul and a Waiting Angel

By A. Stanley Higgins
            In my long walk with Jesus, I’ve received countless blessings.  They appear almost every day.  At times, though, He seems to be sending me something special to bolster my faith.  Here are two examples:
            The first took place in the early ’70s when my father died.  Through the grace of God he passed away while my wife Jean and I, along with our children David and Ann, were in Chattanooga on vacation.  (My older daughter, Jeanie, was at work back in Pittsburgh.) As a matter of fact, Pops was sitting between me and David on the living-room sofa when he died.  It was on Monday or Tuesday.  The funeral was set for Friday, and all that week there had been a steady rain, adding to the gloom of this trying time.  On Friday morning I awoke to a bright sunny day – a gift that recalled the Resurrection of Jesus.  To me the day became uplifting.  It was evidence of the Savior, the Light of the World, welcoming our beloved Pops.  A well-known hymn of Beethoven came to mind:       
                        Joyful, joyful, we adore thee,           
                        God of glory, Lord of love;
                        Hearts unfold like flowers before thee,
                        Praising thee, their sun above.
                        Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
                        Drive the dark of doubt away;
                        Giver of immortal gladness,
                        Fill us with the light of day.
            The second instance took place in Pittsburgh, some years later, and relates to my belief in angels.  Many people, I have found, don’t believe in angels since they haven’t recognized them.  Mine appeared on a busy day when I was driving to the Pittsburgh Airport bound for an important meeting in Atlanta.  A paralyzing traffic jam occurred on the Parkway, the main artery from the eastern suburbs, just before it goes through the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.  Fortunately, I was at a point in the jam where I was able to get off at the Squirrel Hill exit, but when I did I was hopelessly lost.  As I came to the first traffic light I noticed a young man standing on the shoulder.  When I asked directions, he said he was headed to a school located near the exit on the other side of the tunnel, so he jumped in and guided me.  His school was only a half-mile from that exit, and he pointed the way.
            Was that a coincidence?  No, I believe the Lord had dispatched an angel to get me to my very important meeting.  It concerned the final run-through on a large technical proposal to the Department of Energy by Westinghouse and Georgia Tech.  It was a wonderful blessing for me. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Miracle on Sunrise Highway

By Donna Passarella
            My husband Michael and I were driving home from our friends’ wedding in Long Island, New York.  We were leading friends who were in their car behind us to Sunrise Highway, which is a busy main road.
            We had stopped at the traffic light at the Sunrise Highway intersection.  It was dusk.  There was a slight incline on our side of the intersection and a decline on the opposite side.
            All of a sudden we heard a loud noise.  A car had hit the curb across from us at high speed and become airborne.  Its headlights were shining into our front window as the car arched into midair. 
            For me, time suddenly slowed down drastically.  I remember thinking, “We are going to die!” and remembering my mother’s unusual warning as we had left for the wedding to be especially careful on Long Island.  Had she known? 
            Suddenly an image rose up in front of our car.  Its back was towards me.  It was very tall, maybe 7 or 8 feet. All I could see was the outline of the figure:  a head, arms upraised, clothed in a robe.  My first thought was that it was Jesus.  Perhaps it was an angel.  All I know is that it was a solid three-dimensional figure similar to glass or ice, which you can see through.  It looked wavy like a road looks in the distance on a very hot day. In actuality all this happened in a heartbeat.
             The car was airborne and heading for our windshield when this figure caught it and turned it in midair so that it came down just to the left of Michael’s window on the driver’s side, bounced and continued to careen down the road.  We both took a deep breath and looked at each other in disbelief.  When we go out of the car, the people that were following us were already out of their car and screaming,  “Did you see that?  Did you see that? The car turned in midair!  How did that happen?  How did that happen?”
            They had not seen the figure, but they did see the result of the figure’s intervention.  We were all amazed and very grateful.
            To this day it is the most incredible, dramatic display of God’s love and protection I have ever witnessed.  

