Well, things are coming together at the house. The water damage has been fully "mitigated". They did not have to remove nearly as much drywall or insulation as they had originally predicted, and no sub-floor had to be removed. They're just squeezing the last bit of moisture out with dehumidifiers and industrial-strength fans in the basement, now. All of the basement flooring is a loss, which we'd expected. And all-in-all, only about 1/4 of the square footage of the hardwood in the main floor had to be torn up.
I'm blessed to have a friend from church, Bryan, whose family is in the contracting business, specializing in basement refinishing and remodeling. I've used them before, to do my basement in the townhouse we lived in when we first moved to the area 4 years ago. (Nantom Construction is their company's name, by the way. Let me know if you need their number. Absolutely the BEST in the area-- good, trustworthy people who do great, efficient work.) (Kozor-- do I get a discount for that shameless plug?) Anyway, Bryan agreed to take on my job, and is going completely above and beyond-- he has some great ideas for upgrades (ie, an additional bathroom in the basement), and cost-cutting in other areas (ie, the kind of flooring in the laundry room), so overall, with minimal additional investment, my house is going to be WAY better off when he's done than before it was flooded. ALSO!! The GREAT news is that what the adjuster told me would take months will only take weeks. (Yes, Bryan is THAT GOOD.) :)
Also, I'm starting to realize it is going to be a bit of a blessing to have all of the storage area cleared of things-- even as invaluable as some of the things were. Less clutter. It seriously is like a fresh start-- a new house, less stuff... Not like I had a choice in the matter, but I do see the "upside"... as I tend to. Leslie is rolling her eyes right now at this confession, if they have access to blogspot.com in heaven. Anyway... deep breath... it will be alright.
So, yes, I'm all about making lemonade with the lemons that life deals me. After all, the more I live, the more I learn that, indeed, "...all things work together for good for those who trust the Lord, and are called according to His purpose." But additionally, as you, my loyal friends and readers, have learned very intimately about me... I also like to WRITE about the "lemon-to-lemonade" process, and my experiences therein. I've learned there is something extraordinarily therapeutic about seeing my thoughts in writing... and then sharing them... and then actually reading the heart-felt and thoughtful responses that result. The whole thing is so humbling... so encouraging... It's like the truth that I'm learning becomes even more important-- the beauty I'm witnessing, more glorious-- the more the original report echoes off the walls and finds its way back to me. All that to say, thank you so much for sharing these "new chapters" with me. I am so grateful to God for each set of eyes-- every heart and mind-- that takes and indeed absorbs the stuff that spills out of me onto this keyboard.
Ironically enough, I'm going to ask you all for prayer for something specific on this topic of "writing" or "blogging" or whatever it is we call this phenomenon. It's ironic, because that's how this whole thing started... as a desperate call for prayer. I'd always written-- journaled, wrote song lyrics/ poetry, memoirs, etc... But I'd never shared it publicly. When Leslie was first found to have a cancerous tumor behind her polyp, 15 months ago, that all changed. I simply sent out a mass email to friends and family, asking them for prayer... giving details as to the medical intricacies and the logistics of her diagnosis and pending treatment plan. As people learned of Leslie's condition and the numbers of people wanting to be "in the know" grew, I simply sent out one more email, asking people to check in on my private message board on my MySpace page, as they so desired. From there, our friend Ginny, wanting to do something-- anything-- for Leslie, asked if she could beging to copy and paste my postings in a more public venue, in order to perhaps drum up some more "prayer warriors". And the blog known as Leslie's Journey was born. And here we are. I'm not sure when the tone of our entries morphed from that of offering more cut-and-dried prayer requests to one of a more therapeutic, reflective, journalistic nature. (But is there really much of a difference between the two, when you get down to it?) But I came to view my postings no longer as an obligation to keep family and friends informed, but rather, it was becoming a personal NEED... an escape... therapy. And it was so humbling to see what God began to do with it. When things went from bad to worse... and then in turn from worse to utterly horrible... I asked Leslie what she thought of her growing "audience", and the public nature of her suffering. I offered to "pull the plug" on the blog... essentially, that she may "die in peace", (although of course, we didn't ever say it like that). Her response will always remain monumental in my life. Here's a paraphrase of what she told me, as she struggled for breath (even with the help of her oxygen line) that bittersweet morning:
"I've come to realize that this is my ministry. My calling. I don't like it. It's not what I wanted for a life-purpose. But I've always asked God, 'what do you want of me?'. And I realize that this is His answer. I don't know what He's got up His sleeve. We hope it's a miraculous healing. But whatever it is, I've got no choice but to give Him glory in it. It is my ministry. Look at all the people watching! And look at all He's taught US through this! We all have so much to learn from each other. God WILL reveal Himself through this. Whatever happens."
Praise God, amen! What a woman! Yes, YOU, our readers and friends, were indeed used by God Himself to give Leslie a vision and purpose in her suffering. YOU were the answer to so many of her questions, "WHY?" And indeed, YOU are the ones to whom God is still ministering through her. You are her legacy. I will never be able to show my full appreciation for this.
So... What is the prayer request I mentioned, in this instance, you ask? Good question, is my reply, and here's the deal...
I've developed a relationship with a publisher. While he will not be taking on our story to publish himself, he will basically be acting as my "agent". So weird to say... "I have an agent." I am just putting the finishing touches on a book proposal, which for now is entitled, Leslie's Journey. It is subtitled: God’s Story of Love, Life, Suffering, and Redemption in an Average American Family. And friends, I need prayer. I have no idea what to expect. It just seems as though a door has swung open before me, and I'm compelled to walk through it, to see what awaits me inside... (or is it "outside"?) My primary goal is to amplify and honor Leslie's ministry that I spoke of in a previous paragraph. But I'd be lying if I said I don't get excited, personally, about what God could have in store, lying on the other side of this door way. I need prayer for discernment. For protection. For humility. That I might just continue to follow Him into what could be the pending adventure, and not grasp at idols along the way. That the right opportunities might come along... and that the primary, secondary, and tertiary purpose, mode, and result of these opportunities might be that God is glorified-- that He reveals Himself, en masse, in the same way He has up to now, in this "ministry"... and then some.
I just wanted to share this all with you... ask you for prayer... for your wisdom and feedback. Jason (the publisher/agent dude) thought it'd be a good idea to kind of "unveil" the idea here, in this venue. Many of you have asked or made suggestions about this very thing, and indeed, I heard those words... and I thank you for your encouragement.
Well anyway... thanks for your consideration, compassion, and prayers. Back to work... and rebuilding a home.
p.s. Ginny- If you're still checking in on the "Leslie's Journey" site... do you mind giving a little "news brief" there? Thanks! :)