It Happened One Eve

I wrote the following three weeks ago, but life kept rolling so fast, and with my limited energy, I didn’t get to the “edit and add pictures” stage, so I’m just now getting this done and posted. In the meantime, there are so many other topics I’d like to address, but I’ll post our evening “happening” anyway along with some responsive thoughts to the event.

At 7:30 Monday evening, August 10, I cozied up in my recliner by the fireplace, ready to chat with my best friend from high school. Soon I was saying “How was your birthday?” Sandy had just turned 65. After 45 years of marriage to Bill, this spring she became a widow. I had been Sandy’s maid-of-honor. On this first birthday without Bill, I wanted to give her a long hug over the phone lines.

Paul was in our back yard preparing for a rainstorm that was about to come through. We had expected rain the previous evening but none came. Fine. Now we could tell it was coming. Paul saw it on his radar (the obsessive, retired Air Traffic Controller always checks weather). In the late afternoon he observed the skies preparing. Soon it would be here. The sky was darkening

Paul put most of the lawn furniture in our new shed and was closing up everything.

7:33. Sitting on my recliner, I noted an increase in noise. A sudden rushing noise. The beautiful, red, smoky bushes outside my window angrily whipped back and forth. How dark it had quickly turned!

Paul lowered the patio umbrella and with no time to do any more, he rushed inside. “Get away from that window!” Paul yelled at me. Outside the wind blew furiously. “Get away from the window!”

As best I could, I jumped up and scurried to the front of the house. The rushing noise crescendoed and at 7:35 I heard this long, loud, cracking noise.

Howling winds and gushing rains whipped the trees and pelted our house. How long would this last? What would we find? We didn’t have to wait long.  The worst of the storm was over within a half hour. No longer furious, the winds blew reasonably and the rain continued. The dark subsided, leaving an overcast, dreary sky. Finally, the rain subsided to a drizzle.

Peering out our sunroom windows I recognized the cause of the great, cracking noise: the dividing and downing of our most beautiful ornamental pear tree behind our pergola covered patio. The teal blue, pergola sail was detached on two sides. Patio furniture was overturned and scattered. And down the row of ornamental pears, we saw another fallen tree. Branches and debris were scattered over the entire lawn. Speechless.

Our largest, ornamental pear tree, behind the pergola– last spring.

Patio view in the spring.

The large, ornamental pear tree split in half — this August eve.

One half of the ornamental pear tree fell to the left and the other fell forward, much of it landing in a maple tree, thankfully, just missing the pergola.





Ha! Our huge Cottonwood tree in the far back of the yard stood proudly. Paul would have loved to have lost it; he calls it his “trash tree.” But the storm did take out some of its long branches and small limbs, which may help it to be less messy for awhile.


Paul, preparing to use a chain saw to cut up the wood.


This storm, the derecho that began in Nebraska on Monday morning, traveled 800 miles in 14 hours, reaching Fort Wayne, where we live, around 7:35 pm. This derecho has been described as an inland hurricane. We are fortunate that our damage was not greater. The house seems fine, although one sunroom window leaked.

“Ah! There you are!”









I found a lawn chair nestled inside one half of the downed pear tree. “Ah! There you are!”



Neighborhood ladies as well as gentlemen helped us and Paul helped some neighbors too in their yard.


Neighbors helped drag the mess to the curb. Then the trunk and big limbs were sawn and stacked.

One other property on our cul-de-sac lost a tree and had an area of damaged spouting. Very fortunate. On another cul-de-sac, a young man, new to home ownership, had a tree land on his roof. We’re hearing of more and more damage in our area, but the worst is the death of a great-grandmother here in Fort Wayne. She was found unconscious, enfolding her five year old great-grandson in her arms. Her mobile home had flipped. The boy was physically fine but she died, the only fatality in this entire multi-state derecho. May God comfort this family and protect the heart of this boy. May God give him a special calling. Groan and sigh.

The storm — the derecho — happened on Monday evening. Tuesday morning, neighbors walked over to our place to help us. Beautiful, beautiful. And Paul helped neighbors too.  Even while I write this (Wednesday, August 12), Paul is delivering a truck load of tree branches to a facility. We are thankful that a chipper truck and team came this afternoon to pick up one huge load of tree debris we had moved to the roadside, but the chipper truck couldn’t take it all, and the team was too busy to return. So, we are grateful for this much help!

We lost three of our one dozen ornamental pears. Here’s the second one which was further back in the property.




Freshly cut logs to be aged and then used as firewood for our fire pit and fire place.

Paul’s firewood stacked in the back of our property, at the front of the woods (a nature preserve).















