A Letter To Michael Reed–A Gatlinburg Story

The Gatlinburg Story Timeline

chloe reed

michael reed lily reed

michael reed constance reed

Constance Reed’s Story

Dear Mr. Reed:

Since Monday night, I and tens of thousands of people around the world have been watching the tragedy unfold in Gatlinburg. We saw your plea to the people there to help you find your beloved family, and we prayed for you and for them. We prayed that they would be found, and you would be reunited.

And today, we’re crying with you. We’re crying with your family. And I have seen some comments from hateful people, mocking us for our faith, saying our prayers didn’t work. That “the imaginary sky fairy” doesn’t exist.

And I know from personal experience that when the pain is so deep it freezes your blood, when the despair is so wide and so strong there seems to be no light, love, or life left, even those with deep faith may question–Why? Why does our Father not hear us, not answer us? I say he DOES hear us–but his plans as a parent to ALL, don’t always seem fair to one. Or even many.

I am NOT saying that is how you feel. But I do know that right now, when the pain is the worst, it can be so very hard to breathe, to endure, to take one. More. Moment.

Your Story, And Your Family, Matter.

At the beginning of this tragedy, the big networks didn’t care. Most regional networks didn’t care either. News coverage was almost non-existent. But then, you gave an interview about your missing family–and something happened. People saw you–your honesty, your deep grief and fear, the obvious love you have for your wife and daughters, and they responded. The interview began spreading on social media.

Then the MSM began to notice, and the press began reporting. And around the world, people became aware of the horrible tragedy that has taken so much from the people of Gatlinburg, and Sevierville, And Pigeon Forge. Donations began pouring in to both local charities and Red cross. YOUR story, and the awareness it brought, has helped raise money to pay vet bills for a little autistic girl’s therapy pony. Your honest face, the face of a loving, frightened grieving father, has moved literally hundreds of people to contact me and ask–“What can I do to help Gatlinburg and Michael Reed”?

Were it not for your story, sir, who knows how many people wouldn’t have CARED enough to help? I don’t know. But I do know that it was YOUR story that is still leading people to my facebook, asking me how they can help.

Believe me– had prayer been enough, your family and the others who died would have been wrapped in the prayers of hundreds, then thousands of people, and they would still be with you. And the others who have died would be alive also. But The Lord called your family, and the others who we all mourn now, home to him. And all the prayers we had couldn’t change HIS will.

But He never gives us a burden greater than we can bear And he never closes a door, without opening an even bigger one. The heart-wrenching video your wife made is already going viral, and only The Lord knows how many little girls, innocents in harm’s way, will be saved by it. And your personal story has brought so much attention to the Gatlinburg Story. The Lord is using that story to call people to help, to give. Your story is showing people how important it is to love your family, to never take life or those you love for granted. Your story is drawing many people from around the nation to Gatlinburg, to help you, and your fellow citizens, get back on your feet. To bring Gatlinburg, Sevierville, and Pigeon Forge, new life, new hope, and a brighter future.

And much of that came because of your initial interview, Mr. Reed. Your interview, and your family, are such a force for good. Constance, through her video, will be a continuing force, for good. Heavenly Father, for reasons only He knows, has called your beautiful wife and daughters home. But he also made sure, when he did, that he made their plight and your count for something far larger than any of us can see right now.

And I hope that when times are hard for you in the future–on those special days when the memories are strongest–you look around and count all the blessings. Count the new homes and businesses, the opportunities, the people, and realize that a part of that came from you. And know that just because they have been found now doesn’t mean we won’t all still be praying for you, your son, and the rest of your family–because we will. they’re our family now, too, you see.


80,000 Weddings–A Gatlinburg Story

The Gatlinburg Story Timeline

The Reverend Ed Taylor lived 89 years. When his family last heard from him, he told them he was at home, and had been told there was no need to evacuate.

But when they were unable to contact him again, they knew that something was wrong–and when his teacup poodle was located at a veterinarian’s office, they knew that he was in all likelihood, dead.

80,000 Weddings….

Reverend Taylor probably had all of the usual ups and downs in his ministry that happen to any man of God–after all, not everyone who turns to a Reverend does so for GOOD reasons. But Rev. Taylor also can be noted for something else–in his long service to God, he officiated at 80,000 weddings.

