The little girl stood before the small civic group on a Thursday morning before breakfast. The morning after Hurricane Ian made landfall.
The child had brunette pigtail braids. A white dress. Patent leather shoes.
It was your average weekday. Local business people gathered for a quick meeting before going to work.
Tired businesspersons sat at small circular tables, wearing sports jackets and neckties. Wearing hosiery and skirt suits. I had been invited here by my friend Howie. I was wearing a tie, if you can imagine.
I was wishing I would have never agreed to come.
When the little girl took the podium, I was wandering through the buffet line, stacking a Styrofoam plate with imitation breakfast fare that tasted more like wet napkins than it did edible organic matter.
The little girl tested the sound system by tapping the microphone loudly. The speakers nearly exploded.
TAP! TAP! TAP!
That got everyone listening.
“Can I have everyone’s attention?” said the master of ceremonies. “We have a special guest here to pray for breakfast today.”
He presented the girl. Everyone applauded.
The girl’s name was Sadie. She was 9 years old. Sadie’s grandmother lives in Fort Myers, Florida, and nobody has heard from the grandmother yet.
Sadie is taking it pretty hard. Her mother is a wreck. Her father has driven down to Fort Meyers to locate the elderly woman.
Ever since Ian hit, hundreds are presumed dead in Lee County. Florida is a disaster zone.
Everyone bows their heads.
“Dear Lord,” Sadie began. “Please help the people in Florida.”
And this is all she says. She is a kid. Not a public speaker.
Her words were followed by a long silence. Sadie didn’t really know what to say. Her mother told me that her daughter had not spoken before a crowd this large before.
Sadie added nervously, “Help everyone to be okay, God.”
This was followed by another long gap. A quietude that was starting to get pretty awkward.
Until someone in the audience added their words.
“God, let the Florida’s power come back on soon,” a man said in the back.
An older woman in a tweed suit chimed in, “And help the people who drowned, dear God. Help their families find their bodies, and give their families strength to endure the worst.”
“Help my son, Lord,” said one white-haired man. “God. Help Justin and his family get power back on.”
A woman with hair that was more blue than white, said, “Father God, grant safety to the linemen and the linewomen who are trying to restore the power to Lee County, Florida. Guide their hands, and keep them from harm.”
A mid-forties man with cropped red hair and forearms like Virginia hams. “Help the young woman I saw on the news to find her children, dear Lord. Help that poor, poor family.”
“Help all the pets,” said a youngish professional woman with a blond ponytail. “All those dogs and cats who are confused, wandering around, and don’t know where to go. Please help them.”
“Grant grace to the emergency crews and first responders, God,” said a man who looked like a military guy. Crew cut. Large shoulders. He looked like he could crush a Buick’s front end with his bare hands. “Help the EMTs, Lord. I know they have their work cut out for them.”
“Please God,” said a guy in the back of the room. “Please let families find their missing people. Please be with all the people who’re looking for someone they love.”
This got several yeses from the audience and three amens.
“I pray, Lord,” said a young guy with a mullet and a mustache, which is apparently a popular hairstyle again, “that you would let the policemen be taken care of. Those officers get put into some horrible situations, God. Please take care of my brothers. Help them to stay safe in all this mess.”
“Heavenly father,” said one woman. “Watch over my daughter in Southwest Florida. Please. God, if anyone can protect her, it’s you. Please let her call her mother when she gets a moment.”
The woman began to cry.
Then the whole room went quiet. Nothing can make a room fall silent like a woman’s tears.
A small civic group. A Thursday morning before breakfast. The morning after Hurricane Ian made landfall.
Sadie spoke into the microphone like an old pro. “And all God’s people said?”
And well, you know the rest.
Kim - September 30, 2022 7:00 am
Carole - October 7, 2022 2:34 pm
Ed (Bear) - September 30, 2022 7:14 am
Dawn Hockenberry - September 30, 2022 7:47 am
Laura W - September 30, 2022 8:55 am
Debbie - September 30, 2022 9:07 am
Mary - September 30, 2022 9:13 am
I live in Palm Harbor FL. So thankful Ian barely touched us and so sad for my neighbors less than 100 miles south. God bless us all.
