Early afternoon, sitting at the computer writing and paying bills, I was interrupted by the house alarm beeping. Tornado warning in effect until 2 PM. Then the sirens outside. A text from a relative. Tornado headed toward west Arlington. Please tell me you are taking cover. I click on the tv to hear the weather tracking and grab my three year old to take shelter. Green-gray clouds and rain swirl outside. The worried texts and calls continue. Where are you? Are you okay? It is coming up the streets near your house.  I know I should be more worried than I am.

I hold my daughter close as all of the excitement of hiding, constant texts, sirens, the house alarm, and weather report weigh on her. She wants to know how long will the “tomato” last. We try to read books, but my phone keeps going off. Everyone sending prayers that we would be spared. Houses, cars and trees are being ripped open and uprooted within a mile of my house. It begins to wear on me as well.

Crouched into a secure position, blanket pulled round me, I imagined, how would it be if the oaks that tower above my house came crashing down on it, what would happen if the roof were ripped off, if the window glass was sucked from the panes by the vortex outside. I pulled the blanket tighter around me, anticipating the worst. I couldn’t imagine the moment of impact. I could only sense the after. Love and prayers of those watching and waiting with me, although there was only my daughter and I huddled close.

For us that moment didn’t come. The outcome wasn’t universal. Houses within a mile of us lost their roofs, one of the main roads to our house was littered with 50 year old trees thrown down like toys. One wing of nursing home was ripped off. 13 tornadoes created utter mayhem in a three hours in the DFW area.  I wondered how it felt among the unlucky, to have things taken from you so quickly, so unfairly, so unevenly. Tornados aren’t fair. On the same street one house was splintered, while the house across the street was unscathed. Some are spared, and some are not. I wondered at the disparity.

Would I have been less watched over, less cared for if my roof was now made of blue tarping? I decided no. The spirit confirmed. While it would have been month of headaches to clean up, an insurance fiasco, and a bit traumatic, it would have been okay.

I remembered times when the ceiling has come crashing down, the floor has dropped from underneath me and I have not been spared. Some of those problems seemed insurmountable, sometimes insurance fiascoes, where I wondered how I would pick up the pieces. Yet, I was still watched over, prayed for and cared for. In those times when God let my roof be taken, it was often cold, but I caught a better view of  the sky:  heaven.  Support, blessings and service from family, friends and church members when I’ve needed the shelter.

I am thankful I was safe this time, glad to welcome home my husband and son in the correct pieces when they came home a while later.  But I am mostly grateful for the reminder to know that God is mindful of us, hears and answers prayers, even when we are not spared.

Have you been spared or not? What was your reaction?


  1. Michelle L.

    April 10, 2012

    Thanks for a great post, Sandra. I doubt any of us know how often we’ve “been spared.”

    Sometimes when life’s blows seem fierce and relentless I play the game of, “my eyes still work, no one broke a leg today, the roof hasn’t been torn off.”

  2. Laurie

    April 10, 2012

    This post made me think about the many things I can look back on in my life and realize some of the things I have been spared from. When I was going through my divorce, it sure didn’t feel like I was being “spared”, but 9 years later, I look at where my ex-husband’s choices have taken his life and I see what my children and I have been spared from. (Just one example).

    Wonderful post. I live in the midwest, so I know the feeling of emerging from the basement when the storm has past and after assessing what damage has been done, been so thankful at having been spared. Such a true analogy of life.

  3. Emily M.

    April 10, 2012

    “In those times when God let my roof be taken, it was often cold, but I caught a better view of the sky: heaven.”

    I love this. I felt that way after my baby came early: I had prayed that he wouldn’t have to be a premie, but when it happened, I felt sustained and supported and blessed.

    I’m still glad you were spared, though.

  4. Ana of the Nine Kids

    April 10, 2012

    So glad you are alright. I understand what you are saying–about being spared/blessed even when you are not. I was having a really good day once and (among other things) hit every light green. I was elated and happy and grateful and then it occurred to me that if I could only be happy and grateful when things were going my way, I would rarely be happy and grateful. (I mean really, what are the odds of hitting every light green on a regular basis?) So I decided I’d better start looking for the good things in my life no matter what. I love the scripture in Alma “live in thanksgiving daily”–there aren’t any qualifications about being blessed or spared, just to find the good and be grateful for it. Still, it does make you pause a little extra when you HAVE been spared, doesn’t it?

  5. ashlee

    April 10, 2012

    beautifully written. i can see in my life many bullets dodged (less poetic way to put it, i know). we just moved to Grapevine last summer. This was our first tornado experience and a very real lesson to me that i need to have a better plan, preparation and understanding when it comes to tornadoes. i can apply that realization to my life in general and faith, as well!

