February 13, 2018
Gripping the steering wheel, I quickly regretted the fact that I hadn't paid closer attention to the tornado warning that had flashed across my phone minutes earlier. Rather than staying put after hearing the warning, I headed directly to the checkout where I could pay for my groceries and go home.
A few minutes into the drive, the rain began. The sky was gray and the eery-looking clouds only enforced the warning that I had brushed off. As the rain's intensity grew, so did the wind's force. Even though I was on a highway, cars began to creep while some drivers made the decision to pull off the road.
Fear swelled within me.
I was terrified. I would say that I began to pray but "prayer" seems too delicate of a term for what I was doing. I was begging, pleading, screaming out to God for protection. More than once, I imagined the wind picking up my van and slamming it wherever it willed.
There were no tears, but cries of desperation.
Two minutes from home, I noticed the rain began to die down and the wind seemed calmer, but different. A small group of leaves were right in front of my windshield. They seemed close enough to touch. They swirled in a perfect circular motion. They hung in mid-air. As beautiful as they were, they meant trouble.
I had to get home.
I finally reached my destination but had to drive across the front yard. Moments earlier, a huge branch had split off from one of the oak trees that flanked our driveway. To call it a "branch" is an understatement. By itself, it could have made up three or four smaller trees. It blocked the driveway and road and stopped traffic.
A victim of the storm.
I recall a moment nine years ago when another storm brewed. This one stirred internally and came on a sunny day. I was terrified because a mother's heart knows. It was a warning that I could not ignore. I could not find a peace about the little girl who was growing in my belly. I drove down that same highway, begging the Lord to let her be okay. Pleading with Him to allow me bring her home.
I gripped the steering wheel and cried. He tenderly whispered to my heart, "Do you love Me?"
"I love You more, Jesus," I wept. Though I continually fall short, I want to love Him more than anything or anyone else. I knew His question and my reply was assurance and surrender. I didn't know what was ahead, but I knew He loved me.
Weeks later, the storm touched down as the doctor mouthed the words, "I can't find a heartbeat."
I became a storm victim.
The thing about storm damage is that some of it is an easy fix. That tornado-like storm ripped down part of our fence and wrapped the trampoline around another tree. Visible damage. Fixable.
That gigantic branch was another story. For one thing, it was a much larger job to clean up. Calls to the state road department ensued and very large vehicles came to help clear the road. Even after all of the mess was gone, a visible mark remained on the tree. Friends and neighbors commented their concerns about the it. It looked like it may topple over. We wanted to save this huge gorgeous tree. However, several tree experts came to assess the damage and offer advice. Unfortunately, we heard the same response from them all. The storm had done its damage. The damage went far beyond what was visible to our eyes. For safety's sake, the tree had to go.
I'll be honest and say that I don't like messes like that. I've come to expect issues, but I prefer the ones that can be easily brushed off. Get back up, dust off, and keep going kind of messes. I can deal with those.
But the storms that come and do deeper damage are the ones I wish we could do without. They pick us up and whip us around. They leave us bruised and battered. They wound and scar us.
They change us.
Nine years after burying my baby, I wouldn't have guessed that I would still have moments of such grief. That the winds of emotions could still knock me over. That the words of a well-meaning person or the date on the calendar or the lyrics of a song would make me feel like I'm once again in the eye of the storm.
As I'm typing, I can look out my window and see where that big old oak used to stand. And I realize one thing that being a storm victim gives you like nothing else really can.
A new perspective.
For better or worse, I now have a new perspective out my window. Oh, we're going to miss its shade this summer. The end of my driveway looks uneven and off-balance. But I'm learning to understand that I have a different view from my window now. My view of the road is clearer and longer.
Losing my Kelsey has changed me. I wish I could still be the optimist who could pat your back and say that everything will be okay. I wish I could tell you that God always answers your prayers with a "Yes." I wish I didn't have crazy unfounded fears about my boys. I wish I didn't have to watch their backs rise and fall with breath each night before resting my eyes.
But Kelsey Wynn has grown my eternal perspective. Her brief life reminds me that there is an eternal future. That I need to ask myself if the things I am doing here on earth matter for eternity.
I pray that I will take my damage and hurts and turn them for good. I don't want to live as a victim. I pray that from my wounds will grow compassion and mercy for those who need it. I pray that I will offer words of encouragement for others who are being tossed and turned in the winds of life.
To grow visible faithful actions from my invisible wounds.
We eventually had that damaged tree cut down completely. And what followed was a bigger mess of sticks, branches, and large logs scattered all over the front yard. Thankfully, a dear man with a clear perspective didn't see the mess. He saw the opportunity. Our friend has chopped and cut loads of wood to provide others with firewood to heat their homes. Storm damage converted to provision and warmth.
Are you wind-swept and rain-soaked? In need of some covering and healing?
Ask the Lord to take your damage and do something with it. Lay your messes at His feet. Take all of your broken branches and scraps and allow Him to fix the unfixable and heal all that's damaged.
Let Him give you a new perspective on life.
To read more of Kelsey's story, please click here.