I felt the coolness of the air as soon as my toes peeked out from under the warmth of my cozy quilt. A surprising briskness ushered in the morning and quickly woke me. I stumbled through my kitchen as my eyes were still adjusting to the light of a new day, convinced I had set the thermostat too low, but it wasn’t the air conditioning. Fall had found me, and I stood in my living room for a moment relishing the thought that cool days, bonfires, and pumpkins were just around the corner.

The change in temperature was abundantly clear to everyone in my house. Wyatt stayed cocooned in his blanket as I lifted him from the softness of his bed, refusing to open his eyes and acknowledge that morning had arrived. I found my sunshine loving daughter frantically searching for hot pink gloves. Temperatures in the 50s felt like ice to the girl who despises cold. My oldest burst through the back door excitedly announcing that he could see his breath for the first time this season. I’m not certain he was telling the truth, but the excitement of a new season filled him with joy.

The sky was a blanket of blue as we drove into school. Sunshine guided our path. Leaves hung motionless from the trees waiting for a gust of wind to sweep them from their branches, and blades of grass stood at full attention. The air was still. The weather was a picture of perfection, but the calm was just an illusion.

A storm of epic proportions was brewing off the coast.

As I drove my children to school marveling at the peaceful weather around me, millions of people throughout the southeast were frantically making preparations for the storm they knew was coming. Irma was on her way, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop her. People were buying food and water, boarding up windows, evacuating, and doing everything they could to prepare and protect their families from the biggest storm they had ever know.

The news has been warning us for over a week that Irma is coming. Spaghetti models and projected paths have filled my newsfeed, and as I scrolled through what felt like a million different scenarios of impending devastation, I couldn’t help but think of the gift.

The gift of a warning.

I wish life came with a radar that gave us time to prepare for destruction, but life’s biggest storms come without warning. They come in the middle of blue skies and leave us drowning. My storm came without warning. I put my baby to bed, and the next morning he was paralyzed. There was no advance notice, no time to get things in order.

My life changed overnight. In some areas, I was more than prepared to deal with the storm, but in other areas, I was left wishing I have done more to get ready for the difficult days.

Be Prepared for Life’s Storms

This life is hard, and bad stuff happens.  Children get sick. Accidents take place. Marriages end. Jobs are lost. The hard happens to everyone. No one is exempt or gets a free pass through. Be ready. Here are 5 tips I have learned to help you prepare for the storms of life:

1. Have the hard conversations now.

I believe this is essential for families to weather difficult situations. Ask the question you don’t want to think about now. Don’t wait! What happens if you or I die? What happens if our daughter gets cancer? What happens if we lose our jobs? What happens if I can’t take care of you? What happens if we can’t have a child? What happens if our baby has a birth defect?

These questions are difficult, and they aren’t fun to discuss. They will be discussion filled with tears, but knowing the answers to these questions before tragedy strikes is invaluable. You cannot make educated, rational decisions when you are overcome with emotion.  You need to know the answer before the question comes.

2. Find a community of friends now.

When tragedy strikes, you will need help beyond your family support. You cannot cut your grass from the hospital. You cannot make dinner from rehab three states from home. You cannot pick your kids up from school when you are too sick to get out of bed. It’s hard to ask help. It’s even harder when there is no one to ask.

We weren’t meant to do life alone, and this is most evident when life’s storms hit. It’s uncomfortable to reach beyond your comfort zone to develop new meaningful friendships, but the community you develop now will be your shelter when the rains come.

3. Learn to celebrate small victories now.

We live in a culture built on success, and we love to celebrate winners. If you are caught in a comparison trap, longing to share your latest big victory on social media, you will be miserable when success is measured in inches instead of miles. Learn to celebrate the life you have instead of longing for the next big victory.

4. Walk into some else’s storm now.

I know you’re busy. You already feel stretched too thin, but someone you know has a life that is falling apart.  They haven’t asked for your help, but they need you. Be willing to get wet standing in someone else’s storm. Allow God to use you to be a blessing in someone else’s life.  It’s scary and takes effort, but you will learn so much. One day, that friend you help may be the one holding the umbrella over you in the middle of your own hurricane.

5. Build a foundation of faith now.

It’s last on my list, but everything else is built on this foundation. Pray. Memorize scripture. Study the Word. Lean into God when life is good. In tragedy, fear will threaten to consume you. You must battle fear with truth, and the truth of God should be so natural that repeating His words is as instinctual as breathing. Breath in truth. Exhale peace.

I wish I could find a way to insulate you from heartache, but I can’t keep the bad out. I can only point you to the One who is good. Whether you’re standing in the sunshine or in the middle of an unrelenting storm, He is there, and He wants you to know Him deeply.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33