Last weekend began with a sick husband and a sick child that led me to cancel my trip to Abbey Youth Fest with our parish youth group. Abbey Youth Fest is my favorite youth event of the year. The atmosphere there is indescribable. Being surrounded by so many priests, brothers, sisters, and seminarians, and over 3,000 teens, praising God under the beautiful sky by day and under the stars at night is overwhelming to witness. I was very disappointed to have to miss this for the second year in a row. Later that night, I got sick and began a night of vomiting which would not have been a good thing to happen on a four hour car ride with a bunch of noisy teens or at the hotel with a room full of teenage girls. "Thank you, Lord, for a sick husband and child."
Saturday we all took it easy and rested. We attended Saturday afternoon Mass and headed to bed early so that everyone would be well and ready for the rodeo the next day. It worked; everyone got up bright and early and headed to the barn to get the horses ready. My husband had gotten called to go on a job for a co-worker whose wife
was about to have a baby. He would need to make a four hour drive after
the rodeo; I hoped the rest of the day would go smoothly and quickly too.
Well, we arrived at the arena to find that it was still locked. I guess not everyone had gotten such a good night's sleep. Again, frustration got the best of me. It was already bad enough that the rodeo was on a Sunday, my day of rest, but now it would start late and end late causing me to miss my Sunday afternoon nap and would put my husband on the road late. Ugh! Frustration!
Around lunch time, we began to get weather alerts on our phone about bad weather approaching our area. Another reason the rodeo needed to move quickly that day, and yet it seemed to drag more slowly than ever. The more we wanted to get home, the slower things dragged on. As the day went on, we continued to check the radar. The weather seemed to be waiting on us to leave that arena. "Thank you, Lord, for holding it off until we were out of that large, open, metal, unsafe place."
By the time we get got home and unloaded the horses, it was almost bedtime. Everyone was exhausted, and my husband was once again running fever. Everyone took their baths, and we put the kids to bed. As we checked the radar, we saw that we were in for some pretty bad storms. He decided to wait until the storms passed to leave. He went to bed to get some rest, and I stayed up to monitor the weather and pray for our safety. I must have dozed off because I woke to a text message from one of our parish priests warning us of a tornado heading our way. "Thank you, Lord, for caring priests."
I woke my husband up, and we grabbed the kids and headed to the interior bathroom. I sent a quick warning to my neighbor to do the same. We began to pray quietly for protection so we wouldn't alarm the kids anymore than they already were. Then we heard it. The wind got louder and louder. So, we prayed louder and louder. and the kids began to join in. I knew that it was going to hit us, so I asked our Blessed Mother Mary to please protect us. In the next moment, all went silent. No eery wind, no rain. Silence. We didn't move. I thought maybe this was the moment before you die when time stood still. Another text message broke the silence.
It was my neighbor checking on us. The tornado has just knocked a tree onto their house, but they were all safe. "Where was it? It should have hit us by now, " I told myself. We sat for awhile in the bathroom before moving. After about 10 minutes of silence, the rain began again; we got up and began to move around. It had missed us. "Thank you, Lord, for sparing us yet again! Thank you, Mother Mary for protecting your children."
We finally got the kids back to bed just not their beds. I talked to the neighbor again and found out that everyone was safe and the damage to their home was minimal compared to what it could have been. Then she told me something that I will never forget. Another neighbor had gone out and looked around the neighborhood. He had told them that "it stopped just before the power plant." We live across the street from the power plant. The tornado has disappeared just before it got to our house. I sat in awe for hours, truly amazed at how blessed we had been.
About 2:00 am, my husband left for that job four hours away. I realized that the slowness of the rodeo that day was another blessing in disguise. Had it ended that afternoon as normal, he would have left for work. I would have been there alone in that storm with the kids. He would have been four hours away worried about his family back home alone. "Thank you, Lord, for a slow day at the rodeo."
Remember to thank God for all your blessings even for those that seem like frustrations at first.