One month ago this week I was unloading my car just to load it again. I was heading to North Carolina to speak for two events and I was excited. This was going to be a little road trip with my sister and my nieces. As my dad is helping me take out my wheel chair my mom came to the front door of our house and yelled outside to us that there was an alarm going off. Dad ran inside to see what was going on. Not really concerned I kept cleaning out my car thinking that dad would be back in a second to help me finish. All of the sudden my mom, dad and dog came rushing out the front door. My mom just kept yelling, "call 911 our house is on fire!" A bit confused I asked "What? Our house is on fire?" She said, ‘yes, your room is on fire!” “Your dad ran to the stairs where the smoke alarm was going off and your stair well is filled with smoke.” Dad went upstairs to see what was going on and saw that my bed was engulfed in flames. Then he rushed back down the stairs to get my mom (who was just released from the hospital) and our dog out of the house. What seemed like forever but was really only five minutes, 5 fire trucks, 2 additional fire vehicles, 2 police cars and an ambulance were at our house.
Smoke began to billow from the upstairs window and I just stood there in shock not knowing what to do. All I had ever been taught about a fire was to stop, drop and roll. But you only use that if you’re personally on fire. I wasn’t, but my entire life of “stuff” was and they don't teach you what to do if that happens. Now I have to admit that I am a bit of a hoarder. I keep just about everything; especially if it has sentimental value. It drives my parents and sister crazy but I can't help it. And now all of those years of memories were literally going up in smoke.
The fire fighters were there for about 5 hours. As soon as they left, two girl friends and I headed to Target. I had two speaking engagements to get to and I had to get stuff to take. What I began to realize is that I had nothing. Everything was gone. We shopped for everything that I would need for my 24 hour trip. I bought two dresses (one for each event), a tooth brush, a pair of pajamas and I thought I was done. But then one of the girls would remind me, Mandy, you need underwear! Oops, oh yeah! Then I would think I was done again and I would hear Hey Mandy, you need shampoo and hair brushes. Ooooh yeah! I seriously had to buy everything including a bag to pack it all in. As soon as I got back to the house to pack my bag and book a flight and could take a breath, I ventured up to my room. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The walls were stained with the look of charcoal. The entire house smelled as though someone had set up a grill in our living room and burned whatever it was cooking. The carpet was soggy and water logged. As I got to the top of my stairs and looked around, it was just dark. The entire room was ruined. My bed was burnt to a crisp. It honestly felt a little eerie. I just turned around and walked back downstairs. That night I stayed with a friend while mom and dad started staying at our new home, the hotel.
The night of the fire I only got about 3o minutes of sleep. I tossed and turned and couldn't go to sleep. The next morning I flew to NC. And I tell you what, God always puts you where you need to be. He knew months ago that I was going to face this little life lemon and put me with a church and fund raiser that He knew I was going to need at that moment. The trip to NC was totally worth it and I'm so glad that I went. The next morning (so not even 48 hours after the fire) I woke up to a text message from one of the Bella’s (my bible study girls). In that text message was a picture of a Bible and she asked it if was mine. I told her it was. This guy that she went to school with was working with the crew that was gutting my room and he posted a picture of my Bible. The caption with the picture said: "So I went to a fire job today. Upon inspection I found the bonus room to be a total loss but the absolute only thing that was not touched at all was this Bible that is on a charred up night stand. On the wall behind it was a cross looking soot stain on the wall! This is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. If this isn't proof for troubled people I don't know what is." My whole room was charred and the only thing that was untouched was my Bible.....how amazing is that!?!? And then the cross soot stain on the wall behind the Bible - if that doesn't tell you that God was all over this I don't know what does!
How can I be sad about losing all of my belongings when I know that my family and I got out okay and that God is all over this? I can't be upset when it's that apparent. While I was in NC I kept thinking about how this is just stuff. That this isn't what is important in life.
While lying in bed playing on my phone I clicked my Bible app to give me my verse of the day and it said, "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. -Colossians 3:1-2 That was just more confirmation to me. God has this so you don't need to worry! And I've really had a calmness and peace about the whole thing.
A couple of days later we found out that the cause of the fire was my slightly bent, iPhone 5 charger. We’ve learned that IPhone chargers have a reputation for catching on fire so BEWARE! IPhone chargers are also known to fray or bend. Mine was just slightly bent and that's what did it! I was one of those girls that said, it will never happen to me. Well it did! I want you to learn from my mistake and I pray that none of you have to go through what we are right now. Mine was an actual Apple iPhone charger; I'm starting to think that off name brands aren't so bad! So, please check your cords and if they have a fray or bend in/on them please toss them!
We are hotel living right now and honestly it's not too bad. With our new location, we are kind of enjoying living in the middle of everything. But, please keep my family in your prayers. Mom is still recovering from her kidney removal surgery (which was just 2 weeks before the fire happened). Please pray that everything runs smoothly for the renovations. The house has been sitting with nothing done to it for 3 weeks because of Insurance and mortgage paperwork, but we’re praying that's about to change. For those of you that knew about the fire, thank you for your prayers, notes, visits and kind words. We really appreciate each of you!
It may be Christmas, but be on the lookout for my new room reveal!!