What an amazing, and wonderful, thing to try and imagine–in this man’s life, he had 80,000 couples, all ages and walks of life, come to him to share what is one of the most profound moments in the lives of two people–the moment they stand together in the sight of God, to pledge their lives to each other. To pledge to stand together, in sickness and in health, not to part until death.

While we all have probably hears the statistics concerning marriage–especially the sad fact that almost half end in divorce–that doesn’t change the impact that Reverend Taylor and other men and women like him are participating in something that is profound, something meaningful, something central to a person’s life.

This man worked in a part of the world that doesn’t typically take marriage lightly, either. Having watched this story develop, one of the striking things about the people of Gatlinburg, and the many people in the USA and internationally that are showing up on the news sites to follow the story, is the deep level of faith they exhibit–which is for the next article.

But even if we take basic statistics from the USA, this man touched a LOT of lives. Consider that statistics–1/2 of all marriages end in divorce, and the average couple in the USA has 2 children.

That means, statistically–about 35,000 of the couples married by the Reverend are likely still together. And Then go the children–statistically, most people get married between 20 and 35–so most of his marriages ere probably people in the child rearing age group.

Not I am not a math whiz–but it’s possible this one man had an indirect role in the lives of around 80-100,000 children being brought into the world. And folks–that’s the equivalent of a small American town. If you want to get technical, the wedding couples ALONE, no children counted, amounts to a town larger than Yuma Arizona where my brother in law lives. With any luck, some of those couples will see this post, and contact me with their stories :-).

Who Are The People?

Here is a testimonial on the Reverend, found on WBIR’s comments on his passing:


“He performed marriage ceremonies for many years and he has performed over 80,000 wedding ceremonies. Like us, there are many other couples that were fortunate enough to get married by this wonderful man, and many that can also say he performs one of the prettiest ceremonies I have ever seen. The words that have stuck with us and we will never forget are the words that were spoken to us on our wedding day by Rev. Taylor, “Never go to bed mad at one another.” He offered so many words of encouragement for our marriage that day and we will carry those words in our hearts and minds forever. We have pictures, as well as a video to carry with us, but no amount of material things could replace his beautiful presence on this earth. We are sending our condolences out to his family that have endured this tragic loss. May you find peace and comfort in the days ahead, knowing that Rev. Taylor has grown his wings and is now watching over us from above. R.I.P. Rev. Ed Taylor. You will be missed by many.”

And that is just one I have found so far.

A Celebration Of Life…

There will be more coming on the Reverend–but in the meantime, the mere fact that he participated in the weddings of 80,000 couples is the real story here. 80,000 couples, with hope and love in their hearts, stood before this man in what is a celebration of life–their wedding day. 80,000 beautiful brides walked down his aisle, with that stomach tightening mixture of love, expectation, and dreams rising up so strong they probably wanted to just scream it out (I’ve been there). 80,000 grooms stood watching the woman they love coming to them with trust, faith and love–trusting them to be there. To be strong. To protect and cherish them.

Who knows how many christenings this man performed? Who knows how many people received comfort from him when loved ones were ill or had died? Who knows how many people in the community turned to him on days less happy than their wedding day? Probably noone knows these things. But I do know one thing–The Reverend Taylor was probably one of the happiest men on Earth. Because when you stand in the presence of love as often as he did–how can you be anything other than happy?

Rest In Peace, Reverend Taylor–your life was one well lived, your rest deserved. And you will be remembered.

A Letter To Michael Reed–A Gatlinburg Story

On The Egregious Conduct Of Ms. Kim King, WLOS, Asheville N.C.–A Gatlinburg Story.


ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END. Up to this point in the Gatlinburg Story, we have been truly blessed–because the majority of the coverage has been provided by three highly professional, dedicated, compassionate teams of journalists courtesy of WATE,WVLT,and WBIR, along with 2 newspapers, The Knoxville News Sentinel, and The Tennessean–and an occasional piece from FOX WZTV. From the first chaotic night, despite the firestorm, tornadoes and scattered flooding, these true journalists have held to the highest standards of journalistic ethics–they have been compassionate, thorough, professional and unbiased, while still diligently seeking information for the public.

Watching from Arizona I have come to look forward to seeing their familiar faces, watching how naturally they interact with the people in Gatlinburg and the surrounding areas, and how they manage to balance their obvious empathy and involvement with the reporting of the news. They are truly amazing people to watch, and eastern Tennessee is fortunate to have such a concentration of talent.

