Thursday, May 26, 2011

May in Oklahoma

"April Showers Bring May Flowers"  That's how the old saying goes.  In Oklahoma, though, April showers (or drought, depending on the year) bring May showers.  The bulk of our rain seems to come in May, and oftentimes, it comes with some pretty severe weather.  The state song of Oklahoma is "Oklahoma" from the musical, Oklahoma. (Very easy to remember!) Part of the song talks about how the "wind comes right behind the rain."  For anyone outside of the Oklahoma or the bordering states, that's a fancy, show-tunes way of saying, "When it rains, your gonna get some really nasty wind."

Rain + Wind = Tornado

Now, that's not the technical formula, but it's pretty close!  I've lived in Oklahoma most of my life, and I'm well-versed in tornado precautions.  I've been near them, and I've had close friends and family lose everything (including loved ones) because of them.  They are nothing to play around with.  And when you've lived in Oklahoma as long as me, everyone has their tornado story.  I have two--both with happy endings.  This is the second one:

On Tuesday, May 24th, I had 10 children in my daycare--four of my own children and six extras.  Since we are required to monthly tornado drills anyway, I decided to take them all out to the storm shelter.  I knew there was a chance of severe weather later in the day, and I wanted to be prepared. They did a great job, and actually thought it was pretty fun. 

As it got later into the afternoon, the forecasters started giving more intense and frequent updates, and parents began coming to pickup children.  Slowly, the ten dwindled down to six.  As the last dad came for his two boys, my father-in-law and mother-in-law came over prepared to head to the shelter.  Memaw came from next door too.  It was just minutes after the last child left that Poppy (my father-in-law) told us to head out.  Each child had an adult (plus one dog!) and we piled in just about the time our cousin arrived with her three children. 

Down into the storm shelter we went.  Poppy manned the door, and I was right next to him.  (I'm a little extremely claustrophobic.)  Being the true Okies that we are, we were waiting for the very last minute to shut the door.  As he and I looked out at the sky, we couldn't see this horrible monster that they said was coming our way.  We just saw a big black rain cloud.  It wasn't until we looked straight over our heads at the grey outer clouds spinning around that we realized that rain cloud WAS the tornado. 

We locked the door tight and listened. 

No hail.  No freight train. 

Our ears popped and we waited until the wind began to die down, and then we waited just a little more.  Poppy peeked out to see if it was safe to come out.  The storm was over.  As quickly as it had come, it was gone--off to continue its path of destruction.  The first sight we saw was another cousin's house:
Then there was the neighbor's shed:

So much damage in so little time.  We were spared.  Not only our lives, but also our home and vehicles.  Some were not.  Just a half mile down the road, some very dear friends lost all their worldly possessions, and they nearly lost their lives.  Thankfully, they are alive, but it will take a long time to heal and rebuild.  I cannot  fathom, nor do I even want to ask why. 

The storm took a path that spared some and destroyed some, but, in all of it, God is good.  He gave us each a place to be, a prayer to say, and a way to be a blessing to someone else.  Some bring chainsaws, some bring food, some bring water, and some take the children for the afternoon.  Strangers helping strangers, friends and family coming together to help, a community united around those who lost it all. 

It just makes me wonder how much better we could make the lives of those around us if we lived each day like it was the day after a tragedy like this.  What if we always prayed fervently for others?  What if we were willing to offer food, water or a change of clothes to someone in need?  What if we took a meal to our neighbors just because we wanted to be there for them?  How much would they see God every day--not just on the bad days?


  1. The world would be an amazing place if we lived as you describe. People live very much withing their own little worlds...I am super guilty....and make no time for anyone else. It's a wonder I have time for all I need to do. But having said that, I need to turn my back on laundry and go shake my neighbors hand and tell them we are just a door down if they need anything. It is up to us to make the time for a change. Great writing inspire me!

  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. Your questions and observations made me think about how too much of the time I am self-absorbed instead of thinking of and serving others. The "busyness" of our schedules is something we need to evaluate. Is our time spent "doing" as we want or is it spent as God directs--"being" in relationship with him and others. This was an insightful piece.