It is an unsettling sensation to be packing your car, realizing anything that you leave behind could be destroyed.
I had seen the billows of smoke earlier in the day, and recognized that it seemed closer than normal, but I hadn't put much more thought into it. Then around 3:30pm on Wednesday, Cameron called me from work to let me know that I needed to prepare for a potential evacuation. The fire was only 10 miles from town.
At this point I basically panicked because I had no idea what this really meant. I had no idea if an evacuation was coming within the next hour or the next few days, so I frantically started packing. You don't realize how much stuff you have until you are about to potentially lose it all.
I threw a bunch of clothes in a suitcase (mostly our hiking clothes for some reason) and started pacing in random directions looking for things we couldn't replace.
Obviously I grabbed the plastic lobster that I have had since our family vacation to Maine in the 5th grade. Ir-re-placeable! But I also grabbed our wedding album, souvenirs from around the world, photos, family heirlooms, and a few things from our wedding. Add to that the camping equipment in case of evacuation, instruments, and the 2 dogs and the car was getting pretty full.
Honestly, the longer I spent in the house waiting, the more random stuff got shoved into my car. Children's books, coats, notebooks, Christmas decorations (in my defense, my ornaments span my lifetime and each hold special significance, so they were coming with me!), and the box of encouraging letters people have written me over the years.
Everyone kept saying, "it's just stuff," but the "stuff" I have all has sentimental value so it was harder than it seemed to face the potential of losing our new home and the life that we had built within it. I knew it could in a way be replaced, but there was a lot of anxiety involved as I tried to make these hard decisions on my own. I also knew that Cameron was going to give me a quizzical look when he discovered what I had deemed as important, but the best decisions aren't generally made in the midst of a panicked pre-evacuation notice.
For days I drove around with my car full of our possessions, waiting anxiously for the call that could come at any moment. I had no clue what was going to happen and Cameron was still required to go to work so that made me even more nervous. Eventually he needed his clothes back, so we brought the stuff inside, but it is still ready to be packed into the car if an evacuation is called.
I will be honest, my heart is breaking as each acre burns. Cameron just texted me that since yesterday the fire has increased to over 26,000 acres. This land is beautiful and it has been a source of peace, joy, and freedom for me as I have lived and worked on this mountain. God gave us this land to protect and I have shed some tears for the loss of its beauty. It won't be easy when all of this is over to go see the damage that has been done. This land is precious to me and 26,000 acres have been burned to the ground.
So what now?
The fire continues to spread, the workers increase, and the constant flow of helicopters and small planes soar over our home that we are so gratefully still sleeping in. As days have gone by we have been able to relax a little bit, but the danger isn't over. The firefighters and crews (over 700 of them) are still working day and night to contain the fire and keep it from coming closer to our town. We truly owe these men and women our lives and the livelihood of our town.
We believe that your prayers have kept us from an evacuation thus far, and therefore we need your prayers to continue. Another community has been added to the pre-evacuation status and the fire continues to burn. We need you to pray miraculous prayers for this fire to become 100% contained and the pre-evacuation notice to be lifted. We want our firefighters and crews to be able to go home to their families and our lives to go back to normal. We believe that God will be faithful.
Certainly this experience has made us appreciate one other and gain perspective on what is truly important in this life and what is fleeting. Yes, it was scary to imagine losing everything, but God would still have been good to us. You guys are proof of that. Your prayers and thoughts have changed our lives.
We are so grateful for the community that holds us up in uncertain times. Lucy the plastic lobster, Bean and Mango the dogs, and Cameron and I all send our love and thanks to everyone. God is good. . . ALL the time.