Tuesday, October 23, 2007

S.D. Wildfires Update

Blogs are often good sources to get personal story segments whenever a natural disaster strikes. LGF is generally a good source. Tailrank has a huge list of articles/blogposts too.

Late yesterday afternoon, my husband got a call from his boss asking us, if need be, could he and several family members evacuate (for a second time!) and stay at our home. Our answer was OF COURSE! We got busy preparing my daughter's empty room, cleaned the house up a bit, and got out the extra pillows and blankets.

Fortunately, as the evening progressed they found out that they did not need to be uprooted again. The news broadcasts informed them that there was no need to evacuate a second time because they were deemed safe where they were. Thus, they did not join us last night.

During the night, my son stayed up to keep an eye on the news. My husband and I kept falling asleep and waking up to see the updates about the wildfires on the various T.V. news stations.

Our two dogs [puggle (2 yrs.) and american eskimo (14 yrs.)] sensed that things were not right. They often displayed nervous behavior. I tried to calm and comfort them.

Early this morning, I got up, took a shower and headed out to the grocery store. Called Stater Bros. at 6:03 a.m. to see what time they opened. Headed out at 6:15. It was still dark. The air smelled of smoke and there were flurries of ashes all over our cars and driveway. There were very few cars on the road. Normally, most people would have been headed for work at that time.

When I reached the store, there were only about 6 cars in the parking lot! The smoke and ash in that area wasn't as bad. I went in and bought lots of food just in case any of our friends needed to evacuate over to our home.

I only noticed about 5 people shopping. Employees were busy re-stocking shelves down each aisle. One young man (looked to be about 28 yrs. old?) walked by, then came back and said, "you smell good!" I was kinda embarrassed, but then said, "Yeah...better than the smoke outside!" That Ulta Mandarin Mimosa body lotion does wonders! ;-) It was nice to smile again.

At the checkout stand, I was the only idiot with a cart full of food. Did others know something that I didn't know? I started to think that maybe I went shopping way too soon!

As I left the store, the sun had already risen and was shining through the light, smoky air. All around, the smoke filled air made it seem like a cloudy day. Yet, there were no clouds in the sky. It would have been nice if there were rain clouds! We could REALLY have used the rain!!

As I drove back to our home, I noticed what looked like a red glow from behind a mountain in the distance. My heart sank and I said, "Oh no..." I worried that another fire had started and it was heading our way!

As I drove further east, I then realized that the red glow was coming from the sun!! The sun was a big red ball up in the sky. It was a very eerie thing to behold.

It recalled to my mind the account in Scripture when our Lord Jesus spoke of the "red sky" in Matthew:

Mat 16:1
THEN the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven.
Mat 16:2
He answered and said to them, "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red';
Mat 16:3
"and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.
Mat 16:4
"A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah." And He left them and departed.

The air was growing thicker with gray smoke the closer I got to our house. When I pulled into the driveway, there was black soot everywhere! The heavy smoke choked me as I rushed carrying the groceries through the garage into the house. Each time I returned to my car, my footprints were visible in the ash on the driveway.

My son and husband entered the kitchen just as I shut the garage door. My clothes smelled like smoke and ash! I chuckled to myself, thinking, "No more mandarin mimosa scent for you!" [For Seinfeld fans...remember the soup nazi episode?]

Our backyard pool was covered with ash and the wind was swirling the black soot into piles on our patio. By this time it was very dark outside and the house smelled like smoke. My husband thought that we should pack, leave, and spend the night at a hotel.

Sometime within the hour I spent packing essentials, I didn't even notice that the wind had shifted again and blew the smoke and ash away until my husband mentioned it! Eventually, the sun began to shine through, too!

Nevertheless, we are now packed and ready to go on a moment's notice. The news has been warning that things can change dramatically as a result of wind shifts. My husband started packing all the important papers etc. yesterday. I got the dog stuff packed and some toiletries and groceries that we could take with us. So far, we have been lucky enough to stay put.

We are anxiously waiting to hear about the fate of friends and co-workers' homes. During our prayers before our meal last night, my husband led us through a prayer of thanksgiving for God's protection, a prayer for protection of loved ones and all who could still be in harms way, and peace and comfort for those who have tragically lost everything due to this devastating disaster. The magnitude of it all probably won't sink in until all the statistics are in.

I heard on the news that one elderly person who was evacuated had died last night. As far as I know, just two people have been killed. That's amazing. Of course no deaths would have been better, but the fact that so many people listened and evacuated in time is a blessing in the midst of this tragedy.

As I was busily unpacking the groceries, my husband came over and put his arms around me. He said, "Happy Anniversary," kissed me, and handed me two small boxes with pretty bows wrapped around them.

I had almost forgotten that it was our 24th wedding anniversary today!

He gave me a beautiful sterling silver necklace with a heart on the end that had a gold heart within it. It is beautiful!! The next box contained matching earrings. I wanted to put them on! But my skin was dirty from the ash that had settled on me from being outside.

I hugged and kissed my wonderful husband for his thoughtful and gorgeous gift for me!!!

