New Normal - Life After the Wildfire

We are living a new reality here. In the four weeks since I last posted (can it have been that long?), almost every spare moment has been consumed with fire relief for our friends. There is no one here that has remained unaffected by the fire that has scarred our rural area.

The final count on the Bastrop Complex Fire was 34,000+ acres and 1554 homes lost.

Our new normal keeps changing, which I realize means it isn't really normal. I'm not sure what is at this point.

In the first week of the fire this was normal....

Disaster teams were everywhere

News trucks filled our little town

Lists of the addresses of destroyed homes were posted on windows

Families put out bags and boxes of clothes, and other supplies, on their front yards, for thousands evacuated because of the fires

Local businesses (in this case Best Buy) gave away thousands of free particulate respirators

The federal government set up shop

Gratitude overflowed

And now, five weeks since it started, this is our normal...

Fires planes and helicopters fly over daily

The wooden posts of the guardrails have burned away

This sign still has not been replaced

Just another collage of burned tress, burned vehicles, burned houses

What now looks like a cemetery, with headstones behind the wrought iron fence, was actually a house in August

Trucks filled with metal salvaged from homes fill the roads. This is probably almost all that this family saved from the rubble.

Signs everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. Yesterday I saw a sign advertising signs.

First firefighters from around the country, now construction workers. These are from Lousiana.

All that is left of a day care and a forest

Our almost daily drive to and from town steadily beats the rhythm of loss. Our home is a mile up the highway past the perimeter. Town is a few miles past the other side. Driving through destruction twice a day has a subtle cumulative effect on the emotions.

The forest changes every day. Trees are disappearing. Cut down. Cut up. Hauled away.

Like many of those whose homes were not lost, I feel guarded against any emotion other than gratitude and cheerfulness.  Yet the truth is that the pain is persistent, it is deep. I grieve alongside my beautiful friends. I grieve for our community. Oh so much, so very much beauty and hope has shone, continues to shine, through it all. SO much love, such grace and mercy in the midst, truly.  But it is also true that we mourn.

In my family? New normal is this:

List the Princess put on our refrigerator two days ago

Not in small part due to the fact that we had a new fire close to us this week.  It was a break out from the big fire, that started one month to the day later.  Here is how it looked from my back yard:

That roof is one of our sheds. The fire was 3 or 4 miles away.

Every time I hear an airplane I am on my feet and opening the door to smell the air, no matter the time.

And remember this picture of my precious Little Warrior taken back in March?

He no longer owns that armor. His warrior heart was convinced that there was another little boy who needed it. Shortly after we returned from evacuating, he dumped his entire armor, including sword, on the kitchen floor and announced, "I want to give this away. I want to give it to someone who lost their house in the fire." "Why buddy?" "Because they need a way to protect themself."

I wondered who we would give it to, until last week as I was talking to my sweet friend G. "We discovered that K (age 7) is sleeping with a stick under his pillow. He won't talk about the fire, refuses to go see the house." I asked her if he had armor. "He did, but he lost it in the fire."

Now Little Warrior's buddy is armed again.

What I want, maybe we all want it, I don't know, but what I want is to end here with some conclusion, some upbeat message. The happy ending. I don't have one yet, because really, there is no conclusion for any of us until the very end, the real end. THE happy ending is not on this side of heaven, is it?

While we walk out this journey on earth, there is ever so much beauty to be found. Yet we occasionally find ourselves in the midst of something so big and painful that we don't quite know how to get our bearings.  The only way I can find is to look for the lighthouse in the storm, steadily blinking "Here I am. Here I am."

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
Psalm 27:1
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
Psalm 119:105
Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world..."
John 8:12

Not that it's terribly different from always, but in a nutshell, if you are wondering how I am doing, I am muddling through. I am so sad sometimes, but mostly I am simply doing the work I see right in front of me. I am loving my friends as best I can... finding books for them, beds for them, houses, blankets, you know, just loving them.  You could say that these are sprinkles I guess.  Really it's just loving.

It all melts away in the face of that doesn't it? All the things I thought were important, all the goals and aspirations and that long to-do list, it's all like dust in the wind in the face of just loving. I wish I were better at it.

This is long. Most of my computer time is devoted to the Homeschool Relief effort, and I am so grateful to be part of it and have that to focus energy into. But it has meant that this blog has sat quiet. So I am squeezing much more than the blogging experts would advise into one post. I know you understand.

Ah friends, it is a blessing not to know what is coming. And it is a joy to look back and see that in amazing ways you have been being prepared for it.

So we walk on. We love and we hope and we lean into the Almighty's arms together.  Our never-can-be-burned-down home.


  1. Oh my, Patti. The pictures leave me speechless. I'm particularly moved by Little Warrior's sacrifice; I know how much he loved that armor. Such beauty in the midst of the suffering.

  2. So good to hear from you!

    What a tender moment, seeing the giving heart of your little one.

    {Lord, continue to bring healing and restoration. Most of all, be glorified.}

  3. the goodness that I see all around me - as Americans everywhere come forward to help so generously and unceasingly - 24/7 - leaves me in tears........I see Jesus in their eyes and hear HIm in their voices

  4. your family is beautiful, inside and out. stopped by to check out you pics of much like the orphaned Mr. Wiggles we helped raise this past summer. Little Warrior's armor is keeping us safe. And my heart sees his face and his big heart everytime I see it being used. I am grateful and humbled by his sacrifice for a friend in need.

  5. your family is beautiful, inside and out. stopped by to check out you pics of much like the orphaned Mr. Wiggles we helped raise this past summer. Little Warrior's armor is keeping us safe. And my heart sees his face and his big heart everytime I see it being used. I am grateful and humbled by his sacrifice for a friend in need.


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