One Monday morning in February, we woke up to a winter wonderland. A cold snap caught the South in its clutches and we all hunkered down. For six days, San Antonio shivered through rolling blackouts, complete electricity outages, and no water.
Before the cold weather arrived, we spent the weekend insulating pipes, wrapping faucets, and preparing for a couple days of below-freezing temperatures. At least we thought it would be a couple days.
When the meteorologists announced single-digit temperatures, they encountered disbelief. We are more used to sweltering summer days and mild winters down here. Surely it wouldn’t get that low in South Texas? And yet close to two weeks ahead of time, the meteorologists were right: San Antonio had six days of below-freezing weather.
We made it through one night of frigid weather. Power went out. The roads iced over. Pipes froze. Snowmen sprouted in front yards. People couldn’t make it to the grocery stores on the icy roads, but the milk and bread aisles were bare anyway.
Thankfully, my parents had power, and they hosted us for the rest of the cold snap. The sustained cold here in Texas proved to be the biggest challenge. Across the state, millions were without power and water for days. People were hungry, thirsty, and in the dark.
Houses in South Texas are built for the heat, not the cold. Attics are designed to let off heat, not retain it. Roads are designed to withstand blistering summers. There’s no need for snowplows when the main challenges the elements throw at you are on the upper end of the spectrum.
On the other hand, houses we’ve lived in up North are insulated. Winterizing is commonplace, and everyone just does it. Roads are built and maintained differently. Cars are handled and maintained with different parameters. Snow tires, insulation, weatherstripping, and lawncare are rituals as steady as the seasons.
Our environment affects our construction. It would be futile to build one house for every climate, wouldn’t it? A house designed for the beach would be foolish in the mountains. A house built for the frigid temperatures of the north would be wasteful or even counterproductive in a warm climate.
But even with location-centric design, there will be cold snaps and extreme weather. It is absurd to build a mountain chalet on the beach. But it is unwise to live on the beach and ignore the forecast or take precautions based on the weather. Whiplash decisions and directives will not solve the problems that Texas experienced in the last month. Wise forethought, individual action, and collective decisions will go far.
We live in the environment in which we are placed. With the changing seasons, we prepare for what is to come. When rain or snow or blistering sun or wind leave their traces, we maintain and restore.
Are you living your life and ignoring the forecast? Do you have habits and routines from a different season of life, and would intentional change better serve your current reality? Has a storm come through, and you have yet to do the hard work of cleaning up?
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Awareness is a gift. Recognition is an opportunity for grace.
When a 100-year storm is on the forecast, it is wise to take precautions. Not with Buy-it-all extremes, but with thoughtfulness and action.
“The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 23:3)
What do you see coming in the next week (or month, or year) that requires forethought and action? What specifically should you do today to prepare yourself for it?
Plans never go the way they are supposed to, do they?
First, utility companies recommended turning down heaters. Then they suggested more drastic measures to save electricity. Soon we were huddled together under blankets playing card games, hoping the power would come on again so we could warm up the tomato soup.
Our experience called for a whole bunch of adaptation. After the first night and day of below-freezing weather, we navigated the short icy drive to my parents’ house. They had power throughout, and opened their doors to a houseful of humans. We made meals with what we all had in our pantries and refrigerators. We made pallets and set up air mattresses throughout the warm house. We laughed and told stories and played games and drank coffee. And when the water stopped, we collected water from the prepared and heroes lugged in pool water to flush toilets. My dad made his rounds as the designated Good Times Man, making sure that morale was high. Were there frustrations or squabbles or learning moments during those days? Most definitely. But flexibility filled a potentially frustrating and challenging time with memories and happiness.
“The heart of man plans his way,
But the LORD establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
You surely have plans for the week, or at least a rough outline of what you are hoping the week holds. If you were to “plan ahead” to be flexible and adaptable, what would that look like?
Not everyone in Texas was able to turn their “Snowpocalypse” into a family reunion. They experienced hunger, cold, anxiety, and fear instead. The privilege and blessing that we experienced—warm blankets, a good option for safe shelter, water collected for a boil notice, winter clothes—these and more fill my heart with gratitude.
Is there someone you know reeling from a hard thing? How can you bless them, physically and spiritually? What action will you take today?
“Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.” (Proverbs 11:25)
South Texas is back to its regularly-scheduled mild weather. Our refrigerator has eggs and milk again, and my camera roll gives evidence of the growth and joy that last month offered. This is not the last time unexpected storms will blow into our lives. This is not the last time we will be reminded that, although this world is not our home, we must care for it. This is not the last time those dependent on us will look to us for cues on how to respond to a tough situation. This is not the last opportunity we will have to generously share and lavishly reach out. This is not our last chance to show what grace looks like.
You came through the storm. You weathered the weather. How can you and I take those lessons from past storms and bring wisdom to today’s actions? You can bet that when snow comes to San Antonio again, we’ll be ready to build a snowman.