Previously on Late Night Cravings!
My wife loves lists…I do not! Here’s another way of putting it – she thrives on structure while I run from it with reckless abandon despite acknowledging my need for it. In the words of Dave Ramsey, she’s the nerd and I’m the free spirit (although we are both in different aspects of life). I’ll give an example from several years back. We somehow stumbled across a simple, fun task of putting down on paper our ideal Thanksgiving. Shanti wrote a list of all her desired favorite holiday dinner items, desserts, and beverages. I on the other hand described the setting; the perfect autumn weather, the background music and the family gathering to feast together. I told a story. Hence I am the one writing these late night craving entries.
What does any of this have to do with our house fire? A great deal actually because lists, bullets and spreadsheets were essential throughout the insurance and restoration processes of our home. Shanti was a trooper, a master of facilitating said processes…so much that our project manager frequently joked about hiring her to manage his other projects. In any case, I’ll tie this aspect together in a few moments (or several).
Seeing as the fire took place exactly four years after we moved to Kansas City, we felt it poetic to stay in the same Residence Inn as we did before we closed and moved into our house in 2009. The hotel became our home again for a few weeks after the blaze. Equipped with beds to sleep 6-8 people, a kitchenette and the acceptance of pets – the hotel was intended for long-term stays. We had our core family of five, my mother, and two dogs living in a hotel room. Oh I almost forgot the bird again; Tweet Tweet was there too. It served us well as we strapped ourselves in for a roller coaster ride.
The fire department was thorough the night of the event, in that they ensured saving our home to the fullest extent possible. The fire itself was on the top floor and up into the rafters, so to keep it from spreading they hosed and saturated the entire length of the roof. Gravity did its job by pulling the water down to the far reaches of the basement.
The fire investigator quickly determined the cause of the fire to be a spark from lightning that struck a gutter on the back corner of the house. He found evidence of a retired bird’s nest in the gutter of the front of the house outside of Peyton’s room. The lightning bolt had charged and traveled the gutter system until it reached and lit the nest before spreading into the home. Upon inspection of the electrical system it was determined that 50 to 60% of the wiring was destroyed from the lightning strike.
The drywall throughout the house morphed into a giant roll of Bounty, absorbing the water that traveled down from the roof. The majority of the home’s wiring was fried and about one third of roof framing had been either completely burnt to ashes or charred. All things considered the insurance company made a rather quick decision on what path to take. They determined that the most efficient and thorough restoration would entail gutting the entire house down to the studs. That was mind-blowing to hear; it sounded rather extensive.
Once the insurance company settled on how to proceed with the structure, we then moved onto the the contents portion of our insurance claim which was additionally overwhelming. All items in the house which were determined to be salvageable were boxed up and moved to storage for an elaborate cleaning process claiming to remove any smoke odor. We were then tasked with detailing every last item left behind; deemed destroyed by fire, smoke, or water damage. This included anything and everything that was plastic since it absorbed smoke, as did all pillows and mattresses throughout the house. And since a bolt of lightning was the culprit it meant we were to also claim for replacement each and every electronic – all computers, televisions, appliances, etc. were trashed. This was the first piece of spreadsheet artwork that Shanti masterfully sculpted. Every last item in every room from the basement to the top floor had to be accounted for and detailed down to an estimate on its age, its original cost, its current value and cost to replace. The insurance adjuster in charge of the contents marveled at Shanti’s work.
The claim was launched as we spent the first three weeks in the Residence Inn until we were given a rental home. The first estimated time frame we were given was approximately four months which would have put us back into our home sometime in September. That didn’t happen as scheduled and we eventually established a temporary life and routine from the rental house. But we were able to see God work throughout this entire ordeal.
As we put the contents aspect of the claim in order the demolition of our house was taking place. The structure was completely cleared out. To give a scope of “cleared out, the garage was located at one end of the house while our master bedroom was upstairs on the opposite end. In the final stages of the interior being entirely gutted you could stand in the garage and see clearly into our bedroom located upstairs. Relative to the circumstances, it was surreal to say the least.
