What To Do When Tornadoes Strike

Everything’s bigger in Texas. Including severe weather.

Here, there is no defined ‘tornado season’. Not really, anyway. At any given time, warm weather can tango with an incoming cold front and transform into funnel-shaped danger.

Typically, Texas reports about 140-150 tornadoes each year, a quota it reached by May in 2019. In October of that year, 10 tornadoes pummeled through north Dallas in one day alone, one of which was an EF-3, the strongest twister in that area since 1976.  In its wake, it left $2 billion in damages, nearly 1,000 buildings damaged or destroyed, and 150,000 people with no power.

My kids don’t know those things, of course.

But they do know that tornadoes are powerful, unpredictable, and completely uncontrollable.

And that’s scary.

So it isn’t any wonder that they were in tears recently when our area got put under a Tornado Watch from 3-9pm.

I tried calming them down by explaining that a Tornado Watch didn’t mean there were tornadoes, just that there might be tornadoes. And even if a tornado did come, it wouldn’t necessarily be near our house.

That did nothing.

Then I reminded them of our “safe spot”—the place in our home where we would be the safest.

That didn’t help, either.

Their panicked questions kept coming. For six straight hours.

“What if the sirens go off while we’re in the car?”

“What if the sirens go off while we’re sleeping?”

“What if the tornado sucks us out of our room before you get to us?”

“What if you’re not checking the weather enough and the tornado comes and we don’t even know about it?”

“What if the sirens go off but there really is no tornado?”

What if? What if? What if?

“Baby,” I coo to my four-year-old who’s too hysterical to sleep, “do you think I love anything else more than you and your siblings?”

“No,” she sniffles. “Well, maybe Daddy.”

I chuckle at her answer, then tuck some of her blond hair behind her ear. “Daddy is my favorite person in the whole world, you’re right about that. But he can take care of himself, and he’ll be right there helping me take care of you. So if anything happens, what will be the first thing I run to get?”

“Me.”

“That’s right,” I say and wipe the tears away from her flushed face. “I will run to you and protect you before I do anything else. Do you trust me?”

She nods.

“Then the answer to all of your questions is, ‘I trust Mom will take care of me.’ Deal?”

“Deal.”

“So what happens if the sirens go off while we’re in the car?” I ask.

She meets my question with a blank stare, so I playfully move her lips with my fingers and morph my voice to mimic hers. “I trust Mom will take care of me.”

Her little face brightens for the first time since the clouds went dark.

“And if the sirens go off while you’re asleep?” I ask.

“I trust Mom will take care of me.”

“Good.” I tousle her hair with my hand. “But what if the sirens go off and there really is no tornado?”

She looks at me squarely, the tears already replaced by courage, as a smile spreads into a crescent on her face. “I trust Mom will take care of me.”

I nod proudly, smiling as my little girl marches calmly back into her room, closes the door and stays quiet the rest of the night.

As the door clicks closed behind her, I can’t help but to notice how much she is like her mother.

The one who silently asks God so many “What if?” questions.

I don’t know the stats on everything, of course.

But I do know that life is powerful, unpredictable, and completely uncontrollable.

And that’s scary.

So it isn’t any wonder I was in tears recently when it came time to deliver my newest baby—a delivery I’d been fearing for nine straight months.

Because of complications with my last baby, I was at higher risk of uterine rupture, a situation that could lead to “catastrophic events” for both mom and baby.

It was my worst nightmare.

My doctor tried calming me down by explaining that a chance for uterine rupture didn’t mean it would absolutely happen, just that it might happen. And even if a rupture did occur, it wouldn’t necessarily mean death. Just excruciating pain.

That did nothing.

Then my husband reminded me of our safe pregnancies—the babies who slid into this world without complication.

That didn’t help, either.

My panicked questions kept coming. For nine straight months.

“What if my uterus ruptures and the baby dies?”

“What if I have to have another emergency c-section?”

“What if I die and I never see my husband and kids again?”

“What if, since I’ll be delivering during flu season, my kids have the flu when their baby sister is born? What if I have the flu? What if the baby gets the flu?”

What if? What if? What if?

“Kelsey,” Jesus interrupts my hysterical prayers, “do you think I love anything else more than you?”

“No,” I sniffle. “Well, maybe the Father.”

He chuckles at my answer, then tucks some of my brown hair behind my ear. “Abba is my favorite, you’re right about that. But He can take care of Himself, and He’ll be right there helping Me take care of you. So if anything happens, what will be the first thing I run to get?”

“Me.”

“That’s right,” He says and wipes the tears from my flushed face. “I will run to you and protect you before I do anything else. Do you trust me?”

I nod.

“Then the answer to all of your questions is, ‘I trust Jesus will take care of me.’ Deal?”

“Deal.”

“So what happens if your uterus ruptures and the baby dies?” He asks.

I meet His question with a blank stare, too scared to even approach the idea. He morphs His voice to mimic mine. “I trust Jesus will take care of me.”

My face brightens for the first time since the worry began to weigh me down.

“And if you have to have another emergency c-section?” He asks.

“I trust Jesus will take care of me.”

“Good.” He tousles my hair like I’m a little child. “But what if you die during labor and delivery?”

I look at Him squarely, the tears already replaced by courage, as a smile spreads into a crescent on my face. “I trust Jesus will take care of me.”

Jesus nods proudly, smiling as His little girl marches calmly back into life, closes the door on her fear and tries, instead, to trust.

2 Comments on “What To Do When Tornadoes Strike”

  1. Oh, Kelsey, sharing your life lessons with us has buoyed my own faith so many times and reminded me that the One who created me loves me and keeps me in the palm of His hand…all I have to do is look to him and not my circumstances. “Jesus, I trust in you!”

    Liked by 1 person

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