One Year After the Paradise Camp Fire

My friends and I sang This Used to be My Playground by Madonna at our high school graduation from Paradise Adventist Academy in 1998.  I couldn’t help but find the lyrics appropriate for my state of mind today.

“This used to be my playground
This used to be my childhood dream
This used to be the place I ran to
Whenever I was in need of a friend”
– Madonna This Used to Be My Playground

My parents moved to Paradise when I was 2-years-old. Here’s a photo of me when I was about 7 or 8 in front of our house in Paradise on Vista Knolls Drive.

Here is our family photo in front of the “You Are Ascending Into Paradise” town sign in January 2016.  Paradise is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills at 1,778 ft. As you are driving up either Pentz Road, Clark Road, or Skyway you are gaining elevation pretty quickly and ascending into the town.

Here is a photo of a handmade sign in the same place after the Camp Fire.  After the town was evacuated, armed law enforcement officers didn’t let civilians back into the town for several weeks while they searched for those who did not survive.  Some lone vigilantes had stayed behind to guard their property and possessions.

Here are photos from my parents’ home that they built in 1992

Me pregnant with S in 2010.

Fourth of July 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

This photo was meant to be used as our family Christmas photo in 2018.  But I didn’t send out Christmas cards last year.

My parents’ home was completely destroyed.  Here is the pool where we had taken our family Christmas photo just days before.

Photos from our home on De Sante Lane

We bought this home in November 2016.  Here is our Christmas card photo from that year.

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The kiddos playing in the backyard in 2016

Family Christmas photo 2017

The fire burned everything. Our house was completely gone. You can see the kiddos climbing dome in the back left corner of the yard. You can see the remains of E’s Honda Element in the back right side of the photo.

These cement handprint stepping stones were the only things that survived the Camp Fire. The kiddos had made them for E as birthday gifts.

E found the steel frame from his mountain bike in the rubble. He had hoped he might be able to rebuild a bike using it.

This angel Christmas ornament was in a box in the attic. We gave up sifting through the ashes. Nothing was salvageable.

“Why did it have to end
And why do they always say
Don’t look back
Keep your head held high
Don’t ask them why
Because life is short
And before you know
You’re feeling old
And your heart is breaking
Don’t hold on to the past
Well that’s too much to ask”
– Madonna This Used to Be My Playground

I read a story yesterday about some young men who were captured as prisoners of war. While in captivity, they broke a law.  The punishment for breaking the law was to be burned alive.  When the time came for them to receive their sentence they said, “God can save us, and even if he doesn’t, we still won’t obey that law.”  (You can read their whole story in the book of Daniel chapter 3). Spoiler alert:  God saves them from the fire!  God has been saving people from fires for years!  The God who was with those young men is the same God who is with me right now.

Another in the Fire – Hillsong UNITED

“…There was another in the fire
Standing next to me
There was another in the waters
Holding back the seas
And should I ever need reminding
Of how I’ve been set free
There is a cross that bears the burden
Where another died for me
There is another in the fire…

…There is another in the fire
Standing next to me
There is another in the waters
Holding back the seas
And should I ever need reminding
What power set me free
There is a grave that holds no body
And now that power lives in me
There is another in the fire…

…And I know I will never be alone
There’ll be another in the fire
Standing next to me
There’ll be another in the waters
Holding back the seas
And should I ever need reminding
How good You’ve been to me
I’ll count the joy come every battle
‘Cause I know that’s where You’ll be…”
– Another In The Fire by Hillsong UNITED

To all of my fellow Camp Fire survivors, I wish this blessing for each one of you today and always.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

– Romans 15:13

21 thoughts on “One Year After the Paradise Camp Fire

  1. This is so devastating to see. The way you reach out to and lift up your fellow survivors is so inspiring. And your testimony of Jesus, most of all, with you in everything. May He continue to bless and watch over you and your sweet family, friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing . Those are such Heart wrenching pics . Can’t believe that pool pic was only days before . Ridiculous how quickly tragedy can strike. But the pic of you preggo with S ?? Perfect comic relief !!! Omgoodness I love that pic . We Love y’all . I hate the devastation …. but I love having met y’all because of it ! So I’m right there with you mixed feelings of all sorts ! 💕

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks girl!
      I was thinking of you when I was putting in the Hillsong United lyrics because it says “There’s another in the fire” and then “There’s another in the water” right after.
      Fire & water! God was with you in the flood just before He was with us the fire. How crazy is that! Opposite and the same.
      We love and miss y’all!! So blessed to have met you my sweet friend!

      Liked by 2 people

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