Monday, 30 July 2012

I'll huff and I'll puff...

On the 10th June my house was destroyed by a freak mini-tornado. 

Ceilings collapsed under the weight of water

Our roof ended up as a striking garden fixture in the front driveway.

Electricity was no longer supplied, which made cooking a tad interesting. Yay for bbq's!

And while this has been a devastating experience and our home won't be fixed until after Christmas, I wanted to share with you some lessons I learned. Lessons I promise I will never do, or say, again.

The first one is...I will never use the words; 'If there's anything you I can do to help...just let me know.' I realise now that those words make the person who uttered them feel better, they do nothing for the one who has experienced an awful event. Dozens of people have spoken those very words to us, but only four or five have put those words to action. Our human nature is such that we won't seek people out for help, we'll do our best to soldier on by ourselves, regardless of the tears or feelings of hopelessness that may arise.

Love is action not vain words.

The second is...'At least you weren't hurt.' No, we weren't hurt physically, even though we dived through the bedroom door just as the roof went, even though the screen door was ripped off as we went through it, even though we stood and watched poles which support the verandah up lift of their stirrups and dangle like legs hanging over a jetty, even though we both died inside when, for a split-second, we thought our son was injured and couldn't find him. 

But we were hurt emotionally. Torn apart inside in a way that can't be explained. A hug or even a coffee says so much more.

The last and probably the most important lesson I learned is this...Never, EVER, uncover a bowl containing home-made chicken liver pate which has sat in a dead refrigerator for over a week. 

It will look and smell like the worst dog poo you can possibly imagine and will have you vomiting until your eyes and throat burn, your bladder gives way and you pray to be released from the torment.

I would also like to thank everyone for your prayers, thoughts and wishes. Without you, I couldn't have gone through this...still go through this....and come out the other end relatively sane.

From our family to yours...

Thank You. 


 Lee Franklin lives in a cottage smaller than most back-yard cubbies while her house is being repaired. Meanwhile the local wild life has moved into the house and is currently using it while the owners aren't. She's hoping they'll be vacating soon. 


  1. I understand what you are saying about the is there anything I can do to help just ask. With my health crisis I had people say this and when I needed a ride to the shops I would ring up and they would be busy or it was inconvenient etc, While I did have many who did help there are many who say these words who dont mean it. I have said it and really would help but waited to see if they wanted me. I now know many dont ask. Recently a friend had a crisis and I said if I can help let me know I may not be able to do much but I can do ironing if that would help.
    After the neighbours having the fire in there house I do know how hard it is and there are going to be emotional scars. Praying for you at this time.

  2. A rivetting post. I've studied the lessons hard. It's hard to know what to say to someone in such circumstances; it's as though the things that first come to mind are fundamentally inappropriate (the worst is surely 'Oh, you think *you've* got it bad; you should hear what happened to me!'). Perhaps sometimes the best thing to say is nothing (as in Job).

    I'm glad to see that a dry sense of humour has recovered from the downpour. And let us hope that the live-in wildlife are not squatters.

  3. Thanks Lee for sharing and on behalf of humanity, I'm sorry for our selfishness and thoughtlessness. I have found that, in life's extremities, only those who have been broken have any idea how to respond. May a lovely house rise out of carnage and may a richer life rise out of the ashes of your brokenness. Unfortunately physical bruises always get more attention than the deeply hidden emotional batterings and breakages. But God is faithful. He will heal the trauma, shock and horror.
    As for the pate? I'll take that lesson and hope I remember without having to experience it.

  4. Thanks for sharing this Lee. What a brave and faithful woman you are? I'm sure we can all learn from your courage, and also hopefully from your experience of people's responses. I know I felt powerless to do anything but pray for you, as you are on the other side of the country, and thank God for those who were able to give you practical help. The photos bring it all back into focus again and I'm sure you have lots of the journey still to go, so I will certainly continue to pray for you and your family.

  5. Hi Lee,
    Thanks so much for sharing with us. Whew! That was HUGE wasn't it? Those pictures say it all. I am so sorry! I am very sorry for what you have been through and also sorry that you didn't get the support you needed - at least from some quarters. I confess I have felt a bit guilty since it occured - knowing you needed our help - but not knowing what I could do from this distance apart from pray. I can fully appreciate that you took a battering in every sense of the word and the emotional battering would have been the hardest - specially when well meaning folk utter words that make you feel even worse that you felt originally.

    I admire your courage and wish you every blessing as you piece your life back together again. I will continue to pray for much comfort and strength for you all from our Father and much hope as you wait to get your life sorted out again.

