July 2011 - Fire at Jennifer's House
The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives (Psalms 37:23).
On Sunday, June 12, I was dressing to go to church. The dress I chose would not call for a necklace. I need a purple pin. Yes! My eyes fell on the gorgeous golden fly, about 1-1/2"x2", a curled proboscis from a purple amethyst head with a body of alternating and dimensioning rows of "diamonds" and amethyst stones ending in a single amethyst, attached to six golden legs and four gold lace wings. Perfect! What do you think Bro. Jim Daniel's sermon was? "Watch Out for the Flies," Ecclesiastes 10:1-3! The message was about our awareness of how a dead fly can contaminate and ruin one's food or appetite. But what we are not as aware of are the spiritual flies -- those seemingly little SINS that can ruin an otherwise good testimony for Christ.
The Lord directed me to wear the fly pin! He delights in every part of our lives. Psalm 37 is one of my favorites: "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass."
It was four o'clock the next Sunday afternoon (June 19) when my phone rang. I recognized the terrorized voice as my granddaughter Jennifer's, crying, screaming, yelling. I'm in shock! I can't understand a word, but my whole being prepared for something horrid, gruesome, dreadful, terrible, unbearable! "Jennifer! Slow down! I can't understand you!"
"Grandma, the fire is headed for our house. Pray for my house and my animals! I gotta go. The fireman are here. We have to evacuate. PRAY FOR ME!"
Jennifer and Clint live in the country,15 miles from Navasota, GRIMES COUNTY, Texas, where the worst fire in the history of east Texas is spreading. It's been on the TV news all week. Tears are beginning to pool in my eyes. I dial Miriam's number. She is the leader of our church prayer group. We had prayer together over the phone; and also prayed for her husband, Gene, who goes to M.D. Anderson next week for tests. Then I called my daughter Wanda in Florida, and we prayed together; then, daughter Dortha for prayer; then son, Ronnie. He called me back later and said he and his church prayer partner prayed.
"Dear God, everything we have belongs to You. We are only caretakers of our possessions. We do not know Your will, but pray it will be done. We express the desires of our hearts that You preserve Jennifer and Clint's home. Take care of their helpless animals as they depend on You. Please save Jennifer's animals! They are Your creations. We pray for all the brave firefighters. Lord, please keep them safe. We ask for Your mercy and care for everyone who will lose their homes and possessions. You are Lord of our lives and over our problems. Psalm 77 says You give ear to our troubles, and I am so troubled I cannot speak. 'Thou art the God that doeth wonders'. Jennifer loves You, and so do I. In Jesus' precious Name, I pray. Amen."
Sometimes God lifts us OUT of our crises, problems, situations. Sometimes He leads us THROUGH them. There are times we are unaware He is leading us through a rough time until it's over! THEN, we rejoice and praise Him for the marvelous way He answered our prayers, solved our problem, took care of us. He is our "Shepherd."
All while Jennifer was growing up in the city of Houston, she dreamed of the day she would have her own ranch with lots of animals. The dream came true in the summer of 2000 when Jennifer was 21, she purchased a little 1,500 sq. ft. white frame house on 5-1/2 acres of land with a small pond. It was her "heaven on earth." First thing she bought was a horse! Then, a cow; lots of Boer goats (fullbloods, purebreds), chickens and six beautiful geese. Her animals are really beautiful, and healthy. She loves them, hugs each one of them. They come to her, nudge her, wanting a hug. She welcomes every stray dog or cat that wanders on her property. Now comes the threat of losing it all. The TV news states a wall of fire six miles long and almost a mile wide is being pushed by a 30-MPH wind behind and north of her property.
Jennifer is helping me write this "Happenings" This is her story:
Sunday afternoon, I had been in the city of Navasota getting 5 gallons of hydraulic oil and 20 gallons of diesel fuel for the backhoe (which husband Clint was running), some bottled water and a bucket of Church's fried chicken. Little did I know that God would use this chicken and water to perform a miracle! When I left Navasota, I saw the smoke plume, but thought it was in White Hall, about 10 miles from my house. As I got closer to home, I found myself driving straight into it. Aware of my cargo, at one point, I felt like I was driving a bomb into a fire!
I began praying for my family.
