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We just returned from vacation and celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary. I wanted to do something special to commemorate this milestone, but I also wanted to rest and see the grandkids.

So we had the best of both worlds. We flew into Orlando on Friday night to visit with Nathan and his family, but luggage preferred Atlanta. We reunited with our luggage on Saturday morning and had proper clothing to leave the house. For all of the gardening and carillon bell fans — you’ve got to visit Bok Tower Gardens. (Look it up!) Then on Sunday we were with his church in Winter Haven, Florida.

On Monday morning we boarded The Mariner of the Sea, a Royal Caribbean ship with 4,000 rooms and spent four nights sailing to the Bahamas. We had perfect weather the whole time. We did miss out on visiting another island because the staff needed to evacuate and prepare for Dorian. But an extra day in Nassau worked out great. 

I did notice that the captain boogied it back to Cape Canaveral a lot faster than we went to the Bahamas.

When we docked Friday morning, Jay in Orlando and Nathan in Winter Haven said we might want to get out of the state early. (We had a family Labor Day planned.) Jay arranged for our flights to be moved up from Tuesday to Sunday night. At that time, airports were closing at 3 a.m. Monday. But you saw the news, and Dorian wanted to dilly dally, and they ended up staying open longer. 

So we did get to go to church with Jay’s family in Orlando. Since their services are still held in an elementary school, and all activities associated with the school campuses were cancelled by Orange County, their congregation met in a park. Again, it was a beautiful day with sunshine and nice breezes. 

We had taken our local airlines to Dallas to start this trip, and they were booked solid. So we could only get as far as Dallas. We decided to rent a car and drive to Tyler to see our siblings and parents. That was an unexpected blessing — Thank you Dorian. The short visit was great. I felt like I talked their ears off in fast forward.

Then we arrived safely back in Harrison late Tuesday evening. (We are so blessed to have Southern Airways Express right here in our community.)

It is terrible to see the damage the hurricane did to the Bahamas, but I’m grateful Florida wasn’t hit as hard as originally expected.

We were told that in May the officials remind everyone that hurricane season is coming, it’s time to prepare, and even provide some tax-free weekends for hurricane supplies. Some people go ahead and purchase a case of water, extra batteries, some canned items and boards for windows. But most ignore the warnings that hurricane season is coming.

It’s sort of like preparing for an ice storm — except in this case it was in slow motion. The traffic in Orlando looked like a ghost town on Saturday before the hurricane. The tourists had left, or didn’t come, and most residents were already hunkered down for the storm. But you can’t keep kids and grandparents inside on a beautiful Florida day, so off we went.

We enjoyed a cupcake ATM machine at Disney Springs. It was exactly as it sounds. Make your choice, swipe your card and a window opens with your cupcake boxed up — ready to go!

The hurricane warnings were ignored by some, taken seriously by others, and dramatized to the max by the media. But the damage and loss of life was real for some areas. It reminded me of the scriptures that speak about Jesus returning and life as we know it now, will be over. 

We must prepare for life after this one — because it is coming. No one knows when and if they say they do — they are not telling the truth. Because the Bible says no one knows. It will happen faster than the blink of an eye.

Make sure you have a relationship with Jesus Christ. He loves you and wants to see you spend eternity with Him. He made the sacrifice on our behalf so we could have eternal life.

I’ve thought about the shopkeepers and locals I saw in the Bahamas just days before the devastation hit. Did the cute little girl who grabbed me by the wrist and before I knew it was putting a new wrinkle cream on my face … did she survive? What about the lady who placed “free” Bahama bracelets on our wrists and then insisted we donate $10 for them — to help the children — did she make it?

They knew the path of the hurricane was headed their way. But they chose to ignore the warnings and continue selling to tourists and going about their normal duties. Don’t get too busy with this life to forget about the next one. Heed the warnings. No one lives forever in this earthly body.

Donna has written for the HDT for more than 19 years. When off the clock, she enjoys writing for children, teaching piano lessons and being a pastor's wife. The Braymers have three married sons and daughter-in-laws and 9 grandchildren.

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