Peaks and Valleys
Faith is defined in the bible as: The substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
Faith has always been the cornerstone of my existence. I trust in God for all things. But, even the most devoted Christian will experience Peaks and Valleys in their lives. These trials (Valleys) can affect one's belief, character, or convictions over time if allowed. Every Valley (or low place) we go through in life will make us stronger when we make it through and are back on the mountain again (doing well in life). When life is going well and we think that everything is great, that's when we are content to be on that Mountain. We are satisfied, happy, and sometimes take for granite the little things.
2012 has only 6 weeks under its wing and we have had a lot of Peak and Valley Adventures in our lives already for the year. We left 2011 with a home only 1 week into repairs. (For a refresher, you can read the before mentioned house repairs here.) To recap our current situation, the house was basically sliding off of its foundation near the back side. Due to the rain, flooding, moisture that didn't have time to dry before the next rain, and a newly discovered critter...the floor cracked under Nicky and My feet a few days before Thanksgiving 2011, literally! I didn't know the extent of the damages at that time, so I called in several companies to check the damage and see what it would take to block the floor up where it had dropped. 5 companies (which shall remain nameless to protect their cowardice) evaluated the house, were speechless, rubbed their heads, turned and ran away without a second thought. I wasn't sure what had them so worried and they didn't tell me.
One person with a company evaluated the house before Christmas and told me that a house is like a person. Houses get sick and they need help to get better. People go to a doctor for medicine to feel better. A house needs a carpenter and repairs. Just as a doctor would not place a band-aid over cancer to get rid of it, my house would need extensive work and not just blocked up to secure the floor. He told me about the back of the house sliding off the foundation, showed me the moisture damages to the floor joints, and told me that some of the damages reflected termite and carpenter ants may be living in the wood. Needless to say, I was in a state of shock. I knew the floor had dropped several inches and could hear the floor joints cracking and giving way, but this was much more than I had ever imagined.
I immediately had a million and one thoughts racing through my mind:
Is this guy serious? He looks serious, yet confident.I asked him how long he thought the repairs would take. He said a week, maybe. They would be ripping the laundry room floor up and rebuilding it. The time frame would depend on the extent of the damages. I felt some better knowing that it was a short project and hoped that short meant inexpensive as well. I was also happy that they would not start work until after Christmas. Wow, that certainly was the optimist in me shinning through. I prayed and was grateful to the Lord that the major damages would be fixed in a short amount of time and asked God to help us with the finances. Many of my friends and family said, "tear that money pit down and get out of there!" I wouldn't budge though. :-)
Where did this come from? How does a house all of a sudden just...fall apart?
Should I have known this was coming? Why didn't I see it?
What in the world is a carpenter ant?!!? Termites I can understand. I've heard of those. I can be mad at my neighbors for sending them my way, but where did the carpenter ants come from?
Money! $$Oh no$$ What will I do for money? I have a little to work with, but I just lost my job. This sounds really expensive!
Fast forward a week, Christmas passed and the rain came. Each rainy day sends a babbling brook flowing through the crawl space in the house. Half of the laundry room floor had been ripped out, but no building had occurred yet. They had managed to get under the house and support the existing structure on the back and ....discover more damage! The extra damages were larger than what was originally thought. Many of my friends and family said, "tear that money pit down and get out of there!" I wouldn't budge, but was tempted a little :-)
Skipping forward another week, New Years came and went. The guys ripped the hallway floor out also. They found rot after rot, multiple different types of mold, and more bug damage. The man in charge was ripping out everything damaged and didn't want to leave us with supported rot. He wanted to rebuild with new, pressure treated wood and began to search out someone to check the bug damages so those could be prevented in the future as well. It all sounded thorough and great, but I began to worry about the cost as the floor kept disappearing and I had to continue to move more of our possessions into other rooms so they could expand their working area. We were not living at home any longer either. Once they ripped so much of the floor out and that mold was exposed, I got the boys out of there. They discovered that the main load bearing wall support was rotted and had to be replaced also. Time frames for completion increased by 2 weeks and I knew that when we went to Lowes to buy the material, I would be 2/3 out of $ for this project. My faith fell straight into what I assumed was a bottomless pit of a valley. I cried out to the lord,
What?!!?, why me? Why us? Haven't we been through enough? Where are you now? Did you leave us? Have you turned your back? Is this it? Will we be homeless? This is all we have. Why? Will you provide the $? How will they finish this project? It couldn't get worse :-(As soon as I said all of that, I was convicted. I could hear my mom say, "Oh ye of little faith! You better not say it couldn't get any worse, or step back and watch it get worse!!", while shaking her finger at me. I could hear my dad say, "Life's not fair Chrissy. It rains on the just and the unjust." I could hear myself in the past telling people to have faith because God is way bigger than anything that could come up against them. Yet, I couldn't yank myself out of this gloomy feeling that I had and muster up faith. Talk about a valley? Even if I had not experienced the house falling apart, having such a crisis of faith would be enough to be a huge valley in life by itself. AND ON TOP OF THAT...hearing voices, hahahaha...I thought I was going nuts! I felt bad for questioning God or his will or ways, yet I still did it. I felt bad for allowing my human nature take control over my emotions, but I still allowed it. I cried...a LOT. Many of my friends and family said, "tear that money pit down and get out of there!" I just cried and thought about budging :-(
Jumping on about another week, the time frame for completion is still 2 more weeks. A pump was purchased for the crawl space to remove the ever-present storm water run off from the neighborhood under my house. The electrical wiring was laying in water each time it rained and the guys working there were doing us a favor by risking their lives. They were exposing themselves to the elements that were unsafe daily and I just hung around, moping. We purchased the building materials to rebuild a couple of walls, the floor joints, and sub floor that had been removed. As expected, my funds were running thin by now. The demolition had moved from the original laundry room work to the hallway, to one wall, then to the next wall, and they were discussing the bathroom now.
