fire is complicated.

Today was a hard day. Emotionally, I mean. There is an enormous beast of a wildfire roaring through central Idaho right now, and Sam had to leave this morning to go work near it. When fires burn through power poles, Idaho Power has to send up teams of linemen ASAP to get the poles rebuilt. Since Sam is on a project team of linemen, they follow fires whenever they arise.

Confession…and judge how you may… but we pray for a “good” fire season all year long. Of course I would never want someone’s house or business to burn, and God forbid anyone being injured or killed by a wildfire, but the truth is that fire season is how I go to school debt-free, how we take fun trips, how we fix our cars and pay for house projects and build up any savings. So yes, we pray for extra money to get us through the leaner times, and yes that extra money comes from the heat of burning power poles. Actually, can we just say “wish” instead of “pray”? We wish for a good fire season. A good fire season that only burns through sage brush and dirt, or whatever. (Please don’t persecute me for my ignorance here, I’m sure I know nothing about wildfires and their good or bad influence on the environment, landscape, or economy).

And now we got what we wished for.
Sam left last weekend to work on the fires. He got back this Thursday night, and then unexpectedly got called and asked if he wanted to head back this morning. He didn’t have to go- he has a few days off until they have to go back- but we felt like it would be crazy to waste the opportunity for extra work, especially with another baby on the way and one last semester of college tuition due next week.

So anyways, he packed a bag and left, neither of us knowing when he’d be home again, but knowing full well that he would miss Clara’s first birthday. I’m actually crying just typing this. I know her birthday isn’t an important day. We can celebrate our first year with her whenever we want, not just on the actual date. But I wanted to have a party for her. And I wanted to hold Sam’s hand while she ate her first piece of cake, and I wanted to share a look with him that no one else understood. A look that said, “We did it. We got our beautiful baby girl. We kept her healthy and safe. We didn’t sleep, we worried a lot, we learned just how much we do not know, and we fell so crazy in love with our daughter that we will never ever be the same. You and me, buddy. We did it.”

Sam will be home soon enough. I will survive more time away from him. We’ve been living like this for 5 years, and we know that God will give us exactly what we need to make it through the hours apart. It’s harder now, of course, because a certain wonderful tiny someone makes the distance seem impossibly far, but we can do this. And you know what? My normally quiet little house was full of people all day today. My dear friends, my cousins, my sister, my baby, and my nieces and nephews came through like a revolving door. I was really sad today. But my house was full of love. And cheese sticks. And toys. And coffee. And kisses.

I have a lot to be thankful for. And I am, I am so thankful. But I also needed a smidge of room for sadness tonight. What I remembered as I took a minute to cry was that I worship a God who has an absolute capacity for both: my sorrow and my joy. He is Protector and King, and He can hold whatever I am brave enough to hand to Him.

So here it is, Lord.
A disappointed handful of birthday cake.
A bit of regret for wanting fires to burn;
a bit of relief for financial breathing room.
A thankful heart for the people who love me.
And a few lonely tears.

amen.

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