I'm currently in route to Phoenix, Arizona where my friend Helen will be picking me up from the airport before transferring me to my sister Lisa for the 5 days.
It's now been three weeks since the fire.
The phrase "oh. my. gosh." has been the most used phrase to come out of my mouth.
For a lot of reasons.
But mostly. Because I've been stunned by the generosity and support by so many people near and dear to my heart.....But also- by people I have NEVER EVEN MET.
Many of you already know, but my friend Laura set up a donation page within hours of hearing about the fire.
I was swamped at the conference and didn't even realize what was happening until later that night. When I finally got around to seeing messages, I saw that within several hours- $2,500 had already been raised. I was FLOORED.
At the same time I was looking at the devastating pictures, I was seeing money come in.
There was not even a chance to grieve. God had already begun replacing what was lost.
The next morning I woke up and the number had doubled.
By the time I went to bed that night- $9000 had been donated.
Laura, thank you for taking such quick action and making this happen. You are near and dear to my heart.
On top of that, calls, texts, emails were coming through from people offering different ways to support.
I just kept saying "oh. my. gosh." I didn't know what else to say!
Now that I'm 3 weeks out, I finally have found a few more words to utter. And that would be either "wow" or "holy cow!" :-)
If you gave anonymously, please know that my heart is overwhelmed by your generosity. I don't know who you are or what you gave- but I know that your generosity has not gone unnoticed.
If you gave and your name showed up- please know EACH name I saw made my heart melt a little bit more. So many of you that I know and love have overwhelmed me.
If you have given to me personally through checks or gift cards....You are helping meet my immediate needs and I am SO grateful.
If you called and left messages on my voicemail- I have saved them. Actually went back and listened to them all again yesterday and tears came to my eyes. Hearing your voice, your concern, and your prayers is still comforting today!
To those of you who have started replacing items from my kitchen that you know are near and dear to my heart- I smile. I really do break out into a huge grin when I think about what you have given. :-)
To my coworkers who have dealt with me day in and out as I've processed....You are gems. Your generosity, kindness, friendship, and most importantly: hugs!! have been MUCH appreciated on a daily basis. For the brush, the pedicure, the gift certificate for a massage, the Starbucks drinks, the diet dr. peppers, the giftcards. I truly work with the best team.
Wade and Cynthia: Thanks for going through the ashes. I am so grateful you and your family were called to Tallahassee last year. The support and encouragement you and Emerge church have been to me has been such a blessing. :-)
Carl and Jennifer. "Uncle" Carl. The two of you have sacrificed so much time for me. So much space in your garage and kitchen. :-) There are not a lot of people that I would have called at 5am, but Carl, I knew without a doubt you would do whatever was needed. When I got the first initial call- you were the one I called first and knew you could be my eyes/ears in Tallahassee for me while I was in DC. Jennifer- washing my clothes OVER AND OVER trying to remove the smoke smell. Washing my dishes and coffee cups. The soot you had to deal with. I know it was a HUGE sacrifice for both of you. And my heart is grateful to not only know you- but to officially call you 'family.' :-)
To my family. I just can't get over how blessed I am to call you my family. To my aunts/uncles/cousins/grandparents. Your calls/messages/support is a reminder that God couldn't have put me in a better family. Aunt Mary- for driving down to Tallahassee on a moments notice to be with me, knowing I would need family by my side. Lisa. Caralyn. You two are THE world's best sisters and I am so honored that you would rally your friends and coworkers to help support me. I can't even get over it. Mom: 5 more days until I get to hug you. That's all. And Dad: :-) I knew you were getting tired of helping your girls move.....so guess what! That washer and dryer will never have to go up a flight of stairs ever again! ;-) But seriously. Thanks for playing the middle man for me while I couldn't communicate myself.
And last, but not least. To the entire Emhof family who has taken me in and let me live in their house for the past few weeks. Your hospitality has meant more to me than you will know. Many people could have offered me a roof over my head- but you have offered me a home and family during this time when mine was so far away.
My heart is full this Christmas.
I am blessed with friendships that are beyond compare.
**I also recognize there are PLENTY of you who I could have called out by name- but know you'll be hearing more from me.**