Fire

Fear wears a mask named Responsible

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In the few days since the fire (click here to read about it) I have noticed signs of trauma.  It happens mostly at night.  As I snuggle down into my pillows and feel the normally comforting warmth of my blankets I get edgy.  My ears are heightened to sounds around me and I find myself opening my eyes to glance out the window.

I’ll hear an animal scurry or a limb crack in the woods but something tells me, “It’s a fire!”  What was that?  A pop, a rumble?  Are the trees glowing?  My heart starts racing and I want to get out of bed to look.  I quickly recognize my anxiety is irrational.  It’s very unlikely another one of my neighbor’s houses will explode in a roaring inferno.  And, yet, I feel it…

Fear.

The type of fear I felt the day of the fire spurred responsible action.  It caused a respect for the danger and potential reality of a fire.  As a result our family took action steps to be as prepared as possible in the case of a house fire. (Click here for a safety checklist.) But this, this feeling I’m having at night, is not the same kind of fear.  It doesn’t cause responsible action it causes worry and sleeplessness.  This type of fear sneaks in like a villain.  He masquerades as Responsibility.  Like a bad insurance policy he promises security but demands a hefty payment and never delivers.  He’s really a thief.

He steals peace and leaves worry.  He steals sleep and leaves weariness.  He steals trust leaving a sense that my life is all dependent on me.

Fortunately, I’d seen this villain before so I recognized him quickly.  And did what you do with a thief who comes in lies and betrays you and tries to steal your precious possessions.  I kicked him out.

Hope, peace and trust in God are some of my most valuable possessions.  An abundant life does not exist without them.  I can not sit passively allowing any type of thinking displace them.  I cannot deny I experienced trauma and that it’s normal to experience triggers that reactivate the feelings of a trauma.  But I won’t allow that to be an excuse to partner with the villain who wants me to think that worry, heightened intensity (aka jumpiness), and anxiety are going to protect me and my family from fire – or any other threat for that matter.

Intimacy with the God who loves perfectly allows a trust that imprisons the villain fear.  The peace that follows isn’t rational.  It transcends understanding.

Fear is a conniving little snake.  He’s not your friend or protector. Has he snuck in on you?  Sometimes we don’t recognize that fear has trespassed until we notice the shortage of what he’s stolen.  Here are just a few examples.

Fear of the future steals our hope.
Fear of the unknown steals our peace.
Fear of rejection steals our relationships.
Fear of failure steals our success.

Do you lack hope in any area of your life?
Do you lack peace?
Do you lack depth and satisfaction in your relationships?
Do you lack momentum towards your destiny?

Perhaps there’s fear there.

Last night I slept without one worrisome thought.  How did I kick out the thief?  I remembered who my God was.  He never promised me a life without trouble but he did promise me a life of peace.  I began to thank him for all he is and all he’s done in my life.  I made a conscious choice to think about those things.  And without another thought fear was gone.

Do you want freedom?  Freedom from fear that causes worry, anxiety, loneliness, depression, perfectionism, performance driven, controlling behaviors is available through a relationship with Jesus.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. Andthe God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:6-9 (emphasis mine)

Do you believe you know at least one person who needs freedom from fear?  Would you share this on your Facebook, Twitter or your favorite social media site?  Recognizing how fear works could be all someone needs to gain back what’s been stolen from them.

Be a herald!  Together we can make a difference!

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Too Close for Comfort, How Fear could Save You

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The trees outside my balcony sliding door glowed an eerie orange as I was awakened with what I first thought was gunfire. Pop…..pop, pop.  But then I heard breaking glass and a strange rumble. Something wasn’t right.  It shouldn’t be this bright yet.  It’s not morning.  I got out of bed, opened the door and stepped outside to see the house just three doors down engulfed in flames at least 80 feet high.  I hollered in to my husband, “CALL 9-1-1!”

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The view from my second floor balcony.

“What?” he said – trying to rouse himself.

I stepped inside and grappled for the phone on his bedside table and called for help.  It was a dark 4 am and all I could hear was the hungry flames devouring  the entire backside of the three-story end unit townhouse.  As I informed the 9-1-1 operator the fire began to reach into the forested park that stretches behind our houses.  Finally, (although only a minute passed) I could hear the nearing sirens of the fire engines.  The fire burst and climbed higher as a nearby tree was enveloped.

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I felt the rush of adrenaline that inspires flight in times like these.  I felt relief once I knew my family was safe.  I felt intrigued to observe the life altering drama just steps away from my front door.

It was a 2 alarm fire and the wonderful men and women of our local fire department worked seamlessly to keep the devastating fire from consuming the several attached town homes.  It took an hour to contain the blaze.  Seven hours after the pop’s that awakened me the owner is still unaccounted for.  As I type I hear axes hitting the charred wood as the investigators attempt to search the home for cause and…remains.

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All morning my heart has been stirred with overwhelming fear of the uncontrollable and a healthy respect for fire.  I live in a home with three small children ages 5, 4 and 2.  My husband is a heavy sleeper.  My house is cluttered with scattered toys, books off shelves in walkways, piles of laundry, briefcase and backpacks on the floor in the foyer, shoes spilling out of the closet into the path of the garage door.  All of this normal, bothersome clutter I suddenly saw as a life threatening hazard.  How fast could we get out of the house?

I had the privilege of serving breakfast to the woman who made the first 9-1-1 call this morning.  Her townhouse was the one next to the blaze.  She shared with me how fast it all happened.  The pop’s woke her up.  She smelled smoke and could see glowing out her window, she called 9-1-1, got dressed all before the smoke detectors went off! After 2 minutes the whole house was filled with smoke and she had to crawl to keep breathable air – she made it out safely but not before the entire back side of her neighbor’s home was an unapproachable inferno. From waking up to getting out it was less than 3 minutes and her house wasn’t on fire.  As s looked around at my children playing on the floor she told me how grateful she was that she her son was grown and she didn’t have pets to worry about getting safe.

My husband and I have talked on many occasions about creating a fire escape plan, the importance of checking smoke detectors and even about getting a fire escape ladder.  But we have never actually done it.  Any of it.  O.K.  we’ve changed a smoke detector battery but only when it makes that incessant and irritating beep every 60 seconds warning that the battery is about dead.

That changed today.

At first light, Jonathan went online and found this checklist from FEMA.  We changed our fire detector batteries, ordered a fire escape ladders, fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors and probably the most important thing;

We did fire drills with our kids!

We made an escape plan.

Found our meeting place across the street.

Taught them how and why to crawl or stay low.  (We used Turbo the racing snail as an example – low and fast!)

And explained how to go to the neighbors to call 9-1-1.

They did great.  Perhaps it helped that we had such a tangible example for them to see, fire engines and Marshall trucks still blocking the street.

I cannot imagine if I woke up to a blaze in my house like the one I witnessed this morning.  May I never know what that’s like.  But the experience caused a healthy fear that helped spur my family to make a plan and be prepared should an emergency happen.  I pray we never have to use it.

It’s fire season.

Do you have a plan in case of a fire?  Do your children know what to do?  Do you follow a fire safety checklist to keep your household safe?  Have you done a fire drill in the last 6 months?

Please help spread the word about how taking small steps can prevent catastrophe, share this on your Facebook, Twitter or other favorite social media site.

Be a herald.  Together we can make a difference!

Have you ever seen a house fire up close?  How did you feel?