In a previous week, one of my step daughters came to the house and removed memory type possessions and things that could be cleaned and recovered so we didn't loose everything. I would go to the house to help in any way I could often, until I became sick at the end of this week. After all the years of living there, I had been sick a lot and my immune system was suppressed. I began to realize how selfish I was being and at this point the Lord was really convicting my heart and faith. He sent several people across my path. People who didn't have homes at all, and people who were in far more desperate situations than we were. We were staying with a friend, so I knew we at least had a roof over our heads. I began to pray often in this week. I wrote this after I felt some comfort. Many of my friends and family said, "tear that money pit down and get out of there!" I wouldn't budge though. My faith was being renewed daily :-)
Entering the third week of January, the guys were beginning to build. I was still feeling terrible and wasn't able to help them. I went to the doctor and he gave me some antibiotics to heal. He told me to rest. How was that possible? Anyway, the building began this week. By the end of the week, my faith had increased as I received news that they were working with a bug man (insect control dude) and I had contacted my uncle to see if he could help with the plumbing. He was devastated at the site of the house. Many family said, "tear that money pit down and get out of there!" I got mad and wouldn't budge! I'm standing on my renewed faith if it kills me!! :-)
We are almost current with this adventure now :-)
Scoot along another week, I was introduced to an electrician last week. He was just as overwhelmed as ever other person seeing the house at this point. I prayed that God would be merciful and that he would soften this guy's heart for us and help. Then I asked for the finances to afford to pay him and buy the materials :-) After much conversation with the lead guy on the project, the Journeyman Electrician agreed to help. His price was beyond reasonable (Praise God) and I was overcome with emotion. Once more, I was crying. The guys working on the house thought I was sad, but I was just full of emotion, love, mercy, God's compassion, Grace, and thankfulness. They moved on through the house tearing out rot. They tore out the walls of the Kitchen and bathroom. I began tearing out walls in the living room later in the week to help them.
Also at the end of the week, I met the bug man. He evaluated the house, assessed the damaged, made the professional determination that I did in fact have termites. Then, he said the carpenter ants came in to eat the termites, but they caused far more damage because they bore through the wood and make it weak faster than the termites eat the wood to cause damage. So...I was happy!!
Once more I prayed that god would soften the heart of the bug man so that we could afford the wood treatment and save the house. He left with several ideas and said he'd contact the leader of the project soon. He wanted to wait until all the old wood was removed from the house before treating the new wood. I was over joyed, happy, stood in awe of god's grace again and asked forgiveness for allowing my faith to falter! My friends and family said, "tear that money pit down and get out of there!" No way I would budge now! Nah, nuh-uh, nope, noway Jose, forget that! :-) I'm not giving up on God, especially after the lessons I have learned the hard way in life. My friends and family remind me of Jobs friends in the bible. His friends commiserated with him in his sorrows and in the end said, why don't you just curse God and die dude? My family and friends were similar in that aspect because they wanted me to give up on walk away, tear the house down, and find another home. I smiled :-)
This week, the living room walls were stripped to studs, kitchen was bare to studs, wires were hanging loosely everywhere, and there was not one piece of plumbing anywhere in the house. It all had been removed. The place was smelling better (except when the cat went under the house to poop in the largest litter box ever- the crawl space.) I worked on the house some alone. I enlisted the help of one of my brothers to help me haul away several loads of demolition material. I tore out more walls in the bedrooms and bumped and bruised myself up really good! ha-ha :-) All in a day's work :-) My faith is still unmoving. God sent a little more money to help with the project (praise you Lord!) Also, a friend contacted me out of the blue and provided some finances that I had no idea would be coming. I thanked her over and over and thanked God. My friends and family were not as quick to say, "tear that money pit down and get out of there!" Some of them finally saw that God was working and that the situation is not as dreary as they thought it was. God is not the author of confussion...and my faith won't budge :-) It may be Friday, but the week isn't over yet. I have hope in things I can not see that even more will be accomplished in this week :-) and that god is my one and only provider of all things!
I'm still smiling :-) Let's ROCK this Adventure!