Then Along Comes Ms. King–One Of NYC’s “Finest” (NOT)…..

Now isn’t she just special, bless her heart? She exemplifies what certain failed presidential candidates meant when they so snidely referred to “New York Values”. And then she decided to start pushing for the name of the person or persons who “dropped the ball” and whose incompetence, by inference, led to the 13 tragic deaths. She was establishing a false narrative–fallaciously comparing this unprecedented firestorm in Tennessee to an entirely different type of fire in North Carolina, acting as though she actually knew something about forest management, or meteorology, or the science and physics behind firestorms. Additionally, she referred to an inaccurate piece of weather information as though it were established fact.

Needless to say, she likely knows little or NOTHING about these subjects, given the narrative she was trying to create. But the complete breakdown of the firestorm and analysis of available information is for another series of articles. THIS article is about the harpy who actually thought it would be a good idea to state, in so many words, that it was the ineptitude of the National parks people, or the Mayors, or first responders or boogymen that caused thirteen people to die.

The Video Clip Again


But..But…1st Amendment! Democracy! The PEEEPUL’s Right To Know!


  1. She was insinuating DIRECTLY–BY STATING A BALL HAD BEEN DROPPED AND DEMANDING A NAME–that there was incompetence at the root of the deaths, WITH ABSOLUTELY NO PROOF THIS IS THE CASE. With several layers of government involved and the fire encompassing private property, federal land, and who knows what other land ownership is in the midst–county? city? State? Saying ANYTHING OTHER THAN–“THE MATTER IS BEING INVESTIGATED AND WE WILL NOT COMMENT AT THIS TIME, AS WE DON’T WANT TO POSSIBLY TAINT THE INVESTIGATION ” would be idiotic. AND I HAVE SEEN NO SIGN EITHER OF THE MAYORS IS AN IDIOT.
  3. The Mayors and other officials have spoken before about the various steps that will be taken, and ARE being taken, to determine what, IF ANYTHING, could have resulted in a better outcome. THESE PRESS CONFERENCES ARE MEANT TO KEEP PEOPLE INFORMED ON THE THINGS THAT MATTER TO THEM NOW. With the governments investigating possible arson along with the failures in emergency warning procedures, this would not be the time to be discussing the issue anyway.
  4. Now, let’s just think what would happen if the mayor had given her the name of the person in charge that night–and the investigations reveal that person was NOT responsible for anything. Well, the city, county and state would, at the very least, probably be facing a MASSIVE lawsuit for placing the person in a position where they were presumed “guilty”.   Because in most government jobs, if you are NAMED in anything that might turn out to be a problem, then you’re placed on administrative leave. And then the rumor mills starts up, and the gossip flies–and even if your name is cleared–you can’t get back your reputation.
  5. Frankly–THE LAST THING WE NEED IN THIS EVENT IS THE LYING MEDIA. AT THE VERY LEAST SHE WAS DISRUPTING THE DELIVERY OF IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON OTHER MATTERS, OR PERHAPS TRYING TO CREATE A SENSATION TO BENEFIT HER CAREER–Which judging from comments in the comment section of WLOS’s Facebook Page is hardly one worth bragging about. And one could make a case that her blatant implication of CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE defames the characters of everyone associated with this disaster.

Demanding to know the name of the person who “dropped the ball”, when THERE IS NO EVIDENCE THE BALL WAS DROPPED, is NOT “journalism”, unless of course we’re looking at the YELLOW Kind. That is simple slander and scandal mongering, of a level one would have expected from tabloid trash papers back in the good old days. I wouldn’t be surprised if she sleeps with a copy of Megyn Kelly’s abysmal new book under her pillow….

It Is Time To Draw A Red Line In The Sand, Here…NO MORE FAKE NEWS.

We’ve spent the last 18 months or so being bombarded with the lowest forms of yellow journalism, and suffering with a main stream media that has on more than one occasion suppressed news, distorted news, delivered news that hasn’t even been remotely checked for facts–and in more than one case–ABSOLUTELY FALSIFIED NEWS. And I for one am NOT going to tolerate it any longer.


How much do you want to bet the big boys over there are closeted in some boardroom with their lawyers, trying to figure out the least expensive way to dig themselves out of the manure, without having to admit it was a setup? Because these “journalists” seldom are asking questions they thought of themselves.




