Our fall favorites are here! 🍂

On a normal day, my kitchen window frames snow-capped peaks that kiss a big blue sky. The usual panorama begs an appreciative pause or admiring glance, at the very least.

Today the window is closed. There is no fresh air or picturesque view. Instead, the mountains have morphed into an inferno that glows beneath swirly, apocalyptic plumes.

The arrival of another extreme Montana wildfire season has meant homes burned, lives lost, and hundreds evacuated. As I gaze across the smoke-covered valley, I can’t help but sigh at the fact that it’s happening again and that soon my husband, children and I may be joining my parents and many of our friends in seeking a safe haven—again.

In 2013, my husband and I were living in a tiny log cabin with no cell service and just starting to build a life together when lightning struck a few miles from our home. The wind turned the spark into a fast-moving firewall in mere hours. Both at our respective workplaces when officials issued the evacuation order for our area, we hurriedly touched base and agreed to meet at the house to grab a few belongings. By the time I arrived, the fire had blown up and was barreling down the mountain toward the cabin. A sheriff stopped me just shy of our gate and told me to turn around and drive. Fighting tears, I explained that my husband was just inside the gate; I simply wanted to join him in getting our animals out. The sheriff finally let me pass, but said to leave everything and just go.

It’s crazy how the mix of shock, smoke, and adrenaline cloud your brain in an emergency situation. While my husband gathered a few valuables, I grabbed our dog, my flute, a few clothes for myself (sorry, dear hubby, for forgetting yours), and…a banana. Yes—a banana.

It’s also crazy how one close call can change your perspective (on many levels). We were able to return at a later time to transport our horses to safety and our home was ultimately spared; but the remaining scorched trees and blackened foundations serve as an ugly reminder that the unthinkable can happen, and it does.

Realizing that there’s a chance of being evacuated again as the current 33,000-acre Lolo Peak Fire makes its run, I’ve been reflecting back to the summer of 2013. How could I have been more ready? What would I have wished I’d taken with me if the cabin did in fact burn?

While I like to presume I’d be a little more clear-headed than last time, I don’t believe that one is ever completely “ready” to make a run for it. Rather, true preparedness comes with readiness of mind to take circumstances in stride, trusting God to help us through them. And as far as material possessions go, I can’t think of a single item I truly need. A quick inventory reveals that all the things I treasure aren’t actually things at all, but rather my people, faith, laughter, love, memory-making—the kind of stuff that feeds the soul, but can’t feed fires or turn to ash.

Unity is another one of those soul-nourishing things. It’s so heartening to see communities like mine come together with aid and support in the face of crisis. How sad it is, though, that sometimes a natural disaster or tragic event is what it takes to bring about such good neighborliness.

When I look around wondering when the smoke will finally clear and we can all get back to some semblance of normal, I realize that my perspective changes for the better with each fire season. I consider myself extremely blessed to have grown up in the gorgeous Montana mountains, but I no longer take them for granted. A breathtaking scene today might be smoldering tomorrow.

As for my parents, they are seasoned evacuees. In 2000, they nearly lost their rental home when a wildfire came close enough to consume the surrounding outbuildings. The 2013 fire that forced me and my husband from our home drove them out, as well. Evacuating again four years later, they are of course wondering if they are some kind of fire magnets. But they are also taking advantage of the opportunities that come when the regular stomping grounds are all ablaze. My mom is investing in her precious-moments-with-grandkids bank, and my dad is battling the flames as a wildland firefighter.

And so life goes on as we, and all those in the throes of fire or flood, do battle in our own ways. For me, it’s with prayer, stirring embers of compassion, and sharing the message that fire is fierce and unfair: a maniacal hide-and-seeker that howls, “Ready or not, here I come!”

Would you be ready if fire came calling?

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Leann Clarke

Leann Clarke is an outdoor-loving mama who enjoys riding horses, dancing, soaking in a good book, and hunting with her husband. She’s also mom to two active kiddos who excel at keeping her humble. She believes strongly in prayer, laughter, and eating chocolate for breakfast. Leann shares snippets of her life in Montana and more on her blog, The Hunting Mom.


I Thought Our Friendship Would Be Unbreakable

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Two friends selfie

The message notification pinged on my phone. A woman, once one of my best friends, was reaching out to me via Facebook. Her message simply read, “Wanted to catch up and see how life was treating you!”  I had very conflicting feelings. It seemed with that one single message, a flood of memories surfaced. Some held some great moments and laughter. Other memories held disappointment and hurt of a friendship that simply had run its course. Out of morbid curiosity, I clicked on her profile page to see how the years had been treating her. She was divorced and still...

Keep Reading

The First 10 Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking

In: Journal, Marriage, Relationships
The First Ten Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking www.herviewfromhome.com

We met online in October of 2005, by way of a spam email ad I was THIS CLOSE to marking as trash. Meet Single Christians! My cheese alert siren sounded loudly, but for some reason, I unchecked the delete box and clicked through to the site. We met face-to-face that Thanksgiving. As I awaited your arrival in my mother’s kitchen, my dad whispered to my little brother, “Hide your valuables. Stacy has some guy she met online coming for Thanksgiving dinner.” We embraced for the first time in my parents’ driveway. I was wearing my black cashmere sweater with the...

