Abigail Mason was haunted for years by the mystery of why the windmill survived the storm … until she learned that God provided a Windmill in the Tempest.
1935, The Great Plains, Nebraska
Rotating darkness loomed above them, throwing jagged streaks of light to the ground. Wind swirled and rain began to strike her cheeks as they raced to the barn.
“Don’t stop, Abigail.” Her father’s voice rang above the raging storm. “Hailstones are a comin’. Move, girl! Move!” Fred Mason slid the barn doors open, pushed his wife through and grabbed Abby’s arm. “Let’s go. Get down the ladder.”
She watched her father struggle to slide the massive doors closed. He turned to see her standing behind him. “Get down that ladder now, Abigail.”
“What about Emma, Daddy?”
“Her pa’ll get her to where it’s safe. There’s no time … ladder now!” He snapped his fingers and pointed down.
The pale face of Abby’s mother beckoned, and her thin arms reached for her daughter. Moments later their little family huddled in the dark, dreary underground room. Wrapped in her mother’s arms, Abby heard the near silent whispers.
Deep, pleading prayers. Please, dear Lord, calm the storm. Protect us. Mercy, Jesus, mercy.
Abigail Mason, now ten years old, remembered two previous times her family ran from an oncoming twister. Thrust into this room again, the roaring manifestation of the approaching tornado engulfed her. Helen Mason’s prayers morphed into screams above the seismic waves underneath them as the merciless twister advanced.
Abby heard her own screams, too. She couldn’t stop them. Fear forced them from deep within her.
Fred Mason’s arms wrapped around Abby and her mother. “Dear, God. Dear, God,” were the only words he seemed to find. Abby squeezed her eyes tight shut and gripped her mother’s blouse.
Then, the calming dissipation. The roar quietened. Wind ceased. An eerie silence surrounded them. Except for … what? A creaking? An ominous squeaking and scraping.
“What is that Daddy?”
“It’s the windmill, Abigail. The windmill.”
1965, The Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
Abby Mason awoke screaming, plagued by the same dream for thirty years. Running from the tornado, the roar, the earth shaking … then nothing. The dream held onto its secrets, refusing to unmask more memories of the aftermath. It would relinquish only the sound of the squeaking windmill.
The tornado took everything but the windmill. Even the barn above them was left in splinters. She knew, not because she remembered, but because her daddy had told her again and again about that day.
The squeaking windmill snatched her from sleep night after night. But why? Why wouldn’t the haunted sound of that windmill leave her alone?
Remember Abby. You’ve got to remember.
What was she doing before her daddy rushed toward her and pushed her into the barn? With eyes closed, Abby pressed fingers against her temples and tried to envision those moments in her mind. She was at the windmill. She wasn’t supposed to play around the windmill, but she and Emma loved to play there—
Emma! Emma had been playing at the windmill with her. What happened to Emma?
Abby grabbed her phone off the nightstand and dialed her mother’s number. Her daddy passed away two years ago, but maybe her mother would remember.
Or not. Helen Mason had been left a traumatic mess following the storm. Twenty people died that day. Had Emma been one of them?
“Momma?” Abby said after her mother’s panicked greeting at a call that hour of the morning. “What happened to Emma? Did the tornado take her? Was she one of the dead?”
“Let’s not talk about that day. There was so much hurt and loss. Are you still having the dreams?”
“Momma, I remembered I was playing with Emma at the windmill before daddy forced me to the barn. What happened to her? You have to tell me.”
“Oh, baby girl.” Abby’s mother sighed. “Your daddy saw the two of you playing. He yelled to Emma’s pa and they both started runnin’. Your daddy grabbed you and he thought Emma’s pa was behind him. After the storm … goodness the destruction … we found little Emma holdin’ on to the windmill tower. Her parents didn’t make it, Abigail.”
“Emma was alive?”
“Yes, praise God. It was a miracle she survived. Emma went to live with her aunt and uncle. I couldn’t stay there, Abby, so we moved away.”
“The tornado took everything except the windmill … and Emma.”
1966, Key West, Florida
Laughter rose from a corner table in a cafe on the historic seaport. The dreams were gone now, and though it took almost a year, Abby found Emma.
“Oh Emma, it’s wonderful to see you and hear all about your adventures.”
Emma wiped a tear that slid down her cheek. “My life’s been a roller coaster of story after story. But God has taken me many places, opened doors to share his goodness, and he’s blessed me. That old windmill may have haunted you, Abby, but like a ram in the thicket, God kept that windmill standing to deliver me from the storm.”
Abby took Emma’s hand. “Yes, Emma. God provided a windmill in the tempest.”
“Then Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.” ~ Genesis 22:13
“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10