Two things I've learned from the Southern California fires.
Unless you've been hiding under a rock you've probably heard about all of the fires here in Southern California. So California is huge (duh) and what baffles me is that four huge fires have popped up all within two days of each other and they're all right here where we live. California is so big and yet, they're all within a small hour radius. I'll admit, I know nothing about fires and I know they say embers can fly but this is just crazy. So crazy. It almost seems unreal.
Thank goodness we are smack dab in the middle of all of the fires, pretty much as far away as we can get. Well, we're as far away as we can get, living in the LA/Ventura area. So right now, I am just thankful that all is well here at home so far.
While we haven't had any close calls and I haven't really been super worried up to this point, I sure have learned a lot of things the past couple of days about the world and about myself.
What I've learned from the Southern California fires.
First thing's first...
The morning after the fires broke out I texted my husband asking him what he would want if we needed to evacuate. We've been talking about getting a list together for literally years now and just never have written anything down. So I thought this was the perfect time to get a list going so I would know what we wanted in the case of an emergency or a quick evacuation. He named off a couple of items and then I begin thinking about what I would want to take.
I wandered the house and couldn't think of anything. Maybe a couple of the pricier gifts under the Christmas tree? Maybe my coats or shoes or any of the more expensive clothes that I own? I know it may all sound silly but I couldn't think of anything I really needed. I didn't know what to stuff into that huge suitcase I had pulled out just in case we needed it.
In the past when I've thought about this, I really thought, "hey, I'll just scoop up a bunch of clothes from my closet and anything I can grab it and throw them into a suitcase before we leave." But in this moment of realizing that there could very well be a real emergency that day or in the next couple of days, my mind sort of went blank.
The only thing I could think of was my mom's wedding ring. And in that moment, nothing else mattered besides that ring and my babies. All day long we stayed home and watched the news to keep up to date on everything that was going on and the firelines that were headed our way.
And still, I couldn't think of anything I would really NEED to grab.
Especially as we are approaching the season of giving gifts and material things, I've realized more than ever that all of those material things just don't matter. Of course they're fun and that's not going to stop me from giving gifts because that something I love to do but in the grand scheme of things they just don't matter.
I ended up packing up my mom's ring, Frank's dad's wedding band, a first communion dress that has been in my family for generations, the last letter my mom wrote to me before she passed away, our safe filled with important documents, my camera, my computer and a couple of printed photos here and there.
And that's all.
Nothing else. Because everything else I could think of is replaceable. Everything I felt the need to take with me in an emergency fit into one suitcase and yet our home is filled with so many "things" that I surely could live without.
And as I've watched the news for hours on end and I've seen the countless interviews from families whose homes have been burned down, it's been so eye-opening to hear all of these families say the exact same thing. "Our family is safe and all of those "things" can be replaced."
And that is some powerful stuff, especially coming from someone who has just lost everything.
And the second important lesson I've learned:
The world is full of so much compassion, kindness and love, despite what the news portrays daily.
I watched one news anchor chase after a German Shepherd who was frightened and running around frantically, catch him and put him into the truck of a stranger passing by. She did everything she could to save that scared dog's life and a random stranger took the dog into their arms and drove him to safety. Strangers, people.
Two strangers saved a dog's life just because they could.
And then all of those texts and messages started flooding in – – Sarah and Taylor, ladies who I've only met a couple of times in person, both offered up their homes if we needed a place to stay. Alli texted me letting me know that she was praying for my family, and I've only met her a couple of times in person as well. Cassie, someone whom I've only met via Instagram sent me a message saying she had seen the news and wanted to make sure our family was okay.
You guys, these are all people who I barely know.
We talk about hate in this world so often that I've started to believe the world was no longer a good place. But all of these ladies who I barely know were there to support me and comfort me and offer me everything they had. They offered all of that to me, a stranger, and if that isn't proof that this world is full of good, amazing, genuine people then I don't know what is.
Family, not things, are what matter the most. Relationships, good and genuine relationships, matter. Love matters and grace matters and compassion and kindness and if you look, you'll see that the world IS full of all of this. The world is good -- we just have to open our eyes to see it.