Saturday, January 24, 2009

Our home burned down.

I apologize to all my online friends for my absence over this past month. I have received hundreds of emails, all of which only a few have been answered. I hope you all understand that all but the most basic interaction has been difficult. Fortunately, I was finally able to get an internet connection of my own today. It may be a couple of weeks before I catch up, but please know that we thank you all so much for your love, prayers and support. You have blessed us greatly. God bless you all!

The fire happened just a few days before Christmas; at around 9am, on December 22, when one of my teenage sons heard our youngest son, Johnny (16) scream from back in my bedroom. When he went to investigate, he saw the room was already covered in flames and Johnny had tried to stomp-out the flames with his bare foot. You see, Johnny is severely autistic. Though he is sixteen years old, in many ways he is more like a toddler.

“Dad, the house is on fire!” they screamed. By that time, it was already a raging inferno. We didn’t even have time to get dressed or even put on our shoes. We ran outside into fourteen inches of snow. Thankfully, everyone made it out, including our pets. I loaded the kids in the car and quickly shoveled the snow so we could get out of the driveway. By the time we made it to our neighbor’s house and called 911, the smoke was already filling the sky.

As near as we can figure, Johnny had been playing with matches. Only God knows for sure. Strangely enough, I had been troubled with a heavy feeling that Johnny would burn our house down. I had a talk with our son, Caleb (18); telling him what I felt was coming. We promptly hid the box of matches we kept in the kitchen for lighting the woodstove. But, somehow the little guy must have found them and the rest is history.

On a bad note, we lost everything. Unfortunately, our thirty six year old, doublewide mobile home had suffered some structural damage in transport to our property and was uninsurable. Naturally, we are all still in somewhat of a state of shock; however, our spirits continue to be high. Anyway, we had always planned to build a house someday. I guess now we have our chance.

But we are praising the Lord! The Red Cross was there immediately, supplying us with clothes to wear and even put us up in a nearby motel. Then as the word got out, we were blown away by the love and support that began to flood in from God’s family from all across our country and even as far away as New Zealand. Within a few hours, people began dropping by our motel room with spare clothes, food, gift cards and even cash.

The day after the fire, I received a call from Annie MacDonald, the local zone director of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). She told me that a fund had been set up for our family and that donations were already coming in. Then, only a few days later, she presented me with a check for nearly nine hundred dollars and told me that more was on its way. I was blown away! Of those who have given, I’ve only met two or three. And I ought to know how tight things are for a writer. May God bless them all a hundred times over.

Then I went to Best Buy. I had just bought a new laptop a couple of weeks earlier, which carried a pricy insurance policy that included accidental damage. I wasn’t holding out much hope, but I wasn’t out anything for trying. The customer service clerk checked with their supervisor, who regretfully broke the news that a house fire was not covered. Then I asked if I could get a partial refund on the three hundred and twenty eight dollar insurance policy, seeing how there was nothing left to insure. I wasn’t expecting what followed.

“We can do you one better,” said the store manager. “We will replace the laptop for the price of that insurance refund and even throw in a new printer too.” I was overwhelmed. The laptop they gave me was their top-of-the-line Sony Vaio, identical to the one I lost. Then they offered to sell us a second laptop (an upper-end Toshiba) for the rest of the family to use for only two hundred and fifty more dollars and even threw in laptop cases for only five dollars each.

Then, if that wasn’t enough, only a few minutes later, the store manager came and found us. “A customer overheard our conversation as they waited in the line behind you. They purchased a five hundred dollar gift card to help you replace some of your children’s Christmas presents, which were lost in the fire. Not only that, but two more customers overheard and also purchased gift cards too!” By this time, Darla and I were fighting back the tears, yet again.

Only a few minutes later, the store manager came to find us yet again, telling us that their employees were going to adopt our family. They wanted to help buy Christmas presents for the kids, and even offered to give us the employee discount on anything in the store. But it didn’t stop there. Somehow, the Old Navy store next door got word and offered to adopt our kids too. All this happened in less than twenty minutes!

Then, a few days later the Red Cross called, saying that they wanted to give me five hundred dollars to help replace some of my writing equipment. Naturally, I chose to spend the money at Best Buy. I chose a large backup drive, an ergonomic keyboard and a twenty-two inch monitor that Best Buy upgraded to a twenty-five inch for no extra cost. Is God watching out for us or what?

It keeps getting better. Our church where I serve as youth pastor offered to let us move in for the next couple of months. We are staying in the youth building which is complete with a kitchen. Our three teenage boys are bunking in an unused classroom and tomorrow, Darla and I are going to convert my office into a bedroom for us. Every day it seems that people are giving us more and more furniture. By the time we figure out how we are going to replace our home, we will already have a houseful of furniture. Praise God!

Wait, God has blessed us even more! Our church and the local community club have teamed up to hold a fundraiser auction/spaghetti feed for us on February 28th. They even established a “Dave Meigs Fire Fund” at the Bank of America. Their goal is to raise twenty thousand dollars to cover the cost of moving and setup of a replacement doublewide, when one becomes available. If you want to read more, please check out this article from our local newspaper.

God has done so much for us and never in my life have I felt so loved; nevertheless, I won’t lie to you and not admit that sometimes I am terrified. It’s not easy to sleep sometimes with so many unanswered questions repeating themselves in endless loops. After all, who am I but an over-the-hill youth pastor who aspires to write novels? Nevertheless, God continues to blow me away by His irresistible love. Earlier this evening, my son Caleb said it best. “Dad, don’t forget that we’ve grown up seeing God’s provision. Just think of all we’ve been through before now? We’ve grown up seeing miracles. I’m just excited to see what God does next.” Amen to that, son. Amen.

Please keep us in your prayers. I’ll try to post again as soon as I am able. May God bless you all!