Helping My Daughter With Her Fear of Storms

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Today’s Scriptures  Matthew 8:23-27  (NIV)  Jesus Calms the Storm (available on Bible Gateway)

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

Bible Journaling; Matthew 8:23-27
Bible Journaling; Matthew 8:23-27; marker and colored pencil

 

Food For Thought  Those disciples sound pretty scared in verse 25.  I can’t blame them; after all, they thought they were going to drown in this major storm at sea.  It’s not like they had easy or immediate access to shelter.  Oh, wait, they did.  Jesus was right there on the boat with them, shelter for all of our storms.  Thank you, God, for this awesome comfort and protection!

But I still get scared.  I’m even more sad, though, when I witness my daughter’s fear.  She’s so scared of storms.  Actually, terrified is a better word.  At least she was for a very long while.  From about age two until just recently (she’s almost twelve, now), she has been practically phobic of thunderstorms.  I’m not sure if it’s genetic or not, but my brother has this same phobia, astraphobia.  Her dad and I do not have this same fear, but we witnessed it as very real and difficult for her.

It would not matter if there were “scattered thunderstorms” in the forecast or if there was a far distant rumble of thunder.  It could be barely raining or a line of dark clouds could be spotted on the horizon and she would begin to panic.  She’s hid under the coffee table with a pile of blankets and stuffed animals.  She’s paced relentlessly.  She’s cried.  She’s whined.  She’s asked a million questions.  She’s hyperventilated.  My husband and I knew we needed to figure out some strategies for this kid.  After all, we live in the Midwest, and thunderstorms and tornado watches are a way of life from March until August (on average).

Using soothing words or telling her “not to worry” were attempts that fell flat.  I get it.  Telling someone to get over a fear is like telling the wind to stop blowing or the rain to stop falling.  It’s not in my power.  But it IS in Jesus’ power.  So I turned to the power of Jesus and prayed to the Father for a possible way to help my girl get over her terrible fear of storms.  Somehow, through Him, I was inspired to use two things she loves to help her view storms not just as terrifying and destructive, but beautiful and intriguing.

Summer Storm
Discussing artistic elements, such as color, form, and texture, gave my daughter a new perspective to use when viewing these summer storms.

 

My daughter loves art and she loves science.  I thought if I could get her to see the beauty of the swirling, angry clouds and the varying shades of light and dark from the effects of lightning, she might become distracted from her fear.  I was trying to get her to see God’s handiwork in the sky without using hokey expressions like “God’s just bowling when you hear thunder.”

I also know she has a lot of science curiosities and loves nature.  Well, weather is about as natural as it gets.  We’ve spent a lot of time looking at beautiful photographs of lightning and rainstorms and ice.  She has been eager to read lots of books about weather and natural disasters, quoting facts to family, friends, teachers, and classmates.  In this process she has learned that storms can be destructive, but there are millions of people safe from these storms, as well.  She has learned the important role these weather patterns play in our general climate and growing seasons.  She is fascinated by the computers and other equipment used to predict, track, and warn people of incoming storm systems.

When the tornado sirens go off she is the first to seek shelter and I would want her to do just that.  But we have entered a new phase in her life where pea-size hail or a flash of lightning doesn’t immediately result in a meltdown or panic attack.  We are all very thankful for this breakthrough.

I Survived the Joplin Tornado, 2011
image courtesy of goodreads.com

Today’s Recommendations from Amazon  These recommendations are coming straight from my daughter!  My preteen suggests the following books about storms and weather to increase your knowledge and understanding of this important part of nature.  By the way, she LOVES the I Survived series!

Storms (A Reading Rainbow Book from Harper Collins)

Disasters: The Biggest Disasters in History From Salt in the Indus Valley to Hurricane Sandy by Kieron Connolly (2013)

I Survived: The Joplin Tornado, 2011 by Lauren Tarshis (2015)

I Survived: The Children’s Blizzard, 1888 by Lauren Tarshis (2018)

I Survived: True Stories, Five Epic Disasters by Lauren Tarshis (2014)

 

 

 

 

Today’s Motivation  My daughter’s fear has helped me understand why we so often compare trials and difficulties with storms.  Storms have the potential to leave our lives in complete turmoil and disarray, as do catastrophic life events.  We also can have gripping fears about life’s most difficult storms (see my post Fearing the Unexpected).  But when the storm comes, and it does, no matter where we live (tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards, typhoons, tsunamis, dust storms, etc.), you have to seek shelter and use your provisions.  For life’s storms, we also need shelter and provisions.

God provides us with this shelter.  We see it in the following verse:  Psalm 91:1-2  (ESV) (available on Open Bible)

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

As for the provisions, we have prayer, God’s Word, faith, and our support network.  Just as I want to have my candles, flashlights, and bottled water ready before the storm comes, I need to have my spiritual provisions ready before life’s storms happen.  Are you ready to get your “spiritual emergency pack” ready?

Today’s Prayer  My Dear Heavenly Father, Today I want to lift up those who have been impacted by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Florence in North and South Carolina.  We ask for blessings and help for those who have been injured or face property damage and clean up.  We ask for their safety and healing, both for their physical bodies and also for their lands.  We ask for comfort and peace to those who have lost loved ones.  We ask for Your protection in the upcoming days as flooding will continue across the states, as well as neighboring states.  May those living in the area be protected from harm.  May those working to restore power and clean up damage and restore homes be guarded from peril and hazard.  We ask for these blessings in Your son Jesus’ Holy Name, Amen.

Arts and Crafts  I painted this “Prairie Storms” picture over the weekend.  My daughter enjoyed drawing and painting, too, but requested I not share her artwork.  We both see beauty in just about every aspect of nature.  I have been particularly interested in clouds and fog lately.  I am (obviously) not a professional artist.  But I enjoy it.  It relaxes me, relieves stress, and allows me to contemplate the beauty of God’s creation through the process.  If you enjoy something, especially the arts, make time to engage in these activities at least weekly.

For this painting I used Liquitex Acrylic Paints with a variety of brushes, on canvas.  If you would like to learn more about acrylic painting, check out Chuck Black Art on You Tube.

“Prairie Storm” by Robin O. Acrylic on Canvas; 2018