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Salvaging life's storms

Originally Appeared in : 9721-10/12/17

The fire marshal would have had a field day with the seven people residing in our guest bathroom tub built for 1 3/4, but he and every other official was otherwise detained by the hurricane blowing in our yard that had sent nearly my entire family to the guest tub in the first place.

The fire marshal would have had a field day with the seven people residing in our guest bathroom tub built for 1 3/4, but he and every other official was otherwise detained by the hurricane blowing in our yard that had sent nearly my entire family to the guest tub in the first place.

 

A few moments earlier, a loud “snap” was followed by an even louder “boom” and finally Magan shouting “everyone in the tub.”

 

At least four of our children had turned on their flashlights, flailing them back and forth to make the bathroom resemble a World War II air raid search, and most of them were crying or asking worried questions about whether or not our house was going to be swept away like Dorothy’s.

 

I was the least intelligent of the whole bunch, pressing my face against the window in the big boys’ room trying to figure out where the snap and boom had ended up in our yard. A 50-foot pine had snapped in two, sending half of it crashing down on our fence and nearly wiping out our storage shed. The sight was enough to garner the attention of the local paper, which dropped by that evening to snap photos of the storm scene as the boys and I began the cleanup process.

 

Branches were buried in the yard, around our trampoline and laying across two additional portions of chain link fence that looked like they had been stomped on by the BFG (Big Friendly Giant).

 

Although we had several days’ worth of tree removal and fence replacement ahead of us, Magan and I counted our blessings that our power had been restored and no one had been hurt during Irma’s visit to Laurens County.

 

With the tree people off slicing and dicing much larger tree problems away in other parts of the county, my crowd had transformed the remaining trunk into a fort and balancing beam for most of the week. When I got home from work that Friday, it turned into a park bench as everyone except for Noah, Simon and myself watched the three of us restore the fence to its former glory.

 

Noah had been charged with removing all of the broken fence boards and posts from the scene and placing them in our pickup to haul off to the dump that weekend.

 

“Jason, Noah said he has an idea for the fence boards,” Magan said over the phone, “so don’t throw them away when you take off the trash.”
I obliged, figuring he was going to build some sort of fortress of solitude for himself and the rest of our boys to role play their next pirate/Transformer/Army-man/ninja adventure.

 

Days went by, and I would come home at lunch, or for the day, to find the extension cord snaking across our driveway and past our van with the drill “whirring” at the other end to signify the latest screw being driven home on a plank. I left Noah to his own devices, trying not to micromanage his latest creation, but I was starting to wonder what he was building. So, one day I asked Magan and the answer I got from her floored me to say the least.

 

“He’s building us a nativity for the yard,” she said.

 

Weeks earlier, a successful Goodwill run by Magan had yielded light-up Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus figurines for our Christmas display. Sadly, just like the original tale though, they had no place to rest their plastic heads. Hence Noah’s project.

 

Two weeks after the storm, I came home for the weekend with two household chores on my list for the evening: give Simon a quick haircut and help Noah cut the roofline of the stable to complete his project.

 

During those final cuts I had the epiphany that Noah had taken the lemons from the storm—the broken fence boards—and made lemonade out of them in the form of our new nativity.

 

All of us will face literal and figurative storms in our lives. God’s true purpose behind those storms, though, isn’t to scare us or to harm us with the winds or debris, it’s to temper and humble us in hopes of helping all of us attain salvation.

 

God promises us that “When the tempest passes, the wicked are no more; but the just are established forever,” (Proverbs 10:25).

 

This latest storm may have snatched a tree from our yard, and a fence out of the ground, but it returned a keepsake that will remind us of God’s love and protection for, hopefully, generations. It will also keep plastic baby Jesus warm and dry leading up to his namesake’s birthday every December.

 

Jason Halcombe has five sons and a daughter. He and his wife, Magan, are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Dublin.

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