It was January 2007 and Francine and her family were living in Oklahoma. Francine’s husband was in the Army and was deployed to Afghanistan. She and her three young children were three months into his 15-month deployment.
“I compare deployment to this year 2020,” laughed Francine. “It’s like a roller coaster ride. The craziest things always went wrong when Kevin was gone.”
On this day in January, a big ice storm was coming their way which is no laughing matter in the south. As the freezing rain began to fall, schools started dismissing early. Typically, Francine and her kids always walked the one block to school. She decided with the freezing rain, she would drive to pick them up. She quickly loaded up her baby and left for the short drive to school.
“When I got to school, it was pretty chaotic due to the storm. I went into the building to find the kids. Shortly after getting inside, the power went out which caused even more chaos. I saw a parent, Cristal, who had a son in my son’s class. We exchanged a quick hello and then I found the kids and we drove home.”
When they got home, Francine realized her garage door didn’t work since they had lost power. All of her doors were locked and she had no way of getting into the house except through the door in the garage.
“I couldn’t believe it! I didn’t grab my purse, phone or even the diaper bag before we left. I drove back up to the school to see if I could find some help. I saw Cristal who was also from a military family and understood my situation. I borrowed her phone to call a friend for help and Cristal also offered that we could come back to her house. However, I didn’t know her very well. She didn’t have a baby and I worried because I didn’t have a diaper or food for my 9-month-old,” said Francine.
Francine ended up trying her house one more time, checking to see if there might be a door or window she could open. Cristal offered to come by and check on her if she couldn’t get inside. In the meantime, Francine’s friend who she called was also more than happy to have them come over to her house. Francine knew her very well. However, she was a single woman with no children and so she faced the same dilemma of not having baby supplies.
“Not knowing how long the electricity was going to be out and with the roads deteriorating, I had no idea what to do," said Francine. “When a spouse is deployed and you're parenting alone, all of the decision making and problem solving falls on your shoulders. It can be a difficult burden to bear, and in this situation it felt overwhelming. I realized I needed some help and I asked the kids to please pray because Mom needed help. I prayed and simply said, ‘God, please tell me what to do.’ At that moment, I clearly heard God say, ‘Follow Cristal.’”
Cristal happened to come by at that time to check on her. Francine listened to God’s message and followed Cristal.
“God provided the perfect timing. He didn’t give me any time to second guess His call.”
When they got to Cristal’s house, Francine looked across the street and saw a truck with the word, Locksmith, written on its side. She turned to Cristal and asked if she knew anything about the truck. She responded that it belonged to her neighbor. Cristal introduced Francine and explained her situation. The locksmith said he was just leaving on a call and her house was on his way. He graciously chiseled the ice away and got Francine back into her house, not allowing her to pay him for his help.
“I was blown away by the locksmith truck. Not only did God tell me which direction to go by following Cristal, but He then gave me the solution. Many times, I over analyze things. This experience was a reminder that I needed to stop trying to rely on myself and ask God for direction. I know asking the kids to pray made a difference. It wasn’t just me by myself, it was all of us asking God,” said Francine.
When Francine got home, she changed her son’s diaper and got the kids a snack. Shortly after, the electricity was restored.
“I wish the answer was always so clear as it was in this experience with the locksmith truck,” said Francine. “However, I know the answer is there somewhere and He will eventually lead me to it. I need to be patient, take the time to ask and then listen and trust,” said Francine.
Francine said that one her of favorite Bible passages is when Jesus walks on the water.
“He (Jesus) said, ‘Come.’ Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water.” (Mt 14:29)
"I think of this Bible verse often when I remember my ice storm experience, and it has encouraged me many other times in my life. Jesus bid Peter, 'come' and he did. When he kept his eyes on Jesus and trusted in Him, he too could walk on water. When he doubted the Lord's instruction, he began to sink. The Bible story and my experience with the ice storm reminds me to obey, trust, and keep my eyes focused on Christ. The storms around me will rage on either way; I can choose how I respond to God."
1. Have there been times you have felt God’s direction in your life?
2. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” -Mt. 18:20 What has been your experience with family or community prayer?
3. How do you keep your eyes on Jesus during times of storms in your life?
4. When Francine turned the ownership of her dilemma to God, He responded. Consider sharing your burdens with Jesus in prayer today.