A small tribute.

I want to begin by stating that my thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of those lost in the line of duty in Prescott today. The intention of this is not to take away from the loss they are feeling, but rather to share some of the perspective I gained during my six years as a wildland firefighter.
When I was a little girl, before I really understood how prayer worked and the way in which the Lord's hand is in everything we do, I prayed every single night that my family would be safe in the case that there was a fire while we were sleeping. I sometimes would sleep as near as I could to my little brother so I could be there to save him if we had to jump from our second story window to escape. I always knew that fire was one of my biggest fears.

Fast forward 15 or so years, and suddenly I am in S-130/190 (basically firefighter 101) learning about weather patterns and geographical features as they relate to fire behavior. I remember my childhood fear and wonder what it was exactly that lead me to the point where I would be working every day in one-on-one combat with the thing that scared me most. I thought every single day would be a battle between my courage and my fear.
As it turns out, being a wildland firefighter wasn't that at all. I learned very quickly that it was a dangerous job, but that every one I was working with had my back. There was a undefinable connection between every one I came in contact with because we were all working for the same cause, and we all wanted to go home safely. We looked out for each other. The fire world is a family where we are all brothers and sisters working to keep each other protected and out of harm's way.
I spent nights sleeping in the cab of a fire engine with these men. I spent endless days camped out on the top of a mountain with these men. I faced heartbreaking situations in the aftermath of mother nature's fury with these men. We ate breakfast, lunch and dinner together. We told stories, shared laughs, and worked ourselves to death together. The hardest days and nights of my life were spent with these men. The scariest situations I have ever been in were with these men. Some I spent years with, others I only knew for a brief time. Either way, we were connected. There was a bond.
Some of the men I worked with are as much friends and family to me as I'll ever see because not only were we forced to spend days on end with each other, but we worked in life threatening situations together. That is an unbreakable bond. I learned to trust even those I barely knew because, well, what choice do you have when your life is on the line? The point I am trying to make is that there really is a spirit of "no man left behind" when you are in a situation that could turn tragic in the blink of an eye. Everybody looks out for everybody. There is an unspoken trust. There is an unbreakable bond.
My point in explaining all of this is that, although I knew none of the men personally, hearing of this tragedy hits home. Those men worked with people I worked with. People I care about cared about them. They were my brothers and sister in my combat against my fear, and therefore I hurt with their loss. They are brave. Maybe they went out there every day having to conquer their fear the way that I did, because that is what you do when it is your job to protect.
More so, there are other firefighters out there who knew them, worked with them, and cared about them. There are those who didn't know them at all, but are feeling the loss of their brothers and sisters. Those firefighters are going to go back out on the fireline tomorrow and keep doing their job, knowing the danger they are in and feeling the hurt of this loss. That, my friends, is a true hero. Those who are directly affected by this tragedy and still make sacrifices in order to do their job. If more people in the world were like these service men and women, the world would be a better place.
I wish I could share every incident and every story I had to tell of what wonderful men these firefighters are. I wish I could describe the bond I have with them in words so people could understand. I wish there was a way I could make every one of them know what my time with them meant to me. How it changed me. How it made me better. How it made me stronger. I can face every fear now because of the way they helped me face that one. My heart aches and my soul cries out for them. I know I will be praying extra hard tonight.

Ps. Thank you to all of my friends and family who called and texted tonight to make sure I was safe. I appreciate you thinking of me more than you'll ever know. 

"Never, not ever again," is what you swore the last time this happened.

A few weeks ago I watched this bizarre movie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I wasn't really a fan of the movie; honestly, it was weird and boring. It did, though, have a few significant points in it that turned out to be significant life lessons. There was one quote in particular that I've been thinking a lot about. At one point in the movie, Hermione (that's not her name in the movie, but being a Harry Potter geek I can't think of her as anything else) gives a speech about how horrible she's been treated. 
The response she gets cut me to the core. 
He could have said something along the lines of, "because those people are awful, all men are jerks, people suck," that sort of thing. Instead, he points out that we choose to let people like that in our lives. If we are surrounded in people who treat us like we're nothing, it's because we think we deserve to be treated the way they are treating us. We have power over being treated like dirt. We can choose to not allow people in our lives who belittle us. The answer is confidence. We have to demand respect. If we think so little of ourselves as to believe that people who lie to us, cheat on us, and walk away from us are people who "love" us, it is because we don't have the respect we need to have for ourselves. 

I have been through a lot lately. I have been lied to, cheated on, belittled, and ridiculed by people who I thought "loved" me. I've been hurt. I've spent nights laying awake wondering why I wasn't good enough. I'm the kind of person who loves with my whole heart. When I commit, I am 100% in. I would do anything for the people I love. Lately, that love has been mocked. It's been taken advantage of. My heart has been stepped on and my soul has been crushed. I don't mean to be dramatic, but I've been treated so bad it almost felt like people in my life were out to hurt me intentionally, like a sport. A game. 

I allowed myself to believe it was something that was out of my control. That the universe hated me and wanted me to be miserable no matter how hard I tried to do things right. It handed me everything I wanted and then ripped it away time and time again. I couldn't understand it. 

After hearing that quote, "we accept the love we think we deserve", I realized it wasn't the universe at all. It was me. It was me allowing people in my life who treated me like I was nothing. It was having such low self esteem that these people who so-called "loved" me treated me terribly; it was the love I thought I deserved. 

I've come to realize that I deserve better than that, we all do. I deserve to be loved genuinely, for exactly who I am. I don't have to look at the other people around me and wonder what they have that I don't. I am enough. Anyone who doesn't believe so doesn't deserve a place in my heart, and they don't in yours either. I have a lot of love to give, but I deserve that same love in return. Never again will I settle for those who treat me like I'm nothing. If we think we deserve to be treated like we're nothing, that is the type of love we will accept. At the same time, if we think we deserve the world, THAT is the type of love we will accept. I deserve the world, and so do you.

Think about it.