Fire #3, Benedict update and Tims musings

Published Date Author: , April 12th, 2010

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March 12, 2010

Dear Friends and Family,

Yes, we’ve had another fire. The third one in this house! And this time we are now homeless….

1. The Fire (and the rest of the story…) 2. Housing options 3. Tim’s musings 4. Prayer thanks and requests

This is what the fire investigator told us the day after the fire. “Tim, you and your family are lucky to be alive”.

1. So here’s the scoop on Fire #3.

Wednesday afternoon, I was in Boise with the checkbook with the boys running errands in my old $400 pickup truck that God gave me clear back at the beginning of this whole kid’s ranch/camp dream almost 6 years ago. We had had to return the minivan we were using, early last week after the transmission died in it in Boise with Karen driving. The owner told us not to fix the transmission and just return it, so we did. And the suburban transmission was still only half operational (top speed was 25mph, so not an option to go to Boise in). So we resurrected my old truck.

Then while in Boise, Idaho Power shut off our power simply because I had forgotten to pay our bill in the midst of the confusion/chaos going on (and I had the checkbook, so Karen couldn’t pay them). Trouble was, the wood stove was going strong in the basement, and when they killed the power, it turned off the blowers on the stove. That in turn caused the stove and stove pipe to overheat and start a smoldering fire in the attic. Karen called me in Boise, and I immediately paid the bill, and the power was back on by 8pm or so. But the house was already on fire. Sergei smelled it when we got home at 8:30pm, but didn’t think anything about it. So we all went to bed as normal, and the fire apparently smoldered in the attic all night long. Thursday morning, we built a fire in the stove as normal, and within the hour, half the attic of the house was a raging inferno.

Karen smelled smoke so called me at the shop in a panic. I dropped everything and beelined home. There wasn’t much smoke outside the house yet, but when I got inside and looked up in the attic, my worst fears were confirmed, and my heart sank. Man I don’t think I have ever prayed so hard as both Karen and I went into high gear. We cleared our homeschool girls out of the house, Karen called the fire department and started rescuing photoalbums, and I strung out the garden hose. By then, there was a towering column of smoke over the house that people in town were starting to notice.

I still had my gloves from work on without even thinking about it, and attacked the fire with the garden hose, ripping down the eaves so I could get at the fire. I got the fire in that end of the attic out, but it was raging away farther into the attic behind a firewall, so I drug the hose in through a window, climbed a step ladder that we had “just happened” to have left in the house for another earlier project, and started punching a hole in the living room ceiling with my fist about where I knew at least one hotspot was. And I found it too. When I broke through, embers cascaded down around me as I stuck my hand up through the opening with the hose and started spraying everything (remember the gloves that I had forgot that I still had on? They kept my hands from burning).

I got that hotspot out, and Karen cleared out of the house just as the fire department arrived. They got into the house to assess the situation as I was punching my second hole in the ceiling. By the time the time they got their hoses into the house, I was working on my third hole into the attic.

By the time it was over, between me and the fire department, we had made six holes in the ceiling with a LOT of insulation, suet, burned out embers, and more, all over the floor in the kitchen, living room, dining room, and Karen’s creative corner. It was a royal mess. But the fire WAS out.

One of the firemen commented to me that we needed to stop meeting this way! I had to laugh.

About then, the ambulance paramedics came in, and one of them took one look at me and immediately herded me into the bedroom, wrapped me up in a blanket and put me on oxygen. It was almost funny to me, but when the adrenaline wore off, I couldn’t stop shaking…

Then we realized that my hands were bleeding (I was clueless), and they doctored me up some more.

But other than some smoke and water damage, we didn’t lose any earthly possessions, and no one was hurt.

Later that afternoon, I doused two remaining hotspots in the attic, and that night, the entire ceiling over the dining room crashed in, thus sealing that we couldn’t stay in the house any longer.

Thus the words of the fire investigator the next day (which he ruled entirely accidental). So we are thankful once again for God’s protection. But three fires in one house in less than 2 years?? This is insane!

The rest of the story is that this fire was in direct response to prayer in several different ways.

