it's a year to the day since my family and i were evacuated from the place i've called home for twenty-five years due to a wildfire. i will never, ever forget that night and the lessons i learned. we thought we had lost everything (our home, garage, land, and daddy's tire business), but when we pulled into our driveway to find our livelihood untouched, it put so much into perspective. materialism, pride, and ungratefulness were brought to light as i sat on my bed, reflecting on the previous five hours. as i remember the emotions and events of that night, i also think of the lessons learned.

never, ever, ever, ever believe what you read on facebook. notice that before, i mentioned that we "thought" we had lost everything? yeah... that was because i was reading real time updates from people who post facebook statuses without thinking about what their words can do to others. i'm getting heated all over again. breathe. when you read that a building is destroyed and your home is right next door, it's devastating, especially for my parents who have worked so dang hard to provide for our family. next time you are about to hit the send button on a tweet or status, ask yourself if it is beneficial to those who will read it? will it encourage or inspire them? i understand the occasional vent sesh, but our words have the power to give or crush.

material items are just things. i'm was aware of that prior to the evacuation, but it became real to me. i was praying for our home, shop, property, belongings. i feared that everything was gone. but why? my heart was more focused on things rather than the God i love, plain and simple. after that realization, i asked for forgiveness and boldly declared that no matter what happened, i would trust the Lord with all my heart. possessions are just things. they offer temporary fills, and when the thrill wears off, it's on to the next useless item. the possessions i owned couldn't hold value to my faith, my family, and the relationships with others. the day after the fire, i cleaned out my closet and donated two trashbags full of clothes. i've done this twice in the last three hundred and sixty-five days. it's not to toot my own horn or show how good i am. i am not good; i am a dirty, rotten sinner. but the Lord showed me that nothing i can buy will ever amount to the free gift of salvation through the shed blood of Jesus.

God is always with me. after i thought everything had turned to ashes, i got on my knees and prayed. i thanked Him for my family's safety. in the end, that was all that mattered. material items can be replaced, my parents or my brother or my cat cannot. as i sat in my grandma's kitchen, surrounded by my family and the few items i grabbed, i felt His peace wash over me. i knew He was right there with me. amid the uncertainty, i felt a sense of joy because i knew that no matter what happened, my Jesus was walking right beside me all the way.

i found a journal entry written a few days after the fire that reminds me to live out proverbs 3:5:

fear will cripple me if i let it.
it will break me down and steal my joy.
being held captive by fear is not what God intended for me.

but in my moments of weakness, He is there.
through the tears, He knows my pain.
in my cries, He hears my plea.

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