We were getting scared. From the porch of our home — with my wife Elicia and our three children — I watched the angry Atlantic Ocean pounding the New Jersey shoreline and dunes, only the distance of a football field away, as Hurricane Sandy’s winds became more fierce.
We’d been in a state of uncertainty. Our bags were packed. The equipment for our special needs child, who requires a feeding tube, was already in the van. And if we had to vacate our home for the shelters, food and water had been prepared for Reckless, our dog, (pictured top right) who would remain behind in an upstairs room. They’d told us pets were not allowed.
I patted Reckless on the head, giving a slight tug to the collar with his name on it, just to be certain it was securely attached.
Our “calm before the storm” was suddenly broken! A police car rushed by, loudspeakers blaring, “Get out ... get out now! The dunes have broken!”
Elicia and I jumped up, shouting, “C’mon. Let’s go!” As we hustled the kids into the minivan and pulled from our driveway, the water was already over the road. The lights went out. Dark storm clouds plunged us into pitch darkness.
We drove blindly, hoping and hoping we were still on the road. The water was soon above our headlights! We prayed, and prayed, and just kept on going. We were in God’s hands and it was miraculous that we made it out!
As we got to the shelter the kids were worried primarily about their dog. “If I have to swim home tomorrow, I’ll go back to check on Reckless. OK?” I promised.
The next day the waters receded sufficiently for us to drive back home to survey the damage. Reckless was just fine and very glad to see us.
As the kids and I picked up debris from our fenced-in yard, we let Reckless run around.
However, I never saw the break in the fence caused by the storm. Reckless apparently squeezed through when we weren’t looking. I found his broken collar hanging on the fence.
The children endlessly cried at home as I searched a vast area. I drove around for hours, calling every place where storm pets were taken. All I could think of, was my kids saying, “Daddy ... did you come home without our dog?”
Several weeks passed. There was no success in finding Reckless.
Eventually, with winter coming and still no power, we had to move from our home into temporary housing.
A year and a half passed since the devastation of Hurricane Sandy and the loss of Reckless. We never wanted to replace him, hoping and praying that he’d show up.
My oldest daughter turned 10, so we decided her birthday would be an appropriate time for us to get another dog. We went to an animal shelter but they wouldn’t accept us. We have a child under 5.
Then, we discovered that the Monmouth SPCA was only two blocks from our temporary housing. They apparently had no restriction regarding young children and pets.
As Elicia and I walked in to see the dogs we noted that each one had its own glassed-in space, a little larger than a typical shower stall.
As I came to the first window, I was amused. “Hey, that looks like Reckless. Just a little heavier.”
Elicia gazed at the dog for a moment, and shouted, “That IS Reckless! Look at that scar on his head!”
Reckless was brought out to see us. He danced around excitedly, turning in circles, his tail wagging. It was if he were saying, “Hey guys! Where have you been?”
It’s amazing when you count up all the GODwinks: We were passed over by the first animal shelter, then discovered we’d been living just two blocks from where Reckless had been staying for eight months. Finally being able to bring home to our kids THEIR VERY OWN DOG was truly an astonishing symphony of GODwinks!
In the aftermath of such devastating events in our lives, we always strain to see God’s grace rising from the rubble. I know of no time He has disappointed us.
In the ancient Scriptures David pleaded, “Give me a sign of your goodness.” That’s what GODwinks bring to every life; they are little signs of goodness. Like gifts left on your doorstep, you just need to open the door, and open your gift.