Pelted with Hail [with our Toddlers]

I had an exhausting, exhilarating Monday.

For me, Mondays are full days. After a busy Sunday spent leading, connecting, and doing random tasks at my church, Monday is Kaile’s study day-from 8:30 to 5:30, she’s out at a local coffee place working on coursework while I care for Maelin and Silas.

For those of you who know or have even seen pictures of our toddlers, you have surely gathered at least some hint of their energy levels [high]. Sometimes Silas gets so wound up he yells at the top of his lungs while swinging his arms, which are sometimes attached to toys, which sometimes fly out of his hands and crash throughout the house-or on Maelin’s head.

Maelin, you must know, has one of the most piercing and distinctive crying sounds I’ve heard in my limited experience. It is quite loud, loud enough that to warrant sympathy from neighbors and friends-and a few threats to call the police on us. I suppose that’s a story for another time.

The weather today forecasted rain, so we were forced to remain inside until about ten in the morning. By that point we were all beyond ready to be outside our 800 square foot apartment, so I put the boys in rain slickers and Batman boots, and we sought our fortune at nearby Sylvan playground.

Events unfolded with relative peace: Silas found and proceeded to carefully, almost scientifically inspect a tiny fly, Maelin careened through puddles on his three-wheeled scooter, and daddy was thankful for the change in weather that had allowed us to be outside.

Initially was gorgeous.

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The sidewalks were dry, and the boys and I were more or less carefree.

It was moments after having snapped this picture that I became aware of the interesting cloud formation in the distance

I heard a dull roar in the distance.

Maelin! Silas! We need to get going!

The boys ambled along distractedly, as is normal, so I coached them unceasingly.

“Mr. Tiny [Maelin], come on! I’m going to count, 1-2-3!”

“You guys, we have got to go!”

Here’s the picture I took right before the deluge. Note the dark blue clouds to the left side of the frame.

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Soon the rain hit, crushing and cold. As I heard the sound, I realized it wasn’t rain at all.

It was hail.

Pea-sized pellets began to pelt us.

Unfortunately I had parked our stroller rather far away. Silas was beginning to cry out, “daddy, the ice is hitting me! The ice, owiiee! Help me!” Maelin was just sort of crying, lacking the words to express what he was experiencing.

As the hail blasted them, I was thankful they had their helmets on as I presently found myself running, holding the handle to each boy’s scooter with my two hands. They cried as I coached, and we raced to the stroller which has protective covers.

They would soon be safe and warm, but at that moment things were bleak.

For me, I was a little frustrated at being cold, pelted, wet, and now faced with a lot more work once I made it home. A bath would be in the works, plus drying their small clothes, not a typical mid-day thing.

Once they were in the stroller for a couple minutes, the hail stopped. And on our way home they were incredibly calm, stunned-no, catatonic! after thinking back on what had just happened.

Their calmness allowed me the presence of mind to reflect on some of my own life experiences, times when I have felt closer or farther from God, closer or farther from others. Interesting how proximity to God and proximity to others seem to correlate rather closely!

And it was during the the walk when I again realized how God parents me, how God watches over us. Our family, though certainly stretched thin at times, is together and quite intact. We are tired, probably undernourished from a diet consisting of far too many chicken nuggets and peanut butter & jelly than is healthy [but oh so convenient!], and don’t always have some of the conveniences we might like.

But we are okay. Kaile is growing massively in her graduate program in drama therapy; I am growing in my vocation and the related skillsets, and our boys are making real progress not only in their growth and development but also in their relationship with one another.

And during recent stormy seasons, God’s goodness has been especially clear.

Like the time we were in San Francisco, stranded with two kids, no family around, and the news of no job.

Like the time I prayed for a renewed sense of community, and God reveals new relationships and blesses them.

Like how our kids, who we pray for all the time, and who are really high intensity, pause and say “daddy, I love you.”

The words of Jesus in his cosmos-shifting Sermon on the Mount ring as true as ever:

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. [Matthew 6:30-33]

Watching as my boys trusted completely in me during the hail storm with their white-knuckled grip on their scooters reminded me of the kind of trust I have to place in God.

And here’s the best news of all: as a parent, I’m grumpy, inconsistent, frazzled…

…and God isn’t.

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