Friday, July 19, 2013

Mercy Amidst the Storms

Last year at the end of June, the mountain behind my home caught fire.

I remember calling my husband and basically.. well freaking out, and he didn't seem to think it was that big of a deal... So, I sent him pictures. He still didn't seem to worried. He was working late and I was pregnant and I was afraid to fall asleep. Through the night the "contained" fire spread down the mountain.
The next morning, the fire looked better, Mike got ready for work and about 15 minutes later, the fire had spread rapidly down our mountain and was dangerously close.

 We had huge tankers flying close to our homes back and forth from the lake to the mountain. 

(I couldn't figure out how to get the video to post on the blog, it's worth a look. This is a video a friend in the neighborhood took.) you'll have to copy paste the URL

It was out of control. Thankfully, I was concerned enough the day before where I had put together all of our pictures, important files, my wedding dress and had started packing a bag. I was grateful for this as we were leaving and the evacuation order came in. "Get your family and GET OUT OF HERE". As we were driving off we heard and saw a lot of commotion. Later we found out it was because as we drove down our street, the wind picked up and brought the fire here:
My house is the 3rd house in.
and here:
This is just the street behind me.

We were evacuated for almost 3 days and when we went back we were all in a bit of shock. We were SO grateful the firefighters were able to stop it. That was a little too close for me.
Red Cross set up at the highschool and we were all told that there was going to be a meeting with an official update on the fire. The evac order had been lifted. I stood there when our Mayor, Mia Love, came to talk to the person I was standing with. She firmly mentioned that we needed to put up sand bags quick.

This next part of my post was something I wrote in my journal on Sunday. As I wrote, I decided I wanted to post it here on this blog. I'm going to just type what I wrote, so bear with the "journal" feel :)

It's Sunday and the kids were just put down for their naps. I have a few thoughts running through my mind. Impressions that I can feel the Lord trying to get through to me. It's been a year since the big fire and a few months shy of a year since the mudslide/flood. It's been a particularly rainy week and the flood victims have been on my mind a lot. I remember that day like it was yesterday. -- Our little family had such a great day. We had just finished our own personal pizzas

notice claire's face... that girl loves a mess.
and dishing out peach crisp made from the peaches from my mom's peach tree. The rain was POURING down. We opened up our windows to hear it all come crashing down. - We sat in our front room giggling at all of the excitment.


HUGE hail. 

As soon as it clamed down, Mike ran out so he could take a picture of it. 

As you can see, his hands aren't small and those hail stones are pretty darn big. Little did I know how precious that hail was. -- I was pregnant with Ben and the rushing rain reminded me that I needed to .. well...go to the bathroom. (well!)  ....... 
Mike started pounding on the door saying that our neighbor had stopped by saying our friends' homes at the bottom of the hill was flooding. - I knew he needed to go help but I didn't take it too seriously as we live in a developing area and it is easy for rain to build up in the window wells because many of the homes hadn't put their yard it yet and there was just nothing to hold it back sometimes. ... But Mike sounded frantic when he said "Marji (our neighbor) was in tears, I need to go right now."  I still wasn't thinking it was a big deal, but said "Ok". He left and I started getting the kids ready for bed.. After a few minutes Mike came back in the house, pale as a ghost. He said the homes were being destroyed- that it could be a total loss, then went right back outside. I was a little scared, but trying to be calm as the kids were really scared. -- It got dark and I was getting really worried, so I decided to drive down and see if everyone was okay. Mike had parked in the middle of the drive way and taken his keys, so we were stuck. Finally after more time had passed, I pulled out of garage by driving on our grass-- I started heading down the hill, my heart sunk. A flood of this magnitude didn't even cross my mind. I had never seen anything like it before. Even just remembering it now brings sobs to my heart. -- Flood was an understatement. There was a CAR floating in the retention park and the park was full and overflowing. The water rushed like a rapid river through our friends' homes. Crashing through their back basement windows and then quickly breaking through their front basement windows and spewing out like several broken fire hydrants. Their basements were filled to the ceilings. This home is our good friends house the next day:

 During the flash flood, the mountain couldn't hold it and ash, mud, dead animals.. all came rushing down the burn scar of the mountain. 
This is our friend at the opening of our neighborhood. This is next door to the video above.

I couldn't get the video on the blog for some reason, but to get the full feel of what happened, you have to watch this. You'll have to copy paste the url 

I was floored. There wasn't anything anyone could do.- I drove around making sure everyone was safe and notified our block captain. As I was driving home, I saw a woman who was visiting our neighbor sopping wet and walking. She said the only way home from Redwood (the main road near our home) was to walk.  She said multiple homes on the other side of the park had been severely flooded and that one was a total loss.(Thankfully it worked out for that home) 
My heart sunk deeper as I went to my across the street neighbor's house who was housing our friends whose home was flooding (the one who took the video of it actually happening above). Their sweet children had faces and eyes that were blood shot from tears and screaming with fear. -- It was something I will never forget.
I took Sam and Claire home and started to pray. Mike didn't get home until 4:30 am and was covered from head to toe with toxic sludge. Then he went right back out there later that morning.

Church was called off the next day and literally thousands of people came from all over the state to our rescue. THIS was a travesty.
The next week was fast and testimony meeting. One my one the people in our ward came to the podium, speaking not of grief, but of miracles. I was overwhelmed with one particular testimony that could have been titled, "The Miracle of the Hailstorm".   (whew, I'm getting emotional just going back in my mind).  Of the 13-15 homes that were effected in our ward, many of the homes had finished basements with entertainment rooms, kitchens and their children's rooms down there. It was a Saturday night. Some of the kids were out playing in the rain (We were seriously tempted to go play in it too) ....... and then the hail came. The enormous hail stones brought everyone inside and upstairs before the crashing water tore through their homes.

Not one person was hurt. The children were upstairs and inside because of this hailstorm. This flood took out iron fences, pushed cars to the middle of parks and wiped out trees... but no children.

This story brings humbling tears to my soul. The Lord's mercy was found in a hail storm.

What are the "hailstorms" in our lives? The hail on that day was big, loud and could've been painful if you were in it. Do we ever feel like there are big, possibly dangerous things going on in our lives? Are they "loud" or all encompassing? - Do we get scared or irritated? Impatient? Perhaps it would help if we would take a step back and have faith.  
"God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of sea; Though the waters thereof be troubled.......God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her... 
Be still and know that I am God." Psalms 46.
What miracles will come forth from our "hailstorms?" What paths are they leading us to and why? Could it be that the very storms that overwhelm us are actually the very thing protecting us from our destruction?
I have an overwhelming faith that God is in the details of every one of our lives.-- The things we can see before our eyes and the countless miracles that are continually happening with out us even being aware of it. I have a stronger desire to trust in God and do my best. Because a combination of those things will land me where right where God wants me to be.  Whether that be in a period of drought or plenty - it is all in His hands and there is a purpose. His ways are higher then our ways and we just may not understand, but I do know that it is HIS work and GLORY to bring to pass our Eternal life (Moses 1:39) and happiness. It is all apart of our earthly curriculum. 

This realization has brought so much comfort to me. I honestly feel "still". I see the troubled waters, I see that things aren't going perfectly - But I know I am doing my best to do my best :). And with that come promises that I hold tightly to. This brings a very real peace to my soul

I know that this is sort of a "deep" post. But reflecting on these past experiences had such a enlightening effect on me that I really wanted to share that it may possibly have the same for you.:) If we look, we WILL find God's mercy, even in the storms. 

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