I moved to Wilmington on Memorial Day weekend 1995 – it’s hard for me to believe it’s been almost 20 years! In that time I have experienced quite a few storms:

1996 hurricane Bertha hits July 12th with 105mph winds from the south. Newspaper article | Radar
1996 hurricane Fran hits Sept 5th with 105mph winds from the SSE. Heavy damage – 1 billion dollars damage, 23 killed storm surge approx 16ft. Newspaper headline | #2 | satelite image | av model error

1998 hurricane Bonnie hits August 26th with 115mph winds from the south, while turning N.E, moderate damage .
1999 Hurricane Floyd hit Sept 16th just east with 110mph winds from the south,dumps nearly 20 inches of rain here & causes heavy damage to north on Oak Island. New Hanover county reported 10 ft storm surge on sound side of Masonboro. A record 13.38 inches fell in 24 hrs.
2004  Hurricane Charley hits August 14th with 75mph winds from the SSW after hitting Florida, minor structural damage.  Also Hurricane Alex  August 3; Tropical Storm Bonnie August 12;  Tropical Storm Frances September 8; Tropical Storm Gaston August 30;  Tropical Storm Ivan September 16 and Tropical Storm Jeanne September 27
2005 Hurricane Ophelia passes just east on Sept 14th with 85mph winds from the south,western eyewall over Wilmington for a couple of hours. Widespread power outages & some minor roof damage & trees down.Ophelia Satellite image
2006 August 31 Tropical Storm Ernesto
2008 Tropical Storm Fay August 23 and Tropical Storm Hanna September 6
2010 September 3 Hurricane Earl
2011 August 27 Hurricane Irene

This morning as I awoke to the news that Tropical Storm Arthur, who was thought would just brush the coast, is now Hurricane Arthur, and we could possibly see landfall, I began to reminisce about hurricanes and storms. My first hurricane was Bertha. I guess you really don’t ever forget your first.

With Bertha I had no clue what to expect. I had experienced Hurricane Hugo in 1998 from four hours inland. With Bertha, I hemmed and hawed, I fretted and feared and in the end I stayed in my little apartment in an old historic house in Wilmington to ride it out.

I took a trip to Carolina Beach to watch her blow in; crossing the bridge back to the mainland just before the close. Coalman (my first Dalmatian) and I stocked up on essentials (stuff you can eat out of a can) and we settled in to enjoy a stormy day.

I swore after that Cat 1 storm I would never stay for another.

I remember feeling as if that old historic house was lifted off its’ foundation and slammed back to earth. I remember wandering out and around the block with Coalman during the eye of the storm.

Me and CoalmanI remember the sound of transformers blowing all over town and the 10 days I spent without electricity. TEN days in a downstairs apartment, in a questionable neighborhood, where all the windows were nailed shut for safety. There were long lines waiting for ice; price gouging for generators; and friends who took me in for meals, cold beverages and shared A/C.

This morning as I started to think about preparing for Hurricane Arthur, I couldn’t help but reminisce about my first.

As I’m reminiscing about storms, I am struck by how many storms blow into our lives. Some are afternoon thunderstorms, some are fast moving and others are long lasting. Some we can predict and others pop up and take us by surprise. However, none of us live a life without storms.

Just like the storm that is blowing through Southeastern North Carolina today, the damage caused by storms of our lives is often equal for how we react and how we prepare.

Prepare carefully.

                                 React thoughtfully.

                                                                    and Stay Safe!

Yesterday, I was asked to offer ‘Sticky Faith’ (the children’s message) at St Paul’s UMC in Carolina Beach….here is my message:

On Friday I had the opportunity to go to Pinehurst NC to attend the Women’s US Open Golf Tournament. It was great to be able to see the best women golfers in the world! While there I got to see Lucy Li play. She’s a 11 year old phenom, which is someone (usually young) with extraordinary talent at something. There were huge crowds on hand to watch her at every hole. I am not sure how she was able to play with all that distraction.

When we arrived at the tournament, we were given a map that listed the tee or start times for every player.

Women's US Open PinehurstOn this paper there was a notice:

2014-06-23 11.01.20

“Spectators should keep in mind that the players’ first responsibility this week is to compete for the national championship.”

They didn’t want spectators to take pictures, or ask for autographs, or distract the players from their goal….trying to win the championship.

