Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Blessings in Disguise

In the past three months or so living in Colorado we have had a couple major hiccups with our new home that initially caused our view of life to tilt out of focus and to question "why?" As time passed, we have seen God's hand making them huge blessings in disguise!

Our first glitch happened the day after we move into our home. I was in cleaning our master closet  which is attached to the master bath where I noticed a mold smell as I went into an immediate severe asthma attack. We, instead of moving things in, sealed off the bath and closet from the rest of home and set up camping out in the guest room with our master suite things piled in various other parts of our home. This was beginning of an over two month process of mold mitigation and remodel of our master suite. We finally moved into it mid July, but still have no sink or vanity in our bath so we are still using the one down the hall.

When I first had my asthma attack and realized it was mold, I was so very discouraged. Between the physical and emotional exhaustion of moving, I was also very homesick for our dear friends and church body in Arizona. That combination set up for a perfect storm which in my case was a major emotional meltdown. As I wept, I feared we had moved from one dangerous environment into another. In spite of God's obvious leading each step of our move, I began to have serious questions and doubts.

 God was so kind to me and sent me a visible reminder of His past faithfulness and care the very next morning. That reminder was to wake up to a snow storm on Mother's Day. How was snow on Mother's Day a kind reminder from God? The only other snowy Mother's Day I had experienced was 31 years earlier where we sat in a dark hospital waiting room in the midst of a blizzard that had knocked out power in the entire city. Our, then eight week old, son was having emergency surgery for a strangulated herniated bowel. The operating room was kept light and powered  by generators while much of the nonessential parts of the hospitals were dark. God took us through that and our son not only recovered quickly but began to finally thrive after that surgery. Today our son is a godly, hard working, loving husband and father married to a lovely woman and has two darling daughters! (Yes this Nana is a bit predjuciced!) God used the snow to remind me of His ever faithful and loving care.

Mother's Day Snow
The newly remodeled master bedroom, closet and bath are so much healthier for me with my sensitivities and allergic reactions. Where before it was all wall to wall carpeting, which is a "no-no" for anybody with serious allergies or MCS, it is now ceramic tile and chemical free MCS friendly Kahrs wood floors. Joel ordered and used special grouts, caulks and paints free of toxic chemicals and VOCs. Afterwards we ran an air purifier on high several days before moving into the space. It is now a safe reaction free space for me. What a huge blessing!

Joel prepping for mold mitigation

Joel looking like a character from the movie Outbreak just prior to entering the sealed off area to do mold mitigation

Having found the mold issue before we moved any clothing onto the closet kept our clothes from all becoming contaminated with mold spores was another blessing. If I hadn't had an immediate reaction we could have ended up like Kathryn Chastain Treat who had to dispose of all her clothes that had become contaminated by molds.  
Since I was wearing old work clothes I immediately disposed of them and showered to prevent any further contamination. Our mold ended up only being the underside of the vanity from a prior leak and a small portion of the wall behind one side of the vanity and whole inside of toilet (very weird) but lead to new floor coverings, some dry wall, under layment, paint, new vanity, sinks, toilet, lights and trim tile. 

Tile and wood floors are installed and walls painted

Looking into our bedroom with newly laid Kahr's wood floors we ordered from Green Building Supply

The second major hiccup turned blessing was caused by an unusually stormy May and June in Colorado. Our home ended up being one of around 80,000 homes in the Denver and surrounding areas with hail damage. Yesterday the insurance adjuster and roofing contractor were here. Our roof is totaled, we have damaged screens, roof vents and wood trim around the garage door and front porch. All the yards in our neighborhood have sprouted signs from various roofing companies and contractors. We will soon be joining their ranks. The roofing contractor said he will take the insurance payment and upgrade our roof to class 4 impact resistant roofing with 50 year guarantee which will lower our homeowners insurance nearly $200 a year and mean we hopefully can go many more years without needing to pay another deductible. The savings on insurance will pay for this deductible in only a few years. We can take the amount  allotted money for the repair and painting of the exterior trim and be our own contractor which means any funds left after purchasing supplies will go in our pockets. So God is blessing us with not only a new roof, but a better and stronger one, that will continue to save us money. Joel was already planning on painting the outside house trim before the snow flies and now the cost of that will be provided for too! Isn't it great how God can take what look like such negatives to us humanly and bring blessings from them!!

I am hoping I learn from these lessons to more quickly see how God is working in the harder things or the things that don't go my way. That the times I don't understand that I will remember His past faithfulness rather than to question or doubt. Praying God will enable me to remember His ways are not my way and are so much higher and better than mine.

Isaiah 55:8-9
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
      neither are your ways my ways
      declares the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
      so my ways are higher than your ways
      and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

These blessings in disguise remind me of one of my favorite songs that has so touched me the last three years called Blessings by Laura Story. My dear readers please take a moment to let this song minister to your souls.



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Library Cards and Contentment

While this is our first summer in Colorado, everyone tells us that this year is wetter and cooler than normal. Last week was especially rainy and most of the state was on flash flood watch. So what does one do when the rains are pouring? Well if you are anything like my hubby or I, you find a good book to curl up with in a comfy sofa or chair. The natural thing for us was to head out to was the nearest library and get a library card in our new community.

I am going to digress a bit to share with you how libraries have been an integral part of my life and an almost sacred refuge. My family moved when I was four years old to a home less than a block from one of those old charming Carnegie local libraries built in the first decade of the twentieth century. In it I could escape to anywhere in the universe and be anything or anyone else besides me. My mother was a bookworm so we went frequently, attended story times and summer reading clubs. When I got into upper elementary I became a library aide at my school and learned how to clean, repair and file the books. I also did that for a couple of my junior high years. I married a man who was a book worm and whose parents had to actually limit his reading because of other things he wasn't doing while he read. We sat in comfortable silence each reading our books and often had one we read aloud to each other. Our children were read to while still in the womb. As a home schooling Mom, we spent large blocks of time there finding books to go with our curriculum, as well as ones for pure reading pleasure. Even up into their teens we would have a family read aloud book we took turns reading in the evenings. Over the years we progressed from nursery rhymes and Dr. Seuss to Charlotte's Web and Red Wall and grew to things like the Narnia Series and biographies of missionaries and historical figures. Libraries and their wonderful bookish aromas have a draw to me that few buildings do on this earth.

Last week we arrived at the library which sets on a bluff with immense windows open to one of the best views in the area of the Colorado Rockies. Due to low clouds and heavy rains we couldn't even catch a glimpse of the foothills. We dashed across the parking lot and entered what should be my welcome sanctuary and instead I was bombarded by a rubber tire odor from the mats in the entry to prevent slipping on the wet tile floors. We walked up to the desk to fill out the forms to get our cards and I noticed smells of new construction or new carpeting. Warning flags went up in my brain but I chose to ignore them because this was the library. By the time our cards were issued my voice was croaky and had a headache but thought while we are here, I might as well take a look around and get a few books. A few minutes and several books later, I was dizzy, experiencing all over joint and muscle pains, foggy brained, wheezing and having facial swelling. My hubby helped me get the books checked out to speed up my getting out of that building.

Deep sadness hit me when I got into the car, realizing that this library is not a sanctuary or relaxing refuge for me. Tears welled up in my eyes as I recognized the impact of that. This was SO much harder than not being able to go to a store because it was newly remodeled or had too many scented candles or potpourri. This tore at the roots of where so much of my life has been spent. A library is the place that has enabled me to expand my horizons and learn so many new skills in the volumes contained within it. I was reeling with the grief of that when Joel reminded me that I can order books online and he can pick them up for me and even download Kindle and Nook books online from them. It did cheer me, but I will definitely miss going to the building.

The next morning in my quiet time, I continued where I had been studying in the book of Philippians which Paul wrote while imprisoned in Rome. The themes of joy and rejoicing that Paul writes of  are both inspiring and convicting. Paul's purpose whether he lives or dies is to honor and glorify Christ Jesus.

"Yes and I will rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain." Philippians 1:18b-21

After reading this and contemplating Paul's attitude while in prison facing a real probability of death, I am purposing with God's enabling grace, to be content and to rejoice. Whether in my new freedom to be outdoors or my limitations of not being able to go to places like the library or certain shops, to be content, to rejoice and bring glory to God. I with eager expectation and hope with the help of the Holy Spirit and my godly husband, will look for creative options to use instead and find reasons to be grateful and rejoice. I may have moments of sadness and grieve of what once was, but as my dear friend Lynn says, "It's one thing to have a cup of coffee with Mr. Pity but its an entirely different to sit down and drink a whole pot with him."

I am grateful first of all for Jesus Christ and His saving grace! I am grateful for our move to Colorado enabling me to enjoy time outdoors gardening, taking photos and hiking. I am grateful for online shopping and online library reservations for books,as well as Kindle and Nook downloads. I am grateful for a new doctor who really understands MCS and who has prescribed me new medications and supplements that enable me to rebound quicker from my reactions. I am grateful for a comfy home, that I share with my best friend and hubby where I am reaction free. I am grateful for a couple new friends who understand my issues and who previous to our moving to Colorado already had chemical-free homes. Isn't our God good!!!