Monday, July 29, 2013


"Huh.  Looks like there's a fire."

Though I didn't know it at the time, when "The Hub" uttered those words, an odyssey of faith began.

I thought about several titles for this post:

"Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, and Me"

"Smoke Gets in My Eyes"

"Burning Love"

"Mrs. O'Leary's Cow"

"I Got Your Fiery Furnace For You"

Then I decided that all of those titles were too flippant for one of the biggest events in my life.

So, let's begin.  (You might want to pull up a chair and get a cup of coffee or tea.  This one is going to be long…)

When "The Hub" said those words, I got up to look out the picture window that has the beautiful view of the valley.  And sure enough, there was smoke – a lot of smoke.

"Do you think we're OK?" I asked.

"Sure.  It's farther away than you think."

Except things kept changing.

The smoke clouds kept getting bigger, and they kept crawling up the mountain ridge toward our town.

I followed the news on several websites.  The fire grew exponentiallyincreasing in size and ferocity at an incredible rate.

By Wednesday morning, the smoke was just over the ridge from where our house sits.  The smoke clouds boiled and roiled, rising almost 30,000 feet into the air.  Our other picture window, the one with the beautiful view of the mountain peak directly across from our home, gave us a very scary bird's-eye view.

It looked like a nuclear bomb had gone off.

I fretted and worried and prayed all day.  Then I read that we were being evacuated.  I told "The Hub" – who wasn't inclined to go.  But then we got the automated call, and the visit from four county sheriffs who tied a yellow ribbon around the tree right outside our front door.  The one that read, "DO NOT CROSS."

A frantic hour and a half ensued.  What was important to take?  What was precious to save?

Important papers, photos, a few stuffed animals, sentimental things, some artwork, a change of clothes…all quickly packed into two cars.

We finally left about 9:00 PM.  "The Hub" stopped to talk to a US Forest person in town.  She said that if we stayed in town, we probably wouldn't have to leave the mountain.  (We live quite a bit higher out of town – next to National Forest and Wilderness land).

So, we decided to try to *hedge our bets* and got a room at a small inn just on the outskirts of town.

Well, at 2:30 AM, we were rudely aroused – (I'd say "awakened" – but we had never been able to sleep) – by another sheriff, who told us we'd have to leave. Well, here's exactly what he said, a direct quote:

"I can't make you leave.  But if you stay I need your names, your birthdates, and the name of your dentist in case you die."

Uh, yeah.  We're leaving…

Almost 3 hours later, we finally found a hotel room.  Everything, everywhere was booked solid.  We landed at 6:00 AM in a room far, far from home.

We spent one day and one night catching up on rest and sleep – and then we traveled down to where my family lives.

The continuing coverage was scary.  The fire kept getting closer and closer to our home and town.  Actually, it was closer to our home than town – just on the other side of the mountain ridge that surrounds us.

It was four days later, on Sunday afternoon, that the evacuation order was finally lifted, and we were allowed to return home.

"The Hub" and I were speechless as we stood in the driveway.  Our gratitude went beyond words.

That's the backstory of what was happening.

But I have to share what God was doing through it all – because He was mightily working behind-the-scenes.  

There were several times when the fire updates mentioned some treacherous possibility happening that would make the flames sweep down the mountain into town.


Monsoonal conditions, including lightning and high, erratic winds never materialized.

An ice cap that formed at the top of the smoke cloud, heavily laden, could have crashed to the ground creating a 40-50 mph downdraft.  That never happened.

Expected high winds could have carried burning embers far away.  The winds never occurred.

And finally, the forecasted thunderstorm finally came – and this is a direct quote from the incident commander – with "just the right amount of rain." Just enough to help the firefighting efforts, just enough to remove the threat to our town.

Yes, JUST enough.

That's what God was doing behind-the-scenes.

Which doesn't begin to tell you what He was doing in me.

First of all, I was terrified.  Panicked.  So anxious I thought my heart would burst – literally.  Frantically packing, crying, worrying – feeling a bit resentful, too.  The thought did cross my mind – "You know, Lord, YOU'RE the one who told us to move up here.  Did you do that just to make us lose everything?"

Well, no He didn't.

But, He did have some reasons for this trial.

Here's what I learned:

First of all, God is loving.

