At the start of last month we here in Florida had hurricane Irma breathing down our necks. When we decided to evacuate, the educated guesses were that she would hit our side of the state...right on top of us. Having kids at home and living in a rental house that had no storm shutters, we felt evacuating was the thing to do. We had to wait 'til that Friday to leave because we needed to work and also had some elderly friends we wanted to help with their shutters. So, we packed up the kids and left at 9:30am Friday morning. At first, the traveling went well, but after a couple of hours the traffic began to back-up and just crawl along. Exit after exit had no gas available. The exits that did had lines of cars up the exit ramp. Restaurants were either closed or swamped or out of most of their menu items. We managed to get to one gas station before the line got long and fill up. I had packed food and drinks so we did alright with what we had. Finally, at one in the morning we were only as far as Macon, Georgia. That should have been no more than seven hours, but it had taken us around fifteen and a half. Rest stops were packed. We pulled into a McDonald's parking lot and contemplated just parking and sleeping there in the van. One of our sons is autistic and he was getting upset at not having a bed to sleep in. We were all cranky, tired, hungry and a bit scared. I got on facebook to complain, as one does, and posted that we were gonna sleep in the van somewhere near Macon. A friend of mine who also lives in our area of Florida and had evacuated earlier on, saw my social media rant at one-fifteen or so. She's originally from Macon so she posted herself, asking if any of her friends there were awake and would take in a family of six just for the night--just provide a safe place, a floor to sleep on. Lo and behold, a woman that my friend only knew because their husbands attended high school together, commented that their church was taking in evacuees. Over the next half hour, the three of us used Messenger and then phone calls to get us the information and directions. We arrived at New Providence Baptist Church in Forsyth, Georgia around two-thirty Saturday morning. James (who we now jokingly call St. James) greeted us and offered to heat-up the spaghetti they had prepared earlier while Chandra (my new dear friend) got air mattresses prepared for us. The church was putting each family in a Sunday school room so we would have privacy. Our room was the biggest and was wall-to-wall air mattresses with pillows and blankets. They had showers available. We ate spaghetti and salad in those wee hours of the morning, grateful beyond measure. For the next few days, this amazing church congregation housed us, fed us, did laundry, took my autistic son around the facilities and let him play musical instruments. They sat and talked with us, provided games to play, let kids play on the playgrounds. They prayed with us and invited us to worship with them that Sunday morning (I went!). Want more proof of miracles? My autistic son LOVES slides. They had several and then a man who dealt with the church for their festivals and events brought a giant inflatable slide for the kids to use for a day. The church members were well-versed in helping children with special needs, specifically autism. What are the odds?! Our room had a television linked to the internet so we were able to access our Netflix account for the kids, and their wifi was free for us to use. Blessing after blessing...miracle after miracle.
They sent us home with more blessings and enough food to feed an army! Most importantly, we came home with new friends...no, family.
I'll be honest, right now we are in a dark place having lost a lot of work due to the hurricane and rainy weather. But, when my heart starts to sink, I remember how God so recently provided in a way I never could have foreseen. He can do it again. And, He can do it for you.