In the fall of 1996, Hurricane Fran tore furiously through North Carolina...leaving a trail of devastation from the coast all the way to Orange County. On September 6, those of us who lived in Central North Carolina, awoke to discover a scene of destruction that few could ever have imagined...and none will forget.
The first thing I noticed, as I looked out my neighbors' second floor window, was the dramatic change in the tree line. Grandfather Oaks that had stood proudly for hundreds of years were scattered across the ground like giant pick-up sticks. Just the day before...while watching weather updates with predictions of Fran's likely path...I spoke the words, "I'm not worried. These Oaks (that completely surrounded my restored farmhouse) have been here for 100 years. They will still be here tomorrow." They were gone, and so was my home.
By the time Hurricane Fran blew through Central North Carolina, she had lost steam...dropping to tropical storm strength. With diminished power, she was able to do more damage than previous, more formidable storms...leaving meteorologists, and the rest of us, asking "Why?" Why had so many thousands of our mighty trees bowed to her...seemingly without even putting up a fight?
The questions seemed complicated, but the answers were utterly simple.
Just months prior to Hurricane Fran, Hurricane Bertha blasted North Carolina...dumping massive amounts of rain across the state and striking a silent but destructive first blow to North Carolina tree roots. Following Hurricane Bertha, North Carolina received record-breaking rainfall...leaving the ground saturated and vulnerable. That terrible aftermath was not proof of Hurricane Fran's might...but rather evidence of a dormant weakness that existed within the tree roots. Hurricane Fran merely exposed the weakness.
"Adversity does not build character...it reveals it."
James Lane Allen
Losing my home to Hurricane Fran was one of the most difficult experiences of my life; however, it forced me to reach inside myself to find a strength I did not know existed. It also taught me the difference between the material value of ‘stuff' and the eternal value of people. I lost my possessions, but I had my family intact. It was a lesson in perspective that I have never forgotten.
Nine months ago, another storm crashed into my life...a storm that threatened to destroy that which can never be replaced. This storm has raged violently over my family...shaking me to the core of my being and exposing the cracks in my foundation...my deepest fears.
You see...all of my life...I have been ‘the strong one'. It seemed to me that everyone around me relied on me to hold the pieces together. Whenever a crisis presented, I jumped into action...just as I had always done. I am a fighter...a survivor. Secretly, however, I harbored a fear that one day I would fail...that I would let down the ones who needed me the most.
When I first learned of my daughter's illness, I was devastated...but I knew that it was my duty to be strong for her. I wanted to take her suffering from her, but I was powerless. At times, I was certain that I would break under the pressure...but my God is so faithful. Throughout this assail, He has proven to me over and over again that His strength begins where my strength ends.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
"His Strength Is Perfect", by Steven Curtis Chapman, is an anointed song that has brought me comfort and reminded me daily that the only strength I have comes from Him. Without Him, I am nothing. Without Him, I can do nothing. I am strong only when my roots are firmly planted in Him...in His word...in His truth...in His everlasting, unconditional love.
His Strength Is Perfect
---Steven Curtis Chapman---
I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength,
But sometimes I wonder what He can do through me;
No great success to show, No glory on my own,
Yet in my weakness He is there to let me know . . .
His strength is perfect when our strength is gone;
He'll carry us when we can't carry on.
Raised in His power, the weak become strong;
His strength is perfect, His strength is perfect.
We can only know
The power that He holds
When we truly see how deep our weakness goes;
His strength in us begins
Where ours comes to an end.
He hears our humble cry and proves again . . .
***Photos courtesy of Freefoto.com***