Monday, February 28, 2011


Last weekend marked one year since our housefire happened. On the morning of Saturday, February 20, our toaster burst into flames that very quickly engulfed the whole of our kitchen, dining room, and started spreading into our mudroom and living room sending heat and smoke through out the house before the local volunteer fire fighters blessedly got there and saved the whole thing from being consumed.

For the first two and a half weeks, we stayed in two suites at a local hotel. Then it was into a couple of RVs til the house was restored, and in some cases, rebuilt. We rejoiced when we were able to move back into our like-new home the first part of August.

To mark the one year anniversary of the fire, I wanted to reflect on that time and what it has meant for our family. It is one of those events that will stand out in the history of our family. We often find ourselves marking time as "before the fire", "while we were still in the RV", or "after the fire".

There were hard and sad things that resulted from the fire, but the Lord has promised us that even out of bad times He will bring good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). He has been faithful and brought that to fruition in our life.

Here are the kids and their take on the whole experience.

Travis, what was the hardest or saddest thing about the fire for you?

It made me lose one of my favorite stuffed animals, cause remember? Kitty Cat got lost in the fire? I also had to live in an RV for 5 months and you would not want that to happen for 5 months. It seemed like longer I was so not used to it.

What good came out of it?

The best part of the fire was we got to go into a nice hotel and I got to get sweets all I wanted. It was really nice how people actually delivered stuff to it, not just saying "you had a fire so their insurance company will give them money" but instead, our church folks brought us stuff. I was really surprised how nice they were. We got a new Wii, too, [from] my dad's office. We got wi-fi on our Wii!

Betsie, tell me about the fire and how it affected you. What was the worst part?

Probably how we had to live in the RVs and our house was right there but we couldn't live in it and it was destroyed there and a reminder every single day of what happened. It was weird living outside of your house.

What was the best part? How did you see God work or what good came out of it?

Because of it, people donated me a lot of money so I didn't have to fundraise much [for my missions trip to Romania] because that would have been really stressful at the time.

David, talk to us about how the fire affected you. First, what was the bad part?

Probably just living in the RV and having to go to all these different places and talk to different people about reconstruction of the house and all that stuff.

What good came out of it for you personally or how do you think God used it for the good of our family?

Well, I think it drew me closer to God because I realized that I lost most of my stuff but it was just stuff and I don't really need it.

Anna's turn---

I would definitely say the hardest part was having to live in the RV. I'm not used to living in close quarters with people for prolonged periods of time.

What good came out of it?

Our house is nicer and it imparted some valuable life lessons.

Alright Laura, tell us about how the fire affected you. What was the hardest part?

Umm...probably losing a bunch of my Littlest Pet Shop [toys].

What good came out of the fire?

Well, I almost have all the Littlest Pet Shop that I had before the fire back. I have way more Silly Bandz. I love Sudoku and I got a Sudoku book after the fire. I also got two new stuffed animals after the fire. One of them, Miss Theresa [Houston] gave to me and one of them, you bought for me.

Now for my 12 year old son P. In your opinion, what was the hardest thing related to the fire?

The house being burnt down. I lost my house.

How have you seen good come out of this hard thing?

I got to live in a hotel. I got a lot of new stuff. [God used this to show me] that sometimes good comes out of [bad happenings].

Here's my little Miss M. She's going to start with the hard part first.

Well, it made me really, really sad. And I didn't really want to go into a hotel because I wouldn't see Pepper [our horse] a lot. When the fire happened, Boo [our dog] wasn't there. It was dead so we wouldn't see it often [anyway]. When we lived in the RV, it made me really hard because I had to sleep on my ground [the floor].

So what good came out of the whole thing?

What's good is that someone was able to build our house so we wouldn't be living in the RV all the time. Once the house was built, we started to move in. We couldn't build mine and Laura's bed at first so we slept on air mattresses and sleeping bags. Well, then when it was my 5 year old party, my dad started to build my bed for me and Laura so we wouldn't have to sleep on an air mattress. Well then, I started to be happier because we boughted more stuff and my mom bought me boots after the housefire and that's it!

As most of the kids alluded to, one gain from the fire is that we are at a much better place financially than we have ever been before in our life as a married couple and family.

Because of the fire and the insurance coverage we had with Allstate, we now have a beautifully restored like-new home.

For the first time in our marriage, most of our furniture is new (read, not falling apart or made out of plastic) and we have the rooms decorated by color schemes and themes. We were able to buy a nice, used truck for Jim that has been such a reliable work-horse. And, the best part in my opinion, is that we were able to afford to not only pay for Jim and my Swaziland mission trip costs this past fall, but take our friend Kelly with us.

Besides just helping us get to Africa short-term, the fire is going to help us move to Africa for the long-term. Just a week or so before the fire, I was looking at the house and all the things that would have to be done if God moved us overseas and we had to sell it --- paint EVERTHING, replace the carpet and linoleum, repair so many things, get rid of so much stuff, etc. etc. It really was overwhelming. I despaired and thought "Lord, how will we ever get this house ready to sell with all of us living in it?"

Well, God may not have made the fire happen but He surely didn't stop it. And as a result, we lost about 90% of our stuff which means that when we go to sell it and then pack up to move in less than three years from now, we'll have a whole lot less to deal with. Our house is also updated and fixed and will be easier to sell. Plus, it is just a nicer, cleaner home to live in. It is so awesome to not freak out about company coming over because with less stuff, there just isn't as much mess.

And ultimately, God used it to teach us just to trust Him more and not put our security in stuff that really doesn't matter in the light of eternity.

Jim and I have talked and we both can honestly say that if we were given the choice of the fire never happening, we wouldn't choose that. We didn't enjoy a lot of aspects of the recovery process. It was sad to lose precious things such as Jim's grandmother's cherry table and my wedding china, but God so made up for it.

To be honest, for me, just being able to go to Swaziland and take Kelly to Africa with us made it worth the fire and all the hassle that went with it.

But what a God He is who overwhelmed us with so many blessings after the fire that I can't even do them justice here.

All I can say is that I am so very, very thankful for a creative, miracle working Father who never lets us down and truly can turn even something that seems like a tragedy into something of love and value.

I also want to thank each of you who played a part in being that blessing.

What a life of gracious provision we have been given.


Coffee Bean said...

Oh Elysa...

I am still overwhelmed when I think of our trip to Africa. Some parts of it I just can't wrap my mind around. My life has been so crazy since I came home that I often wonder what the point of the trip was for me when I can't even really process it... but, I know that God has a plan and that there was/is a purpose... even if I don't know what it is yet. I look forward to the day when it all comes together and makes sense for me.

As for y'all... I love you. Thank you so much for sharing your lives with me!

Elysa said...

Well, maybe you need to take another trip to Swaziland...say in about 4 help get clarity. ;)

But seriously, you're right. God orchestrated it too well for it not to have been ordained by Him. And as you said, Romans 8:28 holds true!

I love you,