thoughts on the church fire of 2002

many of you remember this day ten years ago.  many of us stood together.  many of us hugged.  many of you held my baby.  it’s a tender set of memories.  not until i saw the photos again did i remember the magnitude of losing it all.  amazing.  so, ten years later…a movie and some thoughts i shared at church last sunday…

{thoughts on the church fire of january 31, 2002}

ten years ago i was most likely tucked away in our old rosewood street house.  naomi was four years old and micah was just over 2 months old.  my mom was with us helping me through the darkest and brightest weeks of my life.  i had waved my white flag of surrender in the days following christmas 2001.  tired of the neck tingling anxiety, tired of my stomach churning while i tried to fall asleep, tired of having to make myself eat, tired of convincing myself that my children were okay, tired of trying to feel happy, simply tired, i came clean.  later described as “moderate depression and significant anxiety due to complicated compounded bereavement” associated with the mystery of micah’s birth in contrast to a lifetime of perfectionist issues, a miscarriage that knocked me to my knees, the terror of the 9/11 attacks and a general sense of not being able to do it all,  i was in a time of healing.

sleeping on freshly laundered sheets, with cards from friends and flowers from church nearby, early morning light coming in, my mom woke me.  her seriousness like a rock on the corner of my bed.

“kristin.  there was a call from church.  there was a fire.  a fire in the basement.”

the next moments are vague.  but i do remember a sudden sense of purpose.  a bit of relief in there being something tangible to work with.  i remember getting dressed and going over to church.  i remember waiting outside a while.  i remember the smell of hot wire and smoke.  i remember jeanne saying to me, “nothing like a kick in the teeth when you’re already down, huh?”

and i remember feeling primed.  ready.  i had been through weeks of facing my greatest fears (failure, incompetence, loss of perspective, irrational thoughts, inability to sleep, lack of appetite, shame, embarrassment, dreams shattered…) and the fire in the basement offered an odd balm.

in the first moments of wandering through the burned classroom and wondering what could be saved or what should be saved, george said, “let it go.  it all has to go.”

after weeks of being encouraged to move away from my “all or nothing” thinking, his words were like the drug i had been missing. i was truly relieved to let it all go. everything could and would be replaced.

the first task i had was to make a list of every item lost.  that may have been the most therapeutic piece of the process.  i sat at the computer drinking tea and remembered every corner of the basement.  everything was named.

our old preschool classroom had shelves built with cinder blocks and stray boards.  our cubbies were old alco display cases.  our thrifted tables were once big tables cut down to child size.  most of our toys were plastic.  there were dozens of juice lids and toilet paper rolls.  we had books from the 70s and 60 aprons made by hand.  we had operated for over 7 years like that and i prided us for it.  i boasted that it doesn’t take a fancy space to make a good program.

and it is because of the fire that we have what we have now.

maple cubbies with rounded edges, hardwood trucks, cars and blocks, anatomically correct baby dolls, matching chairs and tables, rugs that are sturdy enough so they don’t need to be duct taped down, windows that open, puzzles with all the pieces, banners and pretty shelves, and children’s books from today’s top authors…

tangible reminders of the mystery of god’s grace and mercy.

i know what i’m doing. i have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

jeremiah 29:11

5 thoughts on “thoughts on the church fire of 2002

  1. This is shockingly familiar. Where do you live because I grew up in Kansas and there was a church close to our town that burned down, I’m not 100% sure it was 2002 but it was within a year or two of that. It would be crazy if we were almost neighbors forever then met through the blogosphere a decade later.

    Also, I found your blog because you left a comment on mine, and have come to the conclusion that you, your family, and your blog are all adoreable. :) I look forward to reading more.


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