The spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
Hard to believe it has been a month already since our world was turned upside down. So many have been asking how we are doing so here is our version of the Beauty from Ashes story and an update of prayer requests and praises.
As many know we signed a lease purchase agreement on our home in Miamisburg and moved into my father-in-law’s house in a rougher area of Dayton back in December. Many protested but we knew that God was calling us to this area. The calling was two-fold. We wanted to minister to the neighborhood but also first and foremost to our family. Living in the area would allow me to cut back my hours at work and spend more time raising our boys. The location also allowed for Mark to spend almost an hour at home for dinner every night on his work break. Being present is so important to us as parents. Secondly, we hoped to bring some life back into a dying community. Now everybody might know somebody who lives in the area (or you might live there yourself) but driving around the area and seeing all of the dilapidated, abandoned houses and hearing gun shots at night, you can’t deny the darkness that is there. Faithit picked up the story on their own and claimed that we had begun to see progress in the neighborhood. Let’s be real here; we moved in during winter and then had a baby; we met more of our neighbors after the fire, not before. We honestly didn’t (and still don’t) know what our ministry in the neighborhood would like. We just knew we were supposed to be there.
So we worked our bootys off (while being in the third trimester of pregnancy) pulling up carpets and cleaning to make the house comfortable for a curious two year old and in preparation for a newborn. In no time we had made a home for ourselves with my father-in-law. We had dreams of bringing the 1908 Queen Anne home back to its original glory (or at least as close as we could on a DIY budget:) when we were able to purchase the home after closing on our Miamisburg home.
Fast forward a few months and Mark had to pursue some roof work to repair a leak in our bedroom. We soon learned that my father-in-law’s insurance would cover a new roof AND new siding! We believed that God was providing two updates that we would have had to save up quite some time for (the siding we might never have done!). The day of the fire began with the anticipation of that new roof and ended without a roof of our own over our heads. We now have no idea what God is doing or how he is going to provide for our family. He has allowed us to be put in a position where we have less control over our future than ever before.
We are so thankful for everyone’s support during this difficult time. I am so thankful that so many have understood the photos. I have always wanted to do a “trash the dress” shoot but I don’t know if I ever would have had the guts to follow through. When Mark pulled out my dress with ashes and stains on it, I realized that I had been holding out hope of seeing my future little girl in it some day. Not necessarily on her wedding day, but certainly trying it on and spinning around our living room. That was the first time that day that I felt the material loss. A picture my sister in law took of the aftermath in our bedroom was strangely beautiful to me. The photo inspired me to ask Zac from Green Couch Photography about doing a trash the dress session in the house. I knew it was kind of crazy, but also that he was just crazy enough to go for it. Being in the house for the photo shoot helped me to connect with what had happened. For the most part I had been on the outside taking care of the boys since the fire. It didn’t seem real to me. The photos helped me to cry the tears that I hadn’t cried. To feel the loss of the home. The loss of my son’s room where we had read countless stories and snuggled him to sleep so many times. The abrupt loss of the house that our second son had come home to. The loss of our summer renovation plans. The loss of that feeling of being “settled”. So much loss. But we were all spared from the destruction. There is power and beauty in that. Our two year old talks about the fire all the time… I am so thankful to have these photos to one day show him that “yeah, this ugly thing happened to us but there is beauty in it if we allow ourselves to see it.” Huge thanks also to Leslie from Leslie Savage Photography for bringing her incredible talent to the table and to Mashawn at Bangs Salon & Spa for hair, makeup, and healing conversation.
Any strength that you see in these photos is present only by the grace of God. I can only lay claim to the anger, sadness, and question of “why?” that these photos express. Without our hope in the redeeming work of Christ it would be impossible to see any potential for beauty in this. So much of our married life has been spent surviving. Surviving busyness; surviving buying a house; surviving miscarriages; surviving pregnancies; surviving selling a house; surviving a toddler; surviving sleep deprivation; surviving another week of dishes and laundry. We don’t want to just survive this. We want to rise from it. We thought we were overwhelmed with everything that needed to be done but now our To-Do list has multiplied and has time constraints. It would be really easy to just survive this time. To just get through it. But obviously God has some growing for us in this. He wants us to thrive in the midst of this. To take our lives (which He spared) and do something with them for His glory!
These are some of our favorite photos.
Prayers and Praises
- We are overwhelmed by how the community and the body of Christ have shown up for us during this time! So many have been generous to donate money, furniture, kids toys and clothing and their time to take care of our children! We also know that so many have been praying for us and that is such a comfort when we are tempted to worry. Our incredible friends, family, coworkers and even my alma mater Cedarville University have made an unbearable situation bearable in helping to carry our burdens. We do not take your gifts for granted and know that the Lord will bless you for how you all have blessed us!
- Our two year old is struggling and it breaks my heart. He lost his sense of security and order. He had already been through so much in the last 6 months with the move and a new brother back to back. Please pray for guidance in helping him to heal and grow in a positive way from this.
- We are so thankful for the hospitality that my mother-in-law and her husband have shown us in allowing us to stay with them since the fire! We are hopeful that we will be moving into a rental soon. Pray to that end.
- We are thankful to have had renter’s insurance, but anybody that has had to make a claim of this size knows that it is not as easy as telling them what you lost and getting a check to buy it all new. Everything has to be inventoried with as much proof of ownership as possible and nothing happens until that is done. Easy peasy with a toddler and a newborn, right?!;) Add to that trying to remember all of the things that the fire consumed. Pray for perseverance and wisdom in this.
- Pray that we can let go of that desire for control and simply trust that God is working in this and has a plan for us. He is still good.