Saturday, July 04, 2009

A Tornado Almost Killed Me

Yet I still want to see one.

You read that right. I've never seen a tornado, but one nearly terminated my life before it began. I'm fascinated by violent storms and would seriously contemplate becoming a storm chaser if I didn't have other obligations like parenting and spousal expectations.

One of the very few narratives my mother recorded in her own hand was "The Tornado." Mom wrote hundreds, perhaps thousands of letters. She was an amazing correspondent with family, friends and missionaries. But to my knowledge, she only wrote one story. It was one page, double sided, and described a tornado tragedy that occurred when my mother, Eva, was a child.

The family could see the twister coming across the Kansas prairie. They all headed for the storm shelter in back of the house. Great-grandma had Eva by the hand. At first it was deathly still, then the wind picked up a large board and it caught g-grandma, carrying her away with the gust. She released Eva's hand and Eva ran on to the shelter and safety.

How did a small child like my mother escape being carried away by such a force? Since I believe firmly in divine intervention, I conclude it was because God had a purpose for sparing my mother's life. She went on to marry Frank and together they raised eight children, of whom I was the youngest.

As The Nickel Family Singers, we traveled to 47 states and 7 provinces of Canada, singing together and declaring the goodness of God. Each of my siblings married, most had children and are serving God in various careers, scattered across North America.

So if you multiply my parent's influence by eight, then by more than 2 dozen grandchildren, you begin to understand the scripture that says God blessings continue to the thousandth generation of those who love him. Ex. 20:6

The God who makes the wind, the storm, and the sun knows the purposes he has for me too. So while I might not go out and chase tornadoes today (not that many show up in southern Alberta), I can go out and chase my dreams, fulfill my purpose and enjoy life, knowing that I came only inches from death before I was even born.

For what purpose have you been spared?

Update: A tornado was spotted 80 km north after I posted this. The storm front currently passing over is passing far too slowly. I can't see a tornado if it comes in the dark...


  1. That is an incredible story, Joyce. God had a plan, and He is good!

    I saw the tornado that hit Edmonton a few years ago, after it had done its dirty work and rolled back into a horrible horizontal funnel. A friend was at work when it hit her building. She lived to tell the tale, and after hearing it, you are braver than I - I never want to see another one!

  2. Ah, perhaps I am foolish. My husband saw a tornado when we lived in Lloydminster. When I saw the devastation afterward (and it was minimal compared to Edmonton), I was quite shaken.

    Likely, if I saw a tornado - I'd take a quick photo, then dive for the basement. No foolish risks, only calculated ones.