Windmill in the Tempest

Abigail Mason was haunted for years by the mystery of why the windmill survived the storm … until she learned that God provided a Windmill in the Tempest.

1935, The Great Plains, Nebraska

Rotating darkness loomed above them, throwing jagged streaks of light to the ground. Wind swirled and rain began to strike her cheeks as they raced to the barn.

“Don’t stop, Abigail.” Her father’s voice rang above the raging storm. “Hailstones are a comin’. Move, girl! Move!” Fred Mason slid the barn doors open, pushed his wife through and grabbed Abby’s arm. “Let’s go. Get down the ladder.”

She watched her father struggle to slide the massive doors closed. He turned to see her standing behind him. “Get down that ladder now, Abigail.”

“What about Emma, Daddy?”

“Her pa’ll get her to where it’s safe. There’s no time … ladder now!” He snapped his fingers and pointed down.

The pale face of Abby’s mother beckoned, and her thin arms reached for her daughter. Moments later their little family huddled in the dark, dreary underground room. Wrapped in her mother’s arms, Abby heard the near silent whispers.

Deep, pleading prayers. Please, dear Lord, calm the storm. Protect us. Mercy, Jesus, mercy.

Abigail Mason, now ten years old, remembered two previous times her family ran from an oncoming twister. Thrust into this room again, the roaring manifestation of the approaching tornado engulfed her. Helen Mason’s prayers morphed into screams above the seismic waves underneath them as the merciless twister advanced.

Abby heard her own screams, too. She couldn’t stop them. Fear forced them from deep within her.

Fred Mason’s arms wrapped around Abby and her mother. “Dear, God. Dear, God,” were the only words he seemed to find. Abby squeezed her eyes tight shut and gripped her mother’s blouse.

Then, the calming dissipation. The roar quietened. Wind ceased. An eerie silence surrounded them. Except for … what? A creaking? An ominous squeaking and scraping.

“What is that Daddy?”

“It’s the windmill, Abigail. The windmill.”

1965, The Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina

Abby Mason awoke screaming, plagued by the same dream for thirty years. Running from the tornado, the roar, the earth shaking … then nothing. The dream held onto its secrets, refusing to unmask more memories of the aftermath. It would relinquish only the sound of the squeaking windmill.

The tornado took everything but the windmill. Even the barn above them was left in splinters. She knew, not because she remembered, but because her daddy had told her again and again about that day.

The squeaking windmill snatched her from sleep night after night. But why? Why wouldn’t the haunted sound of that windmill leave her alone?

Remember Abby. You’ve got to remember.

What was she doing before her daddy rushed toward her and pushed her into the barn? With eyes closed, Abby pressed fingers against her temples and tried to envision those moments in her mind. She was at the windmill. She wasn’t supposed to play around the windmill, but she and Emma loved to play there—

Emma! Emma had been playing at the windmill with her. What happened to Emma?

Abby grabbed her phone off the nightstand and dialed her mother’s number. Her daddy passed away two years ago, but maybe her mother would remember.

Or not. Helen Mason had been left a traumatic mess following the storm. Twenty people died that day. Had Emma been one of them?

“Momma?” Abby said after her mother’s panicked greeting at a call that hour of the morning. “What happened to Emma? Did the tornado take her? Was she one of the dead?”

“Let’s not talk about that day. There was so much hurt and loss. Are you still having the dreams?”

“Momma, I remembered I was playing with Emma at the windmill before daddy forced me to the barn. What happened to her? You have to tell me.”

“Oh, baby girl.” Abby’s mother sighed. “Your daddy saw the two of you playing. He yelled to Emma’s pa and they both started runnin’. Your daddy grabbed you and he thought Emma’s pa was behind him. After the storm … goodness the destruction … we found little Emma holdin’ on to the windmill tower. Her parents didn’t make it, Abigail.”

“Emma was alive?”

“Yes, praise God. It was a miracle she survived. Emma went to live with her aunt and uncle. I couldn’t stay there, Abby, so we moved away.”

“The tornado took everything except the windmill … and Emma.”

1966, Key West, Florida

Laughter rose from a corner table in a cafe on the historic seaport. The dreams were gone now, and though it took almost a year, Abby found Emma.

“Oh Emma, it’s wonderful to see you and hear all about your adventures.”

Emma wiped a tear that slid down her cheek. “My life’s been a roller coaster of story after story. But God has taken me many places, opened doors to share his goodness, and he’s blessed me. That old windmill may have haunted you, Abby, but like a ram in the thicket, God kept that windmill standing to deliver me from the storm.”

