Living in Hawaii has been such a blessing!
The constant sunny days, the beautiful beaches, the turquoise water, the smells of plumeria and coconuts filling the air…what could be better, right?
It might sound like a dream-and some days, it really is.
However, even paradise has its downsides.
Volcanos erupting, a ballistic missile warning, hurricanes, tropical storms, fires, flooding…Hawaii has had a rough year for sure! In fact, many people have made the Moana joke that someone needs to return the Heart of Te Fiti (which, legend has it, means the island will slowly deteriorate until it’s returned).
Unfortunately, my husband was deployed on his submarine for each of these events. I shared my experience with the Ballistic Missile Warning here: A 2nd Chance at Life: Hawaii’s Ballistic Missile Warning
It can be tricky to keep calm in the midst of a crisis!
It’s even trickier to do so when kids are involved. Growing up in Nebraska, I had NO CLUE what to do for a hurricane! We are pretty land-locked in Nebraska. So obviously, the fear of hurricanes or tropical storms was nothing I ever had to experience until now. I did a lot of research so that I felt confident I had done everything I possibly could to ensure my kids were safe. My husbands Navy command gave out great tips and the news stations were a great resource as well.
I’ll be honest. I’ve lived in Hawaii (Oahu) for over 3 years now. We have had several Tropical Storm/Hurricane watches. But, none that caused the amount of fear Hurricane Lane sparked in me. Prior to Lane, I didn’t do much to prepare for hurricanes. I bought some extra water, stocked up canned food from Costco, brought my patio furniture pillows and pots inside and called it good enough.
This time felt different.
“Luckily,” right before Hurricane Lane, we had Hurricane Hector nearby. Something in me felt like it was time to step up my “hurricane preparedness” a little bit. It caused me to plan ahead and I bought a few family survival kits, food/water with a shelf life of 5 years, a hand crank radio/lantern etc. I even got an emergency kit for our Yorkie. I think what prompted me to take it more serious this time, was that we had just moved literally 2 blocks from the beach and right where the hurricane was expected to hit. Scary!
When you are in a situation which is expected to be devastating, it can be hard to stay focused. I know MY mind was swirling as fast as the hurricane.
One minute, I’m thinking about what needs to be done and performing a mental checklist of my “to do” list.
The next minute, I’m imagining what it will be like afterward (while picturing images from Hurricane Katrina).
I even found myself asking God, “Why?!”
The hardest moment in all of this,
was the night before we evacuated.
I felt the clock ticking as the expected hurricane was getting closer and closer. The kids helped pack up their bags for evacuating. We packed some toys (Lego’s, play-doh, coloring books, bracelet making supplies, a few card games etc.)
The kids have never seen the devastation hurricanes can cause and didn’t fully understand what was going on. I didn’t want to scare them but, since daddy was deployed and I was prepping by myself, I needed their help and they needed to know this was serious. They are 6 & 8 and, I felt, old enough to know a little about the situation. I explained to them how the hurricane was coming in the next few days and we were going to go stay with Auntie in the mountains until it was safe to come back home. This sparked them wanting to pack EVERYTHING in their rooms. (yikes! That backfired! haha)
In the meantime, I had gathered up all of our important documents (birth certificates, shot records etc.) and put them in a ziplock baggy. Then, it was MY turn to pack for me.
Knowing there was the possibility of everything in our home getting destroyed,
I had to REALLY think about what was most important.
What would YOU choose?
Over the past year, I have worked really hard to “minimize” our home. I’ve been learning to put less value on the physical things around me so I can put more value and love into those around me instead. I feel God used this past year to prep me for this moment where I had to choose what I was going to pack up and take with me.
In the end, it was pretty easy to pick what I wanted to “save from the storm.” All I chose was a quote card (you can read about the meaning behind it here) and a handwritten note from each of my kiddos that simply said, “I love you, mommy.”
I tear up just thinking about it. Knowing there was a possibility everything in our home could be destroyed, there are many things I could’ve tried to save: photo albums, expensive electronics, favorite jewelry, etc.
However, at that moment when I had to choose, it was my kids that came to mind first.
No physical items. None!
Just my kids.
Knowing daddy was safe out on his submarine and that the kids and I would be together, was all of the comfort I needed. I think I’m grasping the concept of “minimalism” better than I thought I was. Our things are just things. Our family is precious and worth more than anything I could buy for my house-or even the house itself.
The kids came running downstairs with their arms full of “stuff” they wanted to save from the storm. They literally stopped dead in their tracks when they saw my simple baggy with a love note from each of them. They asked me where all of my stuff was.
I felt this was a good opportunity to sit down with them and talk about it a little deeper.
I explained to them how THEY were the most important to me in the entire world. I went on to explain how, if I had them, that’s all I ever needed! We talked about how God gave us the time and the resources to know how to plan and prepare for this storm and we just needed to let Him take control now.
We had done all we could do to prepare.
Now, it was time to pray.
We sat down, held hands and prayed.
We thanked God for everything He had given us. But, most importantly, He gave us each other and we were thankful for that. We prayed for his protection and I felt it calm all of us in that exact moment. #prayeroverpanic
Later that night, the kids were in bed and the house was quiet. We had our bags packed, EVERYTHING from outside was brought inside, etc. We were ready to leave the house and evacuate the next day. I remember sitting on the couch and just scanning the room thinking, “this could be the last night in our home.” What a feeling!
The next day came, we evacuated to my friend’s house up in the mountains where it was a little safer. We waited out the storm (which eventually, after several days, decided to turn away from Oahu.) Our sister islands got hit hard and it’s heartbreaking to see the devastation.
In church a few days later, our pastor had a great sermon on “storms.” How appropriate! lol. It was one of those sermons you could take literally (storm meaning the hurricane) or symbolically (storm meaning a tough moment in your life.)
He spoke how storms draw out 3 things in us:
When life is easy, we think we can do it all on our own strength. When life gets tough, we are reminded of WHO is in control. We oftentimes don’t remember Jesus is all we NEED until Jesus is all we HAVE.
Trials come to test our faith.
Storms cause us to discover a little more about who God is.
It’s been a few weeks now since Hurricane Lane.
I feel like life is getting back to normal. Looking back, I feel I grew a great bit through this. I think Pastor Josiah hit it dead on when he said storms draw out the 3 D’s (dependency, deficiency and discovery.)
I am going to use this experience to always remember what is most important in my life.
I’m going to live my life focused on nurturing my family and my faith.
I’m going to remember how valueless physical items are.
I am going to live my life as if the storm is approaching.
Storms can happen at any time-physically and symbolically. It would be a waste of a trial if we don’t grow from them.
I’m grateful the storm shifted and we weren’t hit dead on as expected. I’m grateful for my faith in getting me through this scary week.
If you are going through a storm yourself, here are some songs that were on my mind during this: