This was our view from the car as we drove away from our home.
It was two years ago yesterday, Labor Day. We never saw it again.
God had graciously given us twenty minutes. An amazing, wonderful, extraordinary gift. Twenty minutes might not seem like much, but when you're evacuating for a wildfire, twenty minutes is nothing short of miraculous.
We weren't at home when the whole thing started. We had gone into Houston. We were on our way back, planning to stop for some supper before heading home. Thankful now for the faithfulness of Sandy. She was our church piano player and a Godly lady. She called to check on us, knowing the fire was in our area. It was the first we had heard about it. The girls and I considered going on with our plans. After all, wildfires aren't unheard of in the area. There had been one on Father's Day, and it had missed us. But after praying we knew we needed to head home.
So thankful we did. That's when the twenty minutes started ticking away.
As soon as we drove into the driveway it was evident our home was in danger. Adrenaline was not in short supply. I couldn't think. My body was in overdrive. I couldn't prioritize my time. I needed help. The three of us stopped and prayed right there on that driveway. We prayed for safety and we prayed for peace. And He gave it abundantly. We praised Him on that driveway as the One who gives and we praised Him as the One who takes away. Because no matter what happened we were going to praise Him.
I called my brother-in-law. He helped me think. He told me what to grab and what order to grab it. We were able to gather important papers, scrapbooks, books, clothes, quilts, and, most importantly, cats.
Those twenty minutes went by in a matter of seconds. And then a police officer in the driveway. Waving to neighbors who may no longer be neighbors. And the smoke. The crazy, thick, can-hardly-breath smoke.
And then it was over. We were in the car. Where do we go? What do we do? How am I supposed to take care of these kids?
I didn't have to. He took care of it all.
Friends opened their home to us and fed us meals. The community supported us through donations and meeting basic needs. My school collected money and offered furniture, clothing, and anything else you could think of.
We were never alone. Not in the smoke-filled driveway. Not in the car driving away for what we knew would be the last time. Not standing in a friend's living room watching our house burn on TV. Never alone. Never.
We didn't make it out with much. But we got out with more than enough. So thankful.