'When Storms Come'
by Travis Wiginton
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As most of you know Oklahoma was hit by several tornadoes this past week (at least 15 recorded in one day) then several more in the last 2 days! One of the largest ones was an EF4 tornado with winds between 166 mph and 200 mph. Fewer than 5% of tornadoes are rated as EF-3 or higher. In some areas, there was hail the size of golf balls...with SOME even the size of softballs!!
One began about a half mile south of our home here in Norman. (Talk about too close for comfort!) It went down Hwy. 9 for the next 20+ miles, leaving devastation on both sides of the highway.
There were numerous storms all over the state, including 3 in the Tulsa area.
When La Moyne grew up in Colorado, the houses had basements, yet here in 'Tornado Ally' where we NEED basements, most houses do NOT have them.
These storms were moving faster than normal (65 mph) so there was no time to go to the school where we normally go...nor even to our neighbor's house which has a 'safe room'. (That is the home where our neighbor Dolores White lives. Please continue to pray for Dolores since Ferrill's death last week.)
So La Moyne and I got in the bathtub with pillows over our heads.
(It was a 'candid camera moment' as we helped each other get out of the tub :)
Our children were calling us about every 5 min. to make sure we were ok.
Kyle and Kristin (who both live in Texas) were keeping us updated with reports they were getting over the Internet. Kevin and Michelle's (who live 15 mi. south of us) electricity went out. Since our power stayed on, we kept calling to keep them updated for the next several hours.
We are blessed to have some of the BEST weathermen and women!!!
They can even pinpoint the streets where it looks like the tornado may hit.
Having grown up with that type of forecasting, Kristin gets frustrated with the lack of info from the weather people in her area near Dallas. When we first moved to Quanah, Tx. where I was to pastor, they would say that the storm was approaching 'so and so county'. As we sat there watching the warnings, La Moyne said, "We're going to get blown away because we don't know the counties in Texas!"
Many times we (and others) are asked WHY we stay in 'Tornado Alley' and the answer is always the same:
"Because of the wonderful, kind, warm-hearted, loving people!"
We have heard from friends all over the nation, checking to see if we're ok.
~One long time fellow pastor and wife (the Larry Maxwells) called from Idaho.
~A close friend in Oregon also called.....as well as many e-mails checking on us.
~Another friend in California wrote:
"Wow! Norman was really hit last night. We have been considering the possibility of retiring somewhere in Oklahoma,
but this may convince us to stay in earthquake country."
Due to additional storms the past 2 days, we've not been able to respond, so hopefully this will let everyone know we're ok.
Though some of the storms went through towns where our children and gr'children live, Praise God they (and their homes) escaped heavy damage and injury!!
The report just now said that there is a tornado near where our daughter and her husband live in Odessa, Texas.
Some of La Moyne's Mother's cousins own 'Perfect Swing' (a family fun center)
located on Hwy 9 near us. They had a golfing area, go-carts, little boat-rides, a great game room and eating areas both indoors and out.
Our family has celebrated many of our gr'children's birthdays there.
(You can see pictures of some of the damage there on this site:)
The weather channels had non-stop warnings all day, saying that there were going to be some monstrous storms.....and they were right! The first reports said that there had been 7 deaths, but thankfully they were able to lower that to 3 deaths. One precious 29 yr. old mother was trying to protect her 3 young children. She lost her life....her 9 yr. old son is in critical condition, but they say that the two younger children are improving. Hundreds were injured so staffs of all hospitals were called in...
as well as law enforcement people.
The storms were so vicious that they swept vehicles off the road, turned 18 wheelers upside down, killing one man from Oregon whose vehicle was swept up in the tornado.
As you can imagine, almost everyone has a story as to what they or their family went through.
It reminded me of the quote:
"Don't tell God how big your storms are...tell your storms how big your God is."
Though it is very difficult at this point to understand how God is able to help us when we face either physical storms or difficult times in our lives. Many may ask
'Why did God allow this to happen?'
Over and over we've heard people say:
~"With God's help we'll rebuild"
~"God will see us through this difficult time"
~"If we didn't have the Lord, we wouldn't be able to face the future."
~"We don't understand, but we know that God will help us"
Though we may not be able to prepare for storms before they come....
we need to trust in the Lord and lean on His everlasting arms!
The disciples on the Sea of Galilee forgot about Jesus and did not apply faith to the situation. "Remember Who is in the Boat of Life with you!"
Big storms are difficult, but our GOD is bigger and is capable of helping us face big storms.
I love Paul's response in Acts 27:25: Being taken prisoner to Rome in the midst of the terrible storm at sea, said "Sirs, be of good cheer, for I believe God that it will turn out just like God said it would...and they were all safe to shore!"
Abraham also, said: "What God has promised, He is able to perform." (Romans 4:21)
Prepare for your storms by the realization of God and readiness to follow Him.
The covenant (Word of God) was to go before them.
This is a MUST in our lives!
Verses 7 and 10:
They realized the Presence of God. He had been with them all the way and...
He would not forsake them now!
Neither will He forsake YOU! (Hebrews 13:5-8)
They moved by faith. Let us be sure to make God the object of OUR faith!
