Gail's Book Nook

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Looking Out the Window: Finding Refuge Because of a Storm

Award Winning Author Eva Marie Everson Talks about Finding Refuge in the Eye of a Storm. Eva Marie is offering a free book to one lucky reader who leaves a comment. She's picking a number, she's writing it down--will yours be the one?

To win a copy of Eva Marie's Latest Book be sure to leave a comment and your email address.



I found a place of refuge because of a fierce storm. Not just one, actually. Four.

The 2004 Hurricane Season is one most Floridians will long remember. In August, Hurricane Charley swept around the eastern coastline, encircling the state, and threatening to hit the west coastline. Instead, on Friday morning August 13, 2004, Charley took a turn toward Port Charlotte near the Southern tip. It sliced up the state as a Category 4 hurricane, weakening, but remaining strong with wind gusts of over 100 mph when it hit my hometown of Orlando.

The devastation was unthinkable. We began the process of cleaning up, but no sooner had gotten our bearings together when we heard the news: Hurricane Frances was on her way. Weather reports and photos take from the International Space Station showed her to be beyond huge and her eye large, which offered respite but not for long. Only three weeks after Charley, Central Florida scrambled to prepare. And then, one morning in early September, Frances came to call. Again the devastation was felt, this time more so because what had already been weakened was now destroyed. Clean up began again, but we may as well have waited. Ivan—the 10th most intense Atlantic hurricane ever recorded—was on his way, followed by Jeanne, who had the distinction of being called the deadliest hurricane of the season.

These hurricanes affected my town, my home, and my life during that dreadful summer. Later, as I prepared an upcoming writer’s retreat previously held in a hotel in Vero Beach, I discovered our hotel was not yet suitable for visitors. I panicked, telling everyone I knew about my dilemma. My hairdresser suggested a place she’d heard of, Cedar Key, a tiny somewhat forgotten island below the panhandle, nestled in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I looked it up online. It appeared to have promise so I called my friend and fellow writer Janice Elsheimer and asked if she’d like to take a little road trip. She said she surely would.
 In my recently released novel, Chasing Sunsets (which is set in Cedar Key), I have a line that reads: There are four bridges leading into Cedar Key but only one road. I admit, the moment Janice and I crossed Bridge 4 (ironically, the first bridge), I felt tranquility wash over me. Marshlands—wide and lush—spread out on both sides of the road. Blue water reflected the sunlight, casting what I described as a “crushed diamonds on glass” effect. Dolphins played and fishermen fished and I was nearly beside myself as soon as we arrived at the hotel where we’d reserved a room.
I was equally delighted early the next morning. Janice and I walked outside with a cup of coffee in our hands, faced the east and watched the sun come up in all its splendor. And, that very same night, we walked a little ways to the west and, along with locals and visitors, watched that very same sun—under which we’d played all day—make its way to bed in colors of brilliant reds and oranges.

Cedar Key became my eye in the storm. (In the early days, I couldn’t even get cell reception, which I adored. But eventually CK caught up and now I can.) Over the next few years, as my world seemed to get just a little crazier and my workload became—blessedly—heavier, I found myself shirking off that day of rest God allotted for Himself and me. I thought I could get more done or even help God make more sense out of my life. Instead, just the opposite happened.

When I decided to set a three-book series in Cedar Key, I told myself that “this will mean going to Cedar Key for research.” But the truth is, while going there was necessary, I found myself lulled more by the tranquility of the island than the stories I heard there. In Cedar Key, God reminded me that there is nothing better for me than just sitting quiet, praising Him for His glorious paintings of nature.

I’ve certainly learned that I don’t need to go away to find rest. Goodness, no. It’s nice, of course. But it was in my own dining room where the Lord directed me to Isaiah 30:15: This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” This verse did not come gently but as a word of discipline, one I hope to never have to experience again.

I have learned through many storms—real ones and those which are a natural part of life—that in the midst of them, I can find the “eye,” the place where it grows quiet. Whether on a tropical island, a church filled with worshippers, a lazy Sunday afternoon on the sofa, or looking out my own back door…I must find these places of respite.

Eva Marie Everson is the award-winning author of a number of books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her latest work of Southern fiction for Baker/Revell is Chasing Sunsets. Read more about Eva Marie’s Southern Voice at or her deeper moments of personal healing at


Lynette Eason said...

Oh my. God certainly directed me to this blog today. Some times I feel like rest is such an elusive thing. I, too, seem to work nonstop and I know that's not good! God just reprimanded me, Eva. Thank you for the reminder that even God rested.

God bless!

And I want to go to Cedar Key now!

Eva Marie Everson said...

