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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

'68 Tornado


Many times people ask, “How do you know what to write about?”



My response is always the same. “I mostly write about my personal experiences.”



You cannot “make up” your life’s story. God can use your story to encourage others.



I want to share my own personal story of an event that made our little town in northern Iowa make national news on May 15, 1968.



I was in fifth grade at McKinley Elementary School. Because of some family issues, I was living with my paternal grandparents on their farm. My two older brothers Bob and Ken were living at our parents' home in Charles City.



May 15, 1968 was a huge day for the fifth and sixth graders of Charles City. The annual grade school track meet, which started at noon with a picnic, followed by some friendly track competition, was held that day. After the students gobbled down their sack lunch, the track meet began on the College Grounds. Five grade schools, Lincoln, Jefferson, Central, McKinley and Washington Elementary were represented. Little did we realize in a few short hours three of those schools would be demolished. (Central, McKinley and Washington were destroyed. Central and McKinley would never reopen.)



My friend Nancy and I were overjoyed that McKinley had won the track meet. She invited me over to her house for a few hours after the track meet. When my grandmother came to pick me up, she noticed I had lost one of my brand new socks.



I rummaged through my bag. "I must have lost it when I changed into my track clothes!"



Grandma was very frugal and thought we better retrace my steps and see if we couldn't find the mate to my "widowed" sock. We backtracked from my friend's house to the College Grounds, but didn't have any luck in finding the sock









On the way home, when we got to the fairgrounds’ corner, (above is actual picture of a view of the '68 tornado from the fairgrounds’ corner) I noticed Grandma was very quiet. I thought she was upset with me for losing my sock, but then I noticed she was preoccupied with looking out the car window at the dark sky.



I tried to lighten the mood and jabbered on and on about the track meet and the visit at my friend's house. Grandma stayed focused and picked up speed in an attempt to hurry home.



When we pulled in the driveway, Grandma spoke sternly, "I'm only going to say this once. You go get your dog, head straight to the basement, and sit under the big table in the corner. Don't come up until I call you. Do you understand?"



I nodded my head, hopped out of the car, and whistled for my dog. Ginger came running and jumped in my arms.



"Get in that basement now!" Grandma ordered.



I galloped down the steps, clutching Ginger tightly. We hid under the table just like Grandma had instructed. I remember crying and praying out loud. "Please keep us all safe. Don't let anything happen to Grandma and Grandpa!"



After a few minutes, Grandma called down the stairs. "The storm has passed. Come on up and help me get ready for supper."



When we sat down to eat, my stomach was still in knots. I remember it was difficult to eat and then we were startled when the doorbell rang. A neighbor man bolted into the house before Grandma or Grandpa had a chance to answer the door. His voice was frantic, "Charles City has been hit by a tornado! The whole town has been wiped out!"



My heart beat wildly in my chest. "What about Mom and Dad and Bobby and Kenny?"



Grandma looked up at Grandpa and said, "We need to head to town now!"



My grandmother was an immaculate housekeeper. She did something that I'd never seen her do. She left all the supper dishes and food on the table. “We’ll clean the supper dishes when we get home. Dixie, go grab some of your favorite books. We might be waiting in the car for a while."



Grandpa was met with a friendly policeman when he stopped his car near the city limits. "Nobody is allowed inside the city limits unless you live there."
 
 
 
Grandpa pointed at me sitting in the back and explained the situation. "Her parents and brothers live in town."



The policeman looked at me. "I'm sorry. But there are live wires down on the ground. People have been killed by the storm. I can't allow you to go any further."



When Grandpa turned his car around, found a gravel road, and turned off the ignition. "I’ve got to see if Bobby and Kenny are all right. They might need me.”



I peered through the crack of the car door and watched Grandpa as he laced up his boots.



"John, be careful. You heard what they said about those live wires." Grandma's voice trembled.



"I will.  Let's pray." Grandpa closed his eyes. "Lord, guide my steps. Help me find those boys."



Grandma and I sat in silence watching Grandpa as he trudged toward town. Finally, Grandma said, "Dixie, pick out a book and we'll read it together."



Several hours later, Grandpa returned. "Bobby and Kenny are safe. They hid under a bridge and saw the tornado hit. Our family is safe, but much of the town was gone.




Later I learned that my elementary school (see building in the right of above photos) was hit and school was dismissed for the rest of the school year.



A violent F5 tornado tore a 1/2 mile wide path through the town from south to north, killing 13 people, injuring 450 others, and caused $30 million damage. In town, 372 homes and 58 businesses were destroyed, 188 homes and 90 businesses sustained major damage, and 356 homes and 46 businesses sustained minor damage. Eight churches, 3 schools were damaged or destroyed, the police station was heavily damaged, and 1250 vehicles were destroyed.



I've never forgotten the day a tornado hit our little town and changed our lives forever.


Friday, June 22, 2012

SOAR!


Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people:
“Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile.”
Exodus 1:22 NIV

I love the biblical account of Moses when he was an infant. Satan conjured up a plan to kill him, but God was watching over him. Jehovah gave Moses’ mother a creative plan to save her baby’s life. She wove a basket out of bulrushes, tucked her baby boy inside, placed him in the Nile River, and assigned his big sister to keep an eye on him.