Roxanne Taylor - September 30, 2022 9:27 am
Sean, my husband and I live in Lakeland, which is in the central part of Florida. I’ve lived my entire 68 years in this great state and have experienced many hurricanes, including 3 that hit us all in one season. One of those resulted in 9 days without power. Thankfully Ian only left us with tons of debris and no power for 16 hours, which was no biggie. Your post today is a true reflection of the faith and moral compass of the majority of people in this great country. The division and strife we see on TV is not who we really are. We are people who help one another and who pray for one another. God bless our great nation and our great state of Florida.
Christine - September 30, 2022 10:33 am
Roxanne Taylor, that’s a big AMEN.
Roxanne - September 30, 2022 1:29 pm
Roxanne Taylor, I like your name. And I agree with you 100%. I live in Houston. We know a thing or three about hurricanes and tropical storms here as well. Floridians will rise, and so will people across our land as they send supplies, money, workers, trucks, wood chippers, food, and generators. In Jesus’ mighty name, all will be blessed.
Nancy - September 30, 2022 1:35 pm
Amen and God bless you all down in Florida.
Lloyd Cuskaden - September 30, 2022 9:51 am
Thank you Jesus!!
Anne Arthur - September 30, 2022 10:40 am
Thank you, Lord, for keeping my friends in Ft. Myers safe, who only lost some garden structures and patio covers but they and their houses are intact. They were in the barrel of this monster, but you kept them safe, Lord. Thank you.
Please help all others in their great need and protect those who come to their rescue. Amen.
Julie Hall - September 30, 2022 10:47 am
Ken Davis - September 30, 2022 10:50 am
ALLEN - September 30, 2022 10:51 am
Joy Jacobs - September 30, 2022 10:58 am
Thanks for sharing. It really makes the whole horrible situation real to me. I can’t do much but I can pray. ❤️
Maureen A Chapman - September 30, 2022 11:00 am
Thank you for this, Sean of the South.
I live in NC. This is my fist experience regarding a hurricane.🌀
I was born in Wisconsin and spent almost 40 years in AZ. I moved here because my children and grandchildren live on the East Coast and they were not coming back out West. My husband died over 19 years ago and my health issues have become increasingly difficult to manage. My children were worried about me and felt helpless, so I moved closer to them. During a pandemic, knowing no one. Feeling very alone and even more isolated. Wondering if I made the right decision moving or if I should have stayed where everything was familliar.
Should I stay or should I go?
Kind of like millions of people right now.
I can feel their pain and suffering in every fiber of my being.
Lord, God, hear their prayers and those of their loved ones.
Debbie - September 30, 2022 12:37 pm
Maureen Chapman…. My prayers are with you. God bless you, give you confidence and strength and all it takes to make your life happy, and full of love and contentment. Your sister in Christ, Debbie
Tammy S. - September 30, 2022 11:01 am
Amen, and may it all be so, Lord.
Svetlana Lang - September 30, 2022 11:22 am
Amen and Amen and Amen.
janet - September 30, 2022 11:28 am
Amen. Amen, indeed.
Stephen Sauer - September 30, 2022 11:29 am
AlaRedClayGirl - September 30, 2022 11:36 am
Praying for all those affected by Hurricane Ian.
Caroline - September 30, 2022 11:53 am
…And dear God, please help my best friends Dick and Mary, near Orlando, who lost their home and are needing Your strength and guidance.
Priscilla Rodgers - September 30, 2022 11:56 am
And another amen
Tom - September 30, 2022 12:27 pm
bsue - September 30, 2022 12:52 pm
You made me cry, Sean. That’s saying a lot, believe me. I’m adding my prayers to the hundreds on their knees, literally and figuratively.
Amen and amen.
Toni - September 30, 2022 12:53 pm
Pamela Davis - September 30, 2022 1:05 pm
When you can’t do anything else, you can pray. Thank you for this post.
Mary - September 30, 2022 1:07 pm
Lord, hear our prayer.
sflouden - September 30, 2022 1:17 pm
Thank you Sean, nothing could have put the prayers on the tips of my tongue as much as this…and we all say Amen!
Susan Benecasa - September 30, 2022 1:27 pm
Chasity Davis Ritter - September 30, 2022 1:28 pm
I think they covered it all. Amen.
Roxanne - September 30, 2022 1:29 pm
mccutchen52 - September 30, 2022 1:40 pm
Debbie g - September 30, 2022 1:45 pm
Becky Thomas - September 30, 2022 1:45 pm
Praying for my friend who is still missing.
