October 26, 2017.
My mother’s home, which she shares with my stepdad and two brothers, went up in flames. One of my dogs made it out, but my 11-year-old mutt Killey died in the fire. The insurance company claimed it 100% loss, and with our assets grossly underinsured, the local community rallied together to donate money, coats, shoes, and other necessities to my family.
But, the community of Petoskey, Michigan, wasn’t the only group of people to step up. When my family in Christ, the Baptist Student Ministries Lead Team at UMHB, heard the news, they did not hesitate to donate all they could to my family. Experiencing that kind of togetherness with a group of people is rare, and my family and I have treasured it dearly.
October 26 was a rough day, for all of us. My stepdad, currently working for the State Department in Israel, was checking his Facebook feed when a live stream of the fire popped up by the Petoskey News-Review.
We were in the same situation: watching our house go up in flames while being hundreds and thousands of miles away, helpless. There was nothing for either of us to do but pray, cry, and pray some more. I will admit, the first hours of that discovery were dreamlike; it hit me hard, but part of me just could not adjust to this new reality. It felt like I must wake up soon, and all would be back to normal. But this charred house and reliance on the goodwill of others quickly became my family’s new normal.
But my new normal was the same. My family’s whole world stood on its head while I continued to babysit and turn in assignments and go home to my apartment every day. I felt guilty being cocooned in a safe, fire-free world. “I’m sorry that happened to you,” people said, but it did not happen to me–it happened to those I love while I get to keep most of my possessions. My mother kicked into action immediately to find clothes and toothbrushes for school the next day, as well as a new home. My mom has always been my superhero, but October 26 she took flight to provide for our family. I am consistently in awe of not only her determination but also her ability to praise God and to minister to others while simultaneously rebuilding from ashes. Through the fire, she had faith beyond that of a mustard seed. It is one thing to stubbornly hold onto one’s faith, but it’s another to actively pursue Jesus, grow the faith, and do His work while still reeling from the tragedy of a fire. And that’s what my mom did.
She was my rock, and through her anchorage, I found solid ground. I found, with her help, a deeper level of trust and understanding of God’s goodness. God is good and that truth is not dependent on the things we have, who surrounds us, or having a roof over our head. Once I let go of the expectation of comfort and predictability, I encountered a God who wants to bring me out beyond the shores of my life into the depths of His grace and mercy. Confidently, I praise God for this fire and for the faith it fueled as He brought us through this experience.UMHB Spiritual Life provides relationships, communities, ministries, and events that communicate and cultivate Christ likeness through service and leadership on and beyond the UMHB campus. For more information and opportunities to serve, we invite you to visit our website.