That first night away from home I was desperate to hear from Him.  So, I did a "Bible Pick 'Ems" – (you can read about that HERE).  And these are the verses He directed me to:

"…so I will not destroy all Israel…I will preserve a remnant of the people…to possess my land.  Those I choose will inherit it, and my servants will live there.  The plain of Sharon will again be filled with flocks for my people who have searched for me."  (Isaiah 66:8-10, NLT)


Not only did the verses speak a promise of protection and preservation, not only did they speak of hope and a future…they also contained MY NAME!

God is love – intimate and caring LOVE.

Second, God is mighty.

At some point in the turmoil, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the story of Elisha and his servant.  And these verses:

"When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. 'Oh, sir, what will we do now?' the young man cried to Elisha.
'Don't be afraid!' Elisha told him. 'For there are more on our side than on theirs!' Then Elisha prayed, 'O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!' 
The LORD opened the young man's eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire."  
(2 Kings 6:15-16, NLT)

One of the things that continues to amaze me is the map of the fire.  In those first two days the fire burned to the southeast of us.  And then, it took a deadly turn to the northwest.  It marched steadily toward our home. 

But now, at almost 92% contained, I can see the outline of the perimeter. There is a huge semi-circle that surrounds our town.  The fire never crossed the last ridgeline separating us from the flames, less than a mile away.

I can see where the angels stood.

Third, God is sovereign.

I don't think I have ever felt quite so helpless as I did when we drove away from our home, with only the possessions we could fit into two cars.  There's this false feeling of "control" that I fool myself with sometimes.  Well, let me tell you, that illusion got burned away.

But I was comforted by the knowledge that GOD had it in His hands.  

He still sat on His throne. 

He was still in control.  

Each night, I would read the latest update, and then I would turn my computer off.  I'd roll over, utter my prayers, and then go to sleep – trusting that WHATEVER happened in the night, God would take care of me.

I had peace in the midst of it all.

And if you know me, that is a minor miracle in itself.

Fourth, God is jealous.

He takes the First Commandment pretty seriously.  So should we.

To be honest, I struggled with Godabout why He might want us to lose all of our possessions.

But, this time He didn’t want us to lose them – He just wanted us to loosen our grip on them.  

He wanted us to let go of the need for things, for the insidious urge to accumulate, for the tendency to make idols out of stuff.

Yes, "The Hub" and I have spent a great deal of time – and yes, money – to make this our dream home.  And our things give us great pleasurethey create a *feeling* that we enjoy living in.

But, they are NO replacement for the God of the Universe.


Same old question He's been asking me for two years now – different circumstances.

"Sharon, is it really JUST Me?"

Fire burned that Truth deep inside.  Yes, Lord…YOU.

Finally, God is personal.

I truly don't believe there are "coincidences" for the believer.  There are just God-ordained moments, and we are wise to keep our eyes open for them.

I have two that I'd like to share with you.

Sunday, we found out that we could go home.  We packed up from the hotel, and drove over to my parents' house to pick up our valuables.  On the way, I really wanted a coffee from Starbuck's.  There was a drive-thru right next to the hotel, but "The Hub" suggested that we go to the one closer to my parents' house.

OK.  Not a drive-thru, so we'll have to get out and walk in.

As we're walking across the parking lot, another couple is coming out.  I recognize the man – he LIVES in our hometown.  We had JUST talked to him the weekend before.

We look at them, they look at us – and I smile.  Because, you see, we are now 2 hours away from home.  Twenty seconds sooner, or twenty seconds later, we would never have seen them.  What are the odds???

Evidently, with God in the mix, 1,000,000 to One!

What a *God-Wink* moment!  

Oh, by the way, we had never met his wife before.

Her name?


Yup, I know.

The other moment occurred that night.  It was raining when we drove home, and a dense, gray cloud cover blanketed the mountains.  But, later that night, in the span of 15 minutes, the clouds completely disappeared, and "The Hub" and I watched a full moon rise over the mountain peak right outside our window.


It might as well have been the face of the Lord – His glory passing by us – just like He had done with Moses.

Silenced by awe, we stood and gazed upon a loving, mighty, sovereign, jealous, and personal God.

A God who is mighty to save.

And did.

Thank you, Lord, for everything…

When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you. 

"The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves." 
(Zephaniah 3:17, NIV)

"'Don't be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today.'" (Exodus 14:13, NLT)

"But let all who take refuge in you rejoice…Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy." (Psalm 5:11, NLT)

"'Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you…'"  (Exodus 20:20, NIV)

"'Do not be afraid…I am your shield…'" (Genesis 15:1, NIV)

"The LORD is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation." (Exodus 15:2, NIV)

"Even now, take your stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes." (1 Samuel 12:16, NASB)

"You will not need to fight in this battle.  Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf…'Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out…and the LORD will be with you.'" 
(2 Chronicles 20:17, ESV)

"'…Be careful, keep calm and don't be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood…'" (Isaiah 7:4, NIV)

"'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you.  Surely I will uphold you with My righteous [victorious] right hand.'" (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

How has God saved you lately?

