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Ah, Nebraska
By Teresa Lee Rainey

March began a season of change for my family. We were very thankful for the fabulous new job my husband, John, had just accepted. The excitement we felt made moving from Florida to Nebraska an exciting adventure. The snowdrifts we arrived in, reminded me of home. Gazing through the window at the snow, reminded me of the gorgeous, white sand dunes of the Gulf of Mexico.

As we settled into a lovely, historic rental home, the kind gifts of food and fellowship blessed us to tears. It seemed a heavenly voice, was gently assuring us that this move was a

step forward on the path God had for us to follow.

While the snow melted, we began searching for the perfect home to purchase. The housing market was quite overwhelming. All we wanted were three bedrooms, two baths, a two-car garage, a spacious kitchen and no remodeling. We didn’t want to pay very much either.

About the time I was ready to give up, John came home anxious to talk. "Hon, on the way to work today, I was thinking about this whole housing situation and started praying. I told God that I couldn't remember asking Him what He wanted for us, so I was inquiring now. At lunch, the realtor came by my office to let me know that another house has just come on the market. You’ve got to see this house!"

Just as the first signs of spring emerged, we were moving again. By May, I was feeling very gratefully settled in our new home. It was everything we had hoped for and more. Nebraska life seemed to be ideally suited to us. Our new neighbors and friends told us to expect a summer similar to what I grew up with in Florida.

No one told us about wall clouds!

It was a typical, breezy Nebraska day. We had come home from an uneventful market trip and turned on a local Christian station to relax with a few tunes, when suddenly a siren's screech shattered our peace. It was part of an early weather warning system which truly ended up being a blessing.

An urgent bulletin blared across the airwaves, "The national weather service of Hastings, Nebraska has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the following counties." The announcer went on to say that within ten minutes, we would experience heavy rain, possible hail, tornadoes, and winds with up to eighty mile-per-hour gusts.

John looked at me lazily and said, "Maybe we should pull the car into the garage."

With wide-eyes, I responded, "Ya think?!"

I was about to have a crash course in those wall clouds that no one had ever told us about. There to the west of us, was the largest, most ominous cloud I had ever seen. The western horizon was literally one huge wall of black and it was moving quickly toward us. John now walked briskly to the garage as I grabbed the car keys.

As soon as we had pulled the car in, and before the garage door closed, the breeze picked up extensively. Getting back in the house was a hard struggle against Mother Nature.

We collected the crew, with curious little eyes glued to the upstairs window, and raced to the basement. I felt as though we were experiencing a Wizard of Oz moment as debris swirled past our basement window.

I began to think of a true story my Mom often humored me with from her childhood. My grandparents and their eight children had just settled down one dark and stormy night in their small, Southern Alabama shack. Somehow, Granny B sensed something terrible was about to happen and gathered almost all the children under her bed.

Mom and her sister, Sandy, refused to be stirred from their sleep. Suddenly, everything was deathly silent. Shattering the silence was a sound like a freight train barreling through their home. Seconds felt like eternity, before it was silent again. In her bed, Mom felt rain pouring on her head and leaped from under the covers. Granny B screamed for the children to run next door. Mom struggled with the front door before she realized there were only a few walls left standing. Their bedroom walls were among those few. The tornado did extensive damage to their home, but other than a few scratches, no one was injured.

It was about this time in my day-dreaming that Mom called, bringing me back to reality. She was frantic. "Teresa, praise God I reached you! I’m watching the weather channel. Looks like ya’ll are having really bad weather. Are the boys alright?"

"Yes ma’am, but let me tell you about this wall cloud."

That was the last thing I should have done. Mom is, understandably, deathly afraid of tornadoes. She started ranting and raving about what I needed to do to keep the boys safe.

"Mom, calm down. We’re all in the basement." Basements are a luxury in the South where she lived.

"Well, don’t you let those boys leave the basement until that storm has passed." She finished.

"Yes ma’am." I replied, and then quickly told Mom I loved her before handing the phone to my oldest.

We survived several national weather service warnings that summer. As I reflect on our summer experience, I thank God that unlike Mom’s experience, our home is still intact. No home in our area received any major damage. The most damage we received were sore muscles, from picking up numerous small, fallen tree limbs.

I am now anxiously anticipating what fall will bring. I am thankful for the assurances God has shown me in the past, and the present peace I feel comes from knowing our future is in His hands. Just as God was a literal refuge from the storm for my grandparents and their children, including my mom, I know He is watching over my family as we attempt to allow Him to direct our paths. Through Him, we can weather any storm.
Teresa Lee Rainey, her husband, and two of their boys were planted on the Nebraska plains in the spring of 2004. Teresa is a Native Floridian who is torn between her love of Florida and a growing love for her new home. She values the time she now has as a wife, a mom, and an inspirational writer. More of Teresa’s work can be found at http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=8183.
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Photography by Photography by A. Carlos Herrera.