Friday, May 6, 2011

The Fire




As i sit at my mom's computer I have this center of joy in my gut. I know that may sound weird with the week we've had, but God is so good to us. It could've been so much worse.

I have so much to say and I'm not exactly sure where to start.

Before I tell you Tuesday's story, I'd like to forcefully say, "Make sure your fire alarms work...please." Our house went from an everyday event of kicking back with our family, to smoke filled in about three minutes. The fire alarm was our only warning that something was wrong. We didn't smell or see anything until it went off and we went to look.

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This is how it began....

Tuesday was long. We had traveled all over the area, from the doctors to trying to get adoption paperwork submitted, notarized, and done. I was exhausted...so exhausted that I changed into my pajama's when I got home. The kids and I (minus my husband and oldest who went to get the car inspected) were curled up in the living room watching a Cosby Show DVD when the fire alarms went off. Honestly, it didn't really phase me, the fire alarm is REALLY sensitive. My immediate thought was that it was just malfunctioning...it wasn't.

Again, we didn't smell or see anything in the living room at that point.

Sarah peeked her head into the play area and sounded startled as she called my name. There was black smoke pouring out of all the vents in the rest of the house...all of them.

Since we were all together in the living room, I asked my oldest daughter to take all the littles to the front curb. I went to the phone as the smoke started to fill the room, as I pushed the dogs outside I dialed 911. Blessed by fact that my mom's van was parked out front and unlocked...my children climbed in. My daughter Anna sobbed as she asked about the animals. Our sweet Sarah, at only 14 years old, was brave and comforting to her younger siblings.

Side Note: The kids only real concern was the animals, not their stuff. We were so impressed with how they all handled themselves.

The smoke was flowing, but not to a "coughing" point yet. Yes, I know this wasn't brilliant. I went back, grabbed my daughters gerbil cage, two cats that I could reach, the diaper bag/purse of mine, and our adoption papers for the twins. I brought them out, but couldn't stay any longer. My throat burned and I had started coughing. I love the two cats that were still in the house, but it was not worth life.

My husband and son arrived and we watched as the fireman yelled that the smoke was too thick. They totally suited up. Smoke drenched the air around us and seeped out of every open window and door of the house as kind neighbors ushered us into their homes. I will be forever grateful to our neighbors...forever. We didn't know them that well, but that is one of the many blessings that came from this fire.

Eventually the fireman started taking off their masks and entering the house. The fire chief asked me to talk to the children. My heart sank. He said the way the fire was burning, we needed to ask the kids if someone was playing with a candle or some such. We have always drilled the kids about playing with fire, but we also know some of the less than great things we did as children.

When the firemen had initially entered the house, it was not passable without a mask. As they made their way to our bedroom, the smoke got even worse until they got to our closed closet door. The closet door is vital in showing God's protection of our family (more later).

The door was burning hot to the touch. When they opened the door, the flames were burning out due to lack of oxygen and had retreated to about three or four feet high...until they opened the door and then they topped most men's height. They said that if that closet door had not been shut, we would have most likely lost part or all of the house...or worse.

The fire had started to smolder due to lack of oxygen, thus wasn't spreading quickly until they opened the door.

In front of our neighbor's house I called two of our blessings outside and sat down on our neighbor's lawn with them. We talked and I casually (as not to scare them) talked about the situation. Finally I felt confident one of them hadn't had anything to do with it and sent him inside. That's when my sweetheart broke down. Though this story has changed and we don't know truthfully if this is what happened....all we can say is that it MAY have happened this way (see side note following explanation).

Our child said she found a birthday candle. With her sweet little body, she said she pulled up a step stool and scaled to great heights to reach the "birthday lighter". She was old enough to know how to work child proof locks, but that wasn't even what this is about. She said she wanted to play "Birthday". She said that the candle lit and she got scared and dropped it. Shutting the door didn't happen, only running out of the room did.

Why she may have gone to our closet (which she NEVER goes to)....

You see, if this is the way it happened, this is where God shows His mercy even more....
*My daughter usually has her long hair hanging everywhere about 95% of the time, but I had put it up in a ponytail. It could have easily caught fire in it's normal state.
*Our closet door was almost impossible to shut. Seriously...it always took my husband and I a couple of tries. Not only was it used to store a ton of stuff, but the door didn't really latch very well. Somehow this door was shut, preserving our house and possibly life. How did a little girl, only 40lbs, get this door to shut? She said firmly that she did not shut it.We firmly believe God intervened.

My heart sank as my little one told me this story. She had been out of my sight for only five minutes (I thought to go to the bathroom) Yet, she was okay. The thought of what could have happened. THAT is what makes me cry, not losing things.

Side Note: Our little one has quite a imagination. About a month ago,our oldest couldn't find his money. It wasn't in his wallet. We asked the other children if they had seen it. Our little girl confessed to taking it. About an hour trying to figure out where she put it, our oldest remembered removing it and putting it somewhere else (where it still remained). She confessed, but didn't do it. Also, through a miscommunication, we thought the fire had originated in our son's closet. Our little one initially confessed to the birthday incident in our son's closet and didn't change it until she heard where the fire originated. We just don't know exactly what happened. Our sweetness is always joy and light, but still blurs the line between reality and her joyous imagination.

As I talked to two of our neighbors wives and told the Fire Marshall (the kids were inside our neighbors house) I started crying for the first time. Tears came, not because of the decision our little one made, but because God preserved our children's lives.

I need to say that the Fire Marshall was a gift from God. He was a comfort and a blessing and I wish every city had a man like this.