Linked today with:

Darlene at TITUS 2SDAYS
Jen at UNITE

(***SIDENOTE:  Our words can never express our gratitude for the many firefighters who valiantly, courageously, tirelessly waged a literal war against this fire.  (Statistics:  3,478 personnel including 68 crews, 260 engines, 15 dozers, 20 helicopters, and two DC-10's).  We know that God strengthened them, as many were working 16-to-24 hour shifts.  Thank you, one and all, for the courage you displayed while battling to save our town and our home!  May GOD BLESS you always!  And may we continue to pray for the 7 homes that were lost, and the tragedy that this fire was for those people.  May God comfort them, and give them HIS peace.***)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"


  1. Wow, such a powerful testimony of the glory of God sis. So glad you, and your home are safe. I love you.

  2. Wonderful story of God's grace, protection, and provision. Loved all the little God-incidences that added up to a huge display of God's love.

  3. Oh how great our Lord is! Such a wonderful testament of His goodness. Enjoyed reading about how seen all the fingerprints of God throughout the situation.

  4. Sharon,

    I am sitting here at my computer (at work) reading this with tears in my eyes. What a most awesome testimony of God's love and power! I cannot imagine all of the fear and emotions that you and your husband must have faced during those few days. What an awesome God we serve! Thanks so much for sharing this story.

    Have a blessed week!

  5. Wonderful!! I use the word very specifically because I did a study on it not long ago and really held to the meaning of it. It's doesn't mean just "super dee duper excellent." It means full of wonders. No more appropriate words fits this post. It's just full of the wonders of a God who is in every single detail from the plain of Sharon to the Grace at Starbucks. I feel as if I was the Daniel in the story of the fiery furnace, somewhere off to the side on my knees doing all that I could do. What a joy and privilege it was to be there with you.

    As I read this wonderful post, I kept thinking of the passage, "And you will seek me and find me when you seek me with your whole heart." Others could have gone through the same thing and not seen the face and hand and heart of God at every turn because they weren't seeking it. You, on the other hand, have a God seeking heart. What a wonderful (intentional) thing to have.

    I read. I learned. I praised. I thanked.

    I'm so glad I had the chance to get caught up this AM. (Sorry to be so AWOL this weekend)

  6. "Haste typing makes waste typing." I get kind of fast when I get excited. Excuse the bloopers. I'm not going to delete and start over.

  7. This is the most powerful post I think I have ever read on your blog, or any blog for that matter!
    What an awesome and amazing way God has revealed himself through this consuming fire.
    I started reading, and was planning to get another cup of coffee, but I could not tear my eyes from what you have written here! God is just so wonderful (full of wonders) just like Debbie stated above!
    Blessings and love~ Lisa

  8. I am quietly reading this with tears on my face. I am amazed with you at our God, who once again proves that He alone is worthy of everything. This is you miracle Sharon, and I am rejoicing with you, both at the containment of your place and the beauty of His work within.

    Amazing and precious testimony!

  9. Hi Sharon
    Wow, what a story, what an experience to go through, as others have said an awesome testimony. Told so well by you.

    God Bless

  10. Oh Sharon ... AMazing testimony so well written ... having experienced the TRIAL of FIRE, I so deeply appreciate your spiritual insights and I'm so thankful that God spared you, your hub and your mountain home ... even if I was sifted and not spared the ashes experience, you lift me beyond with your spiritual applications as you have such a gift of doing!

    I'm so grateful to God for lives saved and the many that serve as fire fighters! Your "burning bush" experience of such faith and triumph leads me to seek God's glory beyond the devastation of fire, soot and ashes!

    God wink moments and God's Divine Protection and Power are truly awesome and breath taking. Nothing engulfs one's awe like the effects of a natural disaster or fire of your home and all your "treasures" and makes you ever so vigilant and aware of God's Almighty control ... and His treasure are the ones I need to cling to and hold on to ever so tightly. Thank you for the points you drew from this horrific experience ... may God protect and keep you and yours forever!

