Red sky at morning

The sun rose red this morning, filtering through dense smoke from wildfires burning across California. My area is safe (so far), but the sky is thicker with smoke today than I have experienced before.

The sky this morning, thick with smoke, turned the sun an eerie color.

Just after sunrise, I ventured out briefly to walk the dog. We walked down to a county park, and as I watched the sun rise, I was struck (again) by all the dry brush surrounding me. This is the stuff of nightmares.

The sun rises over dangerously dry brush.

For too many across California, the nightmare is real. The latest numbers of staggering.

  • Major fires across the state: 22
  • Acres burned: 170,000
  • Homes and businesses destroyed: 3,500 so far
  • Lives lost: at least 21, with hundreds more missing (and that’s just the human toll)

There are ways you can help, no matter where you live. I’ll remind you of my favorites:

  • UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief). The link I’ve provided goes directly to UMCOR’s US Disaster Response Fund, Advance #901670, 100% of which goes to victims of these wildfires and recent hurricanes. You may also want to follow their updates on Facebook.
  • The Red Cross (there’s a drop-down menu where you can select where you want your money to go).

Runners helping runners
I’m part of a virtual running community through Oiselle. This morning, Devon Yanko, one of Oiselle’s elite runners in Northern California sent out this message to those of us who live here. She kindly allowed me to share her message with you, too:


As you know fires are ravaging Northern California and so many people have lost everything. Like you, I feel like I want to do more for the victims of the fires. I know that in the hardest time running has always been an outlet, a way of processing, a way through. I also know that for people who have lost everything, replacing running clothes is not a priority. That is why I am calling for donations of new or used RUNNING clothes that can be taken directly to runners in need. I know that I always have a few more running clothes than I need and thought maybe you guys might too.

If you have running clothes you are willing to donate please mail or drop them off to our friends at San Francisco Running Company: 115 Tunstead Ave, San Anselmo, CA 94960. If you are mailing them, please indicate they are c/o Napa/Sonoma runner fire relief.

If you or someone you know is a victim of one of these disasters, please email me so that I can get your sizes and get you some clothing!

All my best,

Runners—I know you can’t all make it out to San Francisco to drop off donations, but maybe there are a few things you could mail to San Francisco Running Company? That pair of shoes you wore a couple of times but stopped using because they didn’t feel quite right. Those socks your aunt gave you that aren’t the right size. The race shirts you never wear because you have so many others. The impulse buy at the race expo now just taking up space in your dresser.

Please pray, too
As a country, we’ve had a lot too much to pray about of late. But would you please add California into your prayers? Please pray for the winds to die down. Please pray for rain. Please pray for the evacuees. Please pray for those who have lost everything. And please, please pray for the heroes fighting these fires and trying to protect us.

Most heroes don’t wear capes

You’ve seen the images over the last several weeks: devastating fires in the west, unimaginable flooding in the east. One part of the country is desperate for rains to fall while another begs God to dry up the floodwaters. Whether it’s fire or water, whole communities have been wiped away. Precious lives have been lost or irrevocably changed.

In these environments, heroes emerge. Not loud or showy. Not with super powers. Not wearing capes. Instead, they come with helmets and gloves and boots. They arrive by helicopter or boat. They bring with them strength and hope. And food and water and shelter.

This is National Fire Prevention week, which probably seems foreign at the moment to those in South Carolina dealing with a 1,000-year flood. There are heroes in both fire and flood, and I want to celebrate them today.

I attended an airshow this weekend and saw both Canadian and U.S. air force flying demonstrations. These are easy heroes to cheer and celebrate.

Airshow2015_1FT Airshow2015_2FT

However, the real heroes of the hour (so to speak) didn’t get to appear on stage. Instead, they waited in the background, perhaps because they had to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. Extremely dry weather, high winds and the threat of thunderstorms with little rain brought a red flag warning Saturday, and the Cal Fire units that had been set to participate in the day’s events stayed behind the scenes, quiet and waiting.


A helicopter of heroes

In the last few days, Cal Fire finally reached 100 percent containment of two raging fires, one that burned up 76,067 acres and another that burned 70,868. So I am not exaggerating when I tell you these are my heroes.

For flood and fire victims alike, heroes may come in many shapes and sizes. The fireman who returned the day after a fire to corral several horses and make sure they had fresh hay. The vets working to save burned animals. The National Guard troops keeping flooded areas safe. The countless volunteers staffing shelters, cooking meals, donating time and supplies. These are the heroes that emerge in disasters such as these.

While many of us may not be able to go to the front lines of the fires and floods, we can still help the heroes who are there. Here are two great organizations that would welcome your support:

I love a good airshow, but even more, I love the ways capeless heroes rush to save lives, property and the natural resources that make this such a beautiful country.


Four Canadian Snowbirds deliver a message of love.

How will you help these heroes? Do you have other go-to organizations for helping when disasters strike?

If you have a hero story to share from flood or fire, please add it to the comments below. And if you’ve been affected by these recent natural disasters and would like prayer, I’d be honored to lift you up in prayer. Simply put your request in the comments below.