2. Housing. a. We had asked God very clearly to either SLAM the door shut on us living in the house, or fling it wide open. I would say it is now very firmly slammed shut…. b. I had asked God very specifically early last week to allow something drastic to happen to get the attention of several people in our world that needed to see Him being real. I’d say God did that. c. There were several other smaller prayers that Karen and I have asked recently, that this fire directly impacted or answered.

So we see and trust that God is in control, and is coordinating even the battles going on around us.

But the reality is that we ARE homeless, though temporarily staying in a Christian lodge just down the highway from us that our insurance is supposed to pay for.

But we are NOT directionless or without hope. This fire may have actually opened the door to us getting a place for real that we can call our own. We are diligently exploring these options. The fire has also allowed our family to pull together in some ways that haven’t happened in a long time. For the most part, the kids are coping remarkably well, and Karen and I are tying to keep our focus on the fact that when God closes a door, He opens a window. The glass is still half full, and we have a lot to be thankful for. The simple reality is that God doesn’t know how to be mean to us. It just isn’t in His character. EVERYTHING He does is from a heart of love, whether it’s allowing us to suffer the consequences of our own sinful actions so we will run to Him, or it’s allowing us to experience rough stuff in order to deepen our character. And let’s not forget the joy with which He also longs to bless us in the in-between times….

3. Tim’s Musings…. I don’t get overwhelmed when I think about how God has once again protected us. I rest in that, as I have often done before. I draw incredible strength from that. If I am diligently following Him, He WILL protect the deepest core of who I am. He just will. I know I am where I am supposed to be, and I have peace that God will protect me here, and He has done so repeatedly, in some pretty spectacular ways.

Where I sometimes get tripped up is when I look at the future and try to make the wisest decisions that I can for my family. I get overwhelmed. Like today. I feel overwhelmed. Maybe it’s the reality of what has happened finally hitting me. Maybe it’s the sheer amount of logistical stuff that I need to wade through to get my family back into a dwelling. Or maybe it’s the job/income that I know I have to find asap (I had just signed up for real estate investing classes in Boise several weeks ago that start this coming weekend…) Maybe I am just plain wore out.

But whatever the case, I know that I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I have to make my list of things that have to done, then take the list to the Lord, and ask Him to help me get through it. And I have to tackle it, one thing at a time, one foot in front of the other.

And God does that sometimes. He just reveals the next step, and we have to take that step, before He reveals the one after that, or the one after that, or the one after that. It’s a step by step thing.

So I honestly don’t know what is next for us, other than what God has told me to do next (take care of my family’s mental and spiritual health, finish up two paying web projects, pack to move, and finish declaring our losses from the December garage fire-which should give us a downpayment somewhere). The job I expected to start last month got delayed until sometime later this month, so I need to have these other things finished before it kicks in finally. We do plan to stay in the Idaho city area, and even through the fire, several new opportunities to minister to people have opened up. That’s another thing that tells me God is totally in control here.

4. Praises and prayers

a. Thanks and blessings upon all, and for all, the people that have either housed my kids, or fed us, in the last several days since the fire. God has been good to give us friends like we have. And thanks guys… b. Our suburban is getting fixed, through the help of several friends. c. Karen and I both feel like a new and somehow exciting chapter in our lives is about ready to open d. I expect to be working by the end of this month. e. We are alive! And Jesus is alive! f. We need mental and physical strength to pack our house up. g. Several of our kids are struggling with issues of life right now, and they need prayer covering as they find their foundation and we try to direct them. h. We need a place to move to. Pray God reveals this soon. I’ll be making lots of phone calls today regarding this issue. i. Pray that the bank doesn’t try to sue us for the fire damage…

So my final challenge to you is this. Is there some step that God is asking you to take, even though you can’t see where that step might lead? Is it fear, or anger, or simple not knowing where it leads, or something else that keeps you locked in one spot? But if you can just take that step, if God is honestly asking you to take it, He WILL reward you. And that is what I am having to remind myself, right now, as I take each step forward…

Remember, if you trust God, You can trust God.

In Him,

Tim, Karen, and Kids Benedict

PS. All past newsletters and musing are now posted at http://www.funkygeko.com under the musings tab.

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