It was 8:00pm before we were given the okay to go inside. Our friend pulled up and told us she just couldn't stay home and make calls anymore...she had to be there. She watched the kids as we went inside and pulled out smoke scented clothes to wash over the next couple of days. More friends drove up. At about 9:30pm we made a 30 minute run to buy the necessities that we would need for the next 48 hours (pj's for each child, kennels for the animals, a set of clothing and under things for the kids, etc.).

Finally we landed at my mom's house around the corner. Here we stay. Our Master Bedroom walk-in closet is history, holes in the ceiling and walls. Our master bathroom is also mostly gone. Our house is filled with a nauseating smoke scent. Our door that leads into the garage is busted open. Our bedroom paint looks like it melted (though the room is remarkably okay).

We are just beginning to recognize and itemize things lost. Almost all our home videos, birth videos, adoption videos, photo albums, wedding dress, military uniform with all the metals, backpacks, clothes, shoes, etc.

STUFF...that's all it is...STUFF

We are not sad. We have not been sad for this stuff. You see, we are all eternal creatures and this stuff is not eternal. It's just stuff. Though the firemen weren't sure the two hiding cats would survive with the intense smoke, we have now found both of them and they are with us.

On the way to Target my oldest teen son led a song in praise of our God. Because God is at work here.

There is something that satan is seeing here and now that he must not like. We can't attribute God's powers to satan and say that satan can see the future, but there's something happening that's good...WAY good. It started when we started the adoption of Jael.

We just feel happy to know that we're ticking satan off.

Man, we love God...seriously. There are so many things that God is bringing out of this. Someday we may share so much more, but for now. We will praise God for what He has done through this fire. We will praise Him for His mercy on our family.

It is a storm, a cleansing, change bringing, sprouts growing after the rains...storm.

May God grow you through the storms my friends. If you don't know him, email me. I would love to share with you about God...the only God. He loves you far more than anyone on this earth ever could.

So, if I can "light a fire" under you, know that today is no guarantee...save those closest to you...share Jesus.

"He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm." Matthew 8:26

7 comments:

  1. I'm so blown away by this....and praising Him for His protection over you all! Hang on sweet friend, apparently this adoption just may be a bumpy one;)!

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  2. Oh dear. Sooo glad you are okay!

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  3. WOW!! Just amazing blessings everywhere. God is good!! (((HUGS))) We are a singing family too! Like the Von Trapps only way out of tune! But I tell the kids God listens like we are American Idol winners!! LOL!

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  4. Kat,
    Brings back so many memories. My parents home burned down just weeks before my wedding. Originated in my parent's closet... God indeed protects. I can witness to the BLESSINGS of God. You will come out on the other side of this physically blessed more than when you went in, not to mention the deeper faith, closer relationship with Jesus, and stronger family you'll have... Praying for all of you through this difficulty.
    Gina Root
    Ethiopia Babies Group

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  5. So glad everyone is o k and so blessed by your take on the situation. Your faith and love for the Lord is such a blessing to me and to so many others. God is so much more powerful than satan, even though at times it doesn't seem that way.

    Gena

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  6. Kat, I don't know if you remember, but our family experienced a house fire exactly this time last year. 5/19, actually. Lots of aspects of your story mirror ours, and I rejoice with you, through heart-aching-but-joyful tears, at all the blessings. I commend you for seeing them. :) Above the clouds the sun is always shining.

    In case you don't know yet, here are a couple fire clean-up tips.... Wash every load of laundry with a cup of baking soda thrown in. We enlisted church friends for this because they all wanted to do SOMETHING to help! We just threw clothes, linens, drawer-fulls of underwear, towels, shower curtain, everything that can be washed, in garbage bags; I even tried to organize them by "load", when possible. Baking soda's cheap in bulk at Sam's, thankfully.

    Before we moved back in, two friends who wanted to help came and unloaded all dishes from our kitchen cabinets (into laundry baskets, coolers, & sturdy boxes) and took them home to their dishwashers.

    For surfaces, we had success using paper towels (again, Sam's) and water with a bit of dish soap, and then baking soda, and ~~surprise!~~ Vanilla extract (not imitation). I remain thankful that I found this tip. Maybe you've seen it already. This was another part of clean-up for which I accepted help. There is no way you can do this on your own. Pllllease accept all the help that is offered, whether meals, child care, financial gifts, or elbow grease. Ohhhhhhhh I wish I were there to lend a hand.

    A friend who'd previously experienced a house fire [started by an adopted child with SEVERE Reactive Attachment Disorder :'( who is now 14yo and in residential treatment ... that is nnnnot working :'( ] ... told me that every time it's been a while since you ran your heater or air, you'll notice the smell of smoke coming out of the vents. :( ~shrug~ I don't know ... maybe you'll be able to get your vents professionally cleaned??? ``sigh``

    Thank you for sharing your story. Your children, your husband, your extended family, your congregation, and your community are blessed because of your perspective to see during trials the joy-gifts God inevitably provides, ever reminding us of His love.

    Message me if you have questions; I'd thrill to be able to be of any further assistance.... fourfabfoldings@hotmail.com. Take good care. <3

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  7. Love how you see the good of God's protection here. Your joy in the midst of a trial is a blessing to me. Thanks for sharing~

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In the joy of following our Heavenly Father, we sometimes choose to proceed with a whisper, a verse, or a downright shove...no matter how we follow Him, the momentum that follows is like nothing we've ever experienced before.

Join the momentum...it is a beautiful place to be. It's not always easy, but then the best things never are.

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