Monday, May 16, 2011

One Day at a Time

By Meg Folsom
       The start of a life-changing time for me began on Saturday in June 1980.  I was living in Winter Park-- very close to St. Richard’s Episcopal Church.  Besides being divorced with a 13-month-old son, I had a severe drinking problem. That Saturday I awoke very angry with God for this horrible situation.  I put my son in his stroller and walked to the church.  
        The Rev. Barry Howe was the rector at the time.  I barged into his office and told him how awful my life was and how angry I was at God. Father Howe told me it was OK to be angry with God.  I just remember thinking -- WOW.  I didn’t tell him about my drinking problem ---just everything else.  In hindsight, he probably saved my life by what he said to me that day.  
       For the next two weeks my life got even worse, which was hard for me to believe.  I needed to find a place to live with my son that I could afford on my earnings of $4.00 an hour.  I called lots of friends.  They were OK with my son and me staying a day or two, but they didn’t offer us a permanent location.   I was on my knees crying to God,  “Please help me!”  I kept hearing, “Call your parents.”  I had always said if I ever have to move back home, it would be the end of me.  But I listened.  I called my mom. She agreed to let us come home, but only if I would quit drinking.  Of course, I agreed because we desperately needed a place to stay. However, I had no real intention of not drinking.   I just needed to get myself together.  
        The next night my mom took me to an AA meeting.  I was scared sick and didn’t know what to expect.  Some wonderful women introduced themselves and told me I wasn’t a bad person trying to get good, but  I was a sick person trying to get well.  They said I never had to drink again… one day at a time.  No one had ever told me that before. The next day I took one more drink -- my last one. From then on I did as they advised…I did not drink, one day at a time.  On June 18,1980, I attended another meeting. I was told to go to 90 meetings in 90 days, and if I wanted to drink after that, I could.  During that time I went to an AA convention.  I was having such a hard time forgiving myself for all the horrible things I had done while drinking --especially where my son was concerned.  
       An Al-Anon speaker looked at me out of all the thousands of people there and said, “ If you have asked God to forgive you, and you haven’t forgiven yourself, who the hell are you?  Are you better than God?”  I cried so hard I didn’t think I would ever stop. Finally, I was able to forgive myself and start on my road to recovery.
        My life hasn’t been a bowl of cherries.  I’ve gone through divorce, illness of a child, death of friends and parents, and the diagnosis of cancer. 
       BUT I’ve also been given many joys -- a new marriage, the births of two beautiful girls.  The opportunity (through my work) to be the  “other mother” to wonderful children, and bringing new life into this world.  After Meagan was born, I ran a daycare in my home for 12 years. When Nicole was ready for preschool, I closed the daycare.  I then became interested in childbirth and went on to become a birth assistant working with a midwife in Winter Park. 
       In addition to doing these things, I now teach childbirth education classes and work as a lactation consultant helping new mothers with breastfeeding.  
        Best of all, I have kissed my children good night without alcohol on my breath.  I’m proud to say I haven’t found it necessary to take a drink since that day--30 years ago.  
        I thank God and AA for loving me until I could love myself.  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

My Faith Story

 By Nicole Folsom
            I have a lot of faith in God because of my mother and what He has done for her.
            When I was ten years old, my mother was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the blood.  I remember the day that she told us. It was on a Sunday.  My mom, sister, and I were all sitting together at church.  My mom went up to the altar rail to receive a prayer for healing. We could tell she was crying, and not just a few tears, but crying hard. Seeing that made my older sister cry, which, of course, made me cry. When my mom came back, she tried to calm us down.
            After stopping at the Subway sandwich shop, we went home where my older brother was waiting. We all sat down and ate. We could tell that my parents were going to tell us something. My parents held hands as they told us the news about my mom’s cancer.  I remember sitting there in shock.  Being only ten years old, I didn’t really know how to react.
At first I wasn’t even crying, though everyone around me was. Then I cried very, very hard.
            Luckily, the cancer was caught early so the treatment didn’t have to be harsh.  Now, thankfully, she is in remission.
            During that time I remember praying to God unceasingly, “Please, please don’t take my mom away.”  I wanted my mom to see me off to my first day of middle school, which she did, and to my first day of high school which she also did. I wanted her to be there for me while being a teenager since there is so much to handle.  I wanted her to help me get ready for homecoming.
            I constantly thank God for healing my mom.  My mom is my inspiration and my rock. She has sacrificed a lot for me including doing a less harsh cancer treatment so I wouldn’t see her go through the side effects of chemotherapy. She has always wanted me to have faith in God, and thanks to her I do. She’s defeated many obstacles in her life including cancer, and because of that, I will always look up to her.  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Epiphany

