What Would You Grab?

Monday, May 5, 2014

I just finished reading a book about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It made me think of that age-old question: What would you grab if your house caught on fire?

None of us really knows until it happens. But I know what I took in 2008 when our house flooded from the remnants of Hurricane Ike. I had an hour or so warning, so I packed clothes, toothbrushes, and similar items for Roland and me. I also made sure to grab my laptop case and my camera backpack—with laptop and camera, of course. My manuscripts were backed up and in a safe deposit box, but I needed the laptop to keep writing.

Shouldn't I have grabbed my Bible? If I lived in some countries, I would have. But we had a Bible on the boat and I was heading there. Also, Bibles are easy to replace in this country. Not the ones marked up with my notes, of course. But it is God's words that matter, and they are easy to find.

Unfortunately, I didn’t think about the family pictures in a bottom file drawer in my office. Some were of our children, some came from Roland’s and my growing up years, and some were pictures of ancestors. All were valuable parts of our history.

When we returned home and started cleaning up, the biggest heartaches were all the books we had in the family room on the lower level and those family pictures.

To keep from crying, Roland joked that he filled a dumpster just with books. Most were replaceable, but several came from Roland’s or my childhood and had sentimental value.

I was ready to throw out the family pictures, too. My heart would have broken, but I didn’t know what else to do. Then friends from church came to help us clean up, and they convinced me to try and save those photographs. We separated them carefully if we could and set them out to dry. A few pictures were irredeemable. Others have streaks or white spots where the paper tore away, but most were salvageable. And I have since scanned the more important ones and backed them up against a future disaster.

But my first thought at the time was for my laptop and my camera.

What would you grab?


The picture at the head of this post shows the aftermath of the Great Chicago Fire. Unfortunately, I don’t know who the photographer was. The picture is in the public domain because of its age.

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