Tornado number 5 of 10 hit our home at 150 mph, it was 800 yards wide, Monday, January 23, 2012.
During the night I heard a text message on my phone. My friend sent a text asking if we were awake and then apologized for waking me, because she thought I was in a safe area. I heard the local meteorologist state a roof had been removed and there was unconfirmed damage in another county. God impressed on my heart to take shelter. I awakened everyone and eventually convinced them to go to the basement. We still had electricity, thankfully, because we did not have batteries for our radio. I plugged it in and heard “It is now in Pinson heading toward Springville/Argo.” It seemed it was headed for us with the intensity of a freight train – or worse. I stretched my arms up and over the kids and prayed, “Lord, I believe you will protect us no matter what.”
I remember thinking about that it seemed we were in the belly of the whale just like Jonah. Jonah thanked God for salvation while in the belly of that big fish. I had attended a women’s conference that week-end where we talked a lot about faith. At the conference a woman said that storms were coming, and one of us could have our home destroyed. I had also watched Rev. Charles Stanley preach about perfect faith the night before and the story of Abraham taking Isaac to the altar. These stories of God’s protection and provision were swirling in my heart and mind as the wind swirled around us.
The electricity went out, and we heard a whirring wind sound and could tell it was circular. The house crumbled like crackers on top of us. It took only seconds for our home to turn to rubble. The stairwell collapsed on my back, and I was doubled over on the bottom of the stack of people. I thought I was paralyzed. Two of the children were completely buried, and I asked if they were ok and could they breathe. They popped their heads up like birds in a nest and they took a deep breath. A plastic tote lodged in the small opening that once was a doorway. I reached up and grabbed the tote and shoved it behind me where there seemed to be no space at all. Gas was pouring on us, the car lights were flashing, as we were weaving through wood, wires, pipes and debris trying to find a way out.
My other son was walking through the house as it collapsed and dove between my car and the front retaining wall. I almost parked the car outside the night before, but drove it in. Even though the floor above caved into the basement, the cars being in the garage held the floor up enough to give us space to crawl through and one of us shelter.
As we turned to look at what was our home and had turned to rubble, I didn’t know what to do so I raised my hands and praised God for His protection out in the pouring rain. I shouted, Praise God, we have lost nothing! I said to my daughter as I waved my hand toward the destruction, “We can do this, because we have Jesus and we have each other.”
All day afterward I envisioned myself standing and walking through a door to get out. Later I found out my daughter had the same thought. When getting back to the house, I realized that was not true at all. We feel that was Jesus telling us that He is the door, and we walked through Him to get out. The only room remaining upstairs was the inside bath. he foyer wall was attached to that bath, and a plaque of the word FAMILY still hung on the wall.
The things we prayed to find were found. I wanted my ESV Bible which has all my notes for several years. I asked for our laptops because of school. I also have hundreds of books that were gone, but asked for the four specific ones I needed because of being in seminary. All four were found. God blessed above what we asked for and gave us all of our wallets, some photos, and some clothes. Even though I lost many journals, the journal I wrote over 40 prayers in and all were answered in some way, was found.
Our house was the worst on the street. While many were destroyed; ours was gone. Obliterated. Many of our neighbors were trapped for 4 hours or more and had serious injuries. We got out in a matter of minutes on our own. We found an unbroken egg under our rose bushes after the storm. It wasn’t our egg. Our eggs were also unbroken and in the fridge rolled down the hill. This unbroken egg came through the tornado that destroyed over 400 homes and was from one of those other refrigerators. As fragile as the egg is, and as fragile as we are, we were whole and unbroken.
God has allowed Psalm 23:4 to come alive for me on many occasions “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” We spray painted this verse on a piece of old wood and stuck it in the lawn. Our prayer during the storm was “Lord, I believe you will.” He was with us through this valley and continues to carry us through.
For God’s Glory,
Who is Jesus? What did He do? Why does it matter?
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16