    Thanks again for sharing. Sending a hug for now and prayers for you and yours.
    God bless you and keep you in the palm of His Hand,

  6. Oh Lee, your pictures said it all. I heard you went through a storm, but was absolutely shocked to see the huge amount of damage your family suffered. That looked like a hurricane came through!!! Yes, the emotional scars take longer to heal. We can only continue to pray that everything will eventually be rebuilt and yourselves (especially your young son)restored in every way. Only the Lord know exactly what you're all going through.We ask that He will give you daily strength and resourcefulness to carry on against such awful odds.

    Love to you all

  7. I don't know what to say. Having been away for so long, I didn't even hear about your ordeal. When I read about your Internet difficulties a while ago, I just thought 'rural access stuff' - and I knew how that felt - but now I feel foolish about my 'understand what that's like' comment. I am soooooooooo sorry! I could never even imagine what you are going through. Together with Rita I can only ask the Lord to provide the needed strength and endurance. I know that you are resourceful, so your innovations will bloom like flowers and your sense of humour brighten many a dark hour. Thank you so much for sharing and for the reminder to weed out the platitudes.

  8. You are one tough cookie, and I'm so proud of the way you've kept your chin up in all this. Your boy is going to be a fine young man because you and George are wonderful at soldiering on with a smile and happy song!

    Have a wonderful birthday, dear friend. I know your boys will pamper you lots today.

    Dotti :)

    And PS - Thanks for the chicken liver pate tip. Well noted. :) xx

  9. It made me speechless actually. What can one say? Take one day at a time and let GOd help you all through this. I pray that there will be more help to get along the way. God be with you all.

  10. Thanks for sharing your heart, Lee. So sorry you've suffered at the hands of thoughtless words. We will continue to uphold you and your family in prayer through this time. Blessings. :)

  11. Oh this is so terrible it makes me shudder to think how close you all came to being squashed. God sent his angels to push you through that screen door and out to watch the rest of the devastation. Thank you for the words never to say too. Better to offer lunch and definitely a hug.

  12. Oh Lee, I am so sorry. Thank you for sharing your heart on this hard time in your life. Bless you and your family, may God give you all you need in abundance. x

  13. Lee, it is very emotional to lose your home, belongings and life turned upside down. Just reading your post speaks of all God is teaching you through this and helps us who read know better how to respond.

    Papua New Guinea was home for seven years up till Sept 2011. Visited Austrilia several times, enjoyed your country, have a couple close friends from there. Read the history of how Australia was founded and was amazed at the toughness of all those who settled there. I have read books by some of the author you highlight on your blog.

    I will be back to see how God builds back your home. Blessings.

  14. Oh Lee, this is terrible. And I know we are never to just ask,"is there anything I can do to help." They are false words, and none of us ever like to ask. I believe in just trotting along with a casserole dish and a meal inside. I had a few ladies also do this for me while recuperating from my knee replacement. Tomorrow I must do the same for a friend of mine in need. You have just reminded me.
    We went to help my son today who is hurting from a broken relationship, he hasn't seen his son for two weeks and is very down. We took him for breakfast and stayed with him until we had helped some. My other son in McKay is unwell, and my hubby Ray doesn't rain but it pours. I pray for Gods love to surround you at this time. xx

  15. I was horrified to hear your news and horrified all over again to see these photos of the damage. We'll continue to pray that God will supply all your needs for each day. I never utter the words, "Is there any way I can help?" because they always make me feel insincere as I doubt I can follow through on anything which will come close enough. Yet then I've always felt guilty for not saying them, as I've believed they are words we're 'supposed' to say. This post has helped me put this in perspective so I thank you too. I agree with comments from some others, that not asking but just doing is a powerful thing.

  16. Lee, I have a little understanding about nature and the way it can devastate, and yet I have never walked in your shoes. Human nature is to want to help but when it comes to putting the desire into action I know it can often fall short. I keep praying for a swift and easy re-building - heart and soul, as well as bricks and mortar xx

    PS: Please picture: HUGE trawler bait freezer full of slop having been turned off for 1 week and in the middle of an NQ summer - I know the smell of seriously bad stuff - and like you I am NEVER going there again. :)

  17. What a frightening experience for you. But practical lessons about actions not just words. However on positive action we can do is pray.thanks.

  18. What a terrible experience - I felt like crying when I read how little action came through - I wish I hadn't been so far away in NZ! But you must know, I laughed my head off over that last bit - I'm sorry but that made my day. And no, I will never open home-made chicken liver pate when the refrigerator goes bust.
    I pray things are getting much better for you now!

  19. Sorry I am so late catching up on reading blog posts here, Lee. I too had heard your house had been damaged but had no idea just how badly. Ray and I send you not only our sympathy but our prayers too. These now also include thanks that none of you were injured - physically at least. May the One who loves you more than we can begin to imagine heal all your emotional turmoil and grant you HIS peace that He has all in control as you sort out "where to from here".