    Many blessings and thanks,

  11. Praise God! So happy you are safe and so blessed to read this amazing report! Thank you for sharing God, Sharon. Your words are a powerful testimony to the wonders of His grace.

  12. Bless you, friend, and so glad to know you are home and safe and the Lord is enthroned on your praises. Love the Angel rim around your town - like my house protected from the tornado during Hurricane Hugo so long ago - went around my house. But - oh, can I identify with the panic. Feeling the fires myself, these days, even though I'm in New Jersey and we don't get wild fires. If you're His - there's gonna be fires - all for the best in the long run, but quite the trial in the midst. The scriptures you have shared are such a comfort. Thank you - always, Sharon - for sharing God.

  13. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!! Loved this post - you captivated me today!!
    Love you friend, so glad you and the Hub are well!!

  14. Sharon, loved this; I thought of you with this fire as brother-in-law and sister-in-law have a cabin in close proximity to the area you live; they were going to go up to it to get what they wanted when they heard the mandatory evacuation so they waited the fire out, trusting God with whatever happened. I was so glad to hear that your place and their place was under the shadows of God's wings so to speak and were kept safe. Valuable lessons taught by God!

    (I'm not blogging these days, but do check in to read your entries :)


  15. I echo the sentiments that have been shared for this powerful testimony...I suspect you and your hubs lives will never be the same going forward...our God is awesome!

  16. God is so good! I am so glad that you are safe and that you were blessed by a word from God. I am going to print out those Bible verses to keep handy!!

    Blessings, Joan

  17. What a mighty God we serve! He is MORE than ENOUGH and continues to amaze his servants with his wonderful works. Thanks for sharing your awesome story at "Tell Me a Story."

  18. Hi Sharon! I am so glad that you are safe! Some things I watch on TV and I don't think about all the people so sadly affected by fire. Yay rain!

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  19. Are you on Facebook? Really wish you were! Just thought you should know - us Phillies Fans are praying we get our hometown boy back next year since his Angels contract will be up. He wants to get back on the East coast near his family, we understand - and the Phillies really need him! They are tanking this season in a big way. So - can't promise you'll keep him out there forever . . .

    BTW - if you ARE on fb - friend me: Kathryn Ross, Vineland, NJ

  20. Oh Sharon - what a beautiful heartfelt post. I was so worried for you and the people around you. God is so good. You held your faith. I just hate when the fires start out there. We have a family whose son is a firefighter there. It is hard for her when her son goes out there. And then of course the loss of the firefighters too. sandie

  21. Wow, Sharon. What a beautiful retelling of this event! I remember feeling some of the same emotions when Hurricane Floyd enveloped our little town in eastern NC in 1999. We left our front lawn in a rescue boat, certain that when we returned our home would be completely flooded. The waters came close to our back door, but our home was spared. It was a time of learning for me; our little town was devastated and we were buried up with the recovery efforts. Some times it takes a tragedy to help us focus on the essentials in life. You're right. When we have God, we have all we need.

    Thanking God tonight for his careful watch over your home and your town. Apparently there are more moment of grace for you in your mountain retreat.


  22. Sharon I was so happy to hear you had been spared the loss of your home. It is so scary when you are at the moment when you know there is the possibility you could loose everything. This can also be a great wake up call for better preparing the area around your house for future fires. Well just thanking God that you will still be on the mountain to continue your lessons there.

  23. God is so amazing how He works...isn't He!?

  24. What a story!! Love your spiritual lessons through it. Thanks for linking up this week!

  25. We are children of an Awesome God - thank you for sharing your story!

  26. Amazing story!! Thank you for sharing about God's protecting hand!

  27. We have no idea of how much God is working on our behalf. Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  28. Sharon~God is awesome! It is utterly amazing how you pulled all the lessons out of this battle that the Lord fought for you. I couldn't help but laugh over the dental records. Yep! I would have been high-tailin' it out of there real fast :)
    My favorite Scripture: Isaiah 41:10.
    Like someone else said; It would be good to print out a list of those Scriptures to be secure in His defense of His children.
    I've seen the hand of the Lord over my mouth lately. And the results have been love shared with youngest.
    Thank you for being God's holy witness, Sharon. Blessed to call you, friend.

  29. What an incredible situation and testimony to the Love, Protection and Power of our Lord. So glad you are all okay. Thanks so much for sharing your most encouraging story, God-lessons, and scriptures.

  30. Thank you for sharing your story! What a loving and faithful God we serve!


"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

(NOTE: Anonymous comments will be removed. Thank you for understanding.)