Welcome to Family Fun Friday. In case you missed my post last week, our family was evacuated due to forest fire.
I never thought I would see such devastation so close to home.
Fires that destroyed thousands of acres and over 500 homes… It’s the sort of thing you read about but never expect to happen in your area.
A fire that started only a few miles from where we live dessimated one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever seen and it took the homes of some of our beloved friends and neighbors. Green and lush parks where we’ve hiked or taken our children to play are now black with soot and ash.
Our hearts are broken.
We are humbled and amazed that our house is still standing. Kept secure by the hard work of firefighters, guardsmen, police officers and others; and spared by the hand of an almighty God. The fire “line” stopped only a few doors down from our house.
I am in awe. I can barely comprehend what has just happened.
Watching the news for the past several days as the fire raged on left me feeling shell-shocked. Being unable to grant my three-year-old’s request, “I want to go home now, mommy” left me feeling helpless.
I am so thankful for prayer. So thankful for family. So thankful for a warm hug, or tears shed together, or a community that cries out, “We will stand strong!” So thankful for a church that assembles aide even as I write. For friends who write and call to check on us – who offer toys, clothing, babysitting, whatever we need. THANK YOU. And thankful to God for his love – even through all this He was holding us, comforting us, giving us strength.
I’ve learned a few things about “home” through this experience.
It’s not the building, it’s the connection that our memory has to a place.
It’s not the stuff, it’s the hard work, time, energy and effort it took to pull it all together.
It’s not the bed, it’s the comfort, the familiarity, the place of refuge and rest.
It’s a place where you can safely walk around in the dark because you know where everything is.
The dinner table where you last sat to eat a meal with a loved one who recently passed away.
It’s the room where a baby was nursed or a toddler was rocked to sleep.
It’s so much more than a material “thing,” it’s a home.
The forest that burned will not be the same again in our lifetimes. The landscape is forever changed.
The landscape of our hearts – it is forever changed.
The things I grabbed for my children when we evacuated were things like favorite stuffed animals, blankets, books and toys, familiar and comforting. For myself, it included important papers but it also included things that were irreplaceable – photos (before digital), baby handprints & footprints, and one-of-a-kind gifts from people I love.
What the victims have lost is so much more than material things, they have lost their “home.” The familiar, the comfortable, the routine, the structure, the symbolic “things” that serve to represent memories, the place to have friends and family over… It’s not just “things.”
Plus, it’s time. Time that now has to be spent dealing with insurance companies, realtors, contractors, finding another place, replacing things… it’s all time.
No one gets out “ahead.” And many “things” can never be replaced.
Over the last week as I sat and watched countless homes burn to the ground I asked myself, “Where do you start when you have to start over?”
I know that for me, as I faced the grim reality that losing our home was a real possibility, my answer was to start with my faith. As I’ve written about recently, my faith has carried me through many difficult trials in my life. It’s that history that reminds me that the Lord is always with me and He is a place of refuge and rest even when the world is falling down around me. For an encouraging blog post on God’s promises even during times of great loss and difficulty I encourage you to read Pastor Steve Holt’s blog post “Type 1 Incident“. He is a man of great faith and his family was directly impacted by the CO fires.
Immediately following my faith is my relationships with others. My husband and my two children are my reasons to press on even when things get hard.
I am humbled and in awe of all the help we’ve been offered by family and friends. I had friends offer clothes, toys, a place to stay and so much more. We all need community. I owe a special thanks to my community for their love and support.
Home is the tangible things but it also the heart. My heart breaks and grieves alongside those who have lost so much. I am humbled and amazed by the events of the past week and I am awestruck by the kindness and generosity of community.
Thank you for being a part of Family Fun Friday – a place for bloggers to share their ideas for family friendly and fun activities. I treasure this community and I thank you for your prayers and support as I’ve walked through an unforgettable week.
More than ever I am reminded of the importance of family and spending time together. Whether I am reading to my boys, cooking for my family, traveling, or just sitting and eating a meal my husband and boys, family is always a place I call “home.” I pray you are blessed by all these wonderful ideas, and inspired to have some fun with your family this weekend. Thanks again for being a part of the Happy and Blessed Home community. I look forward to seeing what all these wonderful bloggers link up and share here.
In His Grip,