A Word of Thanks

by Whitney Hale April 15, 2009

Last week my parents' house went up in flames the day before my sister's sixteenth birthday. Although the structure of the house stood strong, the inside was mutilated. Light switch plates melted down walls, the frame on my bridal portrait had melted onto the photo while the photo itself bubbled from the intensity of the heat, and my mom's kitchen was obliterated beyond recognition. My family's furniture was either scorched or reeked of the foul smoke, the baby hats my mom had knit were ruined by grimy soot, and my sister's jewelry was wrecked.

My parents and sister were left with nothing but the items in their cars and the clothes on their backs. The following day was filled with grievous scenarios. We walked around in charred rooms filled with the nostalgia of family gatherings and celebrations. We pored over piles of scalded household knick-knacks and searched for photos, childhood paintings, and our smocked dresses. We even buried our eleven year old beloved family dog--a miniature Daschund runt comically named Zachaeus--whom we lost in the fire.

In my life, it seems that God sanctions two things in the midst of calamity--always letting things get dreadfully worse and constantly placing his pointer finger on my chin and turning my face towards Him. I could go on and on about how things got worse and how I had migraines, my sister had nightmares, tempers in the family flared, insurance representatives weren't exactly amiable, and my parents being emotionally and physically exhausted.

But God used written words--one of my favorite things in the world--to turn my head. As I filled my friends in on what was going on, I received from one of them a quote from the prophet Isaiah "...to comfort all who mourn, beauty for ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning...then they will rebuild." And on this same day, my dad began chronicling the journey through the daunting task of moving forward. He wrote, "We lost everything. We lost nothing."

People texted and e-mailed words of love, and these simple expressions became like water for our thirsting spirits. Sunday morning, Easter Sunday, we attended church as a family. The liturgy was filled with the promises of the resurrection, and I was once again reminded that the old words of the Scriptures and hymns are like home to me. Standing there with my husband and family members, I felt a part of something magnificent as we recited together the words that have been spoken and sung for centuries.

This week, I am just thankful for words, and I am thankful for the Ruminate community committed to creating and publishing more of them.




Whitney Hale
Whitney Hale

Author

Whitney Hale serves as a reader for Ruminate from 2007-20010. She received her BA in English from Liberty University and is currently working for the fundraising arm of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. She writes in her free time for a few organizations and is a strong believer in the reconciliation of people from all places, races, and backgrounds. She is still madly in love with her high school sweetheart whom she married at the ripe old age of 19 and they have two toddler boys who are 19 months apart.



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