Abby took Emma’s hand. “Yes, Emma. God provided a windmill in the tempest.”

“Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.” ~ Genesis 22:13

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10


Move Over, Martha Stewart

Just kidding. I am no domestic diva. Martha Stewart has nothing to fear. Now, my husband? Well, he did vow for better or for worse.

Even though I hate to cook—and let me emphasis hate—my awesome husband would say I’m a great cook. Then again, he is stuck with me for life, so …

On the whole, weekends at my house are wonderful. Friday night is date night, followed by Saturday morning breakfast at my favorite coffee shop, complete with gingerbread lattes all year, not just the holidays. Our family makes an event of weekend sports … on the field and in front of the TV … and we enjoy them together with our favorite take-out food. Weekends equal no cooking, and that’s a win for everyone.

I muddle through the weekdays dreading the three o’clock hour when I’m forced to ask myself that age old question: “What am I going to fix for supper?”

Recipes are not the problem. I have a million. (okay, that might be an exaggeration) With Pinterest, Facebook, and food blogs all over the internet—information that Professor Google will find lighting fast—I have plenty of options. But there’s another problem …

Grocery shopping. Yeah, I hate that, too. Dinner time is a scramble to defrost something, gather ingredients, and pray everything is still in date.

For me, it’s inevitable. I decide what dinner is going to be, begin preparation … and it happens. Something vital to my recipe is out of date. I close my eyes, breathe a desperate “please” and then, “Yes”! It’s a “BEST BY” date, not an expiration date! (come on, I can’t be the only one!)

On our way to church a few weeks ago, that phrase made its way into my thoughts. Best By. It occurred to me that perhaps I have reached my Best By date. Still usable but, maybe I should step back and let those in their prime do the teaching, the singing, and the leading. Sure, I could stay ready to step up when there’s a temporary need to be filled.

Best by

We age and begin to notice changes, aches and pains. But God does not put us out to pasture. He makes that clear in His word.

“Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.” ~Psalms 92:14

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” ~2 Corinthians 4:16

No, God does not stamp us with a Best By date. Our usefulness has no expiration date. It’s in Him that we “live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)

“I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.” ~Psalms 146:2

We never stop serving. We never stop loving. We never stop … period.

The world may want to retire us and put us in the back seat as we age, but it’s no mystery that God never calls it quits for us.

Walk through every door He opens. Step up each time He calls. God will strengthen and give the tools needed to accomplish whatever He calls us to … no matter our age.

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” ~Isaiah 40:31

Christmas … Where are you?

Nothing says “Christmas” more than screaming kids, crowded malls, angry faces, and my personal favorite … traffic. Ah yes, the joy of Christmas wrapped up in stress, debt, exasperation, and exhaustion.

Oh Christmas … Where are You?

Someone on Facebook asked, “What is your most memorable Christmas?” One from my childhood jumped to mind.

As a band geek from fifth grade, Christmas parades were a big part of the holidays for our family. Back in ancient times, when I was a kid, our town’s Christmas parade was on Thanksgiving night. Year after year, Mom and Dad would rush me to the band room, I’d march in the parade and afterward we would go back to my aunt’s house for dinner with the leftovers from lunch. Such grand memories!

The flute was my instrument of choice, and all I wanted before starting high school was a piccolo. I mean, the cool flute players had piccolos for marching season and I had to have one too. I asked and asked for a piccolo for Christmas, but feared it wouldn’t happen. Finances were tight and instruments were expensive, but a part of me thought maybe, just maybe.

Christmas Eve came and our family attended the annual midnight candlelight service at church, then home to bed. My parents put our “Santa” presents under the tree after we were asleep, so we’d wake up and rush to the tree with all the anticipation a kid feels on Christmas morning. But this Christmas I woke up in the middle of the night. I just couldn’t wait and slipped to the tree for a peek. And there it was … a piccolo! I could have screamed from the excitement.

I took that piccolo into my bedroom, and there, hidden in the dark, I softly blew air through the precious instrument with an unspeakable thrill. I got it! I actually got my piccolo!

I never told my parents what I had done. Never told them I already knew they made my dream come true before we ran to the tree that Christmas morning. If they knew, they never said a word to me. But that piccolo was a great investment. I played it through high school, college, years of church music ministry, and still play it to this day.

Grown now, with a son of my own, I understand the sacrifice my parents made to get that piccolo. Sacrifice isn’t a word we like to use, especially at Christmas. Christmas is a time of extravagance, not sacrifice, right? It may have become more about indulgence, but that’s not where we’ll find Christmas.

