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

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A Gatlinburg Story: Lost And Found.

THE GATLINBURG TIMELINE

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.

NEXT–THE ARRIVAL OF THE FAKE NEWS

YOOHOO–ANYONE HOME? Where is America, Never Mind The MSM

FOR THOSE WHO MISSED THE REAL NEWS:

Image result for pictures gatlinburg

ALMOST 34 HOURS AGO NOW, I GOT A MESSAGE ON MY FACEBOOK PAGE, FROM A FRIEND REQUESTING PRAYERS FOR HER FAMILY IN GATLINBURG, TENNESSEE. And I didn’t know why–until I saw a bloodcurdling video.

Since then I have not slept. I have eaten some. I have barely used the restroom. Why? Because an American City went up in flames. And the MSM was too busy asking us to wear headscarves, or dissing Trump, or taking aim at Hillary, to pay more than passing attention to this unprecedented tragedy playing out on three local tv news sites in the area.

So I Took To Twitter…

Where there was at least some mention of this horrific series of events, and I began publishing my facebook timeline linked above–that is filling up with requests for volunteers, requests for donations, pleas for help locating lost friends and family, and  pleas for prayers.

In the long weary hours since that moment, I have shed a gallon of tears. I have prayed, tried to help people find local services under terrible circumstances, and refreshed those news pages 1000s of times, to make sure that all the news I could find was there. And I have been here ever since, passing on all the news locals and those real journalists in Gatlinburg have made available.

And Yes, Some In Cyberspace Have Heard, and Responded.

I want to give a shout out to THE CONSERVATIVE TREEHOUSE–who picked up my first pleas for help for fire fighters working without sufficient food, water, or first aid supplies. And my twitter followers who have retweeting my timeline over and over through these long hours. And my facebook friends that have also share my timeline, and strangers that have wandered along from wherever, with local information.

Donald Trump Tweeted, THANK YOU PEOTUS!–Obama? Well…. As To The Erstwhile So-Called “Journalists” on National News?

SHAME ON YOU. SHAME ON EVERY ONE OF YOU IN THE MSM WASTING YOUR TIME ON USELESS REHASHING OF CRITICISMS. There are three heroic TV news teams in TN–WATE, WBIR, WVLT–who have been the only reliable source of continuous, accurate coverage of the fires–AND NOW THE TORNADOES–ravaging the Smoky Mountains. There are Two Newspaper– The Tennessean, and The Knoxville Sentinel that are also going far beyond anything MSM even thought of doing.

While America has been trading insults and jokes in 140 characters, these professionals haven’t eaten or slept well either–they have gone deep into harm’s way to help those who need their help–AND TO REPORT THE NEWS. FOR ONCE WE HAVE REAL NEWS HERE, PEOPLE, AND BEING REPORTED–AND NOBODY IS PAYING ATTENTION.

Where Is America This Deep Night?

Where’s the America That has taken to social media after earthquakes, and terror attacks, to seek real news and help those who need it–if only with prayers? Where is the America I have been seeing during Donald Trump’s Campaign? Well, if you’re out there and are just now finding out about this–the link above is everything to date. And please–extend prayers–if nothing else.

If you already knew, and are spending your time bitching about the FAKE NEWS ON MSM, THEN CAN YOU SPARE 5 MINUTES TO GO THANK THE REAL NEWSMEN AND NEWSWOMEN AT THESE THREE STATIONS? 

If you’re beginning to get the idea I am angry–good for you. Because I am. Americans are better than this. There is more to MAGA than tweets, and jibes at Mittens. There’s taking the extra 10 seconds to thank the only real jounalists in the country at the moment, and to tell your fellow Americans in Tennessee AND THE OTHER SOUTHERN STATES BURNING TONIGHT That even if the MSM has decided they aren’t important–you think they are.

Next–A Girl And Her Horse