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Lessons from Hurricane Irene

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Hurricane Irene has come and gone, but the aftermath affects many.  Her impact was financial, emotional, physical and for some, introspective.  My family and I learned some lessons from this unlikely teacher.  We would like to share a few with you.

Be thankful for what you have – There is nothing like a good storm to help you take stock in what you have and to keep you from coveting what you don’t.  We were among the fortunate ones; we didn’t lose any material possessions (unless you count all the food in my fridge and freezer that ended up in the dump this week) and we were only out of power for 6 days.  Some had and continue to have it much worse.  We are thankful for not only what we have but also what we were spared.

TV is evil – Okay, it’s not evil, but it’s pretty close.  Mind you, we are not heavy TV watchers or video game players.  But being without power for 6 days brings things into perspective.  After the second day or so my kids stopped asking if they could use the computer or watch a video.  They went outside.  They played together.  They had fun together.  I didn’t have to cajole, direct or suggest activities.  There wasn’t the incessant following or looking for me.  Probably because I was too busy trying to figure out if you can cook macaroni and cheese and refrigerated tortellini on a charcoal grill (you can by the way).  It’s not that they didn’t play together nicely before; they did.  But the quality and quantity of their play was altogether different.  There was not one time-out this week.  Not one.  Going forward, we have deemed 4 out of 7 days a week as “unplugged” days in hopes of keeping this spirit alive.

God always provides – We saw God’s provisions in so many different ways this week.  We were without phone (land line or cell service) for over 24 hours.  Not a good feeling as a mother of two active (and accident prone) children in rural New England.  We were so thankful that our phone provider showed up with a generator that powered our land line for the remainder of the week.  At one point, we ran out of ice.  So did the stores.  We just “happened” to call a small convenience store a mile away right after they got their delivery for the day, thereby saving the few perishables we had left.  Another day, we got the last half-gallon of milk.  God always takes care of our needs.

The world keeps spinning without me – Although I did have over 120 emails to sort through when this whole thing blew over, nothing was urgent.  Somehow the world survived without me for 6 whole days.  Humble pie doesn’t always taste good going down, but it has a way of making you feel full . . . satisfied, content.  And it helps to remember what God says, “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2b).  Remembering that I am just a small fish in a big pond helps – at the same time, it is good to know that God cares about this little fish immensely.

Slow down – Even when I have nowhere to go, I tend to feel rushed.  It’s just my personality.  But being without power, technology, and even an answering machine made me feel less frenetic.  Life was just about the basics:  what we would eat that day; if we would get the laundry done; where we would shower that night.  Things were simpler and sometimes simpler is better.  Because I wasn’t in such a hurry, I listened better.  I smiled more.  I felt peaceful. 

When the lights came back on, I was excited (mostly to say goodbye to our bathroom turned outhouse), but I was also a little bit sad.  I knew life could get busy again.  But I realized that it doesn’t have to be this way.  We plan to keep “simple” in our family’s vocabulary.  Thank you, Irene, for what you have taught me.  I will do my part to remember what I have learned.  For those of you who continue to feel her effects, we will pray that you will know God’s mighty providing hand as well.

About the author

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura Kuehn, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker specializing in children and families. CfP is the place she combines some of her very favorite things: writing, parenting and God’s word. She loves encouraging parents to build their families upon Jesus, the one true Cornerstone. She is happily married to a wonderfully supportive husband and is the mother of two delightfully inspiring children.

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