OMG (Oh My Goodness)… Find the joy through the tragedy is, I believe, imperative. It’s this one thing that allows us to find the hope in every situation, and some times things look pretty darn stark.
In every life, we have our own set of “darkest days” we have to live through. No two people on the face of the planet go through the exact same set of dark days because each and every person on the face of the planet is simply different. Even identical twins, triplets, quads, and so on, have been scientifically studied many times over. All research has concluded that they may have the same gene print, but they are in no way the same person. Each one has their own set of experiences, which ultimately shapes who they are and who they become throughout their life.
I can say the same thing when it comes to Keith and I as a married couple. We are in no way the same kind of person. He’s a man. I’m a woman. He turned 49 in February. I will turn 47 in August. He didn’t have any type of abuse growing up as a child. I had severe, significant abuse, abandonment, and neglect. I could go on, but my point I hope has been made that no one is alike.
However, we are similar in our belief system and our moral compass. I thank the Good Lord all those years ago when He put Keith and I into each other’s lives. Were we living as Christians should live? Nope. We were both active duty in the U.S. Army. The reality was drinking, sex, and other things. I will be the first to say that I’m in no way a perfect human being, nor will I ever be. However, God had already laid out the plan for both of our lives and placed us in each others. We’d only be dating 7 months when we decided to get married.
Imagine having all those around you that are your friends and those you work with telling you that they only see your marriage lasting 6 months. It’s a good thing, Keith and I didn’t listen to all the negativity around us because we’ve now been married for 26 years.
Loss. Only Child. Mari.
I think back on July 1 to 16 of 2008, and the absolute beyond nightmare that Keith and I lived through became a defining moment in our lives. I’d never realized before Mari’s death just how much one event in someone’s life like this can literally change who someone is as a person. I even wrote a poem called “I Died.” It starts off by saying, “The day I died is a day I will never forget. There was nothing but emptiness and what seemed like utter despair.” I go on to talk about how I died the day Mariana died. That Kristena literally no longer exists. A new Kristena we reborn, just like a baby, and had to learn how to continue living each and every day without my beloved Baby Girl. For Keith, it was the same for him as well. Losing Mari was like nothing we’d ever seen or experienced, and quite frankly, would never again, at least not how it was with Mari. The loss of our only child began an entirely new phase in our lives, and we had no clue how to move forward.
I can now say without hesitation that the only way both of us did was our strong faith and love in our Lord Jesus Christ. During this time, He wrapped His ever-loving arms around us and gave us the strength we needed as we had none.
Flood. Stark. Catastrophic.
Then May 19, 2020, comes and a whole new stark, catastrophic tragedy bestowed upon us. At 2:30am on Tuesday, May 19, our daughter Athena (biologically our niece) comes to us, urgent and freaking out, that there was water in our basement. At that time, there were about 6 to 8 inches everywhere in our completely finished basement. By the time it hit the highest level around 5am to 6am timeframe, it was almost 4 feet high. Between all our personal belongings and the loss to our house itself, the money is at least $125,000.
Sump Pump Coverage.
Those little addendums that you add to your homeowner’s policy to help cover things that don’t fall under items like fire, tornado, and different ones like that. We were straight-up told that even if we had flood insurance, the flood insurance would NOT have kicked in. The sump pump coverage addendum is the only coverage that provided anything. Here’s the kicker – a maximum, which covers all property & all personal belongs, is only $10,000. Our hearts sank when we found this out. Just to get the basement waterproofed and all the cracks fixed, especially the ones that were never treated behind all the finished walls, and getting an upgraded sump pump to a ¾ horsepower, is almost $7k. The brand new hot water heater we had to get because the flood-damaged our beyond repair, was $2400 as we had to get a tankless one so we could have it installed about 5 feet off the ground. Just with those two items, we only have $600. 😔
Fortunately, through the blessings of the Lord, the GoFundMe campaign we set up to raise a goal of $30k, we have raised $3510, and through the Facebook fundraiser, we’ve raised $190, for a total of both of $3700. That’s 12.3% of what our goal is. To be honest, that’s not bad, and we are very grateful as it’s $3700 more than we had before. 🤗 We hope to continue to raise more, God-willing, but we’re at least happy for what we have received as it’s been huge for us. (Here’s the link to the GoFundMe fundraiser if you’d like to help or if you’d please share it with those that you know. GoFundMe – Active Duty Family – Catastrophic Flood.)
Blessings. Hope. Joy.
If you noticed, I didn’t say happy or happiness. That’s simply fleeting. It comes and goes like the tide but is never constant. However, blessing, hope, and joy – they can be if you allow them to.
Yesterday, I feel like God rained down some more blessings on us, giving more hope and joy as a result.
I’m a highly organized individual, which can drive my poor hubby mad sometimes. 🤪 Well, I found a small plastic storage bin with a lid on that held many pictures, negatives from all the photos I took of Mari when she was little, me being pregnant and other moments. I never realized that water could literally destroy negatives and turn the pictures on them into nothing but ink. Many of these pictures were damage so bad that either you could only see things like bodies, but no heads or they were just completely illegible where could tell what the pictures were.
Here is the unbelievable, joyous blessing: I had 11 Kodak picture CDs. Guess what!!! They all worked!!! When I cleaned off the first one and put it into my computer to see if I could still access the pictures after almost 20 years, every last picture was accessible. It literally started to cry – the happy tears kind. The beyond grateful kind. The simply joyous kind. I was literally praising God at that moment that he bestowed upon us all 11 CDs. Yes, unfortunately, many pictures are ruin or fairly damaged. But I’m going to be able to reprint off every single picture on all these CDs for at least these pictures. There are over 250 of them. Halleluiah!!! I’ll post a link to a shared folder if you’d like to see them all. I’m just beyond words to truly express how grateful Keith and I are that we have these. (Pictures in Shared Folder)
What times of joy have you had in your life? Would you be willing to share some of your experiences where you just felt the Lord working and knew He was blessing your life? I’d love to hear them.