Note from the Author : This week's column was intended to be a "Meet the Author" story. I would have told you about my family, my beliefs, my hopes......I would have shared with you the story of my roots....told you about where I came from..... but I can't do that just yet. On this past Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, my parents house....my childhood home.....was tragically burned when a kitchen fire swept through their little country house.

It was a regular Saturday afternoon until I got the call. My mom was on the other end, and I instantly knew something was wrong. She said she was okay...but the house was gone...there was a bad fire. I was in disbelief. I listened to her explain what had happened, and I thanked God that she was alive. Somehow I hoped that it wasn't as bad as it sounded. Prayed that it was just minor damage, dirt that could be washed away; however, when I finally saw pictures of the aftermath of the fire...I cried.

I was heartbroken for my parents, my little family, and myself...that house was our home. It had scratch marks from my childhood dog, memories of multi-generation hunting trips, and a china cabinet that held years of memories. To my little girls it was Mal & Pal's house on the hill.

The thing about losing all your "stuff" is that it makes you realize you still have everything, even when everything is gone. I am thankful my parents...my girl's grandparents...are safe...that's really all that matters. While my heart breaks for them as they sift thru the ashes to find crumbled photos and dirty keepsakes, I am proud of the strength they carry. It takes courage to pull up your boot straps and begin to rebuild your home.

It provides us with an invaluable lesson. Nothing in life is a guarantee, so we must live each day for what it is...don't spend too much time dwelling on the past or dreaming of the future...be sure to enjoy the present.

My parents made our house a home. Like a great old oak tree...that little country home was many things to many people. It may have burned down, but its roots remain strong in the lives of everyone it touched.

An oak tree's roots reach far and deep into the ground below. They give stability and strength. While the tree can easily be removed the roots often remain for years and years to come. I am the person that I am today because of my roots...because of the values my parents instilled in me. It makes me proud that my husband and I are doing the same for our girls...building a home with roots that will stay with them throughout their entire lives.

Please join me this weekend and take some time to focus on fire safety and preparedness in your own home. If possible put your important documents, baby photos, birth certificates, insurance policy etc in a fire safe box. Make sure there is a smoke alarm on every level of your home.

Lastly, yet most importantly make sure your family knows the fire plan. Everyone should know what steps to follow in the tragic event of a fire. Discuss with your children where outside they should go and explain that it is VERY important that they remain outside no matter what happens. It should be a serious conversation but not meant to create fear. If you have children ask them to help you make a poster that shows the fire plan. Letting them be involved will make them feel confident and aware of the plan.