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Saturday, October 22, 2011


Four years ago today, our home and all our belongings went up in smoke. That event started a chain of events that changed our life and brought us where we are today. Such a crazy whirl-wind. It's strange to think about, actually...that if our home hadn't burned down, we wouldn't have had to take out a loan against our property and we might still be living in Washington among our family. The constant "what ifs" keep swirling around in my mind. What if I had unplugged the heater before I went shopping that day? What if I had put my wedding ring on before I left? What if I hadn't left at all but had been there to stop it? Or the worst, what if I had left my kids at home with a sitter instead of taking them with me?

If I close my eyes, there are some very vivid memories that flash like movie scenes in my head. As I wrote a year later: "So many memories are coming to me as I type this...so many emotions. My dad crying in the parking lot of Wal-Mart because he was so glad we were alright. Pushing a shopping cart around the store, dazed and trying to think about what I needed for my babies. Leaning against a DVD display, crying my eyes out because I realized that our wedding rings were one of the casualties. Letting my siblings and parents take over as they one by one showed up and filled my cart with things that they payed for out of their own pockets. Going home only to realize that "home" was gone. Getting phone calls from friends who wanted to know how they could help. Holding my babies, afraid to let them out of my sight for fear that something would happen to them, too. That was a dark night. I lay in my husband's arms, unable to sleep, listening to the steady breathing of my children. They had no idea that their entire world just changed. The tears just kept falling...I couldn't stop them. It was all so overwhelming, so shocking."

I was mad at God for a long time after that. To be honest, I've been angry a lot in the past few years for many things. Nothing has turned out the way we thought it would. I wrote not too long ago: "When is life supposed to work? When does the whole "all things work for good" promise actually come into play? For years now we've done what we thought God wanted us to do, followed Him with everything we have, and for what? To get patted on the back and told "well done"? Yeah, that'll put food on the table. I know that God still works miracles. Is it too much to ask that He could work one for us?"

But I've learned something since then. Sometimes miracles happen in tiny steps instead of big bangs. Sometimes they take years to come to fruition, a building and swelling of little moments that one day become something grand. Or even something ordinary and unnoticable to passers-by, yet understood in the hearts of those who notice; every-day miracles that we wake up to and forget are just as extraordinary as the grand ones. Sometimes it takes tearing down to build up. There is no formula for a life of blessings. The rain falls on the just and unjust, time and chance happen to us all, suffering is no respecter of persons.

Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, as they say, and the day I stood looking at the ashes of my life smoldering before me I had no idea that it was the first of many unfair, unhappy events that would make us feel like we lost all control of our lives and leave us standing in unfamiliar territory wondering what was next.

I've learned something else about life. There is a time for every season under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to laugh, and a time to cry. A time to tear down and time to build up. I can complain and be angry about what I perceive as the "bad" things, but that won't make them disappear from my life. They are part of life and we can't change that. Sometimes they serve to bring us to a place where we wouldn't have gone without them. Would I be in Montana now, surrounded by great friends and more beauty than my soul can hold, with hope for the future if my home had never burned down? Would I have ever found this place of peace with life if I hadn't known unrest? Would I be the strong person I am now if I hadn't fallen to my knees, crying in agony a few times, my legs refusing to hold me up any longer? Would I appreciate freedom as much if I didn't know bondage? Would my marriage be as strong as it is now if we hadn't been stripped of everything and forced to face things we were ignoring? Would I be enjoying the moments of pure bliss as much if I didn't know what raw pain felt like? I don't know. Ask me 30 years from now. Hind sight being what it is.....

This journey isn't over yet. I have no idea where we're going from here. I know less now than I thought I did the day I was digging through the still-warm ashes looking for our wedding rings. But I think I'm OK with that. I'm enjoying the journey (most of the time), enjoying looking back and understanding what brought us to where we are now. It sure as hell wasn't much fun getting here, but here we are. Everything beautiful in its time, everything redeemable by the God I follow who makes all things new. Thank God for hindsight....I think it give us hope.


  1. This post really resonates with me. I seem to be in the same boat as you. Almost five years ago, we lost our baby son and ever since then, I feel like we're due for good things to come to us....and they haven't; at least not in the same earth-shattering way the loss of our son was to us. If his loss was so abrupt and devastating, then we should have an equally abrupt and miraculous gain to somewhat even it all out. What that would be, I have no clue.

    But it hasn't happened that way. Some days I am so tired of struggling and I am so angry that life goes on with little acknowledgment of what we have had to give up... and the same kinds of questions arise. Would we have his sisters now? Would my husband be retired from the military? Would we still be struggling in everything else? Would my blissful ignorance and vulnerability still be with me?

    Even with hindsight, it's very hard for me to see any gains right now. I can imagine that it's that way for anyone suffering a major loss...and losing your home is a big one that is very hard to recover from. I would feel like everything that had happened and had been acquired to that point was suddenly erased. Yeah, you have each other and no one was physically hurt, but it's hard to always count your blessing in the face of a loss like that. I get where you are coming from and I'm glad it hasn't happened to me.

  2. ((hugs)) Montana Wildflower....I can't even imagine your pain. :( It is my number one greatest fear that something happens to one of my children. I'd wish to lose my home ten times over before I'd want to go through that.

    I can't say we're better off physically but spiritually, relationally, emotionally....we're definitely in a better place than we were before it happened and in the 2 years following. (And we now live in the best state in the U.S. ;))

  3. "Sometimes miracles happen in tiny steps instead of big bangs." Yeah. Exactly. Something I need to remember now and then. :D

  4. That whole "All things work togther for good" thing is something we don't see until the end of our lives, I think. Maybe after death. And I also think sometimes our disasters are working for someone else's good in God's great plan for the universe. Just as we sometimes unwittingly benefit from the trials of others.

  5. I definitely agree with Pippi. Having dealt with the horror that autism can be in our household, growing up (it can include screaming, violence, total loss for answers--AND it isn't just children; there are autistic adults and my sibling is one of them), I know first hand that there is often NO explanation. Sure, I can offer more sympathy to those going through something similar...but that doesn't explain why anyone has to go through it at ALL. Then I think about the Holocaust, slavery, various forms of humiliation and abuse...and who knows? But our hope is not in this life; it's in the next one, when all things WILL be made new!