City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Learning To Receive Love

Firsthand Account Of Lessons From A Tornado

“Mama, I’m so glad we had that big magnolia tree to help protect our house from the tornado.”

At four years old, our son, Wilder, has the coveted gift of finding the redemption in a thing.

We had been searching for redemption all day, as crews of strangers--now neighbors--armed with chainsaws, trash bags, tarps and gloves helped us cut trees off our totaled cars and collect 30-foot metal panels of what used to be our roof. The metal had been scattered all over the neighborhood in the tops of trees, deep in the woods, straddling fences, and hanging on downed power lines like wet towels.

Half the clean-up didn’t feel like cleaning up but just shifting the mess around into debris mountains on property lines. I started with the patio, shaking out soaking wet muddy pillows, standing couches back up, and rolling out the rug in hopes of putting a Disney-themed Band-aid on an open skull fracture.

The Hit

It came in like a wrecking ball without warning at 1:15 am. I thought a plane crashed into the house. My husband, Matt, and I jumped out of bed without a word and somehow flew each to a kid’s room, scooped them up, and made it in the pitch-black into the basement on angels’ wings – maybe 2 seconds flat.

Matt cradled Shiloh, our 2-year-old, her body trembling uncontrollably, yet eerily silent. Both kids were. Like they were in shock and didn’t know what else to do with their fear but shake and shake until it eventually bottoms out. The fear clung tightly, but their parents’ arms clung tighter still.

Safe. It’s how I felt somehow with the world literally spinning and crashing into our house all around us. Safe in my Father’s arms that are stronger than wild storms (Psalm 93). He is, and we knew it in the midst and in the hours to follow. We witnessed devastation all around, and yet lives were spared. Our children untouched. We would come to hear countless testimonies from neighbors in the coming days of trees that landed in bedrooms just moments after they fled and families who hunkered down in a bathtub on one side of the house while the twister tore through the other.

We lived in this house only 14 days before the storm came swirling in and took with it some of our favorite parts. There was so much damage to our home, and yet we are safe. I have half a heart on each side of this. Sadness healed by gratitude. Mourning turned to rejoicing. Fear overtaken by love.

The Lesson

I now know love deep in my bones in ways I’ve never known before. I’m not good at accepting help. Horrible at it, really. They showed up in carloads, friends and strangers alike. I tried to send them next door or across the street, but they didn’t listen. Because love presses in when you try to push it away.

A dear friend reminded me:  “Learning to receive love is the foundation of the Gospel.” Well, these past few weeks I’ve been given a crash course in it. The people in this city have shown up for us in big and crazy love-giving, life-altering, soul-soothing, shoulder-crying, tree-cutting, metal-hauling ways. They kept showing up and pressing in, in love, when I wanted to send them away.

We must learn to receive love. It's horrifyingly humbling, yet as vital as the air we breathe.

We stumbled over the redemption in this after all. In protection. And in people.

Tennessee Emergency Management Agency reported 25 people were killed in overnight tornadoes throughout Tennessee. National Weather Service surveyors have found damage equal to at least an EF-3 tornado in Mt. Juliet (Wilson County), with winds between 155 and 160 mph. Surveyors observed damage in Donelson, in Davidson county, showing at least EF-3 tornado damage with winds between 160 and 165 mph. The damage in the Five Points area in East Nashville is also an EF-3 with winds 136 to 140 mph. The tornado that touched down in north Nashville and Germantown is an EF-2 with 125 mph peak winds. The tornado that touched down near John C. Tune and surrounding neighborhoods was a EF-2 with 130 mph winds.