80,000 Weddings

A Gatlinburg Story: Lost And Found.


Charles Is the kind of pet anyone could love–a sweet face, intelligent, friendly. But Charles isn’t a typical pet–he’s a pig. And he is one of the small miracles of the Gatlinburg Story. In the chaos of the fire and evacuation, Charles’ owner had to leave everything behind, including him. And now, it’s all gone.

The home that held so many memories is ashes, the woods surrounding it are a wasteland. But Charles had burrowed into the mud, and survived. Now there are SOME PEOPLE who are probably now indignant, wondering how someone could love a beloved pet behind to begin with. Well–when you can’t get the car out of the garage because of fallen trees, there’s a solid wall of fire roaring toward you and your choking 18 month old baby, and the pet weighs more than  a grown man–you must sadly make  a choice. And the tale of that choice is in the link below.

The Tale Of The Rescue

Rob Holmes and his family have lost so very much–but even in the losses, there are some blessings:

“We’re living in a hotel. We’re basically left with the clothes that we have. We have nothing, we’ve lost all of our possessions, but none of that matters,” Holmes said. “We’ve got something more and more important. we’ve got our family, we’ve got love.

“The Lord took care of us, and then he blessed us and he gave us back Charles, and so now, we’re complete.”

Charles Is Only One Of The Animals That Survived

The Sevier County Humane Society is currently taking care of many animals at the County Fairgrounds, everything from dogs and cats to horses, and more animals are still being found. Selfless veterinarians are providing a wide range of services free of charge when possible, and the outpouring of donations to the organization–money and more importantly food and volunteer assistance– is going a long way in healing the physical damage and providing the owners who are currently displaced with a sense of security, knowing their pets are being tended by loving hands.

Even when all seems lost–some things may be found. Even when it seems there is nothing left, there IS something left. For some, that is a pet. For others, it’s faith, or community, or family. Whatever it may be for each person, the very act of sharing an experience with others creates a certain bond, however horrific the experience may be.

And as you read through the timeline, wherever you may be, you come to look for certain familiar faces and names. You become a little familiar with the roads, and the local much loved attractions. You find yourself watching the clock for the next press conference, and rooting for the mayors as they face down the members of the media that are NOT part of the community.

And when a local journalist says God Bless You–on camera–hearing it feels good. Because the local journalists, the tireless professionals of WATE, WVLT, and WBIR, aren’t the plastic talking heads of the national networks. They’re real. They’re honest. And unlike the talking heads, they are committed to this place, and these people. They have found the delicate balance between objective, professional journalism and community partnership in a way that sets their coverage apart from the outsiders. We know they are being objective, and thorough. But they are also compassionate, genuinely involved, and a real part of their story.

Gatlinburg and the local area have lost so much. But time is already showing that people in Gatlinburg are finding  much also. And there are more and more people around the United States, and in other countries, becoming a small part of this story–watching these news channels, leaving prayers, asking for updates, reaching out through cyberspace and connecting, uniting to share this story at the speed of light. Something unique is happening, that never could have happened before the internet and social media, and the result will be equally unique.


Day Three In Gatlinburg–Heartbreak, Hope, And Community Values





Three days ago now, fire engulfed Pigeon Forge, Chalet Village, and Gatlinburg in the early hours of the morning. Within a 24 hour period, this beautiful part of eastern Tennessee was hit with not just a devastating fire, but also tornadoes and heavy rains, resulting in scattered flooding.

While much of America slept, the people in this area experienced events that taken individually are bad enough, but collectively beggar the imagination. The timeline above chronicles those events from early Monday through to the present, as reported by the three local news stations, as well as two newspapers.

Why Is This Timeline Important?

Well, initially the timeline is important because on it are all of the news stories, all of the calls for help and offers of help, all of the official bulletins, Facebook groups, gofundme and youcaring appeals, all in one place.

But the timeline is more than that–because as you read through from the beginning to the current point, you see real news, in a way that many have never seen it before. You see the faces behind the news–the exhausted journalists working around the clock trying to inform, to comfort and to support their neighbors. You see the faces of the local officials–men and women who are standing strong for their constituents though they also have lost their homes and businesses. You see the first responders, the heroic fire fighters who are sleeping at the fire stations, ready to wake and go in to harm’s way again and again for their community, side by side with fire fighters and emergency personnel who have come in from around the nation, sometimes at their own personal expense, to help.

