Meet the VBS Writers – GG Mathis

The VBS team thought it might be fun for you to get to know some of our writers, so periodically we’ll be including a blog about one of our writer friends. Today I would like to introduce you to one of our long-time writers who is fun, creative, and has a passion for the kids she teaches at her church. GG Mathis loves her family, writing, kids (especially preteens), and tea! (She actually does tea critiques for a tea taster blog!)

GG Mathis

GG wrote the Grades 1-2 Bible Study for VBS 2012 Amazing Wonders Aviation. She often writes from personal experience, but this year our Bible content hit closer to home than any of us imagined. The day one Bible study is about God’s power over nature. Last May, GG and her family experienced God’s power first hand as an EF-5 tornado tore through Joplin, Missouri. GG and her family were directly in the path of this massive tornado. GG has graciously agreed to share her story. Thanks, GG!


GG’s Story:
It really does sound like a freight train.

The hallway where GG and her family sought shelter.

In this case, the train was an F-5 tornado packing 200-mile-an-hour wind that derailed my home and hometown on May 22, 2011. The storm came so suddenly we didn’t have time to grab a mattress to pull over us. My husband, son and I simply got on our knees (appropriate; we spent the next several minutes in gut-churning, cry-out-to-Heaven prayer), linked wrists, and rode it out. We’d squeeze hands and call out, “Are you OK?” every few minutes as we felt the suction of the roof being ripped off. Miracle #1: the only part of the house left intact was the hallway where we took refuge.

As soon as the twister passed, my husband yelled for us to make a dash for it to his old Explorer, which had two-by-fours sticking out of it at several wacky angles, but would give us a roof over our heads while we figured out what to do next. Because I had the presence of mind to grab my purse, we had the keys on us—my husband said, “Let’s try it.” Miracle #2: “Maggie” the Explorer started as soon as he turned the key.

Maggie’s windshield was shattered and muddy, so with heads hanging out driver and passenger windows, we called out positions to each other so that we could four-wheel it over debris and downed power lines out of our neighborhood. Over the hail and battering rain, I yelled, “Go to the first hotel you see standing south of town.”

We pulled into the Hilton Garden Inn soaked to the skin, shaking with shock and nausea, and one of us barefoot (my son hadn’t grabbed his shoes). People met us at the door with towels and blankets, and one of the first things I remember a staff member saying was, “Would you like a cup of tea?” Miracle #3: we looked out the window moments later, and all four tires on the Explorer were flat.

Hotel guests rummaged through suitcases to fit us with replacements for our filthy, fiberglass-soaked clothes. In minutes, I was outfitted in shirt and shorts from San Diego and a Purdue sweatshirt and flip-flops from Indiana.

And thus began an adventure in God’s provision that has led us from a sopping pile of sawdust and splinters to a small, snug home in a neighborhood where the trees and ground are whole.

When you multiply our story by the hundreds of families in Joplin who experienced God’s sheltering hand during the killer storm, I hope you’ll come to the same conclusion I have: our amazing God is powerful in the storm, after the storm, and in spite of the storm. What a privilege to share that truth with boys and girls this year!

The view of their backyard after the tornado.

6 thoughts on “Meet the VBS Writers – GG Mathis

  1. I am so excited ya’ll are letting us get to know the people who pour their life in giving us tools to share God’s Word with kids!!! Thank for sharing you story!!!

  2. Thanks for the “Meet the writers” feature – good idea, and wow, what a story to start out with! I had no idea GG & family were directly affected by the tornado! Will pray for their continued recovery.

  3. WOW..I am in awe of that story…Thank you so much for sharing..I was praying that day and watching it live on tv….I will never forget what I seen on tv

  4. Hey, I have thought about you many times this past summer! God is great! So glad God took care of you . Your old roomie: Lisa

  5. What a coincidence! My dad & stepmom & my grandmother live in Joplin. Unfortunately, they also lost their homes. I am so thankful that they are all ok. When I went back there to check on them it was overwhelming. We had just went through the tornado here in Tuscaloosa on April & then to have one hit Joplin where my family live. My dad lives in the Duquesne area. Most of their neighborhood was wiped out. My grandmother lived near St. John’s. Luckily she had driven herself to the ER at St. John’s & they took her down underground in a tunnel. My dad & stepmom moved into their new home, on the same property, the first of January . I am glad that you and your family were safe. Have a Blessed Day! Jennifer Thrasher of Tuscaloosa, AL

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