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Dodging Tornadoes ?

Certainly, I’m not sure what is going on in my life at any given moment, but whatever it is of late, it has to do with dodging and near-misses.

Sunday afternoon, after returning from the wedding, we made a leisurely drive-stroll through Alabama. We stopped in one of our favorite towns, and former homes, Birmingham, and hit Cahaba Heights to eat at a cool place called Mudtown.

Edward spilled his Sprite, swizzled ketchup and twirled precariously on his stool.  Sue insisted on visiting the bathroom the minute we hit the place and rejected her chicken fingers because the breading was too “spikey.”

Things felt normal.

We’d already seen a rainbow earlier, and much to the excitement of the boys, an old couch floating in a flooded culvert, so we felt quite peaceful and jolly about the storms.

(Sorry I missed the couch in the shot! Isn’t this photographic excellence?  I know Karla will be particularly impressed for two reasons.)


We’re relaxing on the porch with our salads and sweet teas, enjoying the break in rain,when the storm sirens suddenly go off.  H leisurely walks inside the restaurant only to notice blaring tornado-red Weather Channel panic.  Soon we are faced with several looming tornadoes quote close to the restaurant.

Our waitress speaks in shrill tones to her cell phone, “The tornado just hit my neighborhood!  My children are OK.  They were on the trampoline but my neighbor’s house is toast!”  She throws down our bill and rushes inside to check the weather.

Soon we realize that if we hadn’t stopped at this lovely spot, we would have driven right through one tornado and directly into the paths of at least three more!

Joseph began to feel a bit panicky, with good reason.  Two years ago, a large tornado hit our neighborhood, completely destroying one of our best friend’s homes, our former church and 13 other houses nearby.  The devastation was massive and shocking, and the freight train sound and fear of what could have happened have lingered with Joseph, and of course, many others.

With dueling cell phones connected to weather.com, we tracked the storms throughout the night, stopping to let certain angry “cells” pass and arriving home around 1 am with two sleeping children and one wide-awake Edward!  We barely missed one tornado that actually hit our town, causing damage to several businesses and homes, but thankfully injuring no one.

During the whole drive I felt undeniable peace.  I knew God was protecting us, and I knew we would arrive home unscathed, despite the rain, potential hail, other reckless drivers, hydroplaning and a host of other typical fears that generally plague me in situations such as this.  This assurance allowed me, often a fearful, anxious person, to (hopefully), pass my faith-confidence on to my son.

While I was thinking about the whole experience, the term “dodging” kept running through my mind.  Yet as I worked on this post, I realized there was no dodging on my part.  Instead it was God who was guiding us through this literal storm just as He guides us through the figurative storms of life.  And whereas I so often rush to panic, and therefore cause alarm and terror in my children, by remaining calm and giving in to a new level of trust, I finally gave my children an important gift.

While I was pregnant with Sue, I had many occasions to “rush to panic,” yet early in the pregnancy a dear friend’s mother gave me this verse from Isaiah 28:16:

“So this is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘See I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.'”

Certainly this verse spoke volumes to a mother with two recent miscarriages: the stone, the tiny embryo; the foundation, my womb.

Another translation of this verse reads, “If you trust in Him, you will not give way to sudden panic.”

Sue is almost four, and sadly I had “abandoned” this verse in an old flip-deck of verses I used to carry around.  I’ve panicked too many times when Edward or Sue crashed over backward in a chair onto the tile floor, fell off the patio table onto concrete, or simply ran headlong into a door jamb, their foreheads purpling with a burgeoning swell of unknown severity, ice bags applied, pupils checked, prayers muttered.

I’ve screamed too many times Joseph has almost fallen out of a tree, cavalierly employed a butcher knife to open a video game or been crunched in football by a hulking boy twice his size.

Sudden panic has been my middle name throughout much of motherhood, and I have realized this week that it must stop.

Posted on 23 April '09 by , under Faith is the Evidence.

6 Comments to “Dodging Tornadoes ?”

#1 Posted by Danette (25.04.09 at 02:06 )

What a great reminder, and that verse is beautiful. We had a bit of a tornado scare recently too – tornado sirens going off, dark clouds swirling, and a big red patch right on top of us on the radar. We spent the evening hanging out in our neighbor’s basement (we have no basement and the only downstairs room w/ no windows is a closet). Thankfully, nothing touched down and the storm passed… I’m glad to hear ya’ll made it home safely too.

Danettes last blog post..Autism awareness month links

#2 Posted by Steph at the Red Clay Diaries (25.04.09 at 11:44 )

Beautiful realizations and beautifully written. I’m less the queen of panic and more the queen of denial. But even though we take different paths, I think we share a tendency: to look away from God, our protector. In my case, I kinda look inward, fingers in ears, lalalalaing to cover up the fear.

Either way, I totally agree with the “not rushing”. I love how your drive home had an obstacle course feel to it. Move forward. Wait. Take a detour. Move again. Wait again.

So glad you got home safely, and that your home was also unscathed.

Steph at the Red Clay Diariess last blog post..Tantrums that would end if I would just buy her a ball and a hamster she could name Rhino Jr, and grammar hilarity

#3 Posted by Tari (25.04.09 at 20:04 )

Amen! I panic all the time (well, we know there’s a reason for that) and I need to do what you’re doing!

Taris last blog post..Crabby

#4 Posted by Patty (25.04.09 at 22:55 )

Wow! Thank you for this post. I do the same thing and just recently saw a bit of how bad it is for the kids. The other day, I saw a mouse (yes, we discovered we have a mouse in the house and have gone about putting out traps, etc) and I totally screamed. A lot. Well, it scared the tar out of poor Danny. I had to comfort him and apologize for my stupidity. I felt so bad for scaring him over something so dumb.

Pattys last blog post..is it WW or Sesame Street?

#5 Posted by astarte (29.04.09 at 12:00 )

As someone who has never seen a tornado in person, just reading this scared the bananas out of me!!! You were so calm about it!!!!!! Egad!!!!

#6 Posted by Margie (23.10.16 at 23:26 )

I also would add eyes into the equation. Close your eyes while standing on both legs. Stand on one leg, when th#7&a821t;s solid, close your eyes… Before I even have older or unstable moving I test out balance.