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December 7, 2014

Flurries of Fire | Adopt-A-Family

It should be the time of year you’re pulling the decorations out of the closet…like the garland that somehow doesn’t light up anymore or the snowflakes strung with fishing line that leave a glitter trail. Maybe you’re unwrapping your nostalgic nativity set to place on the mantle or lighting your favorite pine scented candle. Maybe your eyes danced to this article in hopes of getting some new Christmas ideas, traditions or recipes. After all, the word fire can refer to something of passion. In fact, a lot of us use that word metaphorically. To refer to something emotional, something with power. I used to.

But no. I’m here to invite you in. To a story. I could tell you there are three hundred and fifty seven stories, but really there are thousands. Thousands who would all say their life changed because of the same literal word of fire on July 17th. I’m here to just straight up talk about the flames, like a blazing furnace, that fearlessly famished the mountains and feasted on homes, down to their very foundations. Without a flinch, it forced its way into people’s lives, not even asking for forgiveness after taking everything in sight. Now, people are just scrambling…looking for a flicker of hope in a fjord of ash.

For many, July 17th is but a figment of a memory…just one day in 365. In reality, it is. But for our community, July 17th was the fulcrum of many people’s future. July 17th isn’t just a date that is singed into our stories, it’s scorched. And every single day, so many face challenges from that date that smolder in their every step.

I thought I could get through this without tears, but really, it just comes. They come like a fiery waterfall, pouring down my cheeks, just like the very same ones that burned down the mountain. I could tell you experience after experience, but I’m inviting you in to maybe seek those out yourself. Three hundred and fifty seven homes with so many stories inside each of those used-to-stand walls.

In one hundred and forty three days, I’ve learned what love really means. It means sacrifice. It means coming together and serving, even if you haven’t showered in two weeks. It means unloading hundreds of cases of water, installing generators, passing garbage bag after garbage bag full of clothes from person to person. It means sitting in a dark room without any lights for hours on end with kids who were just displaced from their “normal” routine. It means washing dishes with a garden hose just to have a plate to eat off of. It means staying up all night to watch portions of the mountain fizzle in embers so the rest of the family can rest. It means sifting through the remains of your neighbor’s home, just in hopes of finding something of value.

It means being selfless. It means thinking about others before your own needs. I have not exercised this to the best of my ability, but I’ve watched hundreds do this without a blink. I’ve watched this in my very family. Love means being obedient, even if you can barely keep your eyes open. It means looking for every possible opportunity to shower adoration and care over people, even if you don’t feel like it.

It means exercising Romans 12:9. I spent a solid thirty minutes looking up almost every translation of this verse and I just want to share a few.


>> Love must be sincere.

>> Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.

>> Let love be genuine.

>> Let love be without hypocrisy.

Really, one of the most powerful ways of loving somebody is by calling them family. By opening up your heart, your home, and your time to invite someone in and listen to them and invest in them…that’s love in action, and that’s what we are called to do.

Because there are so many people displaced from their homes, many living in trailers that aren’t suitable for winter, or barely insulated tents, dilapidated rentals, etc., we are striving to love in action and are asking you to join us.

During this Christmas season and beyond, we want our community to be found – not forgotten. We want to begin to cultivate new foundations for these families, love them fiercely and begin to give them hope for the future.

We’re asking you to consider adopting a family. By doing so, we’re asking you to commit to helping these families through investing in them. We’ve had families who lost their homes fill out forms expressing their greatest needs and we’re asking you adopt one of these forms >> maybe it’ll be through personal items like gifting a new Kitchen Aid for her, items for the kids, or a new car for those whose burned. For families who have yet to fill out forms, we are collecting generic gift cards to places like Costco, Fred Meyer, and prepaid Visa cards that we will personally deliver to these families in order to bless them this Christmas season.

Many hands make light work, and love is most powerful and effective when shared. Love is not just a feeling, it’s an action. We are inviting and asking you to join us by adopting people in our community by calling them family.

For more information on how you can help, please refer to our website:


If you would like to read a personal story on my family’s experience, please refer to David Laskin’s article in the Seattle Met:



  1. Deb Kalmbach says:

    This is beautifully written, Emily. I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, too. We all need to come together to help. Thanks for your poignant invitation.

  2. Sarah L says:

    I love this draw in. A community is worth helping, this is one of them. A crisis that still needs to see the love of God working through the tough times. Loving those who are the least of these. I know this path. These pictures remind even me that this journey of mine will have tears of compassion toward everyone in Paternos. I know I am far away but there are days I find myself praying for you. I know I cannot do anything financially but praying for you is important. {{{{{{HUGS}}}} to you my friend.