Lynette, you should go! :)

Yes, when God led me to that scripture it was after MONTHS of being nearly bedridden with sciatica. Truly truly bad bad bad. :( When I read the line "but you would have none of it" I knew God was telling me, "I gave you a day of rest, you shirked it so I've given you months of rest." Har-rumph!

Lesson learned. :)

So...when ya coming? I need an excuse to drive over! :)


Anonymous said...

I have felt God's peace in the midst of a storm - a tornado in my case. I am so thankful for that experience and will never forget it. I think many of us need to heed the words of you devotion and take our rest as God ordained. Thanks for reminding. And yes, Cedar Key sounds like a lovely place.

Jo said...

My family lives in Florida and my husband and I kept trying to live Arizona to go to Florida but G-d was protecting us during those storms. Every time we planned to live here something would come up and we couldn't go. People were asking us when we were leaving and I finally said "When G-d tells us we can". Even when we did finally leave here, we saw terrible devastation caused by the storms. This is another book being added on to my wish list


Judy said...

It is so hard to actually slow down and rest. I need to do that as a caregiver for my 83 year old Mom. She has dementia. If I don't rest and take care of myself what happens to her? Thanks for the reminder!


Carmen7351 said...

Living with tornadoes is enough for me. No hurricanes.

Your book sounds like a needed read. Please enter me.

desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

June Foster said...

How true. God can bring rest from the storms of life at any location. It doesn't depend on where we are, but on Who we've with. June Foster

Debbie Clark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Danielle Thorne said...

Thanks for sharing your beautiful place of peace. How wonderful that God has provided us all places of respite where we can regroup when life is overwhelming. Cedar Key sounds beautiful. Sometimes a wonderful escape makes it all worth it.

Danielle Thorne said...

Thanks for sharing your beautiful place of peace. How wonderful that God has provided us all places of respite where we can regroup when life is overwhelming. Cedar Key sounds beautiful. Sometimes a wonderful escape makes it all worth it.

Debbie Clark said...

Wow! In the Pacific Northwest, we don't get hurricanes or tornadoes. I do remember in 1962 when we got the tail end of Typhoon Freida and it caused a lot of destruction. I was only 5 at the time. However, I too end up with hurricanes in my life and need that quiet peace of God. Thanks for the reminder. I too needed it today.


Miss Mae said...

This was beautiful! :) I can certainly relate to not being able to catch your breath before the next major storm hits. That's how it's been this year with all the deadly twisters.

Cedar Key sounds absolutely idyllic!

*as I don't enter contests, please do not include my comment as an entry*

Thank you!

Linda Weaver Clarke said...

Thank you for the reminder that we must learn to sit quietly, "praising Him for His glorious paintings of nature." Thank you, Gail, for this lovely devotional.

misskallie2000 said...

Since I am a true southerner from GA, I love to read stories set in the South.
I remember that bad yr for hurricanes in FL and felt so bad for all that experienced the devastation. We have had some bad times with hurricanes here in middle GA but the tornados do more damage here. We had the flood of 94' that no one here wants a repeat of. I love to visit FL and one day go to Cedar Keys..
Love the interview.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Gina said...

Thank you so much, Eva for this beautiful devotional! Sign me up please to visit Cedar Key, how glorious. Best of luck with all your writing.
Dear Gail, your blog is so lovely, thank you for sharing with us!
Hugs and blessings,

Connie Walsh Brown said...

Thanks for the reminder of God's ability to offer refuge in our storms. I will think of this when I start to worry about some of my adult children's challenges. God is a present help.

Connie Walsh Brown

Steven King said...

As a Christian, I resonate with much of what you have said about finding God's sense of rest in the midst of a storm. When literal storms arise or storms that have more sinister, human emotive qualities, God's rest is still possible.

Very compelling,
Steven King, MBA, MEd

Gail Pallotta said...

I see I'm late getting to the party. We all need to be able to find refuge in the storms of our lives. Thanks to Eva Marie for coming to my blog to remind us of the comfort we can find in God.

Edwina said...

I'm another one that God led to this blog. I feel like I meet myself coming as I'm going. I never sit still and just rest. Even if I'm sitting down, I'm reading, checking email, etc. Thank you for reminding me to slow down!

MarthaE said...

Sorry I missed the comment flow yesterday. I'm glad I stopped by though to check out this post. Quite wonderful - God is so good to see us through! We lived in Palm Beach County during that hurricane season. Tried to outrun a couple by going to the Panhandle but they went there too - not so bad for us as we were inland. We round Jeanne out in our motor home behind my husband's workplace as he had to be on site. That was shaky.
Cedar Key is a beautiful place.
I am glad you found rest and peace in the Eye of the Storm.