Christmas is life, joy, twinkling lights, and laughter topped off with scents of the season. Christmas is the carols we sing only once a year. Christmas is the hugs and love we can physically feel and remember from loved ones who have passed.

But the true meaning? Christmas is Jesus

I’ve struggled the last few years to find joy in the season. We all have, haven’t we. But there is joy—real joy and blessings beyond all we can ask or think in knowing Jesus and his great love for us.

Christmas, where are you?

Christmas is where it’s always been … there in the manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes. Jesus … born to be the greatest gift of all. Jesus …  come to be light, life, and joy. Jesus … come to bring salvation.

So, let’s light that Christmas tree. Let’s sing those Christmas carols at the top of our lungs. Let’s fill our homes with memories around those we love—and tell them we love them.

Are you looking for Christmas? Celebrate Jesus. Because Jesus is where we will always find Christmas.

Closing the Gap

One moment can change your life forever. The mystery is navigating your next steps.

It all started on a cold November evening… but, let’s not go there. 

January 2019 began with a bang. I made a major move to Colorado, and this little southern girl was in for the ride of her life—part good, part bad. It was uphill. It was downhill. Perilous one day, victorious the next. 

Okay, okay, you get it. Moving on… 

In a nutshell, 2019 was the best and the worst. The move to Colorado was an amazing moment in life full of hard truth, restoration, reconciliation and healing for my husband and me. Through it all, I’ve learned to live with a grateful heart for the smallest of blessings. 

Continue reading “Closing the Gap”

I’ll Take What’s Behind Door Number Two, Monty!

Doors shouldn’t be hard to open.

We push or pull them and walk through, right? The mechanics of operating a door is easy.

It’s what’s on the other side that can get tricky.

Continue reading “I’ll Take What’s Behind Door Number Two, Monty!”

The Christmas Piano

I was malled today. Yes malled, not mauled.

I went to the mall to shop. Well, not so much to shop as to walk around. I went early to beat the Christmas crowds, but it didn’t take long for almost everyone from three counties to join me.

I’m not a shopper by nature, so this was my first trip to the mall during the season. In fact, it’d been awhile since my last visit. It surprised me to see our mall no longer had a Williams-Sonoma. Many stores I remembered were gone.

My leisurely walk turned into a fight to see which kiosk employee would be first to smear lotion on me, curl my hair, or put a hat on me. One guy grabbed my hand and started to buff my nails before I could say no. He didn’t like the fact I had a nail kit of my own, already stocked with a nail buffer.

I took refuge in one of the luxury stores. You know, the three-level stores at the farthest end of a mall. Don’t ask the name, I didn’t look. I can tell you that at one time it was a Nordstrom.

With no crowd in the store, I could linger over items I would never pay that price for—not even at Christmas.

Live Christmas music flowed from a piano on the lower floor. Not canned music pumped through a sound system, but gentle Christmas carols that encouraged me to hum along.

I hummed my way through the petite department, past the section of over embellished, yet elegant, party dresses. While strolling down the center aisle, I came to a dead stop when I realized the piano was not longer playing a carol, but an old chorus we sang at church years ago.

Surprised to hear the old song, I stepped to the railing and peered down to the first floor. An older African American woman sat at the piano with her eyes closed, playing with such an anointing. All I could do was watch and listen.

She looked up, and in the moment our eyes met, we felt it—the bond of two sisters in Christ. We were family.

We smiled at each other. I nodded and waved my hand in thanks to her for sharing her gift.

As I continued on, she transitioned into another old chorus from years ago. A song of His love for you and me. Of giving all He could give-His life.

This precious woman will never know I was desperate for that connection, but God knew. Her smile and anointed playing became Jesus to me.

This Christmas I pose a challenge to you. Don’t be cruel, be kind. Reach out and be Jesus to someone.

That person behind you in line for coffee may look fine, but their smile may hide the fact their life has shattered around them. Be Jesus.

You may never know what one small kindness may mean to someone who is hurting. This Christmas, be His hands. Be His feet. Be Jesus to someone.

To Tree or Not To Tree, That is the Question

Every year, the week after Thanksgiving, I start the same routine. Although there’s no need, it’s marked it on my calendar.

This year was different. You know, life happens. Destruction, mayhem, chaos. Call it whatever you wish, the result was the same; I didn’t put up the Christmas tree.

A week crept by and still no glorious, festive, glowing fake tree in the corner. No angel forever frozen in mid “Gloria” peering down on our bright faces.  I decided it might not be worth the trouble this year.

