Thursday, May 26, 2011.
At this exact time, I saw the most beautiful gift. Following about 30 minutes of chaos, noise, stress, and nerves, the most peaceful calmness came when I saw firsthand the gift of God’s grace – faith. Here’s what happened:
You see, our church hosts an after school program called GoFriends! It is where the buses drop off around 120 + students ages kindergarten through fifth grades. While they are at the church, Ms. Sarah (the kid’s pastor) has a number of activities planned from devotional time, snacks, crafts, kitchen science, Lego room, to outside play.
Outside play began as a beautiful spring afternoon! After surviving the winter cold and snowy months, the kids are eager to be outside; especially since they have been at school all day. So, a majority of the children enjoy activities from football, hula-hoops, jump-rope, four square, to sidewalk chalk. You remember the days on the playground, right? Well, this is actually the church parking lot but the energy is the same.
On this particular afternoon, our outside playtime was cut short. As the wind kicked in, the sky changed from sunny blue to dark gray in what seemed an instant. Rolling in from the south was an ominous dark storm cloud. Also emerging from the craft room was Ms. Sarah. She hustled all the children indoors immediately. We were under a tornado warning!
A plethora of parents began to arrive early to pick up their children. Those remaining, about 30 little ones, were shuffled to the interior hallway of the church basement. Here, we waited.
Outside, as we could see from the end of the hall, the sky grew as dark as night. Amongst the noise (and tears) of nervous children, I could hear the sirens blaring from the local fire department. The National Weather Service had contacted 911 Emergency Dispatch Services regarding “severe thunderstorms with rotation approaching” the town of Berkeley Springs.
Needless to say, we adults were also worried. Our focus was to calm those kids remaining during the tornado warning. Among them, of course, were my three wee Hott’s. Violet remained “cool” with several other fifth graders while perched on my 110 lb lap were both Isaac (all 92 pounds of him) and Levi (another 53 pounds) and various other kindergartners waiting for parents. Gradually, more and more mommies and daddies arrived to wait out the tornado warning with us. Isaac, my seven year old, was anxious to log on the Weather Channel from my phone. An avid weather watcher, he needed to know e.x.a.c.t.l.y what was happening.
So…. We proceeded to check the weather warnings and watch on our phones how this tornado was approaching our town. Isaac became our reporter with the updates! At 5:30 p.m., the tornado warning would be over!
“23 MINUTES!!!!” Isaac yelled at the top of his lungs over all the noise. The time was 5:07 p.m. “23 minutes until the tornado warning is over!” (Yes, he can do elapsed time!). At this time, a dad arrived bringing hot dogs. You see, he had been at the church’s picnic property where we were to bring all the children for the end of the school year GoFriends Picnic! The tornado warning caught Mr. Luke outside with 125 hot dogs on the grill. So, he brought them to the church and began serving the kids and parents.
“14 MINUTES!!!!” yelled Isaac once again. Now it was 5:16 p.m. and Isaac had just checked the phone once again. “The tornado is on the east side of Berkeley Springs! That’s over near Ms. Jenny’s h.o.u.s.e.!” With hot dog in hand, Isaac asked Mr. Luke, “Do you have any ketchup?”
“7 MINUTES!!!!!” Yes, this is Isaac. It was 5:23 p.m. “Just 7 minutes until the tornado warning is over! Oh, Mr. Luke has CHIPS! YAY!” You see, between Isaac’s weather check, Mr. Luke would deliver yet another yummy treat for the children. As we watched him come down the hallway, I couldn’t help but think of the State Farm commercial with the families after a catastrophe. This gave me shivers…. Please Dear God, please don’t let this tornado hit our church or anywhere for that matter!
“4 MINUTES!” Okay… get the picture?! Now it was 5:26 p.m. Only four minutes left for the tornado warning to cease. We’re almost there, and here comes Mr. Luke (our State Farm agent, by the way) again! This time he has popsicles! Yum! How cool is that!? At that moment, Violet and the boys all looked at me and we all erupted in song “Like a good neighbor…. State Farm is there!” LOL!!! We were all so scared, we had to laugh! Here, have a popsicle… I’ll take purple!
“5:30!!!! 5:30 E.V.E.R.Y.B.O.D.Y!!! It’s over! The tornado warning is OVER!!!” announced Isaac over all the commotion. Instantly, the children were led to the social hall to enjoy what remained of the picnic. At this time, the only child left in the hallway was Isaac. He was quiet (finally!). He was talking to God. He was thanking God for saving us all. He was thanking God for answering his prayers.
It was 5:31 p.m.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” – Ephesians 2:8
Copyright © Angie Hott, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved