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Matthew 5:44-45 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you. Do good to them that hate you, pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you-“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh His sun to shine on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”

We live in a world which impartially sends down the sunshine and the rain on all of us. We are all subject to the human woes and sorrows which come to good and evil alike-no one is exempt. We got a taste of this last Sunday night when the unexpected happened in our family.

We had gone to bed, and was just drifting off into sweet slumber when the dogs set up a ruckus outside. Criss jumped up and exclaimed, “I hear someone knocking on our door.” He opened the door to find our daughter-in-law Jennifer, shaking and distraught. She stammered, “Our house is on fire!”

What other words could strike more terror into a person? Our son Andy and his family live just across the garden from us, and he ran to find the house already filled with smoke. He thought their son Nicholas was in the house, and he ran into the smoke and flames to look in his bedroom. He wasn’t there, and we discovered later that he stayed with a friend in Clendenin.

Jennifer had taken a sleeping pill and their little minipin, Jasper, had carried on and barked, jumping upon the bed and trying to awaken her. Finally she aroused to smell smoke and realize that Taylor’s room was on fire. That’s when she came for Criss.

By the time he got up there (just seconds) the smoke was so bad he could hardly breathe. When the fire department arrived, it was too late to try to salvage anything. I sat and watched out the window as the flames shot higher and higher, and realized that years of memories were going up in smoke. I remembered how proud they were when they built their home, and how Andy had labored night and day to make it a reality. Many people have gone through house fires, but I didn’t realize how traumatic it was until I witnessed it first hand.

Fortunately, Andy and Taylor were up at their Sand Fork farm and out of harm’s way, but it is frightening to think of how close Jennifer came to death. Just a few more minutes and she would have been overcome by smoke. The only loss of life was Nicholas’ beloved cat Simba, and his bird. He also lost his entire wardrobe of clothes and shoes.

They had moved a few of their belongings to the Sand Fork farm where they spent an occasional weekend, but most of their possessions were still in the house, especially sentimental things-Jennifer’s antiques that were handed down from her deceased grandmother, Taylor’s handmade cradle and new baby bed, Andy’s knife collection and old antique guns. There were the handmade baby quilts (made by their grandmother Barbara, and never to be replaced. Barb is not able to sew now.) They keep thinking of the things that perished in the fire…

They are blessed in that they do have a place to live-the farm that they used as a weekend retreat. So many people don’t have a place to lay their heads when tragedy strikes. There are so many blessings, even with the loss. Jennifer came so near death and survived, part of the family was not there, and except for poor Nicholas’ cat and bird, it was just “things.” “Things” can mostly be replaced, except for the heirlooms.

“Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.” Ecc. 11:1

People have been so generous that it is overwhelming. Andy was always the one who was the giver, and he is finding it hard to be on the receiving end. He feels so unworthy, although he has cast his bread upon the waters over and over. (Mom used to quote this scripture, adding “that it will come back covered with jam!”)

Folks have brought in food, clothing, grocery and laundry items-so much. The congregation where Jennifer goes to church (Middle Creek Baptist Church) brought in such an array of home-cooked food that we were astonished. We’ve had phone calls, offers to help and expressions of support. How we love the people of Clay County, and others, with their overwhelming desire to help!

We say “Thank you” from the bottom of our hearts. That doesn’t seem sufficient, but all we can do to repay is to offer a helping hand to someone else in need. We do sincerely appreciate everything you have done for us.

There seems to be a little undercurrent of talk that “you know they burned the house down for the insurance.” Shame on you! Yes, thank the Lord, they did have insurance. And they had talked about building sometime in the future on the Sand Fork farm. Do you think they would have left their most valued possessions in the house to be burned?

Yes, this has been traumatic for all of us. But we are survivors!

God is taking care of us, and in Him do we trust.

Man’s life is laid in the loom of time
To a pattern he does not see,
While the weavers work and the shuttles fly
Till the dawn of eternity.

Some shuttles are filled with silver threads
And some with threads of gold,
While often but the darker hues
Are all that they may hold.

But the weaver watches with skillful eye
Each shuttle fly to and fro,
And sees the pattern so deftly wrought
As the loom moves sure and slow.

God surely planned the pattern:
Each thread, the dark and fair,
Is chosen by His master skill
And placed in the web with care.

He only knows the beauty,
And guides the shuttles which hold
The threads so unattractive,
As well as the threads of gold.

Not till each loom is silent,
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God reveal the pattern
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads were as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
For the pattern which He planned.
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Alyce Faye Bragg

She writes the "News From the Hills" column. Born and raised in the country, and still lives on the same farm where she was raised. Has a sincere love for nature and the beauty of the hills. Began writing in 1981 & currently has three books published. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer