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The Big Picture

Hurricane Elvis

If you're not from Memphis, you probably don't know about Hurricane Elvis, as it did not make the national news.  I remember it well, though, because Hurricane Elvis marked the beginning of one of the greatest storms of our lives. 

I thought with all the hurricanes, earthquakes and fires in the news, it might encourage somebody in the midst of a trial. 
On July 22, 2003, we were living in Memphis and expecting our 8th baby. That afternoon was like any other July day; the air was still, the temperature was hot, and the kids were bored.  Then the wind quietly, even eerily, stirred.  The sirens did not sound (when you grow up in Memphis, you grow accustomed to the tornado sirens), but the wind was not merely bending and snapping the trees, but sending them flying. Straight-line winds, we learned later; they act like a tornado, only without the funnel cloud. 
It was quick.  It was quiet.  And the damage was extreme. The power was out, debris filled the yard.   We all went outback, and as I waded through the broken branches, I saw the tiniest baby squirrel on the ground, umbilical cord still attached.  For some reason, it made me think of my own baby.  A sign, I would soon learn.

That night, in the middle of the night, I lost the baby at seven weeks along.  It was my first miscarriage after having seven normal pregnancies that produced big, fat, overdue babies. Traumatic, to say the least.
Two days later, the power still out, we threw away all of the food in fridge.  For a family of nine, it was a small fortune. 
On day three, the transmission on the car went out. Cha-ching.
On day four, some dear friends invited all nine of us to stay with them until our power was restored.  I was so grateful to get a hot meal and a hot bath.  A tiny bit of relief.  I love those folks; I will never forget their hospitality. 
On day five (in our neighborhood, anyway) the power was restored.  People were cheering the MLG&W workers in the streets. 
With power on, we went home and restocked our fridge, only to realize by day seven that it had gone ka-put.  For the second time, we threw away our food. And we bought a new fridge. Cha-ching. 
 On day eight, the A/C joined the ranks of the transmission and the fridge.  Ka-put. Air conditioning in July in Memphis is not an option. Cha-ching. 
 In span of eight days, we lost our baby and our savings.  The stress was unbelievable. It was the most pressure we had been under since we had been married. Hurricane Elvis left a mark I have never forgotten.
Fast forward one year.   Baby Dorothy was twelve weeks old and we had just moved to Vermont. Our new friends had invited us to the annual Mozart Festival in Stowe; I was holding her while watching the sun sink behind the Green Mountains.  As the sun was setting and Mozart was playing, it occurred to me that it had been almost exactly a year since that terrible trial. 
The revelation was shocking:  If someone had told me during that awful week a year before, "Don't worry, in one year you will be sitting on the top of a mountain, watching the sunset, listening to Mozart while holding your new baby," I would not have believed it.  
The Captain and I learned a thing or two from that trying week:   Trust in God and His goodness. Sometimes He works in us.  Sometimes He works on us.  Let trials pull you together, not apart.  
That was over ten years ago, and whenever we face a new trial (and there is always one lurking, it seems) we point to that week and remind each other that God has always taken care of us.  He is always working for our good.  
I would not have chosen to go through the trials of that week so long ago, but I am thankful Hurricane Elvis came to visit us that day.  I don't think we could have strengthened our faith any other way.  
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

6 Comments to Hurricane Elvis :

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Kelly on Monday, July 22, 2013 12:32 PM
I will never forget this story for the rest of my life. You sent me this story with some added advice many years ago. You told me to remember in Jeremiah the people were in exile because God had put them there. That if you feel like you are in exile God put you there for a reason and has a purpose for it, even if you can't see it then. That message pulled me out of a dark hole and was read over and over and over. I have shared it with others over and over and over. I am now thankful for that time in my life too. It was awful but I'm glad for it so I can appreciate the good times. I'll add too, Abigail and I were getting things out of my mom's attic yesterday. She commented how good the air conditioning felt after being in 110 F with 100% humidity. I told her it was just like that with God. You never know how good His air feels until you've been in the heat. Thanks Margie for being so wonderfully awesome!
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Margie on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 8:28 AM
Thank you, Kelly. You are pretty awesome yourself!

Julia Gray on Monday, July 22, 2013 3:31 PM
When Hurricane Elvis hit we had just moved into our new home surrounded by beautiful trees. I was so thankful we suffered no damage. We had this lovely new home and baby number 7 on the way. Then we received news that Kevin's grandfather was very ill and we needed to get to IL. Packing in the dark I was thinking how he always made each child a little wooden footstool and I hoped he would be able to do the same for this child. The last time I had seen him he asked if I wanted that or he was now making little doll cradles. Selfishly I told him I wanted both (I found out later that had tickled him to no end). Just as our power came back on we received word that Grandpa had died. On the way home, after his funeral, with the cradle and footstool he had crafted loaded in the car I mourned that he would not meet this great grandchild but at least he had left those gifts. A week before Christmas our little girl, Meredith, died moments before her birth. As I then mourned that loss it occurred to me that Grandpa had indeed met her before any of us and was there to welcome her into heaven. A very comforting thought.
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margie on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 8:30 AM
What a sad story, Julia--yet your perspective makes it beautiful. Thank you for sharing that.

margie on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 8:32 AM
One of my favorite verses. Shows we can trust Him!

Debbie on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 2:05 AM
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose - this has helped me through many trials in my life. Margie & Kelly - you know it so much better than I do but I always return to it.
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