A chipper truck ground up the limbs and leaves to make a truck full of chips for mulch or whatever.


We had too much for one chipper full, so Paul filled the back of his truck several times and hulled it away.


The flag still waves. The “big bad wolf” did not blow down our happy, yellow shed.









This spring Paul built this raised bed. The zucchini, tomatoes, and peppers love the rich soil. The plants were tilted forward, but their tender flexibility also made them sturdy to withstand the wind. We are thankful!





Look! Here comes another zucchini!


Oh Paul! You did a great job in making the raised bed and in choosing “Husky Cherry Tomatoes” to grow within it. They truly are husky, and they love their home! (This picture and the one above were taken Sept. 1.)


Some responsive thoughts to the event:

  1. God places limits on disasters.
  2. The family members of the great-grandmother who died, no doubt, did not appreciate, indeed, are grieving, the scope of God’s allowance. Yet, there still was mercy for this family: the boy lived and was not injured.
  3. There is mystery in suffering.
  4. There is God’s presence in suffering.
  5. There is God’s provision in suffering that produces good that outweighs the pain: Our neighborhood bonded more deeply through this. Paul and I more deeply belong to this cul-de-sac.
  6. There is joy in working together with others.
  7. God places no limits on “everlasting life” (John 3:16).

I am sure that you’ve heard of the crop damage that this derecho caused farmers in Iowa. The damage that happened this past August eve in our backyard is insignificant compared to the disaster that happened in Iowa and the devastation that happened to the Fort Wayne family that lost their mother/grandmother/great-grandmother. So, I could be shy in sharing my story. However, all sorrow has its own dignity. All serving of others spawns a camaraderie. All such serving and bonding naturally and supernaturally will beget joy.

Why? Well, one “why” is because relationships are more valuable than things, so relationship-building, which occurs from working together to clean up damage and disaster, will turn our focus and hearts toward each other. We are blessed as we sweat out some blessing.

Here is some wisdom from Oswald Chambers that my husband has enjoyed passing on:

“We are not fundamentally free; external circumstances are not in our hands, they are in God’s hands; the one thing in which we are free is in our personal relationship to God. We are not responsible for the circumstances we are in, but we are responsible for the way we allow those circumstances to affect us; we can either allow them to get on top of us, or we can allow them to transform us into what God wants us to be.”

Good food for thought. Our relationship with God will flow over into our relationships with others. Thank you, Lord! And, Lord, have mercy on all of us!

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Categories: nature, Spiritual Growth | Tags: , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “It Happened One Eve

  1. HI!

    It’s Ruth Ann Bever – I think we met you at the reception at the Jewish tabernacle. Forgive me if I’m not correct. What an interesting story about your experience with that big storm a couple of weeks ago! Glad you didn’t have damage to yourselves or to your house! Hope you’re doing well during this challenging time!

    On Wed, Sep 2, 2020 at 8:47 PM Journey North Character wrote:

    > Karen Thomas Olsen posted: “I wrote the following three weeks ago, but > life kept rolling so fast, and with my limited energy, I didn’t get to the > “edit and add pictures” stage, so I’m just now getting this done and > posted. In the meantime, there are so many other topics I’d like to ” >

    • Karen Thomas Olsen

      Thank you, Ruth Ann, for your comment! I think you are right about meeting at that reception! Hope you are doing well! Thanks for reading my blog!

  2. Rick Shepherd

    Thank you for sharing, Karen…..You have a beautiful house and are certainly right to be grateful that there was no more damage than what occurred!….Good to see pics of Paul and your home…..It is also so good when neighbors share in good times and not so good times!…..Rick and Mary Shepherd ps: Pic is of Nottely Dam, Georgia, three miles east of our home that I took a couple days ago.

    On Wed, Sep 2, 2020 at 20:47 Journey North Character wrote:

    > Karen Thomas Olsen posted: “I wrote the following three weeks ago, but > life kept rolling so fast, and with my limited energy, I didn’t get to the > “edit and add pictures” stage, so I’m just now getting this done and > posted. In the meantime, there are so many other topics I’d like to ” >

    • Karen Thomas Olsen

      Thanks, Rick! Now we enter a most beautiful time of year. I love the fall. It must be gorgeous in Georgia!

  3. Anonymous

    Dear Karen & Paul,
    We are so sorry that you had this damage done to your property from the storm, and that you had so much clean-up to do; however, we are glad that you were not injured, and hope that you both are doing well. The responsive thoughts you listed from this disaster are very much appreciated!
    Diana .& Ron Poling

    • Karen Thomas Olsen

      Thank you so much for your thoughts, Diana and Ron! Good to hear from you!

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