Ep. 13: Fire
ON THIS EPISODE:
Today we shared our experience with the fire that has been burning in our hometown of Redding, CA for the last week. We also talk about the appeal of tragedy, sensationalism, and the reality that our faith is never about what we think it is about.
Miraculous Fire Video from Redding: https://bit.ly/2Kk2aWn
The group mentioned who was building Sifters for families in Redding to sift through their items:
I’m Morgan Hansow and this is my husband, Dave - we’ve spent the last 20 years on a wild adventure that’s taken us to Africa, the Oprah show, and Hollywood.
Welcome to Chasing Unicorns… a podcast about giving ourselves permission to chase our dreams, explore our faith, and figure out who we are, all while trying to keep our crap together!
As Creatives, Humanitarians, and Parents, we’re learning (sometimes the hard way) that the hustle and pursuit of the elusive unicorn will never satisfy.
Each week we explore what it looks like to live authentic, passionate, and connected lives while being a part of a movement that’s trying to transform the world through story + grace.
Overview of today’s show -
Welcome to Chasing Unicorns! Today we are going to share our experience with the fire that has been burning in our hometown of Redding, CA for the last week. We’ll also talk about the appeal of tragedy, sensationalism, and the reality that our faith is never about what we think it is about.
Well, today’s a first… we have our first podcast where you and I aren’t in headphones recording while gazing into each other’s eyes! Do you think it’s going to work?
I hope so! So far so good! Yes, like we mentioned last week, you just arrived in Rhode Island for an informal reunion with your cousins and extended family—probably indulging in some delicious seafood—and I am here working, holding down the fort, and taking care of the kids.
That is all true, except that the seafood extravaganza hasn’t begun yet! Plus I’m sure it’ll be horrible ;)
But in all seriousness, I really hate traveling and having experiences without you! I kinda like you! I wish it could have worked out that we all could have come, but we just couldn’t make it work out this time.
And well, honestly, in light of the fire, your trip was a on the fence for a few days and as much as it would be nice to get out of the smoke and haze, it’s probably best that we have someone here at our home
Right, that’s probably true! Well, just for the record, I miss you Baby!
It’s time for our ome (Office) Huddle in which we Talk about what’s surfacing in our current pursuits—both personally and professionally—as a Husband/Wife duo.
Since last week’s podcast, things here in Redding have gotten pretty crazy. I can’t imagine people not knowing, but I guess it is possible… Hun, do you want to give some background?
Sure, if you’ve seen any national news in the past week, you probably saw Redding on the news for a fire they’ve named The Carr Fire. It was started west of Redding by this amazing lake we go to for recreation called Whiskeytown. Apparently some sparks were caused by some mechanical issues with a car, or I think I’ve heard it was a motorhome, anyways, the sparks started a fire and the fire took off. That was on a Monday and they were able to keep a pretty good handle it on for the first couple days but we woke up to a thick layer of smoke Wednesday morning.
Yeah, I remember you telling me Thursday morning that a fire had doubled in size the night before and was coming east towards Redding and officials were going to start evacuating some people as a precaution. As we looked at the map online, half-jokingly, I remember saying, “You don’t think we need to worry do you?” We both agreed that’d be pretty far fetched because the fire would have to jump the Sacramento River. You left to bring Jadyn to dress rehearsals for ‘The Lion King’ musical - All last week Jadyn was in a musical theater camp and Jadyn was B the Hyena. You dropped her off and called me because the church they were using for the performance was across town on the west side of Redding had also been designated as an evacuation center for people further west towards the fire.
I was definitely a little nervous leaving her there but they were performing the musical the next day and had worked so hard and I figured that if it was an evacuation center than she was probably pretty safe so I decided to leave her. It turned out okay but by Thursday afternoon the smoke was getting pretty thick and by the evening, ashes were starting to fall. Morgan and Asher had left to go to a hip-hop class at 7:45 at a Studio across the river and near downtown even though the sky was lit up orange.
Yeah, looking back, I’m not sure that was a smart move, I remember getting off the exit and seeing flames not too far away. Only 5 of the 20 people that were taking the class showed up and we all pretty distracted because the fire was clearly making advances into the city. As soon as I heard someone in class get a text that said ‘the fire has jumped the river’ I was done for! I was trying to follow along and doing my best but mind was definitely in a ‘oh shit’ mindset. The couple in the class next to me (who live not too far from us) had told me that they had called their insurance to double check to see if they were covered for fires and had already packed their car with stuff if they had evacuate. We ended up stopping class early and coming home, the roads were a mess. The highway coming from West Redding was bumper to bumper as people were evacuating and we could see full on flames raging with the city in the foreground. I felt like I was in a movie and with the power outage, half the city didn’t have electricity so stoplights weren’t working and gas stations weren’t working and there was just panic and fear everywhere. All I wanted to do was get off of the road, get home and talk with Dave about what we do.