I could give a technical breakdown from start to finish, but that would be the equivalent of reading the assembly instructions for a Bush or Sauder executive desk. Suffice it to say, when it came to piecing our house back together we were given an overall dollar figure to work with. That total was itemized and broken down to every last piece of trim, door knob, fixture and framing of the home. The beauty of it was that we were permitted to move that money around to upgrade certain areas while downgrading other spaces to compensate.
The final product resulted in the entire electrical system being rewired (including surround sound and HDMI ready outlets, had to point that out). We had new stainless steel appliances. All exterior and interior doors were replaced along with new carpet, tile and wood flooring throughout the house. We had a fresh 30-year roof installed, our bathrooms were remodeled down to every last faucet and fixture, new paint inside and out and most importantly – our kitchen was remodeled.
So let me do the bullet points now as we –
- wanted to spend our own savings on remodeling our kitchen
- prayed and decided we shouldn’t spend the money
- instead prayed, gave our savings to help plant churches and give back to our community
- had a house fire (in which we lost nothing of sentimental value and my family was safe)
- had our entire home remodeled (including our kitchen) for the cost of our deductible
That is only the structure portion of it. When it came to the contents I can liken the end result to that of a fender bender. Imagine someone rear-ended your car. You exchange driver’s license and insurance info and thankfully everyone is safe. After several irritating phone calls to body shops and insurance companies, dropping your car off for estimates, and finally submitting a handful of said estimates to the insurance company of the driver that hit you, you eventually get a check for the repair on your car. But your vehicle is fully functional and you don’t really care about the dent in the rear fender. You care more about the extra cash so you just deposit the check and your dent gives you a story to tell. On a much grander scale our house was rear-ended by a bolt of lightning. And while our house was more or less totaled in many ways, after taking an extensive inventory we found our trunk to contain a plethora of useless possessions. While we replenished much that we lost we ended up living with a pleasurable dent in our “stuff”.
It was a long and arduous seven months that we were displaced from our home. Don’t get me wrong, I fully know that too many in this nation and this world have life much worse and experience tragedy to which this was the antithesis…this was an “uptown” problem to be sure. It was thankfully not tragic, but was a relative tribulation to our lives at the time. Yet, after all was said and done, we were in awe of how it turned into an absolute blessing.
We were able to move back into our restored home on December 6th, 2013; seven months after the lightning strike and just two weeks prior to Christmas. Our new home was absolutely beautiful. And the restoration was not the end of it. By the time the new year rolled around Shanti and I had both earned bonuses through our respective occupations. We actually had a tax refund as well. Those financial windfalls combined with our “fender-bender” claim ended up with God not only replenishing our savings but He did so three times over.
Now, please don’t hear what I’m NOT saying. First off, I’m NOT saying that God rewards with materialism and that following God will get you “nice things”. Although He can choose to do so in knowing how each and every person will respond to His blessings. He set our hearts in the right place before this event took place and I do whole heartedly believe God knows how best to reward His rug rats in ways only He knows will grow their faith and He gets the glory. While I did marvel at the beauty of architecture that our home became, I was first and foremost in awe at God’s carpentry…not just the kitchen countertops.
Secondly, I’m not sharing this story to boast about how awesome our humble abode looked after it was put back together. And I’m definitely not righteously boasting about us and how great we are for giving the money we did. What I AM saying is that we stepped out in faith by God’s guidance. I AM boasting about what God can do! We suck in so many ways and are far from perfect…always will be. I know from experience that giving and tithing can seem rather insane. We dragged our feet and it was a tough pill to swallow when we first tested those waters years ago. So while this chapter is not exclusively about money in and of itself, it is at the core of where God wanted us to be faithful and obedient in order to show us that he shows up…and he showed up BIG TIME!!
Should I mention that once we moved back into the house that I commented to Shanti, “Watch, God will probably ask us to give this up eventually!” Oh, ok I won’t bring that up…yet!
Peace, and forgive me!