I think Mother Nature is pregnant and her raging hormones are making the weather a lil’ bit crazy…
Meaning, in our case, that this little family has been cooped UP. After a very snowy winter, we emerged from our home last Spring for a few weeks before entering the final phases of my pregnancy, then I had the baby, and sometime during that first month of nursing…and nursing…and nursing (the child is hungry!), Spring and Summer passed us by and we are in some new sort of season, one I have titled ‘Miserable.’ Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer, Miserable.
Seriously, I never dreamed July would find us locked up in the house, watching hours of television, bickering, and taking baths for fun instead of for cleanliness. The Oklahoma grass looks deader than dead, as if a fire-breathing dragon flew overhead and charred the entire countryside with one great and fiercesome blow. The temperatures have been loitering in the 100’s and then some, with no end in near sight, no rain in the forecast until October.
So what in the world has been going on this week? Rain! Thunder! Lightning! Perilous winds! A breeeeze…
Out of nowhere.
I just hope all the heathens who have been calling on God to bring rain have taken the time to thank Him…maybe worship Him on Sunday morning?…its just a suggestion. (For the record, I’m a heathen. I did call on Him to bring rain. I did thank Him. I will BE THERE on Sunday morning!).
When the first out-of-left-field thunderstorm hit on Monday evening, Mr. Gore was three towns away at a softball game. My sister-in-law and I, along with our ever-expanding brood of kiddos, had tidied up some church classrooms, then gone for ice cream and were letting the children play together at my house for a bit. That’s when the sky began to grow prematurely dark. And then the lightning started. “Yay!” I said. “Maybe their second game got cancelled!” A phone call from my husband confirmed my hope (sorry, church softball team…I’m a selfish woman. You should know that by now) and we looked forward to seeing our menfolk sooner than we thought. They were stopping to buy milk and whatnot and would be home in about forty minutes.
Just as Amy was gathering up her three little girls to return home, the wind began to pick up. And then it picked up some more. And then a little more. Gideon and I watched from the doorway, eyes round as saucers as they skirted down the sidewalk, leaves falling on them like rain, lightning flashing in the distance.
My niece Abigail ran back to us with Gideon’s beloved cowboy hat in hand, forgotten in the yard. “Thank you!” I yelled, truly and forever thankful; that hat is nearly as important as his cowboy boots. “Hurry!!” I yelled even louder as she ran back to her mother, her thick hair flapping in the wind. “Be careful!!” I bellowed as they loaded up into the van.
Gideon was nearly beside himself with worry. “I hope they make it home safe.” he said, a quaver in his voice. “I hope Abigail doesn’t get rained on.” Even after confirming that they had made it safely down the hill and inside their house, my little worry-wort feared that they would get a hole in their roof and get all wet. Everywhere I went, he was on my heels, bumping into me when I stopped, grabbing my leg, pawing at me in unsettled anxiety…
The poor boy is more like his Mama than we feared.
About ten minutes later, we lost our electricity.
Shrieks erupted from my bedroom where all three children were, Baby Betsie lying in her bassinet, Gideon and Rebekah playing near the bed. My mind began trying to organize what I should do first…find a flashlight, go to the children to calm them, call Chris…what amazed me most is that my first instinct, the one I have always indulged in, was immediately pushed to the back of my mind: be afraid…freak out…be taken care of. For it was glaringly clear by just comparing the sizes of the bodies present in my house that I was the one in charge here. No denying it. 0-year old, 2-year old, 4-year old, 29-year old….
I blindly made my way to the children first and knelt in front of them, hushing and calming them while allowing four frenzied arms to cling to my body, each child trying desperately to climb up me and hide in my bun like a bobby pin. It took about four minutes to convince them that I wouldn’t leave or forsake them, that everything would be alright, but that Mommy really, really needed to find a flashlight.
Every flashlight hiding place turned up empty, even as I willed them to hold the treasure I was looking for. Not in Chris’s bedside table. Not under the bed. Not on top of the dresser. In my distress, I just had to nag somebody: “Gideon, this is why we don’t play with Papa’s flashlights!” In his distress, I don’t think he heard me.
I ventured into the laundry room to look in our cubby-shelved mirror. “You promised you wouldn’t leave us!” Gideon shrieked. I assured him that I was still very close to him as I tested the three flashlights I found there, all three without batteries.
The only thing that allowed me to see anything at all was the frequent flashes of lightning; in their terrifying and ominous light, I could periodically see the panicked faces of my little children, and then, thank God, the cordless phone that had been lying on the bed the entire time. Although it wouldn’t allow me to make calls, it did light up for me when I pushed one of its buttons. “Look!” I exclaimed. “We have light!!” I then used the light from the phone to hunt down my tiny little booklight in my bookbag next to my bedside table.