When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch.
Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds
along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance
to see what would happen to him.
Exodus 2:2-4 NIV

Even though Moses was a “basket case,” he grew into a mighty man of God and was handpicked by Jehovah to deliver the Israelites from the land of bondage.

My husband and I have been in fulltime ministry for more than 30 years. We have seen firsthand the enemy sabotage ministries in their infancy. We’ve stood in the gap with those God has called and rejoiced with them as they fulfill their divine destiny, but our hearts have been broken when others have allowed the enemy to snuff out a new ministry God has called them to birth for the Kingdom.

I would like to speak directly to those of you who sense the Lord is calling you to “birth” a writing or songwriting ministry. Here is an acrostic with some helpful hints to help your new ministry S.O.A.R.

S-Seek God for wisdom as you birth this new ministry.

O-Offer your gifts and talents to the Lord with a humble heart.

A-Admit when you need help and don’t be afraid to seek counsel from godly mentors.

R-Refuse to allow the enemy to destroy what God is birthing in your life and ministry at this time.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10 NIV

Never be shocked by the devil’s tactics. His goal is to destroy your ministry in its infancy. Remember the story of Moses. May God use your pen to lead souls out of bondage. Soar for Jesus today!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Something Beautiful


I was not raised in a Christian home, but had godly grandmothers, who poured God’s truths into my life. They were polar opposites doctrinally, but their love for me forced them to leave their spiritual "guns" at the door.

Life at home was difficult. My parents' unhappy marriage permeated every aspect of our home, which left me with some deep insecurities and deep hurts.

After I graduated from high school in 1975, my father's cousin and his wife took an interest in my life. They quickly picked up on my love for southern gospel music and purchased a ticket for me to attend a Gaither Trio concert in Oklahoma City. I was thrilled to get to see Bill, Gloria, and Danny Gaither perform live.

Henry and Hazel Slaughter started the evening off. Toes were tapping and hands were clapping to their lively tunes. After several songs, The Gaither Trio finally appeared. I don't remember many of the songs they sang that night except one - "Something Beautiful." The lyrics were so simple yet so profound.

Something beautiful. Something good.
All my confusion He understood.
All I had to offer Him was brokeness and strife,
But He made something beautiful of my life.


The Holy Spirit ministered to me that night in a way I had never experienced before. For the first time in my life, I sensed that God had a plan and purpose for my life. He wasn't going to waste one bit of my pain, but He would make "Something Beautiful" of my life.

That experience was almost 40 years ago. My husband and I have been married for 35 years and we have been honored to serve the congregation of the Gospel Lighthouse Church & Academy for more than 30 years. I am the mother of four married children and four adorable grandbabies. God fulfilled His promise. He made "Something Beautiful" of my life.

This past weekend I was able to meet one of my heroes - Gloria Gaither at her Songwriting Intensive in Alexandria, Indiana. It was a rich, full circle moment for me.

I wonder how many other lives have been changed forever when they heard the anointed lyrics of "Something Beautiful?"

As a writer, there have been times I've allowed the enemy of my soul to convince me that what I have written doesn't matter. Creative souls are usually ultra-sensitive and can become easily discouraged. We must be wise to Satan's tactics and not allow him to dishearten us. We never know when our words bring hope to the hopeless.

Keep writing for Jesus.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rock on a Fence Post



Paul and I will celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary this year. We can hardly believe it. I often tease, “How can we be married 35 years when we aren’t even 30 years old?”

Paul is a country preacher. His sermons and life are filled with humility and simplicity. Each day as he leads our family and congregation with a servant’s heart, you can’t help but notice his authenticity. I guess that’s why the Gospel Lighthouse Church in Floyd, Iowa, has kept him as pastor for 31 years.

When Paul and I take little drives through Iowa’s country roads, we’ve often spied a rock on a fence post. Without fail, Paul replies, “You know that rock didn’t get there by itself.”

It’s so true. Many of the blessings and successes the Lord brings our way have come through others. The Lord brings people into our lives, establishing precious eternal friendships that the gates of hell cannot prevail against. As Christians, we should rejoice every day at the faithfulness of our Lord. He knows our phone number and where we live. He is in the business of making divine connections for His children.

In my own life as a writer, I reflect often on my own “rock on a fence post” experiences. Working with a precious team of writers at Christian Editing Services has been a tremendous blessing in my life. The writing assignments I have been given through C.E.S. have led me to amazing people and doors of opportunity I would not otherwise have had.

The next time you spot a rock on a fence post, take time to thank the Lord for all the divine connections He is making for you. Trust Him to work behind the scenes with your writing. He will give your stories wings and send them to wherever they are supposed to go. Just be sure to remember when you arrive at your divine destination to give God the glory and appreciate the precious friends He sent to help you along the way, because you didn't get there by yourself.

"The Cat Came Back" is here!



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Drum roll please.....

Tada.....

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