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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Beyond the Mold Wars

It’s been 90 days since I last wrote on my blog. (In the interim, I have written several posts for Covenant Eyes, though). For this blogger the wait was worth it. God had a few things He wanted to teach me, and He was pleased to sideline my blogging with a trial to get my full attention.

For most of my blogging absence, I have felt the weight of a father of six teetering on the verge of homelessness. In three rapid-fire waves of attacks, an anti-mold army tore apart the walls, uprooted floors in our master bedroom, demolished our shower, and extracted the carpet in our living and dining rooms.

On each occasion, we were given virtually no notice. So in total haste, we cleared out our master bedroom, bathroom, and the entire living room/dining room. Sidebar: when you have a house of 8 people you can accumulate a lot of stuff in 10 years. And add to that the fact that in our haste, we had to move everything with no coordinated strategy, no flow charts or record keeping of what went where or who moved what. The result—our furniture, clothes, books, treasured personal items and everything else were piled in the garage, kitchen, back patio in totally disarray.

Also, while the armies waged their three-fold attack upon our house, we had to flee the mold to find safety. Not always knowing where we would go or when we would be able to return, we just fled for safety, moving to a hotel then to grandma’s house, back to a hotel, then to grandma’s house, and back to a hotel, and then to grandma’s house. All eight of us lived out of suitcases for six weeks.

And life just kept moving on. By God’s grace, my wife, chronically coughing everyday, kept plodding away, managing to homeschool our children without missing a day. My kids, on the other hand treated the whole ordeal like it was a vacation even while I bemoaned to them that this was not a vacation but an evacuation! They kept wanting to ditch school and jump in the pool. Jesus does love little children, doesn’t He? And He wanted me to learn from my kids’ child-like faith the meaning of hakuna matata—no worries. On my part, in addition to leading my family through this wilderness, I tried to shepherd our church and to teach my 1 Corinthians course at LABTS. I felt totally discombobulated. For over six weeks I couldn’t so much as find a matching pair of socks! And repeatedly I couldn’t find my course textbooks or even my roster to take attendance. I’ve taught at the Los Angeles Bible Training School, LABTS, since 1993 and this is the first time I almost put up the white flag and quit in the middle of a semester. But in God’s grace, He held us and everything else together.

With our earthly possessions scattered everywhere, not knowing from week to week where we would live, not sure how anything would get paid for, there were also significant health concerns. My youngest son manifested high levels of anti-bodies of toxic mold, I had moderate levels, and Naomi suffered from painful fatigue and a chronic cough. When I initially read the mold report, I misread it. I thought we didn’t have toxic mold, although I did notice on the report that we had very extraordinarily high levels of mold in the master bedroom. Well, we did have very toxic mold. Our mold remediation specialist, after doing this for 20 years told us that he had never gotten sick. After working only one day in our house, he did. He went to the hospital and was put on medication. He wore a mask from that point forward when he came to our house and coughed for the three weeks he intermittingly worked on our home. Since then, I have been seen by doctors four times, including an infectious disease specialist. So far, the doctors haven’t recommended that any of us need medications or invasive procedures. They just encouraged us to stay away from mold and to contact them if our on-going symptoms don’t go away or get worse. That’s where things are on that front.

The good news! It’s amazing how through trials and bad news God reveals how great and good He is. Virtually broke, I kept praying over and over again for God’s help. If you were wondering how high the bills piled, are you ready for this? They reached twenty thousand dollars. Somehow short of a miracle the couple hundred dollars in my checking account weren’t going to pay for this. I started a refinance process hoping to pull enough money out of our broken home to pay for our avalanche of unexpected bills. The problem with refinancing is that I had a 30-year fixed at 5.25. It’s hard to find a rate lower than that. Because of much tighter lending regulations, the refinance process dragged on and on for over two months while the bills keep coming in. But God, who is sovereign over all and withholds no good thing from those who love Him, sent a second insurance adjuster to review more water and mold damage we discovered that was caused by a leak in our shower. She had within her discretion the power to deny our claim if she concluded that the damage from the leak should have been noticed and fixed. But God, God who commands us not to worry about what we will eat or wear, moved on her heart. She authorized our insurance company—listen to this—to give us the max they could on everything. They paid for the mold remediation, repairs, and a new shower. They even threw-in a new mattress, dry-cleaning, and a very generous housing allowance. But God wasn’t through. Because of the economic crisis, interest rates dropped to a 30 yr all-time low so I was able to refinance at 4.5% (an unheard of low rate) and draw some equity out of our home. In a span of two months, I went from being almost bankrupt, not knowing how I would pay for anything, to having more money than I have ever had in my life!!!!!!!!

But the most amazing thing of all is how God has opened the door for me to share the gospel with my contractor, a confessed non-Christian. We hung out together almost every day. God developed our relationship, and he opened up and shared challenges that he was facing with his marriage. He was at the end of his marriage road. I appealed to try to intercede, promising nothing but to tell his wife and him what God, the Designer of marriage says about marriage. I added that if anyone trusted Jesus and followed Him, then God could make their marriage work. My wife and I met with his wife, and over night they turned from seeking a divorce to working on their marriage. And praise God! Since Easter he has missed only one Sunday of worship! On that Sunday he called me to explain how he was traveling but would try to find a church to attend. We are still praying for their salvation, but isn’t God something!

In closing let me express my deep gratitude for those of you who prayed, encouraged and helped us through our mold crisis. We thank God for you. And last, I thank God for our mold trial because through it He showed me yet again that He is my strong tower and His name is Faithful.

It’s been an adventurous blog absence, and prayerfully, I will start writing again.

Signed Humbled, Trusting, and Grateful

3 comments:

Jason Sexton said...

Oh snap! No wonder I've been looking forward to the time to hang out again. You are absolutely a walking blessed-man! And I could not believe it - you totally just did a Gospel-centered exposition of your mold fiasco. Dude, you're simply brilliant! Now take all that cash and go do a PhD at UCLA! (GRIN)

Glad to see you back....

Pastor Bobby Scott said...

Right now I'm marveling at how God keeps revealing to me how much more amazing He is than how amazing I think He is. So I don't doubt if He wants to get me back into the books one more time that He'll do it in some amazing way.

bakar said...

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