Not Just Stuff

One month ago today my house burned to the ground.  On the one hand, it is all I can think about.  On the other, it hits me anew every little while.  I have much to be thankful for…more than I could possibly tell.  But there is much to mourn as well.

Some, wanting to find the bright side, have pointed out that it is just stuff.  That things can be replaced but people can’t.  This is absolutely true.  If I’ve said it once in the past weeks, I’ve said it a hundred times: we are incredibly grateful to be dealing with the aftermath of this destruction instead of planning a funeral.  I’d go through all of this mess a thousand times rather than lose my family.

Plates and pillows and books can (mostly) simply be bought again.  Toothpaste and underwear and t-shirts and laundry soap and needle and thread can all be found at Target or Wal-Mart or wherever.

But at the same time, our home was precious.  It was full of memories of dinners, discipleship, teaching, laughter, and family holidays.  It takes my breath away to think of all the amazing things that happened in that living room.  I can’t begin to count the number of people who spent time there or how many made a cup of coffee from our wonderful coffee maker.  And I won’t even get started on the study.

the kitchen after the fire

So many things are truly irreplaceable. Things like the vintage blue coat that belonged to my great aunt.  And the journal I wrote in when I found out I was expecting Torey.  Like Kyle’s senior boots.  And the German language section from Luther’s commentary on Psalms that was almost 500 years old.  The little notes that my sweet sentimental daughter saved because they reminded her she was loved.  The paintings that hung in my kitchen that were created by my great aunt Frances (who died years ago).  Or the photographs of newly integrated students my dad took in the early 1970s (and doesn’t have the negatives for any longer).  And the star wars belt I proudly wore when I was 6.

wearing the coat on my birthday a few years ago

These things are gone.  And while they are just that–things–there is something eternal and spiritual that was in them.  We are working on saying goodbye to these things but it isn’t easy.  And I don’t think it should be.  Ten years of planning, saving, hard work by Kyle and me, and making our home more and more hospitable went up in flames.  We feel the loss in our bank account and that is hard.  We feel it in the ways our lives are turned upside down (which has, in turn, turned the lives of other people we love upside down).  But today I am thinking about the loss of things that were a lot more than just stuff.

my bible (streams in the desert was stacked on top of it)

Yesterday, I heard a sermon on James 5.  I am asking God to make verse 11 true in my family’s life:  “We count those blessed who endured.  You have heard of the endurance of Job and have the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.” And He is.  I have seen it.


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