Musings from the wildfire … on being served
First of all, thanks to everyone who has recently stopped by for the first time after seeing my recent post at Passionate Homemaking! My hope is that you will be encouraged in just the way you may need to be right now from something I’ve written.
And now for more thoughts regarding the recent wildfire in our area (read here for more about this “series” of sorts). First, I have to report that the fire is now 100% contained as of a few days ago. We thank God for this and are grateful for the way that countless firefighters, other emergency responders, and hundreds (thousands?) of local volunteers have served the local community and those who lost their homes. It really is amazing to watch!
In that vein, our family was also greatly served while evacuated. The fire began within miles of us on a Saturday and by 1 am on Sunday morning, we received notice that our town was being evacuated. I was overwhelmed by the multiple offers we had from people willing to take us in – people were so generous! We ended up with some dear friends from church who already have 4 kids and a dog, but who didn’t seem to hesitate a bit when telling us to come on over. These friends gave up a room in the coolest part of their house (while they slept in the hot upstairs) for us, loved on all of us like we were blood family, and encouraged us to make ourselves at home. Oh, and did I mention that they welcomed our dog even though she doesn’t normally do well with other dogs, (thankfully, our dogs did wonderfully together – they played for 2 straight days!) and that they were gracious even when she pooped on their carpet [insert cringe here]? Despite the circumstances, it really was a sweet few days of living life together (the 10 of us!) – I will treasure that time forever, especially as they are getting ready to move cross-country. In addition, my entire family got to watch pure generosity in action!
After 2 days with our friends, we moved back home, only to leave again 12 hours later due to high heat and smoky air in our town. A friend who lives 1/2 hour east of us had invited us to join her and her family at the beginning of the fire, so on late Tuesday night, we took her up on her offer. Before I continue, let me share that my friend’s husband is deployed and she has 3 kids, ages 4, 3, and 1. However, she invited us in at 10:30 pm Tuesday night and even had fresh chocolate chip cookies baking when we got there! I know what you’re thinking – you are wishing you had such a friend … and you should – she is incredible! My friend had her kids sleep in her room so we could have 2 rooms to ourselves, thus ensuring better sleep for us. She was laid-back about the nonstop activity of having 5 kids, ages 4 and under, in her house, even when the boys got into some, ahem, “interesting” shenanigans. She laughed it off when our dog pooped not once, but twice, on her bedroom floor (apparently being out of our home/routine even made the dog “out of sorts!”). Seriously, this friend had a wonderful perspective about opening her home to us, despite the craziness it often brought during those 3 days. I learned much from her.
And here are other amazing things about both sets of friends who opened their homes to us – they didn’t get stressed out because their house got dirtier because we were there. They didn’t care when we called and said, “Can we come? Yes? Ok, we’ll be there in 15-30 minutes.” One family’s kids wished we didn’t have to leave when we decided to return home. I realize it was not easy to have 4 extra people and a dog in their homes, but they didn’t hesitate to have us come. They both opened their homes and their lives to us in incredible ways, never making us feel like a burden. What a gift.
And what a challenge. Am I like that? Would I be willing to open our home to others at a moment’s notice and not stress out about the condition of the house? Would I create an atmosphere in which they felt like part of our family, and never that I viewed them as burdens? And do we teach our kids to do the same? To share their toys unselfishly (granted, this is a bit challenging when our kids are 1.5 and 3!) and to be ok with others being in their space? Basically, am I willing to use what God has generously given us to be generous toward others?
I am grateful for how our friends served us, and grateful for the way in which they challenged me to do the same for others.