When The Fires Of Life Come

Just a few days ago a fire blazed through my little town of Alpine.  Over 400 acres in size with 55 structures being destroyed including 34 homes.  One day they were there, the next just smoldering ruins.

My home is just under 2 miles away from it's origin.  It started right where I get on the freeway everyday and began just a few minutes after I past this location around 11:20am on my way to work.  Had the gusty winds been blowing eastward instead of westward I might not be writing this blog to you on this computer right now...

IMG_0774.JPG

My birthday was also just a few days ago.  July 5th.  Had a good one.  The big Six 0.   Enjoyed time with family and a few friends. Thoughts of birthdays in days past but also dreams of future ones.  Those wonderful imaginings of what has been and what could be...  

Then things changed.  In a moment of time things can change big time.  I got a call from my wife while I was down in the valley buying supplies.  It was over 108 degrees when she told me there was a fire...and it could be coming toward our house.  I started homeward and as I got closer my concerns grew.  The smoke cloud was huge.  Eventually as I drove through plumes of smoke on the freeway I came closer to my exit and could tell the fire was moving away from the direction of our home.  So far so good...

Then for the next 24 hours we monitored the progress of the fire as best we could.  Our power and internet had been shut off.  The temps in the house were in the 90's.  Basically pretty miserable time.  Our pretty little lives had been disrupted again. 

IMG_0769.JPG

So what to do when the fires of life come?  If you've lived long enough you've been hit with "fires" more than once.  Even when we're little "fires" come.  You get bullied at school.  Your girlfriend or boyfriend dumps you.  You don't get picked for the football team etc.  This is part of life.  A very crucial part of life actually.... 

Over 10 years ago my kidneys finally quit.  Polycystic kidney disease or PKD for short.  It's genetic.  Got it from my mom who lived with it, and dialysis, for over 27 years.  Three of my siblings also have it.  One day a stomach ache grew to a stabbing pain that lead to an ER visit which let to 14 days in the hospital.  When I checked out I was now on dialysis.  3 days a week and 3 to 4 hours each day I had huge needles stuck in my arm to filter my blood.  No fun.... 

IMG_0013.JPG

Even though I never got used to the needles after a few days of hours on tv and channel surfing I decided to try and improve my drawing and sketching skills.  I brought a few books on how to draw, some ink pens and sketch pads to the dialysis unit and began to practice my drawing skills.  I practiced sketching different forms, fantasy's, and what I called "Dialysis Doodles".   Since I was stuck and couldn't move for hours putting the time to some kind of good use made sense.  Even made a sketch of where I got treatment while at the same time feeling a bit like a monkey in a science experiment...

VZM.IMG_20161026_092739.jpg

Then 10 months later my wife donated one of her kidneys to me and I became free of the "machine".  She literally gave me my life back...

I'm now waiting on finding another donor since the kidney my wife gave to me almost 10 years ago has now almost run out of gas.  I know that things will work out.  Because they always have.  Not always the way I might have wished.  But in hindsight always in ways that have shaped who I am now.  Because what I've learned through life's "fires" is that if I let them those "fires" have and can teach me much.  They've taught me about empathy, patience and kindness.  What love really means and how important it is to show it.  The "fires" have also not lasted forever.  "Water" comes from somewhere or somehow and puts out the "fire".  Usually in the form of good, kind and compassionate people. Especially when I've been willing to let them help.

Before I went through hardships or the "fires of life" I was a more intellectual, less caring and less understanding kind of person.  I couldn't really relate to people and their troubles.  Didn't want to.  I'm afraid I am a little bit of an Asperger type of person.  It's been hard to connect with people in my life at times...  But after going though the hardships and "fires of life" I have been changed into a better person.  I do wish that I didn't have to go through the suffering and pains of life to learn stuff because suffering is never fun.  However for me sometimes I think those journeys are the only path that will work with me.   

I've heard it said that God "uses life's bruises" to soften our hearts and open us up to emotional and spiritual growth, understanding, and maturing.  I don't believe He creates suffering events but rather seeks to comfort and help us move through the tough times to becoming better people..  So the bottom line is that when the "fire's of life" come, try and stay open to what God might be doing in and through it. What can we learn?  How can we grow?  Cuz He's really on our side I believe.  And so it is.

- Dave

PS: For those of you who are praying people please send up a prayer for all the families who lost their homes just days ago.  You could also Google "#westfire" to find support sites for financial and other opportunities for assisting people in practical ways if you are able.  Thank you.  :)

Dave HendersonComment