Thursday, March 31, 2016


Ah-oo! Ah-oo!

The town fire alarm wailed into that cold winter night in the early fifties in Juneau, Alaska's capital city. I've never heard another fire alarm like it. That chilling sound always struck terror to my heart as a child even as I snuggled all warm under my covers.

Everyone was safely in bed, but Mother couldn't sleep. The fire alarm confirmed the reality of her worst nightmare: Fire--the scourge of Alaska when stoves overheated on frigid winter nights.

Night after night, Mother lay awake in her bedroom downstairs imagining every possible scenario and worrying about how to get all the children out safely in case of a fire in the children's home she and my dad operated.

Daddy snored softly beside her. He worked long hours at Alaska Coastal Airlines to support the children's home. Including their own three, the two of them cared for thirteen children, nine of them under five, and two babies in cribs.
© AnnaLee Conti
Some of the children with the Cousart family (c.), Grandma Personeus (r.), and another
visitor at the Bethel Beach Children's Home. That's me, the only child in the back row.
 Slipping quickly from beneath the warm covers, Mother grabbed her chenille robe and peered between the curtains. A red-orange glow back lit the silhouette treeline to the north. Black smoke billowed into the star-studded heavens.

She heard the soft padding of small feet from the girl's dorm room directly above and hurried upstairs.

"Mommy! Look!"I called to her from the window as she entered our bedroom. "The fire horn woke me up."

She tiptoed across the room quickly to stand by my side. From this vantage point, she could see that the fire was not endangering us, but it could be engulfing another larger children's home a few miles away.

Hugging me, she said, "Let's pray for them." We bowed our heads and begin to petition God for the safety of those involved in the fire.

The next day, our suspicions were confirmed. The boys dorm at the Juneau Children's Home had burned to the ground. It was a miracle that no lives were lost. There weren't even any serious injuries.

But my mother worried even more--until she landed in the hospital, and the children's home was forced to close.

Worry can kill. My mother learned that the hard way. Worry is the opposite of trust. Isaiah penned, "I will trust and not be afraid" (12:2).  The psalmist, recognizing his human tendency to be fearful, wrote, "Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You" (56:3).

Those are good words to live by. God has everything under control. Trust Him. God never slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4). No sense both of you staying awake!


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