Refined by the fire. Take two.

"These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world." 1 Peter 1:7

My last post on January 14th ended with what now seems like an invitation to more trials:

"I jotted down a few goals for this next year, but they can all be summed up into one. I pray that at the end of 2017, I will be more like Jesus than I am today. I don't know what trials I will have to joyfully endure to meet that goal, but I know that He will be there with me every step of the way. Happy New Year friends."

On January 26, Seth and I woke up to our phones going crazy with messages and phone calls from friends that our old house was once again on fire, "engulfed in flames" and "burned to the ground." It was only by the grace of God that our neighbors' houses didn't catch fire. They sustained some pretty serious damage, but thankfully did not have to move out while the repairs are being made.

Over the months leading up to this fire, we made multiple police reports about people breaking in and sleeping in our vacant house. There wasn't much that could be done though. Seth boarded up a door in the back room where they were entering a couple weeks before the fire. Nothing was ever determined by the investigation as far as I know, but my gut tells me that the squatters got mad and set the house on fire. The timeline is just too coincidental in my opinion.

I struggled with a lot of anxiety and depression afterwards and feel like I am just now snapping out of it. We had a small group of people in town insinuate that we set the fire because insurance wasn't going to total the house after the initial one. Anyone that knew us personally though, shut down the gossip quickly, but it was still very disheartening to hear. The investigation closed last week and we can now move forward with our claim.

Seth lost his trailer and all of his tools because it was parked underneath the carport. We still had some property in the storage sheds connected to the house, nothing worth a whole lot, but it was a lot of old pictures, yearbooks, etc. that I was sad to hear we lost.

I have only been by once since it happened. It still feels very surreal to me. They are clearing the lot in a week, which I know our neighbors will be so grateful for. Seth stopped by to check for any salvageable tools at one point and found that someone had hung Maggie's necklace she received at her baptism on what remained of his trailer. I hung it on our custom made "Beauty for Ashes" artwork as another reminder of His sovereignty.

We are continuing to trust in the Lord and His plans. We have some happy news in the works and are excited to share that as it comes to fruition. Thank you for your continued prayers for our family.

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