By Dianna Bivins
            After coming to the Church of the Good Shepherd, I started to hear about the Lord healing us.  At first there was some doubt in my mind about that being true because of the way I had been brought up through the years. I have had to challenge those beliefs.
            One Sunday when Rev. Sarah asked if anyone wanted healing, I went up. I have had trouble with my lower back for some time now.  I hadn’t had relief, but something told me that God does heal.  My back did not get better, but something wonderful did occur.  It was at this time that I suddenly realized that God has healed me before; I was now able to see it.
            Almost ten years ago I was healed in so many ways.  It was not just physical. My whole life was transformed in a way that only God could be given the credit.  I came to realize just how He has used people with their gifts and talents to intercede in my life.  It was at a time when I was at my life’s lowest point.  I had suffered from years of abuse, drug and alcohol addiction, as well as failed marriages.  I didn’t know life could be any different.
            I was so desperate, depressed -- suffering from pitiful, incomprehensible demoralization. I cried out to God and the transformation -- the healing --started to take place. He put people in my life that enabled me to find Him again. He showed me how people used their talents and gifts of the Holy Spirit to help one another. It was these people who showed me another way to live and grow spiritually. They taught me to make God the most important relationship in my life.  He touched my heart and soul so I could feel his presence and know that He was there  -- never to leave me again.
            My life was lifted up in such a way that I now live a life I once only dreamed of.  I have been blessed beyond my wildest imagination. There can be only one explanation -- the gift of God’s healing.
            I may not know why my back hasn’t been healed, but I don’t worry about it any more.   I know the Lord works in so many different ways that I don’t understand.  If someone were to ever ask me again if I believe the Lord heals, I will be able to say, without a doubt, “Yes, he does.”

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Brother’s Return

By Jim Sutton
            My dad was dying from prostate cancer and did not have long to live.  My younger brother, who my family had not seen or heard from for at least ten years, called me at work one day.  I was totally surprised.  After some catching up, he told me that he had had a dream that he interpreted to mean that our father was seriously ill.  He had no way of knowing about Dad’s illness otherwise.  The only explanation for my brother’s sense that Dad was ill was that God had touched him. 
            My brother and father had never really gotten along.  After my brother came back from the Vietnam War, the relationship between them grew worse.  This hostility eventually resulted in my brother leaving town and the family, with the intention of having nothing to do with us... forever.  Letters to him went unanswered and birthday checks (including one from our grandmother) came back un-cashed.
            As a result of God’s intervention, my brother returned home to visit, during which time he and my father reconciled.  After my Father’s death a few months later, my brother joined us again at Dad’s memorial service.  Since that time, he has visited us several times, and he and I remain in touch.  What a blessing!  

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Divine Intervention

By Joan May
            Years ago I wanted to fasten a mobile from a beam located on my cathedral ceiling.  I needed to put up a screw hook to mount it.  To do this, I used a ladder.  After climbing the ladder, I decided to put one foot on the ladder and my other foot on the top of a nearby wingback chair to position myself.  I was going to begin by making a small starter hole for the screw with a nail and hammer.  All of a sudden I realized that the ladder was sliding away.  I knew I was going to fall.  My next awareness was of my rolling out of the wingback chair as light as a feather with the hammer still in my hand. Nothing on me was broken or bruised. 
            I felt I was not supposed to know what actually took place. It was instead divine intervention.  I feel I was saved by the grace of God.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

God Is Good

By Henry Spang
            As I reflect on my life, I recall the many blessings of healing I have received from our Lord’s hand.  They began with my birth eighty plus years ago when I entered this world as a seven-month baby at a time before advances in premature care. 
            When I was a teenager, I had a minor leg injury, but one that resulted in further complications:  a staph infection, blood poisoning, gas gangrene, as well as a high temperature.  I was delirious for several days.   A doctor, having just returned from the navy after WWII where he had gained knowledge of the new drug, penicillin, administered that drug to me.  As a result, it saved my leg from amputation. 
       Then only a few years ago, a small blip showed up when I had a routine EKG.  It revealed a heart blockage.  I was then able to have a successful quadruple heart bypass operation.  The most astounding evidence of the Lord’s inestimable love and grace is his continuous presence in the day-to-day events and experiences in my life.  I have seen successful outcomes in situations that are not through my actions, but come from His Love for me.  In more recent years I feel I have been staying in closer harmony with Him – listening to the small, powerful voice providing guidance to answered prayer.
            GOD IS GOOD – ALL THE TIME!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Christmas Lights