When the electricity went out Jadyn started to panic so I was reassuring her while lighting candles and getting out flashlights and headlamps from our camping gear. When Morgan got home we started gathering important things – irreplaceable things like pictures, documents, family heirlooms in case. We were also charging cell phones with our charged laptops because that was our communication and our only way of getting information on the fire. I think it wasn’t too long after we gathered as a family to pray for wisdom, our home, and the firefighters on the fire that the electricity came back on. We immediately started charging phones and scouring reliable sites for information. I think that’s also when we found out that a family we know that has a daughter that’s friends with Asher and Jadyn was getting evacuated – the sheriff had knocked on their door and told them they needed to evacuate. (I googled their address and they were only a few miles west of us on the other side of I-5 so of course that elevated my anxiety levels). Of course we offered to help in any way we could and they said they found a place to go but that if Hannah could come stay with us that would be great. We signed up for reverse 911 calls and pack upped in case we got a call.
Oh my gosh, that was an insane night. Stateside I’ve never been in a situation like that that felt so threatening. I remember feeling like that when we were in Uganda in 2010 and the terrorist group El Shabab bombed Kampala but at that point we were still 60 miles away, not 4! And aside from an occasional wildfire in Colorado we didn’t grow up around natural disasters. We were getting texts and calls from friends in Redding – most of whom were evacuating – some mandatory and some by choice. Our good friends that were keeping their trailer on the side of our home came and got it at 11:30pm in case they needed to leave town. Before Tim drove away we stood in our driveway watching the flames of the fire in the distance lighting up the night sky – it was super erie.
Yeah, that was not a peaceful night. I think we finally went to bed around 2am and our phones were going off with texts every hour or so with family and friends checking in. We woke up to Ash and debris all over our yard and news that houses and neighborhoods were destroyed and the fire had doubled in size overnight. So the norm for the next 4 days that followed was keeping on top of the daily 7am and 4pm check-ins and staying ready in case the nightly westerly winds pushed the fire our way or in case the power went out permanently. We were actually super grateful that our power stayed on – with 110º+ days we needed the air conditioning and crazily enough I had changed out the air conditioning filters the a few days before so we were breathing as clean as air as we could.
During the day, the 3 kiddos did their best to stay entertained. (but let’s be honest, they mainly binged on Netflix and Fortnight). And here’s a crazy thing – I had gone to the grocery store on Wednesday afternoon – in the back of my mind I was thinking about being gone this week so I found myself stocking up on some easy meal options and frozen pizza for you – Jadyn kept saying, “Mom, don’t worry about us, Dad can come grocery shop while you’re gone.” But looking back, all those easy meals and stockpile of food is what allowed us to stay hunkered down at ease in our home!
We did venture out into town a couple times because the 5 of us were going a little stir-crazy at times from not being able to go outside but we found that most places were closed for lack of employees– although on Saturday morning we did find the movie theater open which we’ll get to in ‘On the Screen.’
So that’s been our experience, but we know for many families, this past week has been a week of horror and trauma. We know at least 6 families that have completely lost their homes. To date, the fire has consumed over 115,000 acres, destroyed over 1,000 homes, and damaged another couple hundred. There are still 2,500 homes evacuated as of this taping and even when repopulation is allowed, many of them don’t have a home to go back to. This fire was designated a National State of Emergency by the President. Lives have been lost (6 to date). There’s just lots of rebuilding that is going to have to take place in our city over the coming weeks, months, and years. We’re committed to doing what we can to help – we’ve donated some supplies to the local evacuation centers that are down the road from us and Morgan spent several hours at our church on Sunday helping plot a map so our church’s Global Response Team could distribute packs to all the National Guard and public service heros who are manning the closures
So that’s some background on the fire and what our personal experience has been with the fire this last week - this week we’ve continued to blast Amanda Cook’s song, PEACE that we mentioned last week, BUT we thought we’d expound a little and touch on a few of the things we’ve observed and learned this last week.
I think one thing that really stands out to me is what we saw happening online in our community and throughout the country while this fire began. For one, We noticed that people who weren’t directly affected by the fire posted online as if their lives were on the line. Because we knew where people lived and their situations, we would get confused as they posted online as if all of Redding was on fire and that essentially they were running for their lives. Now believe me, I have tons of grace for people who are in traumatic situations… I mean, our brains and actions don’t function normally in those situations. But as the days have gone by and we are clearly safe, I’ve realized, like always, we all have a choice what to focus on. The easiest thing to focus on is what’s gone wrong and how scary it all is. But the choice is there to point out the fact that if you are posting online you are safe! The choice is there to point the amazing 4,000 fireman, police and National Guard that have been doing an incredible job.
