Carried This Far by Grace (A Guest Post)

Hi Friends! I am so excited to introduce you to my blog friend Melissa who blogs at The World According To Plaidfuzz. Melissa and I, like many of my blog friends, met through the Write 31 days challenge a year. Melissa has always been an encourager and always supported me in my writing. I feel like we have known each other much longer than we have. Melissa lives in Iowa with her husband and daughter. She also has two stepsons. 
January 28, 2015 started like any other day. I went to work and made it through the day. I met a friend at Starbucks for a quick cup of coffee before I headed home. We complained about our husbands, asked how each other’s kids were doing, and savored some adult conversation. On my way home I called my husband to let him know I was on my way. He proudly informed me that he was cooking me a gourmet dinner from a recipe he had found on Pinterest. I was only a few blocks from home when the phone went dead.

In the next twenty minutes our entire lives would be turned upside down. A pan on the stove had caught fire. Panicked, my husband threw water on it. A tower of flame shot up the wall and set off the sprinkler system. What wasn’t destroyed by fire and smoke, was irreparably damaged by the thousands of gallons of water that poured out of the sprinklers and into our home. By the time the dust settled, we had lost almost everything.

For the next month we lived in a hotel while we waited for our apartment to be repaired. I spent the bulk of that month on the phone for nearly 8 hours a day, arguing with the insurance company, meeting contractors, and trying to expedite the repair process. Our move in date was pushed back 3 times. Once we moved back into our apartment we discovered that they had taken the insurance money and run. Mold was creeping up the walls, cupboards were sagging from the walls. The management gave us 24 hours to sign a 12-month lease, or give a 30-day notice to vacate. We gave our notice, not knowing where we would go.

I immediately posted a status on Facebook, letting people know we needed to find a place to live, quickly.  Within 5 minutes one of my salon clients, who had moved away, messaged me letting me know she had never sold her house and that her tenants were moving out. It seemed perfect, it was in our price range, it would be available at the end of the month, and she would allow us to have our dogs there.

But, in the fashion we had grown accustomed to, things didn’t go that smoothly. The tenants wouldn’t give a firm date on when they were moving out – if they were moving out at all. We spent the entire month on pins and needles, not knowing if we would have a place to go. While we were packing up our apartment I fractured my foot (less than a week after spraining my hand. I’m a hairstylist, I need those things!). Literally as we loaded the last piece of furniture into the Uhaul we got the phone call – they were out! We could not only move into the house, it was 3 days early!

We drove right over to the new house, ready to start a new chapter. Once we opened the front door we quickly realized that new chapter would have to wait. The previous tenants had trashed the house. There was garbage all over, inside and out, huge stains in the carpet, filth on every surface. I walked around laughing most of the day – I thought I might finally be cracking up.

Where was God’s grace in our situation? Why wouldn’t he let us catch a break? I remember, while we were living in the motel, a friend said to me that she could see God’s providence in our situation, even though it seemed bleak. While our insurance company eventually turned into a nightmare, they were a Godsend during the first 24 hours. They set us up with a place to stay, and hired people to take care of the apartment so I didn’t have to set foot back in it until it was renovated. While some of our closest family and friends were nowhere to be found during this time in our lives, we received an overwhelming outpouring of support from my blogging friends, and my Young Living acquaintances. Most of these people had never even met me, but day after day we would receive gift cards and packages in the mail. The gifts we received from these virtual strangers not only fed us the entire time we were in the motel, they allowed us to immediately replace things like shoes and toothbrushes without wiping out what little savings we had. I still tear up when I think about their generosity and how much it meant to my family.

Even though getting into our house wasn’t a smooth process, we went from a second-floor apartment, to having a house with twice the space, a fenced in yard for our dogs, and we were even able to pick out our own paint colors since the whole house had to be renovated. If you doubt that God has a sense of humor, consider that our one-car family now has two oversized garages plus a car port. God provided this house MINUTES after we found out we needed it.

Through this whole chapter of our lives I have learned to look at the big picture. Not to doubt that God is piecing things together with my best interests at heart (Romans 8:28), but to stay under the trials and endure – consider it joy (James 1:2-4). Comfort leads to apathy. This year my faith has been tested, my marriage has been tested, and sometimes I even felt like my sanity was up for grabs, but I grew. Corrie Ten Boom said, “You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.”

Since the fire we have dealt with job loss, the death of family members, car problems and health issues. “This isn’t your year,” people have said to me over and over again. But it has been our year. Though I wouldn’t have orchestrated a fire to force us to take a leap of faith and move, but that one domino knocked over so many more – some extremely painful, but most extreme blessings. 

God’s grace isn’t always obvious. Sometimes it seems like He has turned his back on us. (Believe me, I read through the book of Job more than once when I was in that hotel). But when Christ is all you have, Christ is all you need. His grace is so much more than I could come up with, or even comprehend. And now I am able to say, I am so thankful for that fire, because without it, we wouldn’t have been carried this far by grace.