By Joy Sutton

       In November 2004 my beloved sister Joan, who had been diagnosed with liver cancer, had to have part of her liver removed in March 2005.  Following her treatments she was encouraged; her life was getting somewhat back to normal.  She and her husband Victor were even able to enjoy a camping trip in their RV to Kentucky that summer.  
        Sad to say… it was not to continue.  She became ill again in September and passed away in October.  
        It had been Joan and Victor’s custom for years to leave North Carolina and come to Florida for the holidays.  Holding on to the tradition, Victor came to Florida alone in their camper, staying a few days in Melbourne before coming to our home in Longwood.  During his stay in Melbourne, he discovered a forgotten Christmas present in the RV bought by Joan for me when they were on that summer trip to Kentucky.  He called to tell me about the find and said he would wrap it.  He also said that he wanted me to unwrap it first on Christmas Day so that we could get the crying out of the way. 
        Christmas Day started out rainy, changed to just dreary, and was later back to thunder and hard rain by the time we gathered around the Christmas  tree. Victor handed me Joan's gift first as he said he would.  Just as I started to open it, the lights blinked once.  I said, " Thank you, Joan." They came right back on, and I continued to open the gift.  It was a clear crystal angel looking heavenward with outstretched arms.  It was like the angel was delivering the message...“Lift your heart unto the Lord.” Just after my looking at the angel, the lights flickered again twice and then stayed on for the remainder for the day. 
       Those were the only times during the whole day that the lights flickered.  By the time we had finished opening all the gifts, it was a sunshiny day.  This event happening on this special day and timed so perfectly, affected me beyond words! What an awesome gift from GOD!  Jim, Victor and Vickie (Victor’s sister) were the only ones there to witness the momentous occurrence with me.   As it just so happens… we were the same four who had been the around-the-clock caregivers for Joan the month prior to her passing.  Amazing!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Learning Experiences Kicking and Screaming Along the Way

By Jeannette Steeves
Fifteen years ago, I made the decision to close my professional design practice in Florida.  I wanted to return to school to complete my Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts at the University of Georgia.  The next ten years did not go as I had planned. The first problem was the apartment house I had recently inherited and was counting on to support me while I was in school.  It burned to the ground three months after I had relocated.  Shortly after wards I learned that all the belongings I truly valued, which I had left in storage in Florida, were being held by an unscrupulous moving company that demanded $10,000 to return them.  I was able to work through those rather significant problems.  However, the whole educational adventure had gotten completely out of control. What I thought would be a one-year experience ended up lasting eight years. Finally, after completing my Ph. D. in housing, interior design and resource management with a minor in gerontology at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, I returned to my home in Altamonte Springs.  I immediately began a job search.  My goal was a job at Seminole Community College, as it was known then, which offered a two-year degree in interior design.  They were also developing a program featuring studies in design for the aging population.  It was exactly the kind of program I had hoped and prayed for. I was very optimistic about the possibility of securing a position there.  For five years I pursued every opportunity to teach at Seminole State College  (SSC), as it is now known. For five years I experienced one disappointment after another.  I did, however, get a job four years ago at a small private art school which proved to be an excellent learning experience.  Coupled with my prior experience in the design field and work I had done in several levels of both residential and commercial interior design, I thought I would have no problem handling a teaching position.  No so.   I encountered obstacles at SSC.  Gradually I realized that I had a lot to learn about teaching.  In time, however, after working very hard, I learned and grew professionally in many ways.  Two months ago I was rewarded with a job teaching two classes at SSC, which is now a full four-year college that offers a Bachelors Degree in Interior Design.  Although it’s a balancing act to hold two adjunct positions on two different campuses, I am enjoying the work.  Now I am praying for a full-time position as the SSC program grows. Looking back at the last five years, it couldn’t be clearer to me that God’s fingerprints are all over my experience.  I wasn’t prepared for the position I was applying for five years ago.  I needed the experience that I had at the private art school to prepare me for the more complex university system and for working with students.  God’s patience with me is amazing.  I continue to pray for the wisdom that will eliminate the kicking and screaming that almost always accompanies my growth.  When am I going to remember that there’s more at play than my expectations when “things” don’t go according to my plans?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

