By: Marcy Barthelette
Southwestern Missourians are pretty good at preparedness. After all, we have an active tornado season, some really raucous thunderstorms, flash flooding to the extreme, and let’s not overlook the ice storms. Who doesn’t have a sizeable supply of bottled water, non-perishable foods, flashlights and batteries, battery radio, maybe a generator, and, of course, the weather app   of choice. We’re ready to hunker down when we hear a siren or receive a warning on our phone and we’ll be able to survive if the power is out or our home is damaged or the streets are like an ice skating rink.
Other parts of our state must deal with flooding on the big rivers in addition to the above list. Folks out west are fighting wildfires and when the rains come, there’ll be mudslides, not to mention an earthquake or two thrown in for good measure. Up north and in the mountains, the blizzards are an ever-present threat in winter, and on the coasts we can add hurricanes. This year has been an active one though they haven’t been as huge as some past years, peak season isn’t over yet, and even the lower category storms can cause massive damage.
He who is best prepared can best serve his moment of inspiration. Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Last week I alluded to a storm we experienced a number of years ago on Pike’s Peak and it seemed like an appropriate topic to tackle this week. Our son had graduated from Mizzou in 1994 and after a few months, he was settled in Denver. We went to visit the following summer and spent several days seeing the sights with him, including Rocky Mountain National Park and the golden dome of the state’s capitol. From there we moved on to Colorado Springs with the intent of driving up Pike’s Peak.
Our weather was not cooperative, as is usual when we travel, and we began to think we would have to sacrifice our plans. But, on our last day there, we awoke to sunny skies and began our trek. We knew that we would probably not reach the summit because of heavy overnight snow but we would go as far as we could. By the time we arrived at the gate, 16 of the 19 miles of road to the top had been cleared and the crew was still working. So up we went and the drive was lovely. When we reached the 16-mile marker, we were told that another mile had been cleared and when we had climbed to that point, rangers said that the plows were almost to the top if we would like to wait for a short while. Of course, we did and it was all worth it when that sign telling us we had finally reached the 14,000 plus feet of the summit came into view. 
It was somewhat foggy but what we could see of the mountains was awesome! We wandered into the gift shop and restaurant for a souvenir and a bite to eat before heading back down. Altitude has a way of causing your body to relax and your head to nod. We were both feeling the effect and paying little attention to what was happening outdoors but one of us happened to look out the window and what did we see? Sleet!
Of course, our reaction was to grab our things and head down the mountain to a lower elevation and out of the nasty weather. That was probably our second mistake, the first had been our insistence on making it to the top. That sleet soon became a combination of sleet, snow, rain, and hail. Throw in lightning bolts crashing all around us and wind that we later learned was clocked at 80 mph and our little pick-up was completely wrapped in an epic mountain storm. There was no choice but to pull off the road and wait…we couldn’t see a thing. We were both terrified and clung to each other praying fervently to live through this decision of ours. Were we prepared for our consequences? Absolutely not! But the best part of our story was that God was prepared. Even though our faith wavered and became sheer terror, He wrapped us in His blanket of security.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4
After about an hour and a half of praying and worrying, (we’ve tried to learn to let God do the worrying since then) a ranger came by, in his very well-equipped vehicle, and told us to stay put and they would let us know when we could proceed on down. As if we would even think about moving at that stage of our adventure. Soon enough the road was clear and we ventured on. In just a short distance, the sun broke through and it looked as if nothing had happened. Every car has to stop at a waystation on the descent from the mountaintop and have their brakes checked for overheating. We decided to step inside the snack shop for some hot chocolate and a break from our tensions. We began to talk with a family nearby and learned they were from Springfield. Imagine that. We were nearly neighbors back home and had all experienced this journey together.
But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense
to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you….. 1 Peter 3:15

The next day we moved on and had planned to go through the Eisenhower Tunnel and into Aspen but blizzard conditions had closed I70 and we found a cute little B & B in Leadville, just under 10,000 feet. Our room had a cozy featherbed that swallowed us in comfortable warmth overnight and the next morning at breakfast, the owners invited us to the town’s 4th of July parade. So we bundled up in many layers and mingled with the townspeople to watch that parade… in the snow, then decided it was time for a warmer destination. Come on now, it was July 4th and we were seeing blizzards! The locals took it all in stride and bragged that they never stored away their winter clothes. Those rugged mountain folks were definitely prepared for the weather.

So the question is, are we prepared for whatever lies ahead? If God is our guide,
the answer is a resounding YES!

One Response to “Prepared?”

  1. Rhonda Wilson says:

    Amazing story, Marcy. We are in Rocky Mountains right now. We are all weathering storms and we need to be prepared with the important essentials.
    I so appreciate your writings. Thank you.

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