After the fire

This was my house last June:


It was struck by lightning during a crazy storm in Wake County.  Mine wasn’t the only home that was affected.  The story below outlines the chaos of the storm that night.

We were lucky.  There was no one in the house that night except the cat and the guinea pigs.  And I arrived back in time to tell the fire fighters who gallantly saved them while the cat ran out of the front door.  My kids were with their dads and I was out to dinner with a friend.  I came back to see my street lined with a row of fire trucks.  This had never happened in my neighborhood before – except a fire truck coming as part of a medical emergency once.

I was curious, at first, but then as I slowly realized that it was MY house that was on fire, I went into shock mode.  When I go into shock mode, I get super practical and action oriented.  My emotions seem to shut off and, apparently, I try to figure out everything that needs to be done.  My boss laughed at me because I called her and very calmly said – so my house is on fire.  I may not be in tomorrow, but they did save my laptop!  I called my parents and others, as well.  And figured out next steps from the fire fighters and my friends and neighbors.

We pulled up behind the firetrucks and started to give them information.  They saved the guinea pigs, the cat and my work laptop.  They were certain it was a lightning strike, but had to wait for the official investigation.  They were great about walking with me into the house several hours later to get some special stuff before locking everything up and condemning the place.  The fire fighters were amazing and supportive.

My neighbor had been in his garage when the fire started after a lightning strike and his son took a video of the fire starting while he dialed 911.  He and the quick response of the fire department are probably what kept the whole house from burning down.  What I found out later, though, is that even though only part of the house was actually burned, there was extensive smoke and water damage throughout the whole home, so we lost a lot of things just because of that.

For that day, and for many months after, I was in crisis mode just taking care of my family and our basic needs.  It’s really funny, though.  I kept thinking, wow, this is a big disaster, I should be really upset.  But I wasn’t.  To me, it was a time of great blessing and renewal.  And believe me, even as I type this, I realize how crazy it sounds.  But, really, it was a time where God truly showed his face to me and how amazing he could really be.  That he truly has greater plans for me than even I could imagine!

My friends had me spend the night at their house for several nights.  My parents came down to help with the clean up and to have fun with the kids, which lightened my load and brought us all closer.  My oldest, college-aged daughter, Amelia brought her sisters shopping for clothes and basics and they all bonded together and comforted each other – and me.    My church’s youth group gathered around my children – offering love and emotional support and clothes and sleepovers and pool parties and fun.  My co-workers offered financial help, food, fun and support.  The youth and adults of my church helped me clean out the house (which we had rented) and salvage anything we could.  My landlord graciously let me get everything out of the house and returned my security deposit and a month’s rent.  My friends and family had fundraisers and contributed to my GoFundMe page.  I had an old friend who was a roommate of mine when I worked in London and was in my first wedding, contact me, and say she wanted to help.  We worked through her charity – Father’s Hands (please support them on Amazon Smile!) – and I was able to get school supplies for all of my kids.  Through a church member, the Soroptimist of Raleigh chapter gave us a financial donation to help us get back on our feet and Dress for Success Raleigh helped me with some work clothes, since much of my wardrobe had been wiped out.  We even got some free bath bombs from the employees at our local Lush store in Raleigh and essential oils from my Young Living friend, Lara, which made us giggle with joy because God knows how to delight us even with the little things.

I am certain that I’m forgetting something because we were surrounded by so much grace, but it was truly a whirlwind.  While all of this was going on, I was working hard at my job, as well.  And it is only now, almost 8 months later, that I am starting to be able to really slow down and get out of that crisis survival mode and really starting growing again.

A lot of things were pushed to the side during that crisis mode.  I stopped writing here for one.  I had to push aside my Young Living Essential Oils business to the side and am only now getting back to it.  I had been really working out and working on my diet and am now taking baby steps there again.  So I learned there is a time for everything.  And sometimes we just have to sit back and bask in the blessings and the unexpected lessons that come across our path in times of “crisis.”

Now, we are renting a beautiful home in a beautiful place that seemed to become available by some miracle exactly when we needed it.  My kids are all doing well academically (and some like my straight-A Gracie are excelling), physically and emotionally.  Our cat did run away again, but now we have the best dog in the world Bella.  I have a great job with the flexibility to take care of my family well.  And this crisis has made me closer to some wonderful people.

So, why am I writing about all of this, besides just reminding myself how blessed I am and how far we’ve come?  I realized that the thing that stops most of us is lack of hope.  I prayed my way through this.  The load was far too great for me alone.  So I said – God, I need your help.  I am old.  I am tired.  I don’t have a husband to help me.  I feel so alone here.  But I know that I’m not.  I know that you are with me.  That I am your child.  That I am a child of the King – so I am royalty.  And what does royalty do?  (The good ones anyway.)  They make sure that everyone is taken care of.  They take action.

So I took one step and then the next.  I took it day by day.  I accepted the gifts, the knowledge, the love – knowing that it’s not over yet.  There’s more work to be done.  But he is always with me.  I’ve seen it.  I see it in the eyes and hands and hearts of the people around me every day.  And the gift of the fire?  I don’t need a lot of things.  Things can weigh you down.  It is good to be purified and let all of the things that are holding you back burn and fall away.  And you don’t have to be afraid.  There’s hope in front of you – and faith and love.  We are not done yet.  I am not done yet.  I’m sure I will walk through the fire again.  But this time with great love and purpose.



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