They experienced the miracles of God.
While I was going through treatment at the Cancer Center here in Norman, we stayed at the Sullivant Retreat Center, owned by Christian friends.
You can read about their encounter with the storm.
'GOD SLAMMED DOOR SHUT'
Posted on May 11, 2010 | by Bob Nigh
NORMAN, Okla. (BP)--Most of the time, believers obedient to the will of God pray that He will open a door for them. About 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, John Strappazon believes God slammed one shut for him -- and he couldn't be more grateful.
Strappazon, Baptist Collegiate Ministry director for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, was leading the spring meeting of state BCM directors at the Sullivant Memorial Retreat Center alongside Lake Thunderbird when David Hogg, BCM director from Northern Oklahoma College in Tonkawa, approached him and said, "We need to get into the storm shelter ... right now!"
It was only the first day of a planned May 10-12 semiannual meeting.....
but a storm soon changed all of that.
"David is a storm chaser and weather guy, and he had been watching the weather all day," Strappazon said. "He came up late in the day and said things are getting bad. A few minutes later, he said we need to get into the storm shelter now. So we picked up and started walking toward the shelter. We grabbed water and food. We weren't running or anything....but we had 56 people to move."
Things quickly went from bad to worse.
"We were getting close to the shelter and John Kelsey [BCM director at the University of Oklahoma] shouted, 'There's debris in the air. We need to get in there now!'
"We got in there, and two of the guys tried to shut the metal door and they couldn't get it shut," Strappazon said.
"You could hear it [the tornado] coming. They pulled and pulled and couldn't get it shut. The door was jerked out of their hands three times before it suddenly just shut itself."
The room had one small window in it, through which the group watched the twister move across the sky.
"We watched the tornado go over Lake Thunderbird and turn white as it picked up water from the lake," he marveled.
Afterward, they emerged from the shelter to a scene of unbelievable destruction.
"We came out, and the place was just destroyed," Strappazon said. "Beautiful trees just sheared off. Half a dozen of our cars were damaged; two or three were totaled. Trees were lying across them, and windows were blown out. You could see that part of the roof of the retreat center was blown away." Another building closer to the lake was heavily damaged as well.
The group was in the shelter no longer than five minutes, Strappazon said.
"We got in there seconds before it hit," he said. "If not, we could have had some serious injuries or worse. We were real glad David Hogg was there. He saved our lives.
"When it was over, we got out and assessed the damage. Then I got them back into the main room, and I just said the thing we need to do now is to end this thing and everybody go home.
"After it happened, we walked out on the road, and there was a car that had been flipped three times. A lady from the car had been thrown out of it and Bobby Lipscomb, BCM director at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, who is an EMT, tended to her until EMS finally got there, which was a long time."
Strappazon said he believes God shut the door to the shelter in a miraculous way.
"I have no doubt of that, because we just could not get that thing shut," he said.
"It was a powerful force," he said of the tornado. "When that thing went over, my ears popped like they never have before -- three or four times."
Bob Nigh is managing editor of the Baptist Messenger, newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
The poem 'My Father's Way' was given to us many yrs. ago by our pastor/friend, Carl Stringer.
It has meant so much to us throughout the years as we and our family....
like your's I'm sure, have faced several storms in our lives.
'MY FATHER'S WAY'
"My Father's way may twist and turn
My heart may throb and ache.
But in my soul, I'm glad to know
He maketh no mistake.
My cherished plans may go astray,
My hope may fade away....
But still I trust the Lord to lead
For my Father knows the way.
There is much now I cannot see
My eye is still so dim....
But come what may, I still can trust
And leave it all to Him.
For by and by, the mist will lift
And darkness turn to day.
Then looking back.....we'll praise His Name,
Who led us all the way!"
So fellow traveler, God's Word to you is:
~GRASP GOD FIRMLY
"How can I slip through His fingers, for I am one of His fingers!"
~TRUST GOD WITHOUT WAVERING....Hebrews 10:23
~LEAVE ALL ISSUES WITH HIM
Instead of asking so many questions, claim all the promises!
~DRAW FROM GOD'S STRENGTH TO BE MADE PERFECT
(complete and mature)
Billy Graham's daughter, Ann Graham Lutz wrote this in the 1994 Decision Magazine.
FIVE THINGS A STORM CANNOT DESTROY: (Mark 6:45-52)
Because you can have:
~God's purpose (vs. 45)
~God answering prayer (vs. 46)
~God's presence (vs. 47-48)
~God's peace (vs. 48-50)
~God's power (vs. 51-52)
She further said:
"When the storms come, don't look back...or around...or ahead!
Look up and ask God to give you a fresh vision.
Then reach out to someone else by giving them Jesus!"
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Yes, you are right... We must face storms through God's eyes. The Norman Doppler Storm Chasers Weather Team was in Odessa and in Notrees, the next town over from us, where the tornado touched down a few days ago.It was exciting! Maybe it gave me a false sense of security, but your right, they tell you what streets and everything about the storm as well as when it is approaching and what time to expect it. I have always loved storms! Anyway, all is well here. Glad all is well back home. However, I still put my trust in THE ALMIGHTY WEATHERMAN! Love you!