Since the Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas wildfires of March 2017, I have consistently gone back and forth asking myself, “What would I replace if the fire had burnt our house down.” If you missed my posts during that time, visit here, here, here, here, and here. Needless to say, it’s been one of the hardest years of my life. At the same time, my perspective has been refocused. For instance, our house is very… lived in. Okay, it’s messy. I’m generally a very organized person who likes things tidy but eight people live in this house twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. This is roughly 1800 square feet. That is about 225 square feet per person. Talk about tiny house living!
I’m sure many of you can relate in some way.
One thing we don’t tend to be overboard on is clothing. We are pretty minimalist but… We live on a farm so we need a full week’s worth of work clothes for each season plus town clothes and a few special occasion outfits. That’s around fourteen outfits each, again times eight is over a hundred pair of jeans or overalls in our house plus 50+ pair of shoes and boots. (Kathryn may have that many herself. She hasn’t jumped on the minimalist bandwagon as far as shoes… LOL)
So, to the point, what would I replace if the fire had burnt our house down? Maybe I should start with what I wouldn’t replace.
- I would not replace the house. Okay, now you're sure I’ve gone off my rocker, right? Seriously we would have probably started our own little RV park with a pavilion for the family dining and living area. For our family, this makes a lot more sense. If the children need to transplant they can simply take their home with them. When they all are settled elsewhere we can take our home to visit each of them. I wonder what our property taxes would be? (I HATE property tax!)
- I would not replace dressers. Armiores or portable wardrobes would suite our needs much better. Of course, if we were living in RVs they usually have wonderful storage. (Except maybe for winter coats and boots. They do tend to lack a designated area for that, but I'm sure we'd figure something out.)
- Kitchen items. When I came home to help Paul later that week, he was still fighting some fires on and around our property. I needed to clean the ash and soot as much as possible before we could bring the children home. Kathryn was having breathing problems from the escape. She is still having to use her inhaler twice a day compared to once every week or two before. I went into the kitchen to clean up some things and fix breakfast. I picked up my little cast iron skillet and started to cry. I use my "baby skillet" every single morning. I asked Paul, “If the house burned down could I get a new baby skillet?” He hugged me and let me know that would be fine. I looked around the kitchen imagining the things I would miss and was surprised to realize there were only a few things I really would. Most of them are listed on my Kitchen Essentials page. I would honestly have fun searching for other essential items on Etsy or at antique shops.
- Necessities. Clothes, towels, shoes, boots. Most of these things were available through donations and we were blessed to receive needed items. Boots wore out much faster walking around in soot and burnt nails. Work clothes got snagged and torn on burnt wire and jagged leftover trees and posts. We were also given shampoo, toothpaste, and cleaning supplies which were so very helpful. I know these may seem obvious but I know a family who’s house burned down and they went a week before telling anyone they didn’t have any clean undies. Having to go through all the ash and soot, seriously new toiletries and a fresh change of clean clothes means a lot.
- Books. Specifically Bibles for each family member. His Word is so important especially at a time like this. I’d also need books for our homeschooling. One must carry on. I can homeschool with Bible, Math-U-See, and a computer but it’s really nice to have reference books. Of course we need notebooks, crayons, rulers, tape, glue, pencils and paper. I have a few health reference books and cookbooks also I’d want to replace very quickly and Hymnals are something we use regularly too.
- Audio. Music and audio-books are a big part of our lives. Diana Waring’s History series is essential to our homeschool. The Piano Guys music has become an uplifting delight. We also love Celtic hymns, classical music, epic soundtracks, and happy pop and inspirational country artists. In our house, we would rather have music playing than to have a TV on. We don’t prescribe to cable or satellite. It’s not worth the money to us.
- Computers. I have a love/hate relationship with electronic devices but we have to have them to make a living.
- Pictures. I’d be begging for copies of pictures I had shared with people throughout the years. DON’T rely on facebook for pictures. Facebook downsizes the pictures you put on there and they will NOT print out as nice. I love being surrounded by pictures and flipping through scrapbooks of my friends and family.
- Rocking Chair. We all love my four post glider. I might even try to replace it with a love-seat style so more bottoms can fit more comfortably. (I’d MAKE it fit in an RV!)
- Organizers. If we moved into RVs most of our other needs would be met. I’m sure I’d end up needing a few organizers. I love my ThirtyOne organizers and Longaberger baskets with organizer inserts. But those are things I’d probably need to wait and make sure I got things suited to exact spaces and needs. I love shelves, even little wooden shelves and shadowboxes.
- Appliances. Washer, Dryer, Deep Freeze & full size (or larger) Range. RVs usually have nice, efficient refrigerators so with 4 or more RVs, we’d be in good shape. Paul and I have always had a separate deep freeze but we have come to the conclusion that it would be more economical to have a frig only without the freezer. Whatever the RVs had would be fine but when we have to buy a new frig it will probably be a frig only version and maybe propane instead of electric. They are MUCH more efficient.
When the fire initially happened the community was inundated with generous donations. Most of the household and clothing donations had to move on. Our neighbors couldn’t think past the next thing that needed to be done and seriously we all have so much stuff. Going through more stuff to find a few things we may need was overwhelming. Our family did avail ourselves of much needed clothing items because to be honest, we needed many of them before the fire. Working in the corrosive ash and soot wore down boots in a hurry. Rolling up burnt wire and stringing up new left jeans and gloves with rips and holes. We are grateful for the donations of boots and jeans especially. Hopefully the rest of those donations found people who really needed and appreciated them. Who can blame a cowboy for not caring if his jeans and boots have holes in them as long as his cattle were fed, watered, doctored, or buried. Seriously, between relief for the safe and grief for the losses, who wants to think about clothes and household items?
Nine months after those awful wildfires we are still finding damage. Some things have taken time to deteriorate to a point we realized the damage done. The 2-ton truck Paul uses to haul water for the animals had melted pipe and wire on it but we thought the rest was fine until the airbags under the bed gave way this past month. Another expense we need to pray about. We haven’t been able to afford to replace the tiller or lawn mower. He is having to ask customers to pay for materials up front because there is no inventory. Did I tell you this has been a very hard year?
“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:2–12