After our house fire on December 5th, we moved in with Sam's parents. They graciously opened their home and their lives to us and allowed us to stay with them during the wait and the
rebuild of our home. It was WAY more fun than I expected it to be. We enjoyed watching the relationship between our kids and parents grow and we appreciated having someone to talk to about all that was going on.
During the time we were out of our house:
Sam left his job and began a new one.
We had actual snow here on Christmas eve! (Okay, okay. It didn't accumulate, but it came down in huge, white flakes and it was gorgeous!)
Mary Beth (Sam's mom) was diagnosed with cancer.
The investigation into the cause of our fire was delayed until January 11th. (So the house sat empty and smoky and wet until then.)
Our ten year old dog died.
We had three days of actual snow ON THE GROUND after three years of seeing none.
My sweet Jonah turned FIVE years old and we celebrated with a surprise party at Chuck E Cheese.
The fire investigation was (finally) completed and the house rebuild began.
Sam's mom began chemotherapy.
We watched our house come back together and finally back to life.
I'm not one to dwell on negatives, but to be perfectly honest...it hasn't been easy. We have struggled with roller-coaster emotions (each one of the five of us at different times) and fought depression among other struggles. Through it all, God (the creator of the universe!) showed up just when we needed Him time after time. There is really nothing that can make a person feel valued or important like the LORD himself showing us that he loves us and cares about our daily battles.
He presented himself as a friend calling to say they were thinking about us at the very moment we needed to hear that someone cared. He whispered sweet words of comfort right into our ears during times of discouragement. He spoke right through the simple, sweet and earnest prayers of our three children. He sent people to give us hugs when we were feeling down but not able to admit it. He sent words of encouragement through those that are able to clearly hear His voice. He provided us with sweet times of worship and spoke wonderful messages of
grace and LOVE to us. He sent people with comfort food. He provided abundant gifts for our children and many people to reach out to them when they struggled with understanding what was happening. He reminded us that the JOY of the LORD is our STRENGTH! He showed us that when we are weak he truly is strong.
I could go on and on....God is SO good. My life verse is Romans 8:28 (It's posted at the top of my blog!). What the enemy meant for evil, God has turned to good. Our house did not burn completely down. Many of our possessions were saved and we realized through this that even if all of our 'things' had been destroyed we would not have been anything but grateful. We have a precious relationship with Jesus and we have each other. And that is more than enough.
Working with our insurance company has been a fun experience. We have always had many hand-me-down items in our home and lots of garage sale finds. (I'm a bargain shopper, remember?) However, when they give us money to replace things they give us full replacement value--to buy NEW things. So we've upgraded many things in our home at no cost to us whatsoever. We had a few things in our house that we would have wanted to change, but we never would have spent money on those things (different carpet, for example). Now we had them done for us for free. We thought we had the house of our dreams before but now we really do!
Time is another gift we received through the fire. We were living with Mary Beth when she was first diagnosed with cancer. We got to spend much precious time with her and Dave as they prayed, talked through it all, made decisions and dealt with the diagnosis. We never would have had a chance to spend that much time with them if not for the fire. God's timing was amazing in having us there and available for that situation.
While staying out at Sam's parent's house, we were about forty minutes outside of our home community. It was a challenge at first to stay connected, but God really revealed some things through that as well. There were things that he wanted us to let go of and things he wanted us to spend more time on as a family. Our kids had only each other (for the most part) to play with for the last two and a half months. They were used to having lots of play dates and having many friends around all the time, but this helped them see how much fun they can really have together. I've seen their relationships grow so much stronger and their appreciation for one another develop into a beautiful thing. That has been one of the best things to watch!