Experiencing a Tornado

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Our spring was kind of crazy this year.  Just as our school year and extracurricular activities were winding down, our town was hit by a tornado.  The funny thing is, we studied earth science last year, and when we learned about tornadoes, my children asked if one would ever happen where we live.  I responded that it was unlikely.  I guess I was wrong!

We were in the parking lot at the supermarket when it hit.  My cell phone had just announced “Tornado warning in your area.  Seek shelter immediately.”

Rain started pelting our car harder than I have ever seen, and the wind was out of control.  In retrospect, we should have just gone back in the supermarket until it was over.  Because we were only 10 to 15 minutes from home, though, we tried to get home as quickly as possible.  However, we live in a very wooded area, so we found that every street that we tried to go down was blocked by fallen trees, with tall trees waving threateningly everywhere around us.  We ended up having to turn back and find another road to go down.  At one point, we reached a road that was blocked, but several cars were trying to get past, so my husband and the other drivers hopped out and were able to pull the tree out of the way so that we could pass.

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We finally got to the entrance of our neighborhood and found that we couldn’t go in, because a large tree was blocking it, along with the power lines that it had taken down with it.  The storm had ended.  We briefly considered finding a hotel for the night, but our two-month-old puppy was at home, alone, in his crate.  We had to get to the house.  So, we parked our car, and my husband, two little ones and I got out and started for home on foot.  We had to hike through our neighbors’ yards because the whole length of the street was covered in downed trees and power lines.  There was so much destruction that we were afraid to see what our house looked like.

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When we finally arrived home, we were shocked to see that we only had some branches down, but not one tree had fallen.  There was no damage to our house.  The only real concern was three very large trees had been partially uprooted and were now sitting on an angle.  We ended up having two of them taken down shortly after, as they would have come down on their own in the next big storm, possibly killing someone.  The largest of the three was 96 feet tall.

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We were grateful to have made it home safely and that our home was not damaged in the storm.  There were at least two deaths in the area that day and extensive property damage.  This house, that is down the street from us, had a tree fall through the second story, landing just 5 to 10 feet away from where someone was sleeping.

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During the storm, the twister was yanking trees right out of the ground, roots and all, and then slamming them back down to the earth.  We live in a lakeside community, and as the twister traveled down the lake, it even ripped the porch right off of a house along the water.

Because of all the downed power lines, we were without power for almost a week.  Since most people in town have well water, that meant we were without running water also.

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During this adventure, my eldest son wondered why nature was so destructive at times.  I wasn’t really sure how to answer that.  As life began to return to normal and roads were opened up again, there were some very noticeable changes in the landscape, though.  A pine forest around the corner had lost so many tall trees and tops of trees that a previously dark road was now bathed in sunlight.  Our vegetable and flower gardens receive much more light as a result of the 96-footer that was taken down.

Our yard is covered in heavy, dead branches that loom threateningly and that were scheduled to be taken down in the spring but that had to be put on hold because the tree-trimmers are too busy with emergency clean-up work (our leaners fell under that category).    If left to their own devices, those dead areas aren’t going anywhere until nature sees fit to bring them down in some catastrophic way.  In the meantime, they prevent the light from nourishing the new life that is trying to emerge underneath.

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Perhaps these storms are a metaphor for our own spiritual walks.  When God comes along and tears down our strongholds, it is painful at the time and can appear to us to be destructive.  In the long run, though, we discover that it was necessary for the new growth that He wanted to work in our lives.  As long as we were clinging to those old, dead areas, the light was unable to get through and shine where it needed to.

 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Developing Patience for the Road Ahead

Developing Patience for the Road Ahead

Back in May, I wrote this post for the Homeschooling with Heart blog.   I almost didn’t get it written, because a tornado hit our state, and we lost power for almost a week.

The first two days, my children kept asking when they’d be able to watch TV or use the computer again.  I’ve made a point to limit their screen time, and because there was less availability and dependence on these things when I was raising my two adult children, having a device always on hand to entertain them just didn’t seem natural to me.  Even so, my kids still went through a withdrawal of the screen time that they are allowed to have.

They began to wander outside frequently to entertain themselves and joined with some neighborhood children to build a shelter in the woods behind our house.  I ended up having to coax them indoors for meals.  They managed to find something to engage them that also created an opportunity for teamwork and socialization.  It was almost a blessing in disguise.

Meanwhile, I was going through the withdrawal of having running water and access to information about what was going on, without phone or internet service.  I attempted to model patience for my children, along with gratitude that our home was not damaged in the storm and none of us was injured, although it became more difficult to do as the week wore on.

My reflection on this experience is that you never know when a situation like this will happen.  Many things are out of our control, and it is easier for you and your children to deal with when the virtue of patience has been developed.  It is these moments when it is really put to the test that you begin to realize just what an important life skill it is and how much you are actually lacking it versus what you would normally give yourself credit for.

In my opinion, the real long-term benefit of learning to wait until later for what you want now is the ability to wait on God.  It took many years of waiting and praying before I met my husband.  It might be a spouse, a job, the birth of a child, or any number of things that you or your child needs to wait on God for.

One thing that I have found helpful for my own children is making it the default that they wait in public (at a sibling’s extracurricular activity; at the DMV) without devices to entertain them.  If they’ve had practice stretching and developing those muscles during these short periods of waiting, I believe it will help them to be better prepared for the marathon when it inevitably comes.

My goals for the future are to be a better example of patient waiting in times of stress, to pray that God strengthens both my patience and that of my children, and to trust that He can do this work in us.

 

“A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him by heaven.” – John 4:27

“But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.” – Luke 8:15