There are chapters in my life that I would just as soon skip over, as I do when a novel I'm reading grows tedious. But in life, there is no way to page through the tedious parts. And so we live them, one daypage at a time.

3 1/2 weeks ago, early on the morning of April 24, a new chapter began for us. I was awakened by an unfamiliar crackling sound. When I wandered out of my bedroom, my sleep-swollen eyes were accosted by a wall of fire outside the sewing room window. "Oh God! The Ortiz's house is on fire!" My wail raised the slumbering Amy and Rachel. Rachel: "We have to see if everybody got out. We have to go help them!" Amy: "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!" I called Mom who was at work, and then 911. We pulled on some clothes and ran out of the house and into the cold night. In the light of fire, I could see the Ortizes huddled on the side of the street, all six of them. "Is everybody okay?" I asked. "Yes." Just minutes after our exit, flames lept the 10 feet between the two houses and our house caught fire. Shuddering, from cold and from the horror, I screamed.

"The puppies!" The dachshunds, Zeidel & Joey were shut in on the south side of the yard, in the area between the two burning houses. When one of our neighbors realized this, he tore off to rescue them. In his haste, he tore down the little lattice gate we'd had constructed to keep them confined to their run because he could not tell how it fastened. The dogs fled into the night. Through the french doors in the back of the house, our neighbor could see our cat Anna, totally fritzed. He took a flower pot and smashed a pane of glass so she could escape the inferno. He returned, brandishing a wounded arm where Anna had scratched him.

In a nightmare, I would have woken up at the point our house caught fire, but when the fire had been contained an hour later and we went home with Bro. Moss, the nightmare was still real. We sat in the Moss' living room as the sun rose and recalled the morning's events over tea.

"It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not," (Lamentations 3:22).


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