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.

50 thoughts on “No Dead End Here

  1. Beth

    I love the tireless efforts you and your friends do for so many, especially recently with the victims of Hurricane Michael, Lisa! You are one inspiring soul, my friend! Thank you for sharing these stories and reminding us to give back from all that God gives us!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It was really hard to see all that Charles lost. And to see others who lost even more. 🙁 I’ve seen the destruction that tornadoes can cause when they touch down, but the damage from hurricanes seems to go on and on for miles and miles…

  2. Trudy

    Wow! Our God is such an awesome God! It’s amazing how your group was directed by God to a despondent man who seemed forgotten. Thank you for all the work you do for hurricane victims. And thank you for encouraging us to believe God is at work in the midst of the devastation of our lives. Love and hugs to you!

  3. Lesley

    It’s sad to see so much devastation, but I love how God used you and the others to bring hope into such a tragic situation and to let Charles know that someone cares.

  4. Dolly at Soulstops

    What an awesome story! I love how God doesn’t make mistakes and that your group and Rob, in particular, was able to help Charles. It is hard to imagine that kind of devastation. It seems like a miracle that Charles and Tonya survived.

    Thanks for being a light 🙂

    And a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      It was so beautiful watching Rob and Charles connect! It was truly one of the highlights of the trip for me. God makes the best matches. Praying you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving too, Dolly!

  5. June

    Thank you for your obedience in sharing how God is working, Lisa. Your stories are so awe-inspiring and such a blessing! Thanksgiving blessings to you, sweet friend!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, June. God does such amazing weavings in our lives. It’s one of the things that fascinates me the most about his care for us. Have a blessed Thanksgiving, June!

  6. Alyson

    Thank you so much for helping people with the hurricane clean up! What a beautiful way to serve the Lord. I live in a neighboring town that wasn’t hit as bad as Panama City – but we got enough of a taste – and I know for a fact that all the folks who came from near and far to help us are a gift from God and greatly appreciated!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad you weren’t hit as hard, Alyson! What a loss for so many. 🙁 It was truly heartbreaking to see all the devastation. Our help was only a tiny drop in the bucket, but hopefully all the drops together can make a difference in the lives of others.

  7. nylse

    A little kindness goes a long way. Natural disasters take a toll, but us humans can use any situation to show God’s love.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Stopping by from a linkup

  8. Betsy de Cruz

    Wow, thanks for serving these people. It’s hard to understand such loss, but your service is touching lives. Just last week, a 70+ widow in my church shared how a group knocked on her door to see if she needed help, and it touched her. (She needed to move an elliptical exercise machine out of her bedroom, and the group did it, even taking her bedroom door off to do it!)

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s a beautiful story, Betsy. Such a God-thing for the volunteers to knock on her door to help her with that need! It’s often a mystery to me how God matches resources with needs. It’s another one of his super powers. 🙂

  9. Maree Dee

    Lisa – I loved reading this story about Charles and how your team helped him. I am sure those that helped received an abundance back, and it was life-changing. Thank you for helping when it seemed impossible.

    Yes, I have been at a few dead ends. It was amazing to have people come alongside me and help. It didn’t matter if they could, but their willingness was made the difference. It gave me the strength to keep moving, one step at a time.

    I can’t wait to hear more. Thank you for sharing with Grace & Truth Christian Link-Up.

  10. Laura Thomas

    Such an amazing story—thanks for sharing this, Lisa. To know that you guys made an impact on Charles’ life like that is so encouraging for us all. And yes, that phone call was no accident… God never makes mistakes! Blessings to you! Stopping by from #momentsofhope

  11. Pingback: What Matters the Most at a Dead End? - Grace & Truth Link-Up | Embracing the Unexpected

  12. Kalyani Nagarajan

    I love what you said in the other article about Validation…”let Love be the motivator. ” I need practice also.
    My friend of 25 years …most of the time she does not respond when I call….I have to wait for hours….and then I have to call her since she forgets…This keeps going on for years and years. Most of the time she forgets me when she is with her daughter….she does not even text me to let me know that she cannot get together…I kept calling or texting her and she only responds after 8 or 9 hours passed by..
    I do not do that to her…I make sure I respond when she calls…I do not wait for hours to respond.
    This went on for years….I told her the truth what she is doing …maybe a little harshly..
    She needs to own up and make changes to her carelessness or I will have to keep my distance from her..

  13. Kalyani Nagarajan

    About the article on,” Dead End”, I was there figuratively many times regarding my severe depression. I was all alone for years and thankfully, my Ex husband tried his best to help me. And my dad helped me get to the Vanderbilt hospital for appropriate treatment, otherwise , the doctor said that I would not have made it. My mind was far too gone, and the chief of psychiatry and his team of doctors were losing hope…BUT GOD, intervened through them and stabilized my mental condition immediately. I was doing very well after 3 days of receiving the correct medication and tapering off slowly the wrong meds .
    It was a very scary time for me when I was admitted for 5 days in that hospital…
    I thank God that He is the One Who brought me through everytime my mind was going down and in a very, very dark place.

  14. Rachel

    “When you can’t see a way out, look way up.” Those words will PREACH!!
    Thank you for this, Lisa. What a beautiful story of compassion and selflessness. A great reminder for this season especially! <3

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Rachel. I remember walking down the road with Charles and his neighbor when they saw their Dead End sign stuck in the bushes after the hurricane. So thankful that their story did NOT end as a dead end! None of our stories have to, thankfully.

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