God is My Co-Pilot

  By Michael Passarella

            My wife Donna and I were driving along Highway 17-92 in Maitland.   I saw a guy in another car talking on his cell phone  - weaving in and out of traffic. 
            Donna said, “Michael, look out! That guy is gonna hit you!”
            I said, “ I know!” 
            Just then I felt an overpowering of strength – not my own –turn the wheel on the car into the next lane of traffic.  We missed the curb on the other side of the road by inches.
            I asked Donna,  “Did you see something or someone turn the wheel?  It wasn’t me!”
            I feel that it was an angel or God

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Miracle of Pam Guarino

(based on the account in her mother’s diary)
            It was June 18, 1945.  Marion Guarino was in the delivery room at Nyack Hospital in New York and ready to give birth to her second daughter.  The pregnancy had gone well, but suddenly there were problems with the delivery.  C-sections were not regularly performed in those days.  The doctor and nurses struggled to bring Pamela into the world.
            Marion suddenly felt relief, but there was no noise in the delivery room – no sound, no crying.  Before she could ask, Marion was whisked away from the delivery room to the recovery area.  The doctor and nurses did the best they could to resuscitate Pamela with what little they had in those days, but to no avail.
            Pamela’s body was placed on a table to await post-mortem care while the doctor and nurses went to care for Marion.  Pamela was declared dead.
            Some time later, a nurse returned to prepare Pamela’s body for the undertaker.  Suddenly she realized Pamela was warm, pink, and breathing!  This was impossible!  Pamela had been cold, blue, and unresponsive with no breath for many minutes and now she was alive!
            Marion believed that one of God’s angels had breathed His breath into Pamela when everyone else had given up.  God wanted her to live.

Note by Donna Passarella with whom she now lives:
            Pamela is a true miracle baby.  She has defied the odds.  She learned to walk, talk, and work despite naysayers. In spite of a few developmental disabilities from oxygen depravation, she lives a mostly independent life and is a blessing to all who know her.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lay All Your Troubles Before the Lord

The Reverend Sarah Bronos
My last year of seminary was spent at Nashotah House in Wisconsin.  I went there knowing that there would be quite a few seminarians from dioceses that did not acknowledge women’s ordination.  I did not go with the intention of changing their minds.  I went because I believed this was where God was calling me to go, and also because of the training I knew they offered.  The call to the priesthood had been affirmed within the parish community and God had already reduced many apparent obstacles in my path to rubble.  However, after a little over a month at “The House” 

I started to question whether I truly was where God wanted me to be, and indeed whether I was on the right path.  It was difficult day after day to be confronted with classmates, who although very gracious, nonetheless felt very strongly that women should not be priests.  I spent some time in prayer one evening asking the Lord to reveal to me whether I should continue on this track towards ordination to the priesthood, or whether the training to date was for another purpose.  

The following morning I attended Morning Prayer and then went to breakfast.  As I was leaving the refectory, a man I did not know (he was one of the distance learners who had come for their residential component) came up to me and introduced himself as Jim.  I shook his hand and said, “Hi, I’m Sarah.”  He said: “Yes, I know who you are … and I don’t normally do this … but in my quiet time the Lord told me to tell you … you are completely on track and you are exactly where you are supposed to be … Does this make any sense to you?”  It was not until later on that I was composed enough to let him know just how much “sense” his words did mean to me! 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Lord’s Touching Moments

 By Isola Lopez

            One night when I was lying down, I felt a bad pain in my chest.  In my dream that night a man said, “A white man is going to come to you.” 
            For a month this pain would come and go.
            Then one night, I saw Jesus in a dream.  I put my head on his chest and hugged him.  He said, “I am not going to allow this (pain) to happen.”   When I woke up, I sat on the edge of the bed and was very happy.
            I have not had the pain since then.
            I was attending a church where I was no longer happy.  I had several discussions with Jane Madill who had been a dear friend of mine at that church.  I used to sit with the Madills in the same pew each Sunday for years.  Although they left that church, I continued to sit in the same pew.  For the years we were apart, they always would send me birthday and Christmas cards. 
            Jane asked me to come to Good Shepherd.  One night after one of our discussions, a little boy came to me in a dream.  He said he was bringing a message from God.  God had told him to tell me to keep praying and my prayers would be answered.  I then decided to start going to Good Shepherd.  My prayer was answered as God’s messenger in my dream said it would be.  Now that I am attending Good Shepherd, I am happy.