Upon arrival, I jumped out of the pickup and began crying with thanks that my house, kids and husband were there and safe. Looking towards the back of the pasture, I saw a wall of dark yellow and black smoke about 300 yards wide at the fence line. My neighbor walked up beside me and said, "It's OK Jennifer. The fire is headed that way," as he pointed away from my house. "I just drove down there and talked to the firemen."
Clint told me and the kids (Sam, age 8 and Elaine, age 18) to get the water hoses and start soaking down the house. Before I could get my hose hooked up, two fire trucks drove up in front with firemen soaking down the ditches. The firemen yelled, "GET OUT, NOW!"
The first thing I did was call my grandma, Tillie Wier, to let her know what was happening and to pray for all of us. It was the shortest conversation we ever had!
We ran in the house, gathering up clothing and some things; loaded up Elaine's car and told her to go to the Triple C store on County Road 304. We'd meet there. Clint helped load my pickup, and sent me to meet Elaine. He wanted to move the backhoe into the open pasture, away from trees; then, he'd join us. I yelled for our yellow lab dog, George to, come to the truck. My yelling made him think he was in trouble! He just stood there, wagging his tail. I called out again in a more friendly voice, and he came running. Away we went!
As soon as I arrived at the Triple C, I jumped out of my truck searching for my kids to make sure they were safe. I saw our neighbor Ric, his wife Pam and daughter Rachel… and Elaine…no Sam! Elaine was sitting in her truck. "WHERE'S SAM?" I screamed.
"He's with YOU?" Elaine shouted, questioning.
"NO. Your dad said he was with you!" I went into straight panic! I tried to call Clint on my cell phone but got a busy signal or straight to voice mail. My entire body was trembling and I was crying with fear. The last instruction I remembered in Sam's presence was, "Get the water hoses and wet the back of the house." What if he was still watering the back of the house and no one saw him. What if…WHAT IF…I have never been so scared in my entire life!!! I was looking down the road for that big black Dodge truck carrying my husband and praying my son was inside with him.
A firefighter pulled up, got out of his truck, and yelled, "Everyone get out of the Triple C, NOW." I told him I was waiting for my husband. Then we'll leave. He yelled, "NO! You have to leave NOW! We're closing the road." I repeated myself. He says positively: "NOW, Ma'am."
(Tillie's understanding: This little 5'5", 130 pounds, pointed her finger in a scolding position at this big 6'4", 200 pounds, and screamed with all her might, "I'M NOT LEAVING WITHOUT MY HUSBAND! WE'LL LEAVE AS SOON AS HE GETS HERE! NOT BEFORE!" Then she turned her back on him, and looked searchingly down the road again.)
The firefighter paused for a moment, and said, "OK. You have 5 minutes. ONLY FIVE MINUTES!" and he got in his truck and drove away.
Neighbor Ric came over, put his hand on my arm, and said, "Jennifer, don't worry. He'll be here." I was shaking, crying, praying that Sam was in the truck with Clint. A few minutes later, it seemed like an eternity, I heard that Dodge engine, and saw the black truck coming down the road. I yelled at Clint as he turned into the driveway, "Do you have Sam?"
Clint nodded a "Yes" to me, and relief swept over my whole body as I ran toward his truck to see with my own eyes. Clint said I was so worked up I couldn't talk, and he couldn't understand me anyway. My prayer was answered! My husband and son were safe and with me.
Clint put me in his truck, gave me some water, and told me to calm down because I had to drive out of danger to the next meeting point at a Valero Gas Station on County Road 302 and 1774.
When we arrived, there were families everywhere. Cats and kittens in cages; dogs tied to bumpers; parents holding onto their kids like they could vanish in a moment. Everyone asking questions. "How did you get out? What did you see? Where do you live?" It was like nothing I've ever seen. Clint backed over the curb and parked in the shade. I parked in a spot in the sun. I did not grab a leash when we left home. The people next to us gave me a tow strap to tie dog George to Clint's truck bumper. I sat in the grass and thanked God that we were all safe.
My best friend Dana showed up shortly after that and waited with us. Having her there was such a blessing to me. She prayed with me and let me cry on her shoulder as we heard news of devastation. After a while, Sam said he was hungry. It was then that I remembered the chicken and water still in my pickup. We all started eating. Looking around, I saw other kids waiting with their parents. I yelled out to them, "Come and get some chicken. We have plenty."
