To those in the path of the fires….

To the dear people in the wake of the fires in California,

I’ve been there.  I have watched my home be engulfed by flames.  I have stood there wondering if my pet was suffering in that inferno.  I watched as all of my belongings, heirlooms, clothes and treasured possessions were burned to ashes.  I wondered what underwear I would wear the next day…. after all, I was down to only one pair…the ones I was wearing.  I went to sleep that night, with tears on my face, clutching the only possessions I now owned.  I can still smell, hear and taste that day.  I may still struggle with the impact of it all, still see flashbacks when I smell smoke.  My nose has become hyper-sensitive to that smell now.

These fires will change you.  They will impact you.  But just how will they impact you?  For the better, or worse?  I cannot even pretend to say that I’ve always let my fire work for the best…. after all, my husband has the first-hand experience of seeing my horrible moments. I may over-react when he leaves the burn-pile while it is still going, or when discussing the fire pit he wants to build and how I told him just how far away from our house I want it placed.  He nods his head, listens to me and holds me when I become like this.  Or when all of a sudden I’m overcome by the loss of something, be it a favorite piece of clothing, a household item, or piece of jewelry.  I lost everything that was familiar to me.

This isn’t easy.  Picking up your life among the ashes.  You don’t want those pat Christian answers.  You may be grappling with the hard faith questions.  I know.  It’s okay.  God can handle your questions, your anger, your confusion.  I say this because I’ve lived it.  But I can also say that if you cling to Him, rail out at Him, He will hold you and carry you through this.  He will see you safely to the other side of this tragedy.

Seven months later and I am living out His goodness from those ashes…His beauty.  My life has drastically changed since that day:  I became engaged, bought a house, moved to a different state, got married, became a step-mom, started a new job.  It’s all new.  Even down to the coffee mugs.  Yes, I mourned over my favorite coffee mugs.  Life has a way of moving on around us. People may forget about the difficulty your heart is going through.  But He never will.  As life moved on around me, as people moved on in their day-to-day lives, I worked on rebuilding what was lost.  But I’ve found that the re-building has been something greater than I could have imagined.  He has given me beauty for ashes.

I’ve wrestled with this over and over, and each time I keep coming to the conclusion that He is good.  I may not begin to fathom the “why” of all that happened, but that’s not my job.  That’s His.  He knows the whys and He sees the future.  He knows what is in store for us.  Even in my anger, even in all of my questions, He has never left.  He is holding me still, even now, as more questions arise.  And what He keeps showing me is that He is building something beautiful from the ashes.  And just like the way He provided beyond my imagination for my physical needs after the fire, He will provide for you.

I am sorry for all that you are enduring with these fires raging over California.  Please know that you have my prayers…prayers that come from one who has lived it and knows just how hard it is.  But please know, He can take your questions, your anger, your “whys”, and turn them into something beautiful.  Turn to Him and let Him hold you during this time.  He knows more than anyone, the depth of your loss and pain.  I am praying for you.