  6. Stacy

    April 10, 2012

    The hard part comes in still believing and staying strong when we aren’t spared. When we pay our tithing and double our fast offerings, and still lose a job, have a child with chronic health problems, or drown in debt that’s no fault of our own.

    But who knows how many other times I have been spared. I need to work more at recognizing that and being grateful. Love the idea of “living in Thanksgiving daily.” Thanks for that.

  7. Steph

    April 10, 2012

    Thought-provoking post. I’ve been spared in all the ways that matter, and I think I’m only aware of them because of the times when we suffered a “direct hit.” The year my husband and I both lost a parent (and had twins!) comes to mind.

    I loved the line about being able to see the heavens when the roof gets ripped off. This has been my experience as well. My greatest trials have also been when I’ve been most aware of God’s love for/plan for me.

  8. bonnieblythe

    April 10, 2012

    So glad you were spared. It’s good to think of times when we have been, or might have been (but we don’t know) spared. Today, however, I’m looking with gratitude at a many “not spared” times and the resilience that came from those. It’s a balance, I suppose. Blessings to you. Glad those men came home in one piece.

  9. Jules

    April 10, 2012

    I’ve been thinking about this post all day (I read it at 5:30 AM).

    11 years ago I should have died in a car accident. I was totally and completely spared–even my nose broke so cleanly that the doctor said I would need no cosmetic surgery at all.

    I still struggle with survivor’s guilt. I still don’t know why I was spared, and every year that passes and I’m not married, that guilt and confusion grows. Especially when I hear things at conference like, “the family is the culminating purpose of the Gospel” or whatever that quote was…

    When I hear of a father or mother dying in a car accident, or suffering life-changing injuries, I ask, “why me?”–and not in the typical way. Why did I live? Sure, some people would be sad if I had died, but no one depends on me for financial or emotional support. How could God take away a father or mother but leave me here? Makes no sense to me.

    I don’t have these thoughts every day, or every month even, but they do surface a couple of times a year and it’s a battle to stay focused on how I may have been a blessing to others (my family, my students, my colleagues) in the years since the accident.

  10. stef

    April 10, 2012

    My son had a piano fall on him when he was 14 months old. He lived, miraculously, with pretty much nothing wrong except some rug burns. The Lord truly is in charge. ANd it’s a good thing He loves us.

  11. Deborah

    April 10, 2012

    1) This is a beautiful essay.
    2) I think that first text was mine.
    3) The rain falls on the just and the unjust — but I’m glad you still have a roof over your head.

  12. Sandra

    April 10, 2012

    Michelle L.+ Stacy- good thought- there are so many times we are spared and unaware.

    Ashlee- Glad you made it out safely too.

    Jules- Don’t compare- we can’t see the whole picture and you lived- so live. I can’t imagine the guilt, since it is not my own. But your value is who you are, not just what you are to someone else. I don’t know how to make sense of what seems unjust to us- things just happen. Trust God. Live life. And a nod to everyone that has mentioned it (Ana + Stacy), live in thanksgiving daily. Much love to you.

    Deborah- 1)thank you, 2)yes, 3)ditto.

  13. Kellie aka Selwyn

    April 11, 2012

    I’ve weathered two cyclones and an earthquake, with no loss of property or life. Each time, my first thought was for my sons’ safety, followed by my profound relief that no matter what may happen, they are mine and I am theirs. I don’t want to be spared their company, in this life or the next.

  14. rae keck

    April 11, 2012

    Thank you for a thoughtful piece. It made me look careful at my life for the time I have been spared and the times I took the hit. I do not understand all those occasions but it will become clear when all things are reveled probably not during my lifetime.

  15. Tina

    April 12, 2012

    Sandra, I was swept away by your thoughts. Thank you for the beautiful reminder of how often I have been spared. I have felt the power of prayers so often in my life. There have been times in my life when I probably should have felt the weight of my trials, but thanks to many people’s prayers, and the enabling power of the Atonement, I did not.

  16. Jennie

    April 12, 2012

    Love this. Sometimes I’m guilty of only seeing the rainstorm instead of the tornado that hasn’t hit.

  17. rae keck

    April 13, 2012

    my father was one of two soldiers of his Utah National Guard Unit who came home from the Pacific after four years of war. When my mother died He cried “Why was I spared when so many died. I had a good life” My answer was So I could live and have a good life too. Mostly it isn’t about us but about our place in the great whole.

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