On December 4, 2017, Anita Miller received a phone call from a fireman friend alerting her that a fire was heading toward the Miller family home and that they should get ready to evacuate. The electricity was out, so they used flashlights to gather some things and prepare to leave. By the time they exited their home, police cars were going up the street, telling them that there was a mandatory evacuation. Anita, her husband, her dad and her two sons loaded into their three vehicles and drove away from the Thomas Fire that was enveloping their neighborhood. They spent the night in a hotel in Camarillo.
Anita's family tried to get some sleep, but Anita stayed up to watch the news about the fire. At about 5:00 am the next morning, Anita saw the fire move its way down her street on live TV. She says, "The moment I saw the red glow in our garage, I knw that our hosue was on fire. But immediately, I went from praying for God to rescue us, to thanking God and praising Him because I knew no matter what, we would get through this. I was just bathed in an ocean of peace."
Later, Anita was watching the news and saw a film crew in the Ventura Missionary Church parking lot. She could see the fire to the right of the campus and to the left of the campus. Not only is Ventura Missionary Church where Anita attends, but she also works at Ventura Missionary Preschool. She says, "My heart broke because it's not just a place where I work, it's my church family." She was so relieved and amazed when she later found out that Ventura Missionary Church survived the fire.
The two years since the Thomas Fire have been "a journey. All that was left of the Miller home was the chimney. Each step of the way has been an opportunity to "choose the peace that God offers rather than panic and anxiety." Trusting Him to provide financially for the house payment on a house that no longer existed, along with a rental payment and the funds necessary to rebuild was something that Anita leaned into, and God did provide.
As they began to rebuild, Anita was inspired to build their new home on the firm foundation of Christ. Anita put Scriptures in sandwich baggies, and buried them in the gravel on each corner of the foundation before the contractors poured the cement. For Mother's Day, she asked her two sons to write Scriptures using permanent markers on the 2x4's in all the rooms.
About two months before Anita and her husband were set to move into the rebuilt home, Anita began to feel sad. The original house had been her mother's, and when her mother had passed away in 1997, it comforted Anita to think of her mom walking through the hallways of the home in which she resided. It just felt like her mom's presence was all around them. Now, there were completely new walls and new floors and it wasn't the same. Added to that reality, her sons were now living on their own, and her dad had recently moved to Arizona to be with her sister. Anita says, "All of that kind of cast a very dark shadow over moving into our new home. Everybody was so happy for us to move into this beautiful new home. On the outside I'd be happy, but on the inside I was sad. But as we walked into the home, I just felt this incredible peace invade this atmosphere. God changed my attitude, and He helped me to see the goodness and not think back on what was lost. He's a good God."
Anita is looking forward to being back "Home for Christmas." The family will be coming and opening Christmas presents around the tree for the first time in two years.
Watch Anita's story on video below.