Monday, May 9, 2011

The Storms of Life

We weren’t prepared for the storm that blew through back in 2008. We had a picnic basket ready and plans to eat lunch in the grove after church. The wind picked up throughout the morning, until it was hitting the building with sickening strength. We watched the little ones play as we ate our lunch in the church gym, our faces showing increased concern each time the lights flickered.

As we left the building, we found walking to our vehicles difficult. Little did we know, our 20 minute drive home was going to be a long and scary one. The wind alone made for slow and careful driving, but the numerous downed trees made for one detour after another. My cell-phone battery was nearly dead and our van had only 1/4 of a tank of gas. I spent the trip praying that our van wouldn’t be hit by a falling tree and that each back country road we were driving wouldn’t be blocked like the last.

For over an hour, we were rocked by 50 mph sustained winds with 70 mph gusts. The storm ripped the shingles from countless roofs, took down trees, blew away two barns at my family’s farm, and left our region without power for nearly a week.

And then, things got really bad. Monday brought a severe asthma attack for my little girl. And there was no gas left in my van. And my cell phone was dead. And, oh yeah… I was pregnant and suffering morning sickness.

I loaded the kids in the van, made my way to the only gas station that had electricity and waited impatiently for my turn. With enough fuel to get to the hospital, I threw a twenty at the attendant and ran. Literally. When we made it to the hospital, I carried my one year old, and encouraged the other two littles toward the ER.

My darling girl was admitted and spent much of that week in the pediatric unit of the hospital on oxygen and breathing treatments. My handsome honey took the other littles home to survive the aftermath of the storm in a house without electricity, very much food, or drinkable water. I stayed in the hospital with my girl, watching the news of the economic disaster that was taking place at the same time. It all seemed very scary and it changed my outlook on life.

Up until that week, I really thought that life was pretty stable. I wasn’t too concerned about being prepared for the storms in life. Bad stuff wasn’t going to happen to us and if it did we could count on our neighbors and friends. When the storms hit, we found our world changed. That old tree that sheltered us was ripped from the ground. The things and services we counted on failed. We found the preparations made on sunny days could have sustained us. Too bad we hadn’t made those preparations for the storm.

Throughout history, people have had to deal with disasters and difficulties. Our comfortable and easy lifestyle has lulled us into a false sense of security. That false sense of security is what worries me now. As I read of the flooding on the Mississippi river, I am struck by the fact that the officials have to nearly beg people to leave their homes for higher ground. In much the same way, I am troubled when I think of the economic situation that face our country. I am troubled by a people who are determined to go on living a life with no regard for the future changes that are coming, just as sure as that flood water.

I don’t know what the economic future holds. I pray the future will not be as bleak as some like to predict. I do not believe the future will hold the prosperity to which we have grown accustomed. I pray we will find will find ourselves somewhere in the middle. I can’t predict how big or widespread this economic storm we face will be. We’ve seen damage already and I don’t think it’s over yet. I have no doubt our economic circumstances are changing. A trip to the gas station or the grocery ought to be enough evidence that our financial situation has changed, no matter what the officials say.

So I’m left wondering. With economic changes as evident to us as is the rising water of the Mississippi, will we stubbornly hang on to an unsustainable way of life that will end in crisis or will we make the changes that are needed? Will we do our best to prepare and protect our family from the “storm” or will we wait and depend on the government to send a rescue for us? 

I’m not advocating stowing away a year’s supply of rice, though I do keep enough food/supplies on hand to keep my family for a few months. I’m not advocating quitting your job to homestead your way to self-sufficiency, but that does sound kind of nice to me. ;) It would be a great thing for all of us to be prepared for life’s storms, though. I pray we never need our emergency kits and bottled water. I also pray that we never need to eat our way though all that stored food. All the same, I’m glad those things are there. And frankly, I hope my neighbors have those things so we can lean on them if our house blows away in a tornado.

We can make a difference in preparing for this economic storm by supporting our local economy and community. Shop at local stores. Buy food that is locally produced. Purchase things that are made to last. Get to know your neighbors. Trade and share tools. You get the idea. We can make this new economic reality a lot more palatable by making wise choices about when and where we spend our money. We could all help shoulder the burden of the economic distress by supporting the local companies and farms that are so important to our lives and livelihoods.

As I’ve said before, I’m ready for a change. I want to see our country unite to overcome this challenge rather than continuing to dig our way deeper and deeper into debt. I want to take care of my family and I’ll do all I can to help support local businesses so that those folks can do the same.

What do you think? What does the future hold? What are you doing to create a sustainable life for your family? What do you think our government should do about the problems we face. What should we do as citizens? Am I crazy to worry about such things or to think that we could make a difference?

As always, I love hearing politely expressed opinions even if they are different from my own. Hope you’ll take time to share your thoughts.


  1. What a story - that drive home through the storm sounds absolutely terrifying. And your little one with an asthma attack and no gas.. even scarier. I was thinking to myself as I was reading - why didn't you call an ambulance?

    I agree with all of your points about preparing for rough times ahead - whether it's the changing climate or changing economies, the world does seem in flux at the moment, although we seem a little more sheltered from the storm down here in Tasmania - but you just never know. Having children has changed my views on safety and preparedness too - whenever we get on a ferry the first thing I do is visually locate the life jackets and work out our escape route in case of fire, and we too keep an emergency stash of food in the house.

  2. I love this post, Fatima. Thought-provoking for sure.

    Well, you know where I stand on this - live with simplicity, frugality, and (some) frivolity... all with an eco-mentality! :) Live gratefully, intentionally, and with purpose no matter the circumstances surrounding you. We do this as much as we can, but of course I am always thinking "what else can we do?, whats the next step?". Then I write lists & make charts & drive myself & my family insane! LOL!


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