On a Sunday…..
we sat listening to our Pastor finish a 12 week study on Job. His final words were:
“God doesn’t give explanations, He gives promises.” I couldn’t stop thinking about the truth of those words.
Caiti and Cody decided to come spend the night.
We shared Christmas fun all day. We made the cutest gingerbread houses, salt dough ornaments and cookies.
On a Monday…….
Caiti and Cody decided to spend one more night. I was happy.
I couldn’t *shake* the Job quote. I’ve thought about Job a lot during the past couple of months.
How he’s such a parallel to Christ. Losing everything in one day. Without an explanation from God.
On a Tuesday……
at 4:30 in the morning, I awake to a terrifying amount of smoke. My husband miraculously crawls through the house to try to get to the kids. I am unable to follow him and jump out the nearest window and meet him at the front door. We stand screaming and sobbing and helpless,unable to get up the stairs to our kids. Caiti, my guardian angel daughter, who only by a miracle was even sleeping upstairs, was already awake and ushering the little girls out of harms’ way. She even has the forethought to have them cover their faces with their pillow. The image of my oldest daughter ushering her sisters through mortal danger to safety will forever be imprinted on my heart.
She’s the angel on the bridge.
My forever hero.
She then runs around to the basement to wake Cody. He rescues our dogs. Less than two minutes later, our house is engulfed in flames and before daylight is burned to the ground. Everything. Gone. I don’t think I stop crying all day. And shaking on the inside. I can’t stop thinking ‘what if’. And then I can’t stop saying prayers of thanksgiving. Only God can save 6 people and 2 dogs without so much as a singed strand of hair. I cannot plumb the depths of his love and mercy.
On a Wednesday……..
I wake up numb. It wasn’t a dream. My house and everything in it is gone. I’m speechless that God’s mercy is so vast. My children are alive and unharmed. I ride this roller coaster all day. Overwhelming thankfulness and heavy despair, sitting side by side in my mind each trying to win the day. I don’t even know where to start. My sister makes a list and puts me in the car to start doing what we must do to get our lives back. She drives and I cry. And I remember that it will soon be Christmas Eve. Hearts full of love and mercy descend on us like I could never have imagined. People I know and love and people I don’t know at all start meeting our every need. My neighbors step in like family and take care of us. We are blessed with a fully furnished unoccupied house, ready to use, right down to food in the refrigerator. Clothes, money, gift cards, Christmas gifts, calls, emails and messages of love just pouring in—more than I can count or read in one sitting. My sister painstakingly reproduces our Christmas gifts, every single one. My brother meets up with us with more love and gifts and blessings. Seeing him hurting so for me breaks my heart all over again. My heart is full and grateful. I am overwhelmingly sad and yet unable to stop rejoicing. My mother is amazing. My husband is my rock. My children are so incredibly brave. I am blessed beyond measure. It’s as if our friends and family have become the hands and feet of Christ, bringing love and help and healing.
On a Thursday…….
The older kids come home. I breathe a big sigh of relief . We make plans to stay *home* for Christmas despite the fact that there’s no tree and no trappings.
What a gift just to be together. While we’re gone trying to do the essentials, little angels bring us food and snacks and a Christmas tree. I come *home* to blessing after blessing. I went two whole hours without sobbing—-until I saw the tree. My friends have done so much. My dear friend Patty has been invaluable, coordinating, organizing but mostly knowing every perfect thing to say and bringing me an old friend, C.S. Lewis, to comfort me. My friends are priceless, by my side from the very beginning. Sandy brought me a copy of the Lutheran prayer book that I had given her two Christmases ago. I can’t stop reading it. My family is unbelievable, pure love and support. Steve’s family aches for us from afar, and bring hope and comfort to us. They all try to be strong but I can see on their faces and hear it in their voices that they are devastated for us. They carry the weight of our burden on their faces and in their hearts. I can’t help but thinking as we celebrate the incarnation of Christ—-that this is what it means to have Christ in the flesh. He works through others, to bring hope and life.
On a Friday……..
I wake with a heavy burden. I am reminded that it was on a very dark Friday, long ago, that our Lord laid down His life, so that through His suffering, we might live. I finally find my way back to a computer. And the weight of it hits. I have so much of the past few years of my life and memories preserved online. Not all my earthly memories were lost. I see your messages and your love and I almost can’t bear to read them. I start to look at my blog but I can’t do it. I can’t look at my house. Not yet. But I know someday, I will sit down and look back through all my projects and all my *stuff* and it will bring such healing to have it preserved at least in some way. Everywhere I turn, I receive more than my heart and hands can hold. Our friends from Issues Etc heard the news and sent us words of grace and mercy. Todd reminded us, serendipitously enough, of the words from Job. ‘The Lord gives the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.’ He also said “Continue to trust His ‘pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy.’ That is founded on the very death of His Son for you. THAT he will never take away.”
Just like my pastor said, “God doesn’t give explanations. He gives promises.”
On Christmas Day……..
It’s looks on the outside like I’m functioning. I’m eating but not tasting. I’m existing but not living. I do the bare necessities. But everytime I close my eyes, I go to a lonely helpless place. I sneak off to my bedroom to cry and call my sister. I have been in constant prayer just to hold it somewhat together. I know it will take time. And I trust in His every provision. I don’t want to be alone but I don’t want to be in a crowd. This is perhaps the most helpless feeling I’ve ever had. And yet it’s also the most loved and cared for I’ve ever been. As I’ve had time to process through all the gifts of love, I’m struck by how incredibly generous people are. And their (your) generosity has made a permanent mark on my heart. I will never be the same. I have new eyes. And I pray that this gift of seeing the world differently will stay. That I won’t forget this mercy raining down. That I will know like never before that Love has come, incarnate, in the flesh for me. I can hardly fathom the blessings, my children all here with me. My perfect Christmas gift wrapped in mercy and love from my Father.
It’s been a week since my life was forever changed. A heaviness sets in that I worry will be my permanent friend. I want to really smile. I want my children to play. I wish my husband could laugh. Our friends and family have seen to all our daily needs and so much more. We are loved on every side. Your calls and messages mean more than you could know. There are brief moments when I can hope for the future. But in the loneliness of the night, I wonder if it can ever really be the same? Will everything always be tainted with little tiny pieces of devastation? I know that God knows our groanings and He calms our fears with promises from His word, which can never be destroyed. He loves us with an inexorable love and He will burn away all impurities until we shine like gold.
He is the God of the burning bush. He is the fourth man in the fire. And He will lead us safely home.
Christ has come in the flesh to bear our sins, our burdens, our guilt. To restore what has been lost. To bring life where there’s death. To raise from the ashes beauty untold.
We are clinging to His promises.
We are humbled by His grace.
So many of you have asked how you can help. I so appreciate your gracious, willing spirit. I promise that our every need is met. And if we have needs arise, I will let you know.
My sister has provided her address if you’d like to send cards but please know that we really are well provided for and your sweet messages online have been more than enough. My aunt sent us a generous gift card through Amazon and we will reorder our school books soon. Love you and thank you for caring so deeply.
My sister’s name and address is:
506 Helton Road
Maryville, TN 37804