Last week, I left sunny Florida and went to Chicago. On purpose. I arrived just 24 hours before “The Blizzard of 2011” buried the Windy City under two feet of snow. No storm was predicted when I bought the plane ticket, of course, but this was Chicago. In January. Snow is not a real shocker.

I was heading north to reconnect with three friends I hadn’t seen since our college graduation eons ago. A girls’ weekend plus the official class reunion? I couldn’t resist. So when the storm warnings hit, I went anyway.

Was there a teensy bit of tension in the Chicago air? You bet. But as the wind blew and ecstatic weathermen spouted dire predictions, I was reminded of some important truths to help weather life’s storms.

Keep friends close. As the four of us ate chocolate, pored over old photos and caught up on life, I wondered—again–how I had let these precious friends slip from my life. Finding them again was like finally tucking a missing piece of my heart back into place. They knew me back when I thought I had all the answers—even though I hadn’t figured out all the questions yet. They knew me before the indescribable joy and abject terror of motherhood added smile lines and worry furrows to my face. They knew me before life turned up the heat and molded me into the person I am today. The fact that we picked up right where we’d left off became a wonderful blizzard blessing.

Look for the joy in the unexpected. When a storm approaches, there are endless opportunities for worry and countless worst-case scenarios you can run through your head. But can I make a confession? While others fretted, we had a ball! People ask, “Wasn’t it horrible?” Heavens, no. We decided to enjoy every single minute. An unexpected storm always hands us decisions to make. How will we respond? The Serenity Prayer says, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” The weather? Not my department. Ditto for flight cancellations. Attitude? Now that one’s wholly mine—every minute of every day.

My Chicago adventure will go down as one of the most memorable trips I have ever taken. I got home a day later than planned and found my world had not collapsed without me. But oh, the treasures I brought home.

The next time life throws a blizzard your way, gather your friends and family, stock up on chocolate and pass out hugs. And in the midst of the chaos, take a peek out the window. Wonderful surprises often sneak in from unexpected directions.