I noticed that he had packed our wedding album and all the family pictures we had around the house. I want to spend some time looking at the photos again and reminiscing about that special day when we took our wedding vows. Little did I know (how ironic that it was a rainy autumn day!) that day in 1983, that we would have two wonderful adult children. Little did I know that we would last this long!! As my husband said last year..."I have never done anything that lasted for 23 years!" haha! I can truly say that our faith in Jesus Christ has gotten us through the best and the worst of times.

We had planned to go out to dinner to celebrate. However, we will most likely cook a dinner together here at home tonight. We are filled with thanks to the Lord for each other. We praise Him for the joy of our years spent with our Christ-centered children, the fun we have with our dogs, the life and times that we all enjoy together, and the protection and safety we have experienced at our home during this devastating disaster.

Nothing else compares in this life to knowing Jesus Christ and realizing his promise of eternal life in Him.

God has blessed us so much; even through this tragedy. In our case, to whom much is given, much is required. We will help those in need with donations.

It is my continuing prayer that those who do not know the gospel will be turned towards the Lord through this disaster. What Satan has meant for evil, God can turn into good.

As stated in my Talk Wisdom purpose blog description:

Jesus is our Savior, Lord, and King, and no matter what happens in this fallen world, His love needs to be shed abroad in our hearts and in our world - now.
P.S. Out of 20 friends and co-workers, only 3 (including our family) did not have to be evacuated! Just heard that one family (out of the 17 we are waiting to hear from) went back to their home and it was O.K.!! Praise God! Another possible praise report: we heard (through the grapevine so we still need confirmation about this) that my husband's boss' home was spared...on a block where several homes had burned down! Another prayer answered!


Susan Smith said...

Dear Christine:

This is one of the most awesome and edifying posts you have ever written. God often uses His people the most during tragic times. He only uses those who are available and He only uses willing vessels.

The Lord of the universe continues to use you to touch hearts and minds all over the world with His love and grace. God bless you and your family. (ss)

John J. Kaiser said...

I am glad I rediscovered your blog. I seem to lose tracks of blogs often thanks to my reliance on Wordpress. Keep up the excellent blogging.


Anna said...

Hi Christine -

We continue to pray for your family's safety, as well as that of your friends and co-workers.

Life has a way of changing in a heartbeat. How comforting to know He holds me in the palm of His hand.


Doug said...

You guys be careful out there! Keep us posted please.

Christinewjc said...

Dear Susan,

It is my hearts desire to share Christ with anyone who will listen to the gospel message. It thrills me when friends like you acknowledge my efforts to allow the Lord to use me as a willing vessel. It took many years of my fleshly life to get to that point...believe me! As always, all the glory, honor and praise belongs to our Lord.

My husband just received the fantastic news today (during a 12:00 p.m. conference call since the office is closed all week) that every one of our friends and co-workers homes were spared in this tragedy!! Now THATS a spectacular answer to prayer!

When my husband, son, and I prayed for them several nights ago during our mealtime prayer, we had no idea how God would move in their lives. Many are not Christians (yet!). However, they know that Charlie and I are.

I do have to be careful not to "proselytize" Charlies' co-workers. That's a big politically incorrect no-no! However, I will be sure to tell each one separately that we prayed for them, and for God's protection over their homes and property. Nothing wrong with planting a seed...right?

Thank you, as always for your kind words of encouragement. You certainly helped to lift my spirit up during this worriesome time!

God bless you!

Your sincere heart for the Lord and uplifting kindness towards your "little" sister in Christ shines through so brilliantly. It is especially needed during this difficult, sleepless-nights time.

Love you,

Christinewjc said...

Hey John,

I'm glad to read that you rediscovered my blog! I glanced at your wordpress blog and must say congrats on losing weight and "firming up"! I'm jealous!! I can be so lazy when it comes to exercise and diet...

Thanks for your kind compliment about my blog. I hope you will visit often!

BTW, saw your other comment and added you to the list of Christian blogs in that post. Also added you to my blogroll so I can find you quickly from now on!

God bless!

Christinewjc said...

Hi Anna,

Thanks so much for your kind thoughts and your prayers for our family and friends. So many prayers have been answered...it's astounding!

I know that you have been going through some tough times. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers, too.

Yes. Life can change in a heartbeat. That is why we must cling to the One who never changes! His promises are new every morning. He is our Rock and our salvation. No matter what happens in this world, knowing and having Jesus Christ in our lives gives us hope in the present and confidence in the future of eternity with Him.

God bless!
In Christ,

Christinewjc said...

Hi Doug,

Thanks for caring so much about my family. I really appreciate it!

We had another scare in the middle of the night, but were not called to evacuate.

It seems like we have been living in a little cocoon; surrounded by the various fires but none have crossed into our path. How grateful we are to God!

The family that we feared had lost their home have informed us that it is still there! In fact, all 17 people whom we know had been evacuated had their homes spared!! We are so happy for all of them!! Some may think it is only coincidence. But I won't be convinced of that. Prayer works!

God bless!