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Running From the Flames!

by Angelina Graham

I had just a few minutes to grab valuables out of my house.

“Ang! You have to snap out of it!” Jeni, my older sister, yelled at me as she shook my shoulders.

As if she wasn’t already aware, I informed her, “But the fire’s right there!”

“I know. We have to get in the house and get out what we can. They aren’t gonna let us stay much longer.”

Jeni gave me one last stern look and ran back into the house. But the fire’s right there, I thought again. As I stood in the driveway, my tears turned into a sob, and my body began shaking uncontrollably. I wanted to run inside with Jeni, but I couldn’t move. All I could do was stare as the flames began peaking over the hill behind my house. Suck it up! I told myself. The fire’s coming, and all you can do now is grab what you can, get out, and pray that the fire stops before it destroys the house.

Dazed and confused I ran inside. I knew I had to save whatever I could, but what? Where should I start? I wanted to keep everything. I wished we could just load up the house, roof and all.

“Grab what’s important!” Mom yelled as she ran past me with a handful of photo albums. “Get what you want from your room, and I’ll work on getting stuff from the rest of the house."

I dashed to my room, ready to grab my valuables, everything that meant anything to me. Once again the situation overwhelmed me, and all I could do was stand there. I spun in a million circles looking in every corner for something valuable.

I don’t know what to do, God! I’m scared! I fell to the floor in utter defeat. Then an aggravated voice yelled inside my head, Your house is about to be destroyed, and all you’re gonna do about it is sit on your bedroom floor and cry?

I jumped up from the floor with a deep breath, new motive, and cleared head. I scrambled around my room grabbing every picture I could possibly find, some clothes to get by for the next few days, and other items that had any significant meaning.

I flung open the front door with a handful of my possessions, took one step outside, and froze in my tracks. Water poured down on my head from the overflowing gutters above, and I lunged forward to escape the downpour. Then I saw the fire truck parked in my front yard. Firefighters were spraying down my house.

Reality punched me in the face. I kept telling myself that the fire wouldn’t get to my house. But the firefighters were obviously having different thoughts, or they wouldn’t be spraying my house to protect it from the flames only 300 yards away. Thirty minutes flew by, then Mom told me the last thing I wanted to hear: “Ang, we have to go. They won’t let us stay any longer.”

The fire was too close, and we were in danger. I wasn’t willing to leave, though. “I’m not leaving yet!” I yelled back, aggravated and scared.

“Ang!” Mom yelled in a stern voice.

“They can’t make me leave yet, I have to grab the home videos!” I said anything that would buy me a few more minutes in the house I grew up in before it burned to the ground.

Stalling worked for only a few minutes. If we didn’t leave soon, the firefighters were going to drag us out. With our vehicles ready and loaded, we evacuated. Reluctantly I got in the van and slammed the door shut. I took one last look at my house in the rearview mirror.

He’s enough

To this day the image of our house with flames in the background, framed by the rearview mirror, is etched in my mind. Even though that image still lingers there, I also remember returning to my house the day after the fire. Our house was still white and standing strong in the midst of a black desert. Just 50 feet from my house, fire had turned the once-green grass to ashes and stripped the trees of life while painting them black.

There’s no good explanation for why my house didn’t burn down. During the Big Rock Fire that swept through the outskirts of my hometown, at least five homes were destroyed. The flames came only a few feet from a grove of trees that could’ve fueled the fire enough to demolish my house.

It’s amazing how many lessons I learned that day: wind can change directions in a short period of time, and God protects us no matter what. That day I learned to trust God. When my friends, parents, and even the firefighters couldn’t do anything to stop the fire, I turned to God, and He was enough.

Sometimes when I feel like the flames of stress and trials are surrounding me, threatening to destroy me, just like God saved my house from the fire, I know He can save me, too.

Angelina Graham, 18, is a senior at Valentine Rural High School in Valentine, Nebraska, where she lives. Her hobbies include kayaking, basketball, volleyball, track, riding horses, painting, and drawing.

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