By Tina Johnson on @deenamadams
Thanks for reading part two of Tina’s story! If you missed part one, read it here first.
Saturday morning dawned. Shawn and I woke very early (if I slept at all) and went to Home Depot to get respirators and gloves for people to use while working in the house.
When we got back around 8 a.m., a car was already in front of our house. It was our pastor, ready to work.
Before Shawn and I finished breakfast, more people arrived.
Honestly, I don’t even know how many people came but I know of one special lady in particular who wrote this Facebook status after she helped for a bit:
“Okay folks: I just left the Johnson’s home. The immediate need is for LOTS of people to come move EVERYTHING out of the house TODAY. Look at your own home and imagine if every single thing needed to be packed up and moved out by Monday morning. Also, they need boxes for packing. I suggest you wear work boots. I know it is a busy weekend with graduation, Annie’s funeral and Father’s Day … but just one hour would help tremendously.”
Someone brought food that day and there was such an abundance, Mom and I took it down to the house, set up the picnic table outside, and fed everyone who was there. And we continued to receive food for a couple of weeks afterward.
My best friend and her family came. I cannot tell you how much I love this lady. She sat with me, cried with me, and just loved me. This is what she had to say when she got home that evening:
“Just came from my friend, Tina Johnson’s house… Sean helped with pulling stuff out of the house, I hung out with the kidlets and the momma’s. I had a good look at what fire contained in a hallway can do to an entire house. So so so grateful that I still have my friends and their sweet little boys. It is nothing short of a miracle that this is so. God is good and stuff is just stuff.”
Shawn’s boss gave him all the time off he needed to take care of everything at home. I was very grateful; I needed him there.
For a week, he cleaned out the house and directed everyone who came to help. I was no use to anyone.
Monday and Tuesday people came to help get more stuff out of the house and garage. A youth group from a church we don’t even attend came and helped.
I remember someone trying to clean the boys building blocks; you know, the Mega Blocks? Yeah. Soot won’t come off of those. I told them to throw them away.
Our wedding album was in a utility sink that we used for storing stuff; we never ran the water in it. It totally survived.
My oldest son, Noah, was in a loft bed that night.
I’m convinced that if his bedroom door had been open, he wouldn’t be with us today.
He was so high up, close to the ceiling, he would have perished from smoke inhalation. There was an Ikea shelving unit under his bed that we stored toys on. When it was taken out of the house, Shawn scraped a sticker off of it. This is what he saw:
We called this picture “Beauty from Ashes.”
After the fire, I didn’t sleep. I was fine during the day, but when the sun went down, I was a mess. It was as if I had to stay awake to protect everyone else.
Mom’s dryer buzzer, and a malfunctioning freezer sounding a random alarm, didn’t help my frayed nerves.
Add that to no sleep, and I was jumpier than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.
After finally visiting the doctor for a sleep aid, she prescribed anti-anxiety meds and anti-depressants (this was before my discovery of essential oils!) and sent me home with instructions to rest as much as possible.
Be sure to catch the final installment of Tina’s story next week!
Join the conversation. Have you ever cleaned out a fire-damaged building? Were you surprised at the amount of damage? How has your church family come through for you during a difficult time in your life?
Tina and her family have been active members of Sonlight Church since 2008. She is a member of the church praise team, and her husband serves on the greeter team and tech team. She’s also a homeschool mom to her three boys.