Buddy Bob's Best Friend - September 30, 2022 1:55 pm
David Britnell - September 30, 2022 1:57 pm
This made me well up. Lord be with everyone just like you always are! Grant protection to them.
Tina - September 30, 2022 2:18 pm
Karen - September 30, 2022 2:22 pm
Rhonda - September 30, 2022 2:35 pm
Judie Perye - September 30, 2022 2:38 pm
Dawn Hansen - September 30, 2022 2:47 pm
Sean, I’m from N. Ft. Myers, FL. My husband made me leave Tuesday night, but my husband and sons stayed down there and rode out the storm. God took care of my family, but the devastation is unbelievable. Entire communities are gone. Cell reception is very spotty, so no news doesn’t necessarily mean bad news – Don’t give up. Your post really gave me a peace. It vocalizes all of the prayers that my friends and family have been sending up to God. Everyone please keep praying. I pray that Sadie’s dad finds her grandmother safe and sound.
Sara Allen - September 30, 2022 3:14 pm
Stacey Wallace - September 30, 2022 3:18 pm
Every morning, I read your column aloud to my husband Mike. Today, it made me cry. We are praying for the people of Florida.
Susie Flick - September 30, 2022 3:38 pm
AMEN! Prayers for everyone, God bless them all.
Roma Walsh - September 30, 2022 3:45 pm
Kathy - September 30, 2022 3:48 pm
Powerful! Brought tears to my eyes.
Peggy M. Windham - September 30, 2022 4:01 pm
Perfect prayers for Florida! Amen!!🙏🙏
LIN ARNOLD - September 30, 2022 4:01 pm
Dear God, please help those families waiting on a razor’s edge … waiting to hear from their friends and families in the path of Ian’s destruction … waiting to hear that they are ok. And Lord, please keep those that have suffered losses to find peace in the knowledge that You have them in your loving arms. Amen.
Chris Spencer - September 30, 2022 4:19 pm
Sean this is the best you’ve ever written. Thank you Sadie. Lord, please help all the people of Florida in whatever way they need. Amen.
Suellen - September 30, 2022 4:53 pm
Linda Moon - September 30, 2022 6:33 pm
Yes. Dear God. And yes to patent leather shoes, too. But to hosiery, no. I know the rest, and who do we turn to if not God and His people.? You are one of those people, Sean Dietrich.
Tom - September 30, 2022 6:42 pm
This one made my eyes leak – praying for all the folks in Florida.
Steve McCaleb - September 30, 2022 6:57 pm
From Sadie’s lips and those of her listeners to God’s ear. May it all be so. Amen
CELIA - September 30, 2022 7:31 pm
Amen and thank you Father God, Lord Jesus, and Holy Spirit.
MAM - September 30, 2022 7:49 pm
Tears definitely welled up on this one But ALWAYS prayers are needed for any situation like this. Keep praying. And a large Amen.
Beth - September 30, 2022 9:05 pm
Susan Kennedy - September 30, 2022 10:14 pm
Beverly - October 1, 2022 12:06 am
I just spoke to my daughter , who lives alone in a Condo in Cape Coral…. Gas lines are long.. but, Publix & BJ’s are open.
No electricity in Lee county yet ( Cape Coral, Naples, Ft Myers, Sanibel & Captiva).
Thankfully, about an hour ago , she got water !!! Not heavy, but enough to fill the John for flushing & stuff like that….
I’m in Nashville, but lived almost all my life in So Fl & my girls grew up there,.. she was as prepared as could be for the storm…. I’m thankful she’s ok & pray for everyone affected by the storm as i believe all of you all did.. prayers always helps.. thanks guys & thank the Lord🙏☮️🏻
suzi - October 1, 2022 12:49 am
Tears and a prayer.
A little child shall lead them.
Faye - October 1, 2022 2:51 am
Patricia Taylor - October 1, 2022 5:21 am
RichardC - October 1, 2022 11:49 am
Wonderful! Praise God.
Edith Reed - October 1, 2022 2:18 pm
3 thumbs up
gaffstergal - October 1, 2022 2:28 pm
What a wonderful story! Having grown up on the Gulf coast in Texas, we lived through many a day like this small civic crowd, and without the communication tools available today. The responses from the group to help Sadie along were moving, but her closing remark gives us hope for the country we loved and trusted that it feared God.
Kathy - October 16, 2022 1:22 am
I was going to say something stupid like investing in kleenex.
What this post did was make my heart sing for joy of the kindness of those that supported this young girl.