Until the next morning.

Continue reading “To Tree or Not To Tree, That is the Question”

Wait! Did Life Just Bite You?

Sometimes life falls apart. Completely. Falls. Apart.

Real life can come hard and fast. It becomes difficult to keep up with change, stress and loss—the shock as things pile one on top of the other.

Then comes that one thing that makes life stop. Literally stop. It’s earth shattering, heartbreaking. All the things that were important become nothing. Everything becomes nothing.

Raging fire surrounds. We can’t move forward or backward. We’re just plain stuck. What do we do when we’re stranded?

Go back to the basics.

1. Get into God’s Word

It may have been awhile, but dust it off, crack it open and get into that old Bible that’s been up on the shelf.

My pastor calls God’s word “the only change agent on the planet”. Within its pages, God has given us the words we need for healing, for strength, for empowerment. He gives us direction and hope in every situation.

“This is my comfort in my affliction, for Your word has given me life.”
~Psalms 119: 50

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”
~Psalm 119: 105

2. Let The Music Play

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.”  ~Victor Hugo

Turn off that television! Yes, I know it helps shut down the mind and keeps depressing thoughts at bay. But instead of mindless drivel, let’s fill our hearts and minds with music—worship music.

Let the Holy Spirit invade with His presence. Worship and God will take us to that place where we can find Him. Where God will touch us and our situation. God will energize us and our thoughts. As His Holy Spirit covers us, here is where we find hope. Here is where our faith will grow. In this place chains are broken.

And so it was, whenever the spirit from God was upon Saul, that David would take a harp and play it with his hand. Then Saul would become refreshed and well, and the distressing spirit would depart from him.”
~1 Samuel 16: 23

3. Find a Community

Reach out. We must find our people and let them help! God has embedded these people into our lives for a reason. They will hold us up when we can’t hold ourselves. 

I’m a loner, so this one was a challenge for me. But I did it, and you know what? My people were there, and they WANTED to help me. To love on me and pray for me and with me.

Our people. FIND OUR PEOPLE!

“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.”
~ Galatians 6: 2

4. Pray

I put this last on the list for sheer emphasis. These gut retching, heartbreaking, life-altering things will slap us silly and knock us face down on the floor. These situations drive us to our knees. Perhaps that’s what they’re meant to do.

Like it or not, these are the situations we have no control over. We can’t pick them up like a puppy chewing on the furniture and say, “No! Bad boy!” then give them something else to play with. We can’t change things that easy, this isn’t kid stuff.

Our only remedy is prayer. The old saying is still true to this day, prayer changes things.

When we fall to our knees in prayer over a situation, we enter the arena of battle. We are now on the front line. What we cannot do in the physical, God can and will do in the spiritual. As followers of Christ, we know this is where every battle is won.  

We must become prayer warriors. It will be on this battlefield that strongholds are broken and walls fall. So get down into that trench solider and PRAY!

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.”
~2 Corinthians 10: 4

Life can break us. Those we love the most can wound us. Get back to the basics. God is there, and He is our way out.


I know you only want to cry. To let numbness envelope you in a deep, blinding fog. A fog that wraps you tight, lest your heart shatters. You want to scream into the darkness. You despise the darkness.

“JUST LEAVE ME ALONE,” I hear you demand. “Leave me alone.”

But sleep must force itself into your grief my child.

You don’t want sleep. I know. But it must come. It will assault your dreams with flashes you don’t want to see. Joy you aren’t ready to feel or remember.


That face. That precious face.

 Sleep will release your tired body from its inevitable grasp, and for a moment…a mere moment, you will feel bliss. Bliss before the pain awakes. Bliss before reality.

Sleep will beckon again…remember, remember. Come, come see her here. I will show you her face. Yes, it will hurt for a time. Yes, you will hate me for a little while.

Then the night will fall when I take you into slumber and remind you once again of the gift she was to your life. But in this time you will embrace the remembering, you will long for it. And my peace will blanket you.

Close your eyes my weary child and rest in Me. I have her…right here in my arms. Strong arms, loving arms.

Close your eyes. She will run to you in your dreams. I promise you will remember with joy. Your dreams will overflow with the fullness that the gift of her brought to your life.

Close your eyes and sleep, for joy comes in the morning. My joy always comes in the morning.

Close your eyes and sleep my child. I have her.

wisdom from the doublewide

common sense for life

Kim Wilbanks

Feathering My Empty Nest

Joann M. Claypoole ~ Dreamdove's Flights Of Fancy

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