Three years ago today I was up in the wee hours of the morning taking two hour shifts with my husband watching TV through the night. We were keeping up on the all-consuming brushfires that seemed to be burning all over the place. It was an eerie feeling. I remember hearing the wind howling outside and seeing our house shake because the gusts were so violent. I recall walking outside at about 2am realizing it was still hot outside and the smoke in the air instantly filled my lungs. I needed my gas mask.
As I kept watching the news during my shift I noticed the fire was coming closer and closer to my parents’ house. I kept trying to call them with no luck in actually getting them. I had talked to my Dad at around 12am that morning and he thought he was safe to go to bed. I knew my mom was sleeping and would not be waking up until 4:30am to start to get ready for work. Still, I knew that I had to keep trying to let them know that they needed to be aware of the impending danger. As it turns out their phone in their room was not ringing and their cell phones were not in the room with them so they didn’t hear the rings. I was starting to get worried. I kept calling and finally they said they heard a very faint ringing and it woke my Dad up close to 4:30 am. Once I got a hold of my Dad I told him to turn on the news. He hung up with me and turned on the TV. I got a call from him ten minutes later – frantic. He was telling me that he could see flames coming up the hill from his backyard. Now there is something you have to understand here, my Dad does not get frantic or panicked. He is a Vietnam War veteran, has had many injuries and trials in his life and is a problem solver by nature. I knew it was bad when he called me so upset. I quickly let him go so that he and my Mom could grab anything they could think of. They ended up having ten minutes to evacuate their home.
My parents came to my house for safety even though people all around us were getting evacuated. Thankfully for them we actually never got evacuated from our house but pretty much every neighborhood in the surrounding area did. We just happened to be in a little pocket of safety. It didn’t feel safe to me though. I am terribly frightened of fires due to some childhood experiences I had. We continued watching the news for a few more hours. By this time my in-laws were at our shelter too. Their home was in danger as well. We were all sick to our stomachs just glued to the various news channels to tell us the next area that had burned or that was being threatened.
Then we saw it. On TV. My parents home of 22 years, my childhood home was being show engulfed in flames. At this point we went numb. We didn’t know until days later if any part of their house was left or was it a total loss. We were able to go in a couple days later. My Dad got there first and called me beside himself with grief. My parents lost everything they owned accept for a few albums they were able to get out, the clothes on their backs, part of a priceless collection and their vehicles. Their history gone. My history gone. My baby books and mementos of my life – gone. My brothers baby books and mementos gone as well.
There aren’t too many words that can describe what we were feeling that morning or the many days thereafter. Where to start, what to do, who to call, when to grieve, how to grieve. The bright spot in our lives was my sweet two year old son Corbin. So innocent, having no idea just what happened. How our lives were changed in an instant. He was able to cheer us up and give us some laughter. Praise the Lord for him.
Three years ago this day our lives were changed forever.
By God’s grace we’ve come a long way since then. A long road and a long journey for my parents especially. God had given my Dad supernatural strength to rebuild their home. In fact my Dad was a General Contractor for most of his career so it was a perfect fit. Now they got to build the house of their dreams. What he has always wanted to do. Bittersweet.
If you notice in this picture of my parents address. The only number ceramic number that was not broken was the number 7. I knew that the number seven is biblically the number of spiritual completion. Now I am not into numerology at all in a “new age” sense but I do believe that numbers do have significant biblical meaning. I found it very interesting that this was the only number in tact and leaning up to be noticed. It was as if God was trying to say this is the day that this chapter of your life is complete. This tragedy also happened in the year 2007. Wow. So obviously the next year would be 2008. Do you know what biblical meaning for number 8 is? It means new beginnings! So again, it was as if the Lord was saying now this is complete but next year will be a new beginning. Indeed it was. My parents started building their new home and broke ground early 2008. What a blessing.
Why do I share this? Why do I write this? Well there are many reasons. Mainly to encourage you that there is a time for everything. It tells us this in Ecclesiastes 3. This was the time to start over. Verse 6 of Ecclesiastes 3 says, “a time to loose and a time to keep….” When God takes away he always has something better in store. My parents have a custom built home now. The icing on the cake. This is not to say that it is all about material possessions, because it is not. For me this was a reality check about not storing our treasures here on earth. They can be gone in an instant. God worked in many ways through this loss. He brought some wonderful Christian men here to help rebuild the house. Men that have ministered to my Dad in so many ways. We got to see the selfless generosity of hundreds of people throughout the years and have been blessed tremendously by the outpouring. There was a lesson in humility for all of us. Let’s face it – it is hard to take a hand out. One of the biggest things for me is that I have gotten to look back on the last 3 years and see now how all of God’s puzzle pieces (in this situation – I don’t profess to know ALL of his pieces) fit together. God works in mysterious ways. When tragedy strikes it is our choice in finding God in the situation or playing the victim. God wants to be found. He is our rescuer. He is the one who resurrects what is gone, what is lost. We just need to seek him. Literally every minute of the day.
Ok sorry, I think I am speaking to myself right now….I tend to do that sometimes. Anyway, three years ago today was a pivotal moment in time that God has used to do great things in our lives and the lives of others. There were even a few people saved during the rebuild of the house! Through trial he has refined us and greatly blessed us and continues to do so. I am grateful and continue to lean on him daily and hourly!
We Bless the Lord for all he has provided for us. We do not take it for granted.