The kids came first. I counted 8 (ages 10 and under). Then, three pregnant women, one lady with two broken legs, a mom nursing a three-month-old baby girl, and the men with them -- all came. They ALL got chicken and some ate the corn-on-the-cob and biscuits. I counted 22 people being fed!!! I ordered a 15-piece bucket of chicken with family sides in Navasota. There were FOUR pieces left over.
The story of Jesus feeding 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, came to mind. I lived the Jesus miracle!
At 9:30 p.m., we sent Elaine and Sam to Magnolia, Texas to stay with Clint's daughter Liz. Clint and I went to Tomball, Texas to live in Rachel and Mike's house. They are in Florida with Mom (Wanda). Mike is doing remodeling work on Mom and Dexter's new home. Dog George has been with us the whole time. He's feeling our anxiety! He's not eating or drinking unless I have my hand in the food or water bowl. He has not and will not leave my side. He lies at the back door of the patio when we are at Mike and Rachel's house. Whenever anyone approaches me, he barks and growls, protecting me. He is a good dog. I'm blessed to have him.
My Aunt Dortha and Uncle Dale called us. They took off work Monday, met us at Rachel and Mike's house in Tomball. I needed her for moral support, especially if our home was a pile of ashes. The TV news reported 30 homes in our area burned to the ground. There was a sickening feeling in my tummy as we drove to Navasota. The roads were blocked and guards forbidding people to enter. Fires were still burning. The area was not safe. Clint knew some back roads perhaps not guarded to lead us to our property. Driving down Millstone (our road), we passed three houses -- all, now, a pile of ashes. I cannot explain the turmoil of my insides! We could see our closest neighbor's house, just 85 yards from ours, completely gone, leaving only the concrete front steps and a melted stove. I was crying and praying.
We SCREAMED and praised God: Our home was still standing! Untouched by fire! The tears of fear were now tears of joy! Our house, feed shed (with the well in it) and ALL our livestock were spared! The 10 goats, 5 horses, 5 baby kittens and 6 adult cats all alive and unharmed. God has heard our prayers and answered them! We are living in His MIRACLE!
We did lose a shed which was six feet from the back side of our house. It burned to the ground, including the grassy area within five feet of our home. There, the fire stopped, as if God reached down and covered our home with His own hand! There is no other explanation for it being saved. This shed held camping equipment, Christmas decorations, furniture, etc. and about $3,500. worth of lumber and building materials. Clint plans to build a two-stall work shop to be attached to an apartment for his dad. We want him to come and live with us. Last Christmas, our family gave us gift certificates for construction items. Guess what we'll want this Christmas!
Aunt Dortha and Uncle Dale helped us put out two grass fires on our property. We saw a pine tree burning from the inside out! It was lined up to fall straight on the power lines across the street. I prayed for protection on the power lines. A while later, the wind blew so strong it moved three porch chairs 20 feet across the porch past our back door. I heard a loud crash and bang. It scared me! I ran to the front side of the porch and looked for the burning pine tree. It fell! It missed the power lines! Another Miracle! I fell to my knees thanking God for loving kindness.
Although we had no power, Clint got our generator running, to give us water from our well to wet down our home, well house, goat pens. The fence along the goat pens had fires on top of the fence posts looking like gigantic candles! These little fires just keep popping up.
That (Monday) night, we found out that the fire had reached Circle 1 Ranch and the "Big House" was burned to the ground. It is only 1/4 mile, or less, from our house.
Tuesday, Clint and I were exhausted physically and emotionally from all we had seen and the unknowns. We needed a day of rest. We stayed in Tomball. Maybe they'll open the roads on Wednesday and we can get back to our home. We are so very thankful! God is truly Awesome! -- End of Jennifer's story
I listened to a lot of TV news about the fire. Only once did I hear them mention the town of Centerville where my brother has a large cattle ranch. I called him. No fires came near his place. He bales a lot of hay. In fact, that's what he's doing this week: baling hay! I wonder how many hay fields the fire destroyed. I never heard anything about cattle destroyed by the fire.
There were many fires around the city of Plantersville. My cousin, Gary, has a big cattle ranch there. He told me the fires were south of Hwy 105. His place is north of 105. I've enjoyed lots of fish fries at his ranch. It is a haven for children: plenty of horses to ride, and go carts.
The Lord has heaped lots of blessings on my family. It is great to be in the family of God .
> July 2011 - Fire at Jennifer's House