Storms That Frighten Children
by Jane Curtis
A few weeks ago when we had some storms come through here my constant volunteering really caught up with me. There was a family that had moved into town who had 3 children with down syndrome. During the storm we lost power for several hours. I sat here in the dark talking to the dogs and directing my prayers to the ceiling as if I could see it. I said, "ok... now what are we going to do? We have no electronic magic to entertain us so tell me where you need me." I really should work on my prayers, I always get a response. A banging at my front door alerted me to the first disaster. A neighbor was checking on me and knew I always had something in my crock pot. I really should try not to be so predictable. I had a crock pot full of a chicken vegetable stew that was still warm. The neighbor told me about the little family with the kids. Their roof had been struck by lightening and they needed help. I grab the crock pot and a whole package of plastic bowls and joined him.
When we got there the kids were screaming in fear every time the the thunder roared and the lightening cracked. There was a hole in the middle of the kitchen ceiling and the whole house was getting flooded. The men who had come to help were patching the hole in the ceiling so I went to work. I opened the back door and started pulling everything I could find to create a path for the water to be funneled back outside. The mother saw what I was doing and realized that the flooding was fixable. I told one of the guys to attach some shower curtains to the ceiling and funnel the water into the path we had made. I had lined the floor with plastic trash bags and the clothes and stuff lining the sides kept the water going right back out the back door. I asked the little mom to continue creating the pathway while I took care of the kids. I then said a little prayer for God to show me the way into their little hearts.
The thunder stopped for a while. I started laughing and clapping my hands. The kids asked me why I was doing that. I asked it they knew about God. They all shook their heads yes. I then went on to explain that just as humans make noise when they clap their hands together that God made noise when he clapped his. That is why the weather man calls it a "Clap of Thunder". I let them in on the secret that God was just trying to warn them that he was going to take their picture. Their little faces lite up. I said you have seen it when someone takes your picture ... the flash of the camera. Well, that is all the lightening is. God is taking you picture. He claps to let you know to get ready then the flash tells you he has taken your picture. There is nothing to be afraid of at all. The kids instantly started clapping their hands and smiling every time the thunder roared.
After that; we all sat in the dark eating the stew I had brought. It was truly a blessing in action. I fed 18 people out of that one crock pot. I knew it was God working the loaves and fishes again. It got to one point when the kids
were getting edgy about being in the dark. Flashlights were passed out then I told them I needed their help. I told them that on my way to their house I had seen a magical dog that was lost in the storm. I went on to tell them he was magical because he got to experience what ever someone made up about him. I went on to give examples of how I had given him the ability to shake the water out of his fur and hear in the dark. I said what I needed was for them to each give him either a power or an adventure so he would not be afraid in the storm. I said each one of them could talk and add to his adventure for 5 minutes then they had to pass the story onto the next person.
The adventures and powers they sent that little dog on during that power outage was wonderful. They all got so busy with the story they never realized when power actually got restored. What excited me was when power came back on they did not run to their electronic devices ... they stayed together and finished the story. The chief of police was a friend of mine. I knew that the he had dropped by to check on things. I knew he had gone to check on the animal shelter while we were there and he showed up with a wonderful puppy. They all decided it was the magical dog I had seen on the way over. They named him Magic. The chief had checked with the parents first. When he winked at me I knew something wonderful was going to happen. Magic is in very good hands, and hands, and hands. They all take turns letting him sleep with them.
The story game, as they call it now, is something the whole family does each evening during dinner. The mother said sometimes they get so involved with a story they forget to watch TV. The kids love it. They also passed along the secret about thunder and lightening to the preschool class. When another storm hit and they lost power in the school the kids told the whole class and the teacher was thrilled. Instead of screaming in fear... all the kids were clapping and smiling so God could take their picture.
A follow up:
The mother of the little girl said they had a substitute teacher about ten days ago when we had more storms. The little girl had of course let all the kids know what a "clap" of thunder meant. When the thunder clapped real loud.. all the kids started combing their hair and straightening their clothes. When the teacher asked why they were doing that the told her it was so they would look nice when God took there picture. It turns out the teacher was an atheist. She tried to explain to the kids that the thunder came when two clouds bumped each other... that in reality there was no God. The little girl looked at the teacher and said, "Well even if you don't believe in him... he is going to take your picture. So, you best get ready." I got a big kick out of that one.
The family also followed my suggestion and put a skylight in the kitchen ceiling where the whole was made by the lightening. It is truly beautiful. The children play under it when the moonlight shines through and of course during storms... just in case God wants to take their picture.