Personal Thoughts

Day Nineteen – Giving Thanks in November

When I was a junior in high school, each student was asked to write a paper on a defining moment in their life. I didn’t have to think twice. And still, 6 years later, the same moment I wrote about in that 11th grade English class continues to be one of the most defining days in my life.

November 19th, 2002, I was in the eighth grade. I was spoiled. I had so much STUFF, nick-knacks as I call them, that my parents had built shelves all the way around my room. I had more clothes than anyone I knew and I wanted for nothing. I went to school that morning as the girl with everything.

By noon, I was the girl who owned the Levi jeans she had on, an Abercrombie long sleeve tee, a pair of shoes, and the glasses on my face.  Yes, I still remember exactly what I was wearing ten years later.

Just as I remember the list of things I went over in my head and out loud as my Gangan unexpectedly checked me out of school that morning.  Who was hurt?  Had someone died?  I continued on down the list naming off people in my family until I stopped and said “Is my house on fire?”  She didn’t even have to answer me- the look in her eyes was enough as she nodded and said “Yes, baby.”

Just as I remember the first time I saw the dark black smoke rising above the trees as we turned on our road.  Just as I remember the smell of everything I own going up in flames.  Just as I remember a yard full of friends and family gathering as we watched our home continue to burn for hours.  Just as I remember the firefighters going in and out, in and out, and finally beginning to pull items- burned and covered in soot and and soaked with water from the firehoses, out of our home.

Those moments definitely define a huge part of who I am today.  It was my first taste of perspective.  Of what it means to find a silver lining in the worst of circumstances.  That day taught me about the things that can never be replaced, the home videos and photos, the poems I had written, things that we still miss to this today, but it also taught me that even the most treasured things are just that- things.

Things happen in this life that we may not understand no matter how hard we struggle to, no matter how many times we ask “Why?”  Sometimes though, it all clicks into place.  And years later, that is exactly what happened for me.

On April 27, 2011, a deadly tornado ripped through our state.  It killed over 30 people in our small county.  Justin, the kids, and I rode out the storm in my parent’s home- the home they bought after ours burned to the ground in 2002.  Had that house not burned, we would have all rode out the storm in it.  I have absolutely no doubt about that, because we always take shelter with my parents.  That tornado demolished everything around our old home place, injuring several and killing several too.   There was absolutely nothing but debris left where we use to live- my parent’s old sock mill? Gone.  Block buildings? Gone.  Steel beams were twisted, trees were snapped.

For the first time since our house burned, I found peace with it.  I looked around and I knew that if that house hadn’t burned, our family would not have survived that tornado.  We drove by the other day and tears still sting my eyes every time, but I turned to my husband and I said “I’m thankful that our house burned.”  Giving up our possessions was nothing compared to losing our family.

Today, I am thankful for God’s perfect plan- even when I don’t understand it.


Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6


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  • […] Since our home burned down when I was the eighth grade, fire prevention week is close to my heart.  Not only that, but anyone who willingly volunteers to fight those fires has a special place in my heart too.  I watched them fight a losing battle as our home went up in smoke and flames that November morning in 2002 and they didn’t give up.  They knew when they arrived that it was too late to save our home, but they gave it their all and in the end, we did walk away with a few things and a couple popcorn tins that contained family photos.  Bryson will often ask about the house I lived in when I was born and the house I grew up in so he knows about the fire although he isn’t old enough to understand the devastation it brought into my life. […] is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to