Natural talk about it - how the firefighters who were working SO hard and risking their lives felt the sting of the false reporting and the focus on the negative!
There are a few things that stick out to me. 1) I was literally disgusted how some people can use tragedy and other people’s suffering as a way for personal or political gain. I know there have been a handful of arrests of people who were caught looting homes that have been evacuated. That is literally appalling to me! SO scummy and jacked up! I also saw a couple things online of people spreading false statements made by leaders in our church – I’m assuming it’s a political thing (or maybe specifically against churches or our church in general), but regardless, I saw a few posts of people spreading false statements – quoting our pastors saying some unkind things about the fire and evacuees – words that would NEVER come from their mouths in order to fuel hate, spread lies, create division and appeal to emotions.
The truth is… whether we’re in our normal day to day routine, or a situation like we’ve been in, you will always find what you’re looking for. If we look for tragedy…. We can find that so easy. If we look for the good happening all around us and realize that each day is a gift… we can find that too.
Sensationalizing the hype and the worst...
I love what Fred Rogers said about his experience as a kid - He said “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Alright, Let’s get to the GOOD NEWS - splices of what’s going right in the world
Even though we’re ‘hardwired’ to respond to bad news, we think it’s our mandate to be people who point out out the beauty and truth in the world wherever we see it - ESPECIALLY in the midst of struggle
I want to start this segment by acknowledging how easy it is to fall into the lie that if we point out what’s going right in a situation or tragedy, that we are somehow ignoring the real pain. The fact is, there have been horrible tragedies of people losing so much in this past week, and we mourn with them, AND we’ve also heard some incredible stories of hope and the miraculous - it’s that crazy tension of the ‘And’ (not the either or) that we so often talk about in this podcast. So in this ‘Good News’ segment we want to point out just a few of the incredible things we’ve seen and heard.
I just saw a post on facebook this morning about a group of neighbors who came together yesterday to build sifter boxes. Basically what they are, are 3ft x 4ft rectangles made out of 2x4’s and metal screen, and you would it to sift through the rubble of a fire to hopefully recover valuables. The reason I love this so much (and btw, we will post a link on the show notes so you can check out these things) is that it’s such a practical way to show love and empower those who lost everything this week.
And the other day, I watched this INCREDIBLE video about a house being miraculous spared by the fire...we’ll post a link in the notes. Essentially, this video shows the fire coming up to the walkway, deck, and foundations of the a home and just stopping… seriously, as you watch the video you’ll see grass burned right up to the steps of the wooden deck and all the bushes in the landscaping being halfway burned - seriously, half the bush is black and charred and the other half is green and flowering...absolutely INSANE. In watching it I have no other explanation than it was miraculously saved - like a invisible forcefield or bubble was covering it! You have to see it - and there are several other stories like this - testimonials of the miraculous speckled across the pain and devastation. - https://www.facebook.com/amy.rich.125/videos/10156526633167103/UzpfSTI0ODgwNjk5MjYxMDk3NToyNTE2ODU0Mjg5ODk3OTg/?hc_ref=ARQunYwnL7OzpcV5a1TjkTgzddz_Op710M_dJa0qu_9KxxungtdxkkARH_5cZyLNitU
This week we’ve seen celebrities and people with influence step in and make huge contributions. The chef Guy Fieri came into Redding this week and has been cooking meals for evacuees and for the first responders at an evacuation shelter right down the road from our house. I also saw that Leonardo DiCaprio made a sizeable donation this week to the relief efforts as well. And pretty much every company, small and large have been offering free food at their restaurants, fundraising events, and I saw that Verizon was giving free unlimited phone plans to all of their customers this month.
Well babe, are you ready to take us on a Deep Dive this week?
Yeah… I actually wanted to read a condensed version of a parable that spoke to me this week, that was originally a Buddhist Parable, but written by Peter Rollins:
“Once there lived a young and gifted woman called Sophia who received a vision in which God spoke to her as a dear friend. In this conversation God asked that Sophia dedicate her life to the task of translating and distributing the Word of God throughout her country. Now, at this time the printing press had only recently been invented, and the only Bibles to be found were written in Latin Sophia was from a poor farming village on the outskirts of the city, so the task seemed impossible.
However, the impossibility of the task did not sway her in the least. After having received her vision, Sophia sold the few items she possessed and left the village to live on the streets of the city, begging for the money that was required and dedicating herself to any work that was available in order to help with the funds.
Raising the money proved to be a long and difficult task. But gradually, over the next fifteen years, the money began to accumulate.
Shortly before the plans for the printing press could be set in motion, a dreadful flood devastated a nearby town, destroying many people’s homes and livelihood. When the news reached Sophia she gathered up what she had raised and spent it on food for the hungry, material to help rebuild lost homes, and basic provisions.
