(Here is another story I wrote when Luke and Tess were just babies—early 1994? I was probably 26 here and feeling like a true adult. )
It is 10:30 pm on a Friday night.
Sirens are blaring, winds are blowing. A tornado has been sighted. It has torn across Marshalltown, Nevada, and now it is heading for us. My husband and I are sitting in the living room of our Ames, Iowa home. We hear the garbage cans rolling away from their spots, the wind whipping through the screen of the porch door, cars zooming speedily past, and the neighbor’s dog yelping in fright. Should we take cover, disrupting our peaceful evening, or should we wait it out—assuming that it will just blow over as the other ones have in recent weeks?
The children are sound asleep in their beds. We have decided upon safety and the radio announcer confirms our choice. We each retrieve a groggy child, and we carry them gingerly to the basement. The second siren sounds and warns us rudely of impending danger. We lay the children down gently on the rough gray carpet and wait.
We are the parents now. We have to do something. We can no longer look to our parents to tell us what to do in times of danger. We are the parents now, and our children look to us. It’s a scary realization and we try to act like we can protect our flock—our family—from the evil of this world. And we try not to act frightened, even when we are.
Baby fusses. Boy cries at being awakened from his sleep. Even in their drowsiness, they sense that something is wrong. I cover each with a flannel baby blanket and sing them “Jesus Loves Me” as Daddy listens to the radio for direction and hope of safety.
Finally, I lay down too, and notice that the children are holding hands in their new-found sleep. The serene and peaceful picture of their small hands folded together contrasts greatly with the wind and fury outside—like a Norman Rockwell scene superimposed on Picasso.
A silent fear rushes through me as I realize that I have done all I can for them right now. I slowly realize that everything I have, everything I’ve worked for could be swept away in minutes. Our lives could be threatened. It could happen to me.
The unleashed power of nature is far stronger than man’s power, and I know I am incapable of saving myself or my family. I am but a dot in the big picture of life, and my life is but a breath. God is bigger than all of it, and I pray to Him for help. And as I pray to God for our safety, I truly realize how helpless I am and how little control I actually have over my own and my family’s destiny.
The sirens stop. Finally, we are safe. I am relieved—but changed, and I know that my life, my world, is not, and never has been, in my own hands.