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Friday, July 30, 2010

How We Weather the Storms

by Dina Sleiman
I hate talking about the weather!

Why? Because more often than not, the topic of weather serves as a substitute for more meaningful conversations. Unless of course, the discussion about weather leads us to a deeper understanding of ourselves and others. Ah! Now there is a conversation I would like to have. The way we weather life’s storms actually reveals much about our character, be those storms metaphorical or literal.

I live along the Eastern coast in Virginia Beach. Prime hurricane part of the earth, I bet you’re thinking. True and not true. Evidently ever since 1985 when Pat Robertson and a group of believers stood on the shores of Virginia Beach and rebuked the deadly Hurrican Gloria, our area has been oddly impervious to hurricanes. I guess you could describe that as a gift of miracles. My mother reports that the Weather Channel has actually called this phenomenon the “Robertson Twist.” Hurricanes tend to hit just above or just below our Hampton Roads area.

I’ve ridden out numerous hurricanes. Other than making sure we have a little extra food and water and checking the flashlights for batteries, we generally enjoy these storms as a peaceful interlude from life, kind of like a snow day up north.

But in 2003 it seemed a different sort of storm was headed our way. Hurricane Isabel. My husband was hired by a national network to do some freelance reporting down in North Carolina where the storm would initially make landfall. And when we heard that the hurricane could reach up to a category five, I had no desire to stay home alone. My mom had just moved to the area at the time, and my dad was still working in our hometown of Pittsburgh until his official retirement came through. He called and recommended that we all travel north to escape the storm.

Now my mother has a real gift of faith. She figured no matter how hard the winds might blow around her, God would keep her and her home safe. “A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you,”* and all that.

I, on the other hand, have a gift of wisdom. And for the first time in eleven years of life in Virginia Beach, my wisdom gifting was telling me to hightail it north to Pittsburgh. Mom consented to the trip, although confident her home would weather the storm just fine.

So we piled my three kids and her dog into my van and headed north to Pittsburgh for a pleasant little vacation. While touring the Pittsburgh Zoo with the children, I got a call on my cell phone from a neighbor. “Dina, there’s a giant tree on your house. Are you okay?”

I laughed. “I’m fine. Enjoying a nice day at the zoo. We’ll deal with it when we get back.” Boy was I glad I hadn’t been at home with the kids when that tree came thudding overhead.

A few days later, we returned home. As it turned out, the tree that fell on our house had been attached by sturdy ropes to two stronger trees in our back yard when my husband created a challenge course for our kids a few months earlier. The ropes took most of the weight of the tree and protected our house. Coincidence? I think not. Dani's gift lies more in the area of prophecy. The only real damage our house sustained was a broken window that occurred when Dani removed the tree. We went a day or two without electricity, and everything was back to normal.

Oh, and Mom’s house? Not a scratch. Her electricity never even went out, although Hurricane Isabel remains on record as the costliest and deadliest of the 2003 season. And about that "Robertson Twist"? The hurricane hit land in our area at a category two just north of Virginia Beach, pummeling other parts of Hampton Roads and Richmond instead.

Sorry, Gina.

So how do you weather the storms of life? How do your God-given gifts shine at those moments?

*From Psalm 91:7

5 comments:

  1. Sadly, hurricane watch on the Weather Channel does pull a lot of viewers. Up north here, we watch to see our favorite travel destinations do...how they 'weather the storm' (which makes weather a verb).

    Sometimes to weather our emotional storms and the storms of trials around us, we need to bend. Sometimes we need to stand, unmovable and be 'still'.

    Experience with God's provision, the support of friends and family, and holding on to His word each day helps us. It's amazing to watch someone else do this, wondering how they can deal with such a trial, while knowing it's all about their faith. Watching builds ours as well.

    Thanks for a very thought-provoking post today Dina!

    "Sometimes HE calms the storm, sometimes He calms His child."

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  2. I have the spiritual gift of mercy. In moments of high stress it generally comes out as an unwillingness to allow the two whiny little people in our house to be sacrificed on the altar of sanity.

    Seriously though, it's amazing how a person's true condition, both morally and spiritually is revealed during such moments. God sends storms for a reason, even if we're not sure what the reason is.

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  3. Lisa, you're hilarious.

    I love terrible weather. Don't care too much for the after affects.

    Yesterday afternoon we were pummeled with rain and wracked with wind. I told oldest son that it remiended me of the Isabel's first announcment of her presence.

    Beautiful.

    When Isabel hit, teh family huddled in the half-basement family room. I was sitting on the sofa with a kid or two. Now the sofa was against an outside wall. We were laughing and having a good ol' time when hubby suddenly said, "Get off the sofa."

    Minutes later we heard a crash in our front yard. One of the branches on the dogwood tree in our front flower bed snaped and fell onto the park bench. The top leaves barely scrapped the window behind the sofa we'd been sitting on.

    So about your questions...

    I don't see me as having a gift of faith, but when the storms of life hit, I've never doubted God's control or that things would eventually get better.

    Not sure why I view intense weather as beautiful. At Christmas a blizzard hit on Christmas Eve. I could have sat for hours watching the snow blow trash cans across teh neighborhood. Bad weather doesn't make me tense...and I think that's because I don't fear bad weather. Nor do I fear teh "what ifs."

    My flaw lies in the fact I have little empathy or patience for people who freak out during bad weather.

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  4. Sorry ladies that I didn't get by to comment yesterday. Just one of those days when life sort of swept me away. Apropos for the post I guess.

    Thanks for sharing about your gifts and how you respond to storms.

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  5. Well I guess I could say that I have weathered a few storms by choice and then some not by choice but by circumstance.I think the Hurricanes of life if you will;make us lean one of two ways:
    Leaning on self and our wisdom or leaning on God and His wisdom.I guess in life I have done both and I have found my strength is not really my strength but His being revealed in my life. Great post Dina.

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