Scanning and Smiling – Tornado Lessons

As I drove away from my beloved home in Washington, a very rare tornado hit my little town of Battle Ground!  As a general rule, tornadoes do not happen in Washington.   The sky was very black, there was thunder and that sense of impending “severe weather.”  Mark hurried the girls and I out the door, into our van and on our way.  We didn’t even have time to be sad.

Tornado in Battle Ground, WA

Mark and David were staying an extra day so that David could attend school – besides the movers were still there.  David was able to see the tornado from his school window.  It was  good one, toppling trees up to 3 feet in diameter.  As far as I can tell, our van missed it by about two minutes and one mile.
Another historic tornado welcomed us to Texas.  Dallas has never had a tornado in December, but here it was!  Our family sat on our patio that evening watching a beautiful electrical storm.  Our phones suddenly gave us a tornado warning.  We weren’t sure what to think of this.  A few minutes later the tornado sirens went off and we decided to go inside – stepping outside occasionally to feel the warm wind and hear the thunder.   ( I really, really enjoy thunder and lightning.)
I was unpacking boxes in my office when the wind and rain outside became very loud.  I think that this is when the tornado must have hit.  It wasn’t until we began to get texts and calls from family and friends checking on our safety that we realized just how close we were and how destructive this category 4 tornado had been.

Finding our niche

   Lesson One – Had we taken these tornado warnings seriously enough?  No.  We do have an area under our stairs which appears to be reinforced and we have left it mostly empty for this type of emergency… but we weren’t there.  We have come out of this with an increased realization that we must be better prepared – emergency kits and even more so – all of those important papers that we keep meaning to organize, scan, store in a secure spot, etc.
Two weeks later we still haven’t done these things!  What is it that makes us procrastinate something so important?
Better lesson – what other warnings do we receive and not act upon?  I am think of personal items – perhaps a warning from a doctor about the need to change certain habits.  Maybe we read a book showing us how to improve a relationship or a talent and we feel those stirrings to follow up on the advice.  Most importantly – what about spiritual warnings that come as a response to our study and prayer?  Do we recognize them and still not act?
I am thinking that to be the type of person I most want to be will mean acting on all of these types of warnings….
I won’t type more about that.  However, I think it would be a healthy use of time to make a list of some of these unheeded warnings – perhaps each day we could check just one of them off.  I know I would feel better and BE better…  Yikes, now I am planning to post this for anyone to read I am feeling much more accountable.   So I will be specific – I will gather, scan and file a stack of important papers.  That will be first on my list.  If I like the way it feels (I know I will), I will come up with another item.

This fireplace and clock
stopped me in my tracks

   Lesson Two – As I walked this morning I enjoyed the quiet time to myself and the peaceful neighborhood.  Suddenly I recalled the sights of last weekend when my family went to help with the cleanup of a home devastated by the tornado.  This neighborhood (of brick homes) in the city of Rowlett was like a war zone.  Tears filled my eyes as we parked and walked to our destination.  Sobered.  That was the word I use to describe my feelings.  That is the same word I heard from many others.
I am often frustrated when I experience the beauty of nature on a hike or at the beach and I want to share it with others.  Photographs never convey the true beauty, probably because it is more than what  our eyes are seeing – I guess beauty is a feeling as well.  It is the whole experience.  Likewise, images on the television cannot duplicate the feelings of walking through this devastation.  We can see and take photos, but the feelings that are there permeate our souls.

Some brick homes are entirely gone!

As first we didn’t really know how to help.  Mark and David found their way into the home and helped salvage personal items to bring outside.  The girls and I helped to pack these items to be taken to a new home.  There were many, many volunteers – all anxious to help.  Each person or group found their niche and together we accomplished a lot.  Young men carried our full boxes to the front yard to be hauled away.  Groups of men came from yard to yard to take large debris and put it onto piles.  A woman (bless her) brought a large bin -house to house- of individually wrapped beef tacos to share.

Taco Break

So, as I walked this morning in peace and reflected on what was happening across the lake I reflected on personal lives.  It was foggy and the homes I passed appeared serene, but I don’t know what goes on inside those homes.  People we pass in public are generally well groomed and well mannered, but what is happening in their lives and in their hearts?
We don’t have to search very hard to understand that society is full of personal trial and devastation.  On a brighter note, I also believe there are many, many “volunteers” who are willing to help.  If we get out there amongst our friends, neighbors, family and associates (and even strangers), we can all find our niche – and like the tornado volunteers – we can accomplish a lot.
I propose that the best way to start is with a smile and a kind word.  I also propose that the best place to start is within our own homes.
Well – this blog post has just spilled out of my mind and has developed a life of its own – prompting me to heed a little warning I have felt… that it is important for me to smile at my family members.

And that is all that I am going to say about this today….  I have to get busy scanning and smiling!

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