An update and some lessons learned along the way

December 10, 2014
All of you have expressed concern for our family over the last few stress-filled months so I wanted to take some time to update you on our insurance status. Some of you have requested more details but due to some complications (no internet for a brief period and then the crashing of our home computer) I haven’t been terribly communicative. So, thank you all for your care for our family. Your notes and gifts have been a wonderful source of encouragement to all of us. I’m afraid I would have lost the battle to self-pity if it weren’t for your various expressions of love and support. 

First, a brief explanation and update. We moved (rather abruptly) from Kenosha, WI to Detroit, MI over Halloween weekend. We unloaded our moving truck into our garage while we had a local company come in to refinish our hardwood floors. Said company left a bag of hot sawdust leaning against our garage. Hello, internal combustion and garage fire! Enter four different insurance companies (one for rental policy on the house, another for rental policy on our belongings, another sublet policy on the house, and finally a policy insuring the men who refinished our floors) After three weeks, we finally met with an adjuster and were allowed to open the garage and sift through our belongings. What we hadn’t lost to flame and heat, we lost to smoke, soot, water and mold. We were then tasked with compiling an exhaustive inventory of all the belongings in the fire, complete with date purchased, and price paid. We finally finished that list and are now in the process of filing an official claim and waiting for some payouts from the various insurance companies to begin replacing our things. 

We lived with Jared’s parents for 5 ½ weeks after moving back to Detroit. They were gracious hosts to allow a family of four (including a very pregnant woman) to invade their home and completely disrupt their routines. My mother-in-law, who was in the middle of prepping for a trip to Turkey, cheerfully accepted us into her home, quadrupling her work load as we descended on her house like locusts (as Jared would say!) 

After Thanksgiving we decided to vacate the in-laws and move back into our house. We have been able to borrow and purchase just the necessities until we wait for insurance money to replace our things. We are grateful that our fire damaged only our earthly goods and that our family is in tact. We are also grateful that other than a damaged downspout and a backdoor discolored by soot, our house was untouched and unharmed by the fire. I can’t imagine the added hassle of trying to rebuild a house at this point in our lives.

Lessons learned (and re-learned) along the way: The gospel is a restorative balm for every kind of wound received during our sojourn in this sin-cursed world. No matter our trouble or adversity in life, we have no fear of God as an adversary. Instead he is our kind Father who lovingly disciplines us for our good. While others fear death and the uncertainty about God and the afterlife, we boldly enter God’s presence and find there abundant grace to help in time of need. We may have lost most of our earthly possessions, but we need never fear God’s wrath against us for sin. Our biggest problem and biggest fear is simply gone. Thank you, Jesus!

Jesus is completely human and is acquainted with all our griefs. Our crisis occurred just as we entered the holiday season so we have had many opportunities to reflect on the amazing truth that Jesus left Heaven to become one of us, suffer as we do, and yet never sin. As we sang “Away in a Manger” with our boys this last month, I couldn’t help but think that our third baby (due at the end of February) has “no crib for a bed” (or blankets or clothes or anything else, currently! And, it sort of feels like we are living in a barn since we have very little furniture!) But, with the help of God’s spirit  I can never dwell long in self-pity. We will never suffer as Jesus did. He lived a fully human life and then suffered not only the physical agony of death on the cross, but the utter anguish of spirit as he was cut off from God’s presence when God turned all his wrath toward sin on him. And this same sympathetic Jesus is my high priest and advocate with God. Amazing. Again, thank you, Jesus!

God is merciful. He remembers our frame and offers many means of grace to endure and even flourish during trials. He gives us His Spirit, His Word, the encouragement of other believers, and music to lift our spirits. “Grace upon grace flows down through the precious blood of Christ.” Thank you all for your prayers and expressions of God’s grace to us as we work through this trial. 

“Sufferings brief carry out your plans.” Jared encouraged us from the beginning to pray that God would use our “misfortune” to increase our favor in the eyes of our neighbors and thereby be an avenue to spread the gospel. The neighbors to our immediate east have showed great concern for us and we have had some opportunities to speak the gospel to them. Please pray that we will see their hearts transformed and that God will continue to use this brief trial in our lives to further his purposes and to make his name great in our little community.

Thank you for reading through this lengthy update and especially for your concern and prayers. Happy New Year!

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