            About eight days after my husband had passed away, I came home from work in the middle of the day and sat in my husband’s recliner to rest. While asleep, I heard a voice say, “God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost.”  I then had the sensation that the chair was rocking.  When I actually did wake up, the chair was, in fact, still rocking although I myself was not doing it.  I also felt the presence of my husband, who was a godly person.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Saved by an Angel

By Sandy Giles

            About five years ago (2006) I had just gotten a mobility scooter and was on my first ride.  As I was riding on a sidewalk along Highway 17-92, I hit a little dip going across a driveway, lost my balance, and fell.  The whole machine and I fell over into the street.  Cars were coming; I could see their wheels.  I took the cane I had with me and began waving it to try to keep the cars from hitting me.  Then all of a sudden, I realized the scooter had been picked up, and I was on it.  I looked around to thank the person who had saved me and saw no one.  I can only believe that it was an angel.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

God’s Pocket of Safety

By Patty Neff
            In 2004, I started working as a field inspector for a local property inspection company.  One of the inspection company’s clients was a national insurance company that insured only manufactured housing.  After the spring storms in 2005, this insurer started aggressively evaluating all of their insured properties in Florida, and assignments came to me.  The job was simple…locate the property, ask a few questions, measure walls and make a sketch, take a few pictures, and note any dangerous pets or trampolines.  Most of the homeowners were kind and decent, and more than willing to cooperate with the company.
            Looking back over 3 years of inspections.  One encounter really stands out.  In late 2005, I planned a day trip to the Sebastian/Vero Beach area.  I easily located the first manufactured housing community.  In it I found all but one or two street signs were intact, and the homes close to the entrance looked normal.  As I went further, I noticed random signs of damage and repairs, but nothing shocking.
I drove to where I thought I would find my first inspection, but the house numbers didn’t seem continuous.  I asked a man sitting in his driveway for help.  He pointed west to the cleared slab a few lots away where his previous home had sat. His voice betrayed impatience when he talked about the white FEMA trailer that was his temporary home pending an insurance settlement.  As it turned out, the address I needed was just down the street, so I thanked him and headed to the next block. 

            Pulling up in front of the property, I found an older doublewide trailer that was clean and modestly maintained.   I knocked at the door and a white-haired lady in a housecoat answered.  When I introduced myself, she seemed ready to send me away.  Fortunately, her adult daughter appeared behind her, and as I presented my agenda, they relaxed and we chatted comfortably.  The older woman apologized for her attire and hesitant greeting, explaining that she was a hospice nurse, exhausted after spending the night with a dying patient.  As she spoke, I noticed a peaceful calm about her.  Listening to her, my eyes were drawn over her daughter’s shoulder to a piece of loose-leaf paper taped to the wall behind her.  In block letters, hand-written in black crayon was this note:
                        DEAR GOD,
                        PLEASE PROTECT
                        AND SAVE
                        OUR HOME.
I smiled and commented,  “I like your sign.”  Now, in my travels I had seen many house blessings at front doors; but unlike the flowery, framed ones that I usually saw, this one had a rustic simplicity, like a child’s artwork proudly displayed. 

            The women began to share their story.  They told how they had willingly complied with the storm evacuation order.  But as they were leaving, they had hurriedly written and posted the prayer for protection at the front door before they locked up and drove away.  When they returned after the storm, they found their street had been hit particularly hard, with trees down and roofs and carports ripped off everywhere.  “In fact,” said the older woman, “our house was just about the only one right around here that was still livable.  Oh, we had some minor damage—a couple of screens, a few branches, and a dented downspout, but overall we made out OK.  We keep the sign up because we know that God looked out for us.” 
            I finished the interview and thanked them for their time.  As I walked around their home seeking a good vantage point to take a picture of the house, I looked around, and it suddenly struck me-- there was not a single intact original home adjacent to their lot.  Every bordering lot on both sides, behind, and even across the street had either, a vacant slab, a shiny new double-wide, or a white FEMA trailer, and all the lots were stripped bare of mature vegetation.  In stark contrast, the women’s house sat there, somewhat weathered, but whole. A medium size tree shading their carport bowed gently to the southerly morning breeze.  It was as though there had truly been a protective shield over their home that spared them from the destructive forces that encircled their lot.

            I was humbled and encouraged by these women’s faith, and very grateful for their witnessing to me that day.  I stood in the warm Florida sunshine in this pocket of safety, contemplating the home that had been spared, and feeling the powerful presence of a wonderful God who hears (and apparently reads!) the prayers of his faithful people, and answers them.