Shelter in the Storm

Megan Smillie // Tales From the Trenches


August 14  

Rolling down the window of our now-mountaineering Suburban, I felt the sun and cool breeze caress my face. The teens in the back stuck their arms out, letting the cool air lift and lower their hands in time to the country music they had chosen to play. We were on our way out into another perfect Colorado day, making every moment count—before school, worries, stress, responsibility, and the endless Texas summer took hold again.

My parents’ home sits in the foothills of Pikes Peak. It’s been a vacation destination for us for over 20 years now. We spend at least one week every summer soaking in God’s creation while hiking, walking, or just lounging on their back deck. It is truly a vacation in every sense of the word. 

Nature rules here. And nothing shows it better than the afternoon storms that suddenly appear over the Rockies and swoop their way down the mountain passes. 

One afternoon, the teens decided to hike the mountain right behind my parents’ house. It’s a challenging one, the trail gaining 1200 feet of elevation in less than a mile. There are boulders and switchbacks galore, as well as a breathtaking view at the top. Armed with a walkie-talkie (no cell phone service up there,) some snacks, and water, they set off. About forty-five minutes later, the home walkie-talkie crackled to life. They had made it! It was gorgeous! They wanted to stay. I glanced outside and noticed the white puffy clouds. Not threatening by any means, but, knowing from experience that ANY clouds means imminent storms, I told them they should start to head down soon. Some time later, a sudden crack of thunder and they radio us that they’re going to head down now. I’m not thrilled that they waited that long, so their dad heads out in the Suburban to meet them at the trailhead. Out of nowhere, it begins to hail. Screams of laughter from the walkie-talkie as they radio the news. Their dad meets them as they run down the road. What a story! They were soaked but unhurt, and I prayed silent prayers of thanksgiving that the hail was only pea-sized and quite slushy. 

That evening, my mom and I sat side-by-side sewing decorations for my classroom as the girls recounted their adventure. They had started to pray the Rosary as they ran down the mountain, frightened by the storm. Their encounter with danger had made them realize whom they could go to for protection. The sight of their dad in the big sturdy Suburban filled them with relief. And they could then laugh at the terror of the storm and their fear. 

I like to think of God as driving a big ol’ sturdy Suburban on the side of our mountainous lives. Him on the other end of that walkie-talkie, asking us to come in from the threatening clouds—wrapping us in warm towels and smiling at our confident laughter, knowing that he is the source of that end result. I like to think of him in the quiet of a mother and daughter sewing together, heads bent in concentration—making beauty for a small classroom in Texas. And in the sturdy shelter of a mountain home, lit with light and love as a second hailstorm thunders outside. These vignettes are made possible by paternal and maternal love, which come directly from God as the author of our vocations. Through God’s grace, we provide the shelter, the warmth, the joy, the love, and the security for our children.

We are their shelter in the storm.

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