On Monday, August 10, at 3:15 p.m., my mom called and told me a storm was coming with at least 80mph winds. She always pays attention to the weather. I, on the other hand, had no idea. I had been sitting quietly on my sofa doing some work from home that afternoon.
I hung up to call my daughter who had just left to go meet a friend at Starbucks. She didn’t answer, so I called my husband who had been taking the other car for an oil change as I prepared to travel later that week. He was walking the mile back from the shop, having left the car to pick up later. Thankfully, as he neared home, he saw my daughter driving and told her to turn around.
At 3:27 p.m., emergency alerts for a tornado warning came through all of our phones.
Sirens started going off. My daughter and I went and sat in our cellar until things were clear. The storm never seemed bad from where we were, but we would later learn that at 3:35 p.m., an EF-1 tornado hit our church four blocks away, toppling the steeple and leaving it on its side, and continued onto the front lawn of the college across the street. There was other damage to the roof and trees, but the image of the steeple was most shocking.
The next day, we would read the official report:
I was familiar with a derecho because one hit Memphis, where I grew up, in July 2003, in the early morning. My mom and step-dad couldn’t get out of the back of their house due to the downed trees, and they were without power for 15 days. The damage was incredible, with massive trees uprooted around town. It was likely much more similar to what we are seeing in Iowa now, as they still recover from this. Though it seems to be a rare weather occurrence, when one hits, it leaves its mark and is unforgettable.
There are no doubt many takeaways from an event like this, which came in the midst of so many other worldwide and national stresses. However, for today, in this little space, I simply want to record it and give thanks to God for His protection. Some storms of life rush in quickly, unexpected, and move out quickly (though the recovery can last longer), while other storms of life seem to come and stay, lasting months if not years. We’ve seen both in 2020, but through it all, I’m finding that God is still faithful, still good, still caring for us, still leading us through these storms of life. He is worthy of our trust. I am grateful and want to give Him praise today and always.
As I note today’s date, August 22, I want to also recognize it’s my father’s birthday. He would have been 78 today! He passed away when I was 10 weeks old, so I don’t have personal memories of him, but I give thanks to God today for the blessing of my father and the love he had for us.
This song is in my mind as I close, so I’ll share it. I was unfamiliar with it, but we sang it on March 7, 2020, at a Beth Moore event here in Wheaton. At the time, we didn’t know that would be the last time we would comfortably gather in groups of 1000s. We didn’t know those would be the last hugs we would give to friends. Beth spoke on barrenness. Looking back, doesn’t that message seem appropriate with what lay ahead!? She said God sees us in a barren landscape and is attracted to those who lift up their faces to Him for help, who say, “God, make us fruitful again.” So let’s keep looking up, keep lifting our faces, keep crying out to our sovereign God who hears and answers, and wait on Him with confident expectation that He is doing all things well.