Have you ever heard someone say something to you that made you get goose bumps or sent shivers up your spine? Maybe it was your boss at work that gave you tremendous praise for a job well done or someone special that said the words, “I love you” for the first time. Well, this past week God reminded me of the impact words can have on your life, whether written or spoken. The words that shook me to the core were from my youngest daughter at 9:10 pm last who called my cell phone.
I was at the Grimsley High School Whirlie Booster bash enjoying the festivities to raise money for the student athletes. This is my second year serving as the corporate fundraising chair and we were so excited to celebrate and welcome the new interim Athletic Director, Ethan Albright (former NFL football player) and new principal Ged O’Donnell (former Kiser Middle School Principal) to the event. The silent auction was just about to close and my phone lit up with her beautiful picture and the words Emma Freda, I answered, “Hi Honey!” She was crying and said, “Mom, there was a fire.” I felt like my heart stopped. I said, “What?” She told me again. I said, “I’m on my way.”
The entire way to her dad’s house, my mind was racing. I can’t even remember if I was praying or not. Maybe I was in some kind of shock, because my biggest fear is fire. In fact, when I was in 8th grade a group of friends went to see the movie, Towering Inferno. I had nightmares for six months. I thought of that movie, thought of my daughter, thought of the house I had lived in for 20 years…When I drove down the street and saw four firetrucks and an ambulance, my stomach was churning. I parked the car and four firefighters were standing at the end of the driveway. I told them my daughter had called and asked if I could go into the house. They said I had to wait because the fire chief was inside. For those that know me well, patience is not my virtue and being told I had to wait didn’t sit well with my spirit.
What seemed like an eternity ended and my daughter came out with this big smile on her face….she greeted some of the neighbors, said everything was okay and then we walked over to my car. Once inside, she broke down in tears. She hardly EVER cries. She said, that she heard this popping sound and asked her dad, “What’s that noise?” He went to the basement and told Emma there was a fire. She found the fire extinguisher, gave it to her dad and he told her to call 911. She said she only had 1% battery on her phone and she was worried her phone would die. I told her how proud I was of her and stroked her hair while she sobbed in my car. Red blinking lights lit up the neighborhood as we headed to my house.
When we arrived, she told me the entire story again and all I could think of was how grateful the electrical fire didn’t happen earlier that day while she and her dad were at the UNC vs. Florida State basketball game. What if it happened at night while they were asleep? Every January I changed the batteries in the smoke alarms and I haven’t been in the house for almost three years, so I worried that none of the batteries had been changed. Activator is one of my strengths, so later that evening I called my electrician with a SOS call that I needed him to go to the house Monday to check things out. The kids would be at my place until everything was safe and sound and since I’m traveling a lot this week, I told Jeff (my kids dad) that he could stay at my place. I delivered eight 9 volt batteries, a new fire extinguisher and a new smoke alarm for the kitchen before I left town.
This week taught me several lessons about priorities because every day truly is a gift and when something major happens, it can be a positive, purposeful catalyst to make meaningful change. I am so proud of how Emma Freda handled herself in the situation. Leadership comes in many forms and skills can be learned at any age. She is 15 years old and well on her way to becoming a servant leader whether on her basketball, soccer or tennis team or lifeguarding at Friendly Park Pool. Her smile lights up a room and fun spirit makes everyone feel at ease. Her father described her as being, “calm” and it reminded me the importance of these three key life areas to help you have a strong foundation.
1-Faith (Daily devotions, prayer, meditation, regular church attendance, bible study)
2-Self (Exercise, unplugging from technology, positive affirmations, health & wellness)
3-Family (Quality time, setting boundaries, more joyful moments, asking for help)
Take care of yourself so you can take care of others. You are worth it. Your family is worth it.