The long summer days are always a wonderful time to be outside in the Pacific Northwest. There are countless places to go in Washington to experience the scenic beauty of this part of the country. One place where my husband and I spend a lot of time is our family cabin at Deep Creek located near Crystal Mountain. Our little A-frame was built in the late 1950’s by my father-in-law and is registered as one of the National Historic Cabins.

This family get-away has been well-loved and used over the years for skiing and hiking. I love to get away to the mountains to be in nature and take in a breath of fresh air and slow down the pace of life. I actually feel as if I meet God outside as I marvel at His beautiful creation among the forest trees and streams that surround our cabin.

Our family’s National Historic Cabin built by my father-in-law in the 1950s

Arriving at the cabin earlier this year, I noticed the surroundings looked a little different, even sparse in places. Abundant fir trees and shrubs used to encircle the cabin but not anymore. Two years ago, a raging forest fire came down the valley behind our cabin and almost burned it to the ground; it was a very close call. The flames had just about reached our road and the row of historic cabins when it suddenly stopped just feet away. Any nearby shrubs or trees had been cut away in hopes of protecting the cabins from the encroaching fire. That strategy worked and we remain so thankful our cabin is still standing and new growth has begun.

While hiking with my husband recently, I was struck by the beauty of the charred forest even in the aftermath of that fire. The trees were an ashen gray and we could see blackened pieces of roots and tree trunks but amidst the barrenness and devastation, I noticed new green growth appearing. As we hiked higher, I was in awe of the beautiful wildflowers that grew out of the dead forest. It reminded me of how God is at work bringing restoration and new life out of loss. I can relate to this analogy of a forest fire aftermath and seeing God at work in our lives.

New green growth amidst the burnt forest

Since the loss of my eldest daughter, I have often likened the experience to being in an aftermath. I looked up the word and found two insightful meanings. The word “aftermath” literally means the consequences or after effects of a significant unpleasant event. My life was turned upside down overnight and I felt ravaged and burned just like this forest. I wondered how was it ever going to be “normal” again or be rebuilt? It seemed hopeless. Everything was in disarray: my family, my marriage, my life. Yet, when I noticed the new growth on that forest floor, I was filled with hope. I pondered how in a similar way God had been at work in my life, slowly rebuilding and restoring me in a new way. It has been ten years since Karina passed but I can now look back and see the beauty coming out of what I had thought was ashes.

I wondered how was it ever going to be “normal” again or be rebuilt? It seemed hopeless... Yet, when I noticed the new growth on that forest floor, I was filled with hope.

The second definition of the word “aftermath” is a second and new growth in the same season.

I was very encouraged and impacted by the second definition of the word “aftermath” which means a second and new growth in the same season. This is what I have experienced — new growth in a season that was so difficult. This forest fire aftermath was the perfect analogy for my life and can be applied to any period of time after a difficult event. We can experience an aftermath in so many areas of our lives. We are still witnessing outcomes related to the recent riots and protesting, events that were so destructive yet may well lead to necessary and new growth. There are so many unpleasant situations that can lend to that “scorched earth” feeling: we find ourselves struggling in our relationships, with our finances, with health issues, bearing the loss of loved ones, or changed careers, a seemingly never ending path of unexpected twists and turns in our lives. But there is always hope.

I have found a few truths from this forest fire analogy:

  • Slow growth — the new growth doesn’t emerge overnight. It is a slow process of God at work rebuilding and restoring us as he did that forest (and that took two years)! It takes time. Just as God was at work restoring His creation after that forest fire, He will be at work creating newness in our lives after they have been broken and burned.

  • It takes patience and perseverance. Don’t give up hope. Just when you might think that nothing is happening, those first hints of new growth will appear.
  • God can create a whole new thing as he loves and cares for us even in the devastation and the aftermath. God, the Creator of all, in His nature will bring order and beauty out of what was barren, dead and lost.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a NEW thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Hiking on the trails around our cabin I met the Lord and saw Him clearer than ever before giving me a message of hope that will remain imprinted on my heart forever. I hope and pray this forest analogy encourages you in any aftermath you may experience in your life. It gives us a visual reminder that God IS at work making things new.

We are being creative and coming up with new ways to gather together during this Covid-19 time. We are excited to share our upcoming Anchor Adventures in August. These adventures will be for women of any age to come together, hike, and be outside in God’s creation. It will be a chance to get away for the day to be refreshed and renewed. We have three dates and hikes we are offering from the cabin at Crystal Mountain and other local locations. Watch for upcoming details. Let’s gather together and meet God outside! We will be following all COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.

With love and light,

Sharing Strength & Hope

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