You read through the comments on the stories and see Americans from other places offering prayers, offering blankets, clothing, toys and medical equipment. small business owners and work at home moms pledging a portion of their earnings to help the disaster victims. You see the face of the America that elected Donald Trump president.


“With My Mom on Tuesday morning in Pigeon Forge TN. My Mom and Dad lost everything but we still have them..”


Image result for firefighters sleeping gatlinburg

“Are there donated blankets/pads/sleeping bags/cots they could use? Sure wish we could drive up there just to hand them some….. Poor Tired things… Bless them.”

These are not people who are waiting for FEMA or the Red Cross to arrive–though their arrival is certainly welcome. They are banding together, opening their remaining homes to friend and stranger alike. They are sharing what little they have with their neighbor or the tourist who now has nothing–because they are confident in their belief that in our nation of plenty, these people would do the same for them.

Already the roads are clogged with trucks and cars from neighboring areas,bringing donations–not for the Red Cross or other faceless national group, but to hand to their neighbors, personally. And the facebook timeline is filling with posts from people in neighboring states asking to be connected with those in need. The outpouring of support from both the people in Sevierville, Gatlinburg and the other towns that have been swept up in this once in a lifetime firestorm is a small miracle in and of itself.

This is the America that many people would dismiss with casual stereotypes like “redneck”, “cracker” “hillbilly”, or “bitter clinger”. This is where people say “bless your heart”–even after they politely tell you your opinion doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. There are, I have no doubt, some sad, angry, or unpleasant people here–there are everywhere. But in this corner of the world, that type of behavior is publicly, politely, stomped on–because it’s not useful, or productive, it merely makes what is currently an extremely hard position even harder.

Right Now…

Most of the nation is looking forward to a wonderful Christmas. Right now, If you’re reading this, you’re probably at home, with a full belly and a Christmas tree, Menorah, or whatever holiday trappings you enjoy. But this is the season of Giving–so right now would be a good time to give. Give to Gatlinburg. There are children there that have nothing now, that have lost their most treasured toys and possessions. There are men and women wondering how they will be able to rebuild, and when. There are senior citizens and people with medical needs, there are hundreds and hundreds of rescued pets and horses. There are Americans who need us all to give–right now.

Don’t Go Red Cross–Go Dollywood.

Dolly Parton knows what it’s like to be dirt poor in Sevier County–because she grew up there. Over the years she has built Dollywood, and brought millions into the local economy. She has funded schools, and libraries, paid medical bills–and now SHE IS ONCE AGAIN STANDING, SMOKY MOUNTAIN STRONG, FOR HER PEOPLE. While the Red Cross is pulling in the usual fawning and bootlicking from the media (while leaving very little of the money they collect in the local economy, all things considered), Dollywood’s My People fund will be giving 1000.00 a month for 6 months to each family that has lost a home in this disaster. About 6 million dollars, give or take half a million.

100% OF THE MONEY DONATED AT THE LINK ABOVE WILL BE GIVEN TO THOSE IN NEED. DOLLY PARTON IS ABSORBING THE ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS FOR THIS SPECIAL PROJECT HERSELF. And you can bet your cowboy boots she will be doing more than that. And for those who are saying “tax deduction”–look up the IRS deduction rules for charitable contributions. She doesn’t do this because she’s looking for a lower tax bill. She does this for her people.

It’s high time America realize that the big so-called “non-profits” like the Red Cross ARE NO SUBSTITUTE FOR LOCAL NON-PROFITS. NO WHERE CLOSE TO IT. The Red Cross, like many charities, is in many ways a thinly disguised cash cow for its highly overpaid administrators.

If you want to help Gatlinburg with money, GO THROUGH THE TIMELINE LINK AT THE TOP. Whether you go with Dollywood, or the Sevier County Humane Society, or one of the other fundraisers that are LOCAL doesn’t matter. What matters is that YOU ALWAYS, ALWAYS, DONATE LOCALLY in a disaster like this. Sure, send the Red Cross a check once a year or so. Sure, donate blood. But if you’ve ever had a disaster strike and had to use emergency services yourself, you know that the locals will be more helpful, and faster.