Sweet relief! Its amazing what power one tiny little booklight can have, especially after being exposed to pitch blackness for a bit. Pointed upward, it lit up the ceiling, casting comfort and hope on our situation. Everyone immediately calmed down a notch. “Okay, come here.” I said to my underlings, hoisting one and then another onto my bed and then pushing Betsie’s bassinet as close to the mattress as possible. Children calmed. Light found. What next?…
Our only cord-powered phone was across the house and is a broken wreck of an electronic (as well a source of contention in our home: Chris would like a phone that works, while I am loath to give up our vintage-inspired Pottery Barn telephone that is so cute. It does work, after all. You just can’t talk on it for all the loud static and buzzing) and so calling Chris was out of the question. As it was, we just had to wait it out on the bed, knowing he would be home soon, praying that our light’s battery was newer rather than older…
It wasn’t long before Gideon was trying to hog that light to look at his “gun magazine.” (Truly, I don’t know how this has happened. I worked so hard to put off his exposure to weaponry, but somehow, he now has a toy gun to match every outfit and peruses the pages of his Papa’s “Guns and Ammo” magazine. Meh.). It took some convincing, but soon, we were back to sharing the light, all four of us huddled close under its dim, encircling presence. “I’m really afraid.” Gideon sniffled. “There’s nothing to be afraid of tonight, Gid.” I told him, and then went on to explain how desperately this rain was needed, naming some of the farmers in our church whose crops were suffering, including my Daddy.
And it may sound cheesy to some of you, but what does any self-respecting Christian do when they have nothing, whether in prison or in poverty or…in a black-out? They sing hymns. And so that’s what I did. Gathering a little Gore under each arm, I began to sing “Count Your Many Blessings,” hoping that from it, little Rebekah would be occupied and little Gideon would be encouraged to see the good that even a scary thunderstorm can bring. When I finished, he asked me to sing it again, and just as I made it to the chorus, the back door opened and our dear Papa burst in from the rain, bringing milk and 1/2 and 1/2 and blueberries and his strong and comforting presence to the family that needs him so. He walked straight to his dresser drawer and pulled out three working flashlights.
I heaved a great sigh of relief and fell back against my pillow. My husband. How I love him.
And his shadow puppet skills. He kept the children so occupied and happy, they forgot there was anything to fear outside the safe and happy walls of home. Isn’t that what Papa’s are for?…
When the electricity still had not returned by 10:00 (and our house was growing warmer by the minute!), we loaded up and drove to our haven of rest in the country, Grandmother and Granddaddy’s house, where a light shone from the living room and beckoned us to come inside where we find we are always welcome. The house was so invitingly cozy, spotless, with a bed for each of us…
Even Baby Betsie slept for 11 hours straight, a phenomenon if you ask me, and I haven’t felt so rested in months. Coffee, pancakes, and bacon lifted me out of my bed the next morning and I wondered for the thousandth time why we don’t live there permanently, “leaving and cleaving” be darned.
And then there was last night’s storm which was even worse than the night before. When the weather radio (which is so nostalgically spooky on its own) sounded its alarm and gave a static-laced thunderstorm warning in the middle of the night, Chris and I awoke, he to check the local television stations, me to begin fretting, as usual. (In my defense, I was a bit “out of it” and the last thing I had read before going to sleep was a fictionalized account of Olde Kentucke’s small-pox epidemic). My over-active imagination heeded the weather radio’s advice to “stay away from windows” and all I could think of was Gideon, a long staircase away from me, asleep in his toddler bed, right in front of a large window. It all went down in very dramatic fashion, and for Mrs. Gore’s sake, really doesn’t need to be recounted in detail, but Mr. Gore eventually did kindly fetch my boy for me and deposited him right into my arms, probably less out of kindness and more out of a desire to shut me up. I relaxed and nuzzled my face into his neck…
And then I began to worry about Rebekah, alone in their room now, near a window.
Within ten minutes, I was carrying her down the stairs and plopping her down between me and her Bubba. “Ahhhhh…” my mind sighed, and as Mr. Gore monitored the storm’s progress in the living room, my children and I flipped and flopped in a glorious tangle of arms and legs, Gideon hiding under the covers when the loudest thunderbolts shook the house, Rebekah smooshing her face right next to mine with her little fingers all wrapped up in my hair, Betsie snoozing contentedly next to me within arm’s reach.
Sometimes it is very, very easy to count your blessings and to name them one by one. Papa, Gideon Michael, Rebekah Sunday, Betsie Fair. For starters…
It was a doozy of a storm, powerful and loud and driving with its heavy rain slamming against the siding. Despite having my chicks nearby, my teeth were clenched, and I thought if I could somehow dig a hole in the mattress for us all to hide in, I would. It brought to mind yet another little somethin’ we have learned from Little Bear:
Whether the weather be cold or whether the weather be hot, we’ll weather the weather whatever the weather…
Whether we like it or not.
In my mind, the key word there is “we”. Rain, snow, sleet, hail, Miserable, I am glad to weather any kind of weather with the little family God has whipped up for me.
I may not like the weather, but I like them very…very...much.