Armed with six children, my sister, her hubby, Jerry and I all made our way to our respective vehicles and began piling all the kids into their car seats. We had just enjoyed a family event at church and heard "rumblings" that there were tornado warnings covering the Chicago area. Little did we know the rumblings were right overhead, because as we were pulling out of the parking lot, I heard sirens indicating we were under a tornado warning.
My heart began to pound and my mouth went dry. I started frantically dialing the phone to call my husband who had two of the kids (ours) while also trying to fumble with the radio to find an AM station that would give me some weather.
My instinct was to pull off and seek shelter at the nearest place we could find. Unfortunately that place was a bowling alley. Not a good option.
Thankfully my sis called me and told me to keep driving and head to my mom's. We needed to get out of the immediate area and find safety elsewhere. (Thankfully, my mom and dad's house is a fortress of safety.)
The entire way, I was speeding (not good since I'm currently driving on a ticket until I go to driver school after my little episode a month ago), scanning the horizon for funnel clouds, STILL trying to find an AM station, nonchalantly cracking the windows so I could listen for more sirens, while calmly telling two little angel girls behind me that everything was just fine and to not worry about the massive thunder and lightening show that was going on all around us.
The thing I forgot to do was to keep myself calm and to remember that God is in control...even when we find ourselves in the eye of the storm.
I just really wanted my mommy.
But wait. I had to be the mommy.
Once we got home, Cody ran, NO sprinted, to the door while all the other kids seemed somewhat oblivious to what was going on. Cody learned about tornadoes at school. He was keenly aware of what was happening.
I was on phone and taking care of snack duty while Jerry turned on the TV and kept an eye on the ever-changing, increasingly dangerous weather. It was everything I could do to keep my voice and hands from shaking while taking care of the kids and not daring to let them see me quake.
I am the adult. I am the mommy. (AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!)
My mom and dad periodically called from their place of work to check in and give me instructions while calmly talking me down and telling me where to find emergency materials. Meanwhile, a roof is flying off an adjacent building where they were and trees and limbs were crashing down all around them. (God graciously spared them, their building, and all their students. He is so good.)
At one point, my dad cut out while we were talking, and I stood there with the phone to my ear, repeating "He's gone. He's GONE!" Stay calm, Happi. Stay calm.
Meanwhile, my sister Kari is calling to check in, telling me to "stay in the basement....just stay in the basement, okay?" (Seriously, people. What on earth did we ever do without cell phones?)
Next, my other sister Darci calls wanting to talk to her girls since she's out of town. I finally had to tell her we were in a slightly dangerous weather situation and that they really couldn't talk right now.
Back in I go to check on the kids, where I find that they have gotten out a little glass tea set with miniature plates and cups, finished off an entire bag of goldfish, eaten all the fruit snacks I'd given them and were now starting in on the grapes. My favorite moment was when one of them handed me the teeny tiny little tea kettle wanting me to fill it with all the goldfish it could hold. (I think I was able to fit two or three in there!) Each of them was glued to the television chomping food from their little fists (or tea cups) while happy little "Over the Hedge" creatures entertained them. Can you say oblivious? What a glorious thing to be three and totally unaware.
Suddenly, Jerry calls me out into the other room and updates me. The Weather Channel is saying this storm is WORSE than a tornado because of the widespread damage that can be caused by the 80 to 100 mph winds.
Back in I go to the kids, putting on my calm mommy smile and asking how they're all doing.
Cody looks me in the eye and says, "Mom. We need to pray. We just really need to pray."
Right. How could I have forgotten that part?
I looked to him to pray. Thankfully he took the cue.
"Dear Lord Jesus, heavenly Father," he said, "We know you can keep us safe. Please protect us all and watch over us. And in Jesus' Name, Amen."
Sometimes we need children to be the voice of reason when we adults just can't quite pull it together.
As it turned out, we all made it out of the storm and into safety. We were graciously protected. I'll tell you what, though. I have never been happier to see my mom and dad more than the moment they walked in the door. I practically fell like a rag doll into my dad's arms. (Love you, Papa!)
I learned a valuable lesson once again, that my trust is never to be in myself, but in the One who created me.
I just wish I wasn't such a slow learner.