Eventually the town began to recover from the natural disaster that had befallen it and so Sophia left and returned to the city in order to start over again, all the while remembering the vision that God had planted deep in her heart.
Many more years passed slowly, exacting their heavy toll on the beautiful Sophia. But there were now many who had been touched by her love and dedication, so although people were poor, the money began to accumulate once again. However, after nine more years, disaster struck again. This time a plague descended upon the city, stealing the lives of thousands and leaving many children without family or support.
By now Sophia was tired and very ill, yet without hesitation she used the money that had been collected to buy medicines for the sick, homes for the orphaned, and land where the dead could be buried safely.
Never once did she forget the vision that God had imparted to her, but the severity of the plague required that she set this sacred call to one side in order to help with the emergency. Only when the shadow of the plague had lifted did she once again take to the streets, driven by her desire to translate the Word of God and distribute it among the people.
Finally, shortly before her death, Sophia was able to gather together the money required for the printing press, the building, and the translators. Although, she was, by this time, close to death, Sophia lived long enough to see the first Bibles printed and distributed.
It is said to this day that Sophia had actually accomplished her task of translating and distributing the Word of God three times during her life rather than simply once–the first two being more beautiful and radiant than the last.”
On the Screen - in which we visit and review what we’re watching this week
Well… we wanted to give a little normalcy to this episode and so I’ll start by sharing a quick review of a new film our son, Asher, and I went to watch this past week before the fires started. The movie was “Leave No Trace” and it’s a film about a Father and Daughter who are (essentially) homeless—they have been living deep in the forest until one day when they are found. It was a beautiful, yet heartbreaking film about humanity, mental illness and event the long-standing effects of war. Our rating system, as many of you already knows is from 1 (horrible film) to 11 (which we’ve only given to one movie so far) And so, I think I’d give Leave No Trace 10 out of 11 horns. If you haven’t seen it… I can wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s not the most uplifting movie you’ll watch, but it’s honest and done extremely well.
AND, like we mentioned earlier, on Saturday morning last week we decided to take a gamble and venture out to the 10am showing of a movie - unsure of whether or not the theater would be open. The theater was open and we were thrilled b/c we were needing a change of sceneary. We had our 3 kids - Asher, Jadyn, and our friend’s daughter, Hannah, that stayed with us during the evacuation and so we went to see “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies.” Dave and I had no reference to Teen Titans Go! But we had watched ‘The Justice League’ the night before which actually really helped with understanding the story-line and plot AND to our pleasant surprise, we REALLY enjoyed the film! It’s fun, engaging, and comedic (although a little silly at times with fart and poop jokes) but what we loved the most was the clever (almost hidden) references to 80s pop culture... Including some of our favorites like ‘The Goonies,’ ‘Back to the Future,’ and Dave’s favorite childhood movie that we’ve referenced multiple times on this podcast “Rad!” - it’s like they knew that all the parents bringing our kids were ‘80s kids ourselves!? Ha! And they also spend a significant amount of time in the cartoon on an animated portrayal of the WB studios and back lot and having just gone to LA and done the WB studio tour, we were resonating with that component as well. Overall, super engaging and fun and we’re going to give this 9/11 horns!
Listener Feedback/Questions/Insight single week.
We love hearing from you! This last week we got a video from a friend at the grocery store ‘knocking’ on watermelons. If you haven’t listened to Episode 12, Morgan had a faux pas where she said she was ‘knocking up’ watermelons at the store - of course she didn’t mean she was knocking up watermelons, but just knocking ON them!
That was a fun video text to receive! Made us laugh and smile in the midst of a traumatic scenario last week!
We ALSO heard from Dustin and Kate in Nashville, their girls fell asleep in the car after church and so they went on a Sunday drive with smoothies and listened to episode 11 of Chasing Unicorns - so it was kind of like we were on a double-date with them! They had some thought-provoking conversation which included discussions about their upbringings and how they saw listening over speaking modeled!
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Brought to you By
“Today’s show has been brought to you by the word ‘FIRE’ - sometimes the unexpected happens in life. Sometimes things go up in flames and the inconceivable happens. Sometimes things go up in flames and what you thought was lost was miraculously protected. Regardless of where you find yourselves, we validate the suffering, the pain, the loss and the emotions, AND we implore you to have eyes that look up and around to see the good and the beauty in the ashes. Find ONE THING to latch onto and be grateful for - it’s gratitude that keeps hope and joy alive. We have an amazingly Good God that is constantly bringing beauty from the ashes. Let us be people that are continually rising from the ashes of life to greater depths of awareness, character, wholeness, and gratitude!
“Until next week...keep embracing the mystery, asking questions, and giving yourself permission to enjoy the process. And watch out for those freakin’ unicorns...they’re glitzy and shimmery and full of crap!” ;)