Background picture of charred home with blog title, Hope When Your World Turns Upside Down

Hope When Your World Turns Upside Down

By Tina Johnson on @deenamadams

I hope this three-part story by my church friend, Tina Johnson, will encourage you to trust God when life falls apart.

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On June 15, 2012, my world turned upside down. 

At 2:30 a.m., the shrill screech of our home smoke alarms awakened me and my husband, Shawn. We stumbled around our smoke-filled house searching for a fire, yet found no flames.

I felt the Lord saying, “Get the kids. Get out of the house.” Yes, Sir! 

I grabbed Elijah, one year old at the time, and Shawn grabbed Noah (7) and Aaron (3) from their shared bedroom. We loaded into the car and backed it out of the garage. I then called 911 from my cell phone. 

As I related our emergency to the dispatcher, my sweet husband went back inside the house to look for the fire. He soon ran out yelling, “I found it! I found it! It’s Ok!” 

He had located a smoldering blanket in the hall closet, (which we later found out had fallen on a bare lightbulb) stomped on it, (with bare feet!!!!??!!) and thought the fire was out. The dispatcher said they still had to send a team. I was fine with that. 

As I hung up the phone, we turned toward the house and saw it go. 

I redialed 911. 

Since we live in a rural area, the fire department had to bring pump trucks. I had also called my parents, who live right across the field. With Mom and Dad at my side, I watched the firefighters work to save our home until we had to take my grumpy boys to my parents’ house and put them to bed. 

I took this picture from my mother’s couch that morning.

Fire Department the night of the fire

Since the firefighters had said the fire was contained, I thought, “Oh, ok. It’s not so bad. We’ll be back in there quick.” I went to check it out (I was told not to, but I’m hard headed like that) because I just knew I was right. 

What I saw melted me into a puddle of goo. 

During discussion with the insurance agents and the renovation people on the front porch of my house that day, we learned the restoration would take 4 to 6 months. 

So, here we were. A family of five, one child still in diapers, and we got out of the house with the clothes (PJ’s) on our backs.

Tina with the boys at Mom’s house

One small blessing… we had some dirty clothes in the garage waiting to go in the wash, and they were spared. Mom handed us money and sent us to the store to get some basics: diapers, wipes, toothbrushes, and an outfit for each of the boys. 

After a night of very little sleep, Shawn and I walked the aisles of Target, trying to figure out what we needed. Shawn’s boss called while we were there, and I remember having a crying fit right there by the shampoo. He had to get off the phone and hold me until I stopped. (I’m tearing up just remembering this!) 

It’s weird; I only remember little snippets of things that went on over those couple of days after the fire.

I remember the Target run with Shawn, getting phone call after phone call from concerned friends and family, people stopping by to see what they could do to help, just lots of things happening in a very short amount of time. We spent Friday trying to figure out what to do next. 

If you are a renter, you will now hear me preach, “PLEASE get renter’s insurance!!” We didn’t have it. We lost everything. And we didn’t have the money to replace everything.

If we’d only spent the small amount of money, maybe $13-$17 per month, we could have replaced everything brand new. Furniture, electronics, clothing, EVERYTHING. Don’t make the same mistake. Spend the money. Trust me on this.

CLICK TO TWEET: Hope When Your World Turns Upside Down. 

The Homeowner’s insurance agents (thankfully, my parents own the house and have excellent HOI) informed us that since we didn’t have renter’s insurance, we had to clean out the house if we wanted to save anything. There was no way I could do this; I was still pretty much in shock (and stayed that way for quite a while) and Shawn is only one person. 

This is where my church family stepped in. What happened next still brings tears to my eyes. 

Be sure to read next week’s post to follow Tina’s story.

Join the conversation. Have you ever experienced a house fire or another tragedy? Did you have a church family to walk with you through the recovery? Have you helped someone else through a tragic event?

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.

Check out this story about a house fire my niece and her family escaped.

As a Jesus girl for more than thirty years, Deena Adams understands how important hope is to daily life, which fuels her passion to inspire others through hope-filled fiction based on true to life stories. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and is a multi-award-winning writer, an active ACFW member, and ACFW Virginia president. Connect with Deena through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


  • Teresa Moyer

    Oh so sad! But thank God you all made it out. I can’t wait for more of the story next week.

    • Tina Johnson

      Thank you, Teresa. God surely uses ALL things for his glory! This fire didn’t shock him off the throne, and he held us through everything.