With hurricane Sandy roaring across the eastern United States, I figured I better talk today about storms. Every one else is!
I can think of two personal storm experiences that I ‘weathered’ (haha) and from which I shall share my lessons learned.
It was the summer of 1991 and our family had traveled to Cape Cod, Massachusetts for a family wedding. For the couple of days preceding the wedding, the weather was lovely but a hurricane named Bob was cruising up the coast. Fortunately, the wedding took place and the newlyweds got out of there and on their way to a honeymoon before Bob hit. We were stuck along with the other wedding guests and vacationers to weather the hurricane. We were stuck because the only road to the Cape was closed down – no traffic allowed – so we had to stay put. The Inn we were staying at put everything unattached to the ground away – from planters and chairs to hanging plants and all decorations. Windows were taped up to hold the shards together should they break. We kept walking outside down to the beach to watch the pretty impressive wave activity and a few crazy wind-surfers who were gleefully riding the huge swells. As the worst of the storm hit, the electricity was knocked out but the Inn fired up the generators to run movies for the kids to watch and power up enough to cook us a fine lunch. We were safe, and actually quite comfortable. Most of the damage happened to boats that were crushed in the wicked waves and huge trees that caused damage when they fell.
My other memorable storm experience was one summer out on the lake on our sailboat. We were having a lovely sail back from Put-in-Bay when Ted nervously started watching the clouds. “Uh-oh, uh-oh,” he started saying. “What?” I replied. “I think we’re gonna be in trouble,” he said. Now our sailboat has a main sail and a head sail. At this time I believe we were only sailing with the main sail, a big triangle-shaped sail that goes all the way up to the top of the mast. We weren’t using the head sail because we were moving pretty fast with just the main. When you are on the water and a storm hits, you don’t want a lot of sails up. Think of laundry flapping on a clothes line or a flag on a flag pole with wicked strong winds blowing. The winds blowing on a big sail would tend to overtake the boat until the sails ripped. Not a good thing. Ted quickly had me “reef” the sail. We lowered the sail from its position to the top of the mast, down almost two-thirds of the way. In essence, we took a big triangle sail and reduced it to a very small triangle and secured the extra sail fabric around the boom on the bottom. Sure enough, Ted read the clouds right and the storm hit. I went below with the kids while Ted stayed up top and steered. His wise decision to reef our main sail was done just in time and gave the boat just enough sail to handle the strong winds and gave Ted control to ride out the storm.
So what can I say that I have learned from my storm experiences?
Number one: Expect the worst. If you know the storm is coming – prepare for anything. Better to get everything put away securely then to be caught with all your sails up!
Number two: Do whatever you can. Our Inn put everything away. Hurricane winds could easily turn a small garden decoration into a flying projectile.
Number three: Trust who’s in charge. The staff at the Inn on the Cape had to have had hurricane experience before. We really weren’t scared during hurricane Bob. We listened to them when instructions were given. On our boat, Ted was in charge and I admire him for how he knew bad weather was coming and had us work quickly to avoid damage.
Number four: When the storm has passed, count your blessings! Maybe you over-reacted in the first place but, hey, better to be safe than sorry! Or maybe your neighbor wasn’t so lucky – so go help them out!
Now you know I’m not going to let you get away without relating this idea of surviving a storm to one’s personal life! The same principles apply. If you live your life prepared for the worst – you’ll be already strong enough to face whatever adversity that challenges you. You need a good solid foundation – good friends, strong family ties, and of course the fuel of your faith. When challenges occur, do everything you can to ride out that storm! Pray, and seek help. Trust who’s in charge. Romans 8:28 y’all! And finally, when the storm passes, count your blessings, thank God, and offer help when you see others face the same storm you have weathered.
Storms happen. Hurricane Sandy is charging up the coast. Let’s all say a prayer that damage is minimal and that everyone is safe.