Fire doesn’t douse family’s faith
Michelle Gibler was substitute teaching the afternoon of Oct. 26 when her husband called her at Lansing High School to say fire was roaring through their family's rural Lansing home.
"It was the last hour of the day," Michelle Gibler recalled. "I paged my two sons and we flew home."
When they arrived at 17880 Seymour Rd., the fire had been extinguished. No one was home at the time, so there were no injuries. But what had been their home was no longer there.
A 50-gallon aquarium with turtles belonging to Noah Gibler, a sophomore at LHS, was destroyed. So, too, was his laptop computer and most of the pictures from a cruise the Make-A-Wish Foundation arranged two years ago for Noah - who has undergone four open-heart surgeries and three hip surgeries - and the family.
With four children ranging in age from 6 to 18 years old, the family of Michelle and Cody Gibler is starting over. Except for a few salvaged personal belongings - including an antique 10-gallon crock used years ago by Michelle's grandfather for cooking sauerkraut and "home brew" - most everything was destroyed.
"We've tried to sift through the ashes" to reclaim some lost belongings, Michelle Gibler said, "but we'll rely on the Lord for the rest."
Though the Giblers continue to struggle emotionally in the aftermath of the fire, they aren't struggling in their faith.
"Each day gets a little better," Michelle Gibler said, noting the family has been the beneficiary of help from several area churches, their children's classmates, the Red Cross and others.
"We've been in the ministry before, and we've done a lot of community and charity work, so we've been getting a lot of help there," she said. "They're all chipping in."
Last week, first-grader Abagail Gibler brought home a backpack on rollers that was stuffed with five sweatsuits purchased with donations from her classmates.
The family is staying in an apartment at Condotels Suites, 801 W. Eisenhower Rd., in a three-bedroom apartment. Except for Michelle Gibler, no one else in the family has ever "lived in the city," she said.
"The children are claustrophobic," she said. "They're not used to being in the same bed, or, in the case of the older boys, sharing the same room."
The 900-square-foot apartment is about half the size of their home. But Michelle takes an optimist's view of the size of their new accommodations. "That's OK," she said. "We don't have much (belongings) that we have to worry about."
The Giblers' insurance covers their apartment rent. The knowledge that the house was insured also eases the strain of finding permanent housing. They hope to rebuild, so the pressure they're feeling now, Michelle Gibler said, comes from trying to develop plans for a new house, finding a contractor and trying to instill a sense of normalcy for the children.
The insurance company tells them to expect a stay at Condotels of nine to 12 months, she said.
Meanwhile, there will be itemized reports to make to insurers to replace destroyed contents, attempts at reproducing destroyed documents, holidays and birthdays to celebrate, graduation for Micah Gibler, an LHS senior, and, of course, tax returns to be filed.
And more praise for the creator.
"I personally have been witnessing to how He will help us through this," Michelle Gibler said.