In 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 Paul tells us “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable prize, but we an imperishable prize.”

We are called to be the best Christians we can be. We are working toward the prize of eternal life. But just like in the golf tournament it is easy to become distracted from our goal by those around us. Our first responsibility is to behave as Christ.

We may not live a life where people clammer for our photo, or autograph. People may not follow us and cheer or jeer at what we do.  However, people can and do distract us!  It is easy to  get distracted by the praise or criticism of others. Friends or even family can distract us from mediation, from reading and studying, or from service to others.

We must keep our eye on the prize. Let’s work hard this week to not be distracted from our goal.

I love photographs – Especially old photographs. They tell a unique and special story.  My house is decorated with photos – Some old, some new, some from adventures, or from trips, or from boring everyday life; they run the gamut of subject matter from people to landscapes, from pets to wildlife.

A few weeks ago while I visited my mother for Mother’s Day, I unearthed a paper grocery bag of old photographs. I proudly carried the bag into the common area and announced “I’ve found something fun for us to do”.

It was something fun to do.

We’d take a photo from the bag. Look at it then flip it over to see what was written on the back.

Often there was a date, a place, and maybe, if we were lucky, a list of the people in the photo. Sometimes it was my mother’s handwriting. Sometimes the handwriting was of my late grandmother. Sometimes the handwriting was from my great-grandmother. Occasionally it was unknown handwriting. You could almost hear the audible disappointment when there was no handwriting on the back.

 The handwriting gave time, place and purpose to the old photos.

Handwriting is personal. I can see my father’s handwriting in my own. I can see my mother’s handwriting in my own. The handwriting on the photographs gave a connection to the person who wrote on the photo. It is a kind of legacy.

 december 28 1964

This is one of my favorite photos of me. I’ve always thought it was cute. However, recently when I removed it from its frame to scan it so that I could share on social media sites for ‘throwback Thursdays” #TBT; it was only then that I saw my mother’s handwriting:


Dec 28, 1964 15 days before 2nd birthday.

Suddenly the photo had a context. Suddenly the photo had a story. It took on a greater meaning just because of the words transcribed by my mother on the back.

I take a lot of pictures. Some have meaning. Some are silly. Some are just to post/share via twitter or Facebook or instagram. Rarely do I ever make hard copies of photos any more. It’s all digital.

Photos are about to change for me!

I need some hard copies. I need to scatter the memories around my house. I NEED to write on the back of photographs. I’ll still take lots of snapshots. I’ll still digitally share them. But some, a selection, will become hard copies, because you can’t write on the back of a digital picture. And some day, somewhere, someone may flip over one of my pictures and say, “Hey, Gayle wrote on this”.

It is with regret that I inform you that after 17 years in exile my desk chair has come home.

Gayle's Desk Chair








As you can see the chair is broken which is how it ended up in exile. I took it home, to my parent’s house – which I still considered home in 1997, for my father to repair.

It was an unusual trip home for me. I’d just visited the weekend before, for Mother’s Day. But I took a day off on Monday May 19th and spent a long weekend at my folks. I had ever so slightly kissed the rear-end of another vehicle in the weeks before and had acquired a new bumper for my truck.  That was the real reason for my visit. I had a new bumper and my dad and I spent the weekend putting on a new bumper. I thought we’d have time to repair the chair as well….but time ran short.

I had no idea how short!

My dad wasn’t one to wax eloquent about things, but as we worked that weekend we talked. We talked about deep subjects, particularly death and dying. At the time I knew he was speaking about a fatal diagnosis my uncle, his brother-in-law, had just received, but as fate would have it, it was a conversation I have taken much comfort in over the years. I also take much comfort that because of the conversation that weekend, my dad left me an ‘I love you’. It was never something we said but……

As I was preparing to leave on that Monday afternoon; we decided I should just leave the chair and daddy would fix it and I would bring it back on my next visit. I left it just inside the door in my dad’s barn (AKA workshop). Until this past weekend it has never been moved.

Last weekend, when I took the chair from the barn, my mom asked ‘are you going to take that chair with you’. I tried to explain but couldn’t … that it was exactly one week from being 17 years since I left it for my daddy to repair. It was time to move on and fix the chair myself.

I miss him every day! But especially this time of year!

This year, pops…..I’m fixing that chair!

don tabor

September 30, 1931 – May 27, 1997

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