Keep Reading

To The Mother Who Is Overwhelmed

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Tired woman with coffee sitting at table

I have this one head. It is a normal sized head. It didn’t get bigger because I had children. Just like I didn’t grow an extra arm with the birth of each child. I mean, while that would be nice, it’s just not the case. We keep our one self. And the children we add on each add on to our weight in this life. And the head didn’t grow more heads because we become a wife to someone. Or a boss to someone. We carry the weight of motherhood. The decisions we must make each day—fight the shorts battle...

Keep Reading

You’re a Little Less Baby Today Than Yesterday

In: Journal, Motherhood
Toddler sleeping in mother's arms

Tiny sparkles are nestled in the wispy hair falling across her brow, shaken free of the princess costume she pulled over her head this morning. She’s swathed in pink: a satiny pink dress-up bodice, a fluffy, pink, slightly-less-glittery-than-it-was-two-hours-ago tulle skirt, a worn, soft pink baby blanket. She’s slowed long enough to crawl into my lap, blinking heavy eyelids. She’s a little less baby today than she was only yesterday.  Soon, she’ll be too big, too busy for my arms.  But today, I’m rocking a princess. The early years will be filled with exploration and adventure. She’ll climb atop counters and...

Keep Reading

Dear Husband, I Loved You First

In: Marriage, Motherhood, Relationships
Man and woman kissing in love

Dear husband, I loved you first. But often, you get the last of me. I remember you picking me up for our first date. I spent a whole hour getting ready for you. Making sure every hair was in place and my make-up was perfect. When you see me now at the end of the day, the make-up that is left on my face is smeared. My hair is more than likely in a ponytail or some rat’s nest on the top of my head. And my outfit, 100% has someone’s bodily fluids smeared somewhere. But there were days when...

Keep Reading

Stop Being a Butthole Wife

In: Grief, Journal, Marriage, Relationships
Man and woman sit on the end of a dock with arms around each other

Stop being a butthole wife. No, I’m serious. End it.  Let’s start with the laundry angst. I get it, the guy can’t find the hamper. It’s maddening. It’s insanity. Why, why, must he leave piles of clothes scattered, the same way that the toddler does, right? I mean, grow up and help out around here, man. There is no laundry fairy. What if that pile of laundry is a gift in disguise from a God you can’t (yet) see? Don’t roll your eyes, hear me out on this one. I was a butthole wife. Until my husband died. The day...

Keep Reading

I Can’t Be Everyone’s Chick-fil-A Sauce

In: Friendship, Journal, Living, Relationships
woman smiling in the sun

A couple of friends and I went and grabbed lunch at Chick-fil-A a couple of weeks ago. It was delightful. We spent roughly $20 apiece, and our kids ran in and out of the play area barefoot and stinky and begged us for ice cream, to which we responded, “Not until you finish your nuggets,” to which they responded with a whine, and then ran off again like a bolt of crazy energy. One friend had to climb into the play tubes a few times to save her 22-month-old, but it was still worth every penny. Every. Single. One. Even...

Keep Reading

Love Notes From My Mother in Heaven

In: Faith, Grief, Journal, Living
Woman smelling bunch of flowers

Twelve years have passed since my mother exclaimed, “I’ve died and gone to Heaven!” as she leaned back in her big donut-shaped tube and splashed her toes, enjoying the serenity of the river.  Twelve years since I stood on the shore of that same river, 45 minutes later, watching to see if the hopeful EMT would be able to revive my mother as she floated toward his outstretched hands. Twelve years ago, I stood alone in my bedroom, weak and trembling, as I opened my mother’s Bible and all the little keepsakes she’d stowed inside tumbled to the floor.  It...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Friendships End, No Matter How Hard You Try

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Sad woman alone without a friend

I tried. We say these words for two reasons. One: for our own justification that we made an effort to complete a task; and two: to admit that we fell short of that task. I wrote those words in an e-mail tonight to a friend I had for nearly 25 years after not speaking to her for eight months. It was the third e-mail I’ve sent over the past few weeks to try to reconcile with a woman who was more of a sister to me at some points than my own biological sister was. It’s sad when we drift...

Keep Reading

Goodbye to the House That Built Me

In: Grown Children, Journal, Living, Relationships
Ranch style home as seen from the curb

In the winter of 1985, while I was halfway done growing in my mom’s belly, my parents moved into a little brown 3 bedroom/1.5 bath that was halfway between the school and the prison in which my dad worked as a corrections officer. I would be the first baby they brought home to their new house, joining my older sister. I’d take my first steps across the brown shag carpet that the previous owner had installed. The back bedroom was mine, and mom plastered Smurf-themed wallpaper on the accent wall to try to get me to sleep in there every...

Keep Reading