I'm sitting here sifting through photos, amazed at the past 3 years. I see little kids turning into teenagers and young ladies, my hair changing back to it's dark blond long state from its short dark spiky do. I see our old house, my mom's apartment, an abandoned house given to us for a time, our new house emerging from the ground, all places for us to rest our heads. I see pictures of tired white faces, swollen red eyes, sick children in bed, oxygen tanks, respiration masks.... and I smile as I see the photos change to bright eyes and healthy faces. Many photos show times which only hold a faint memory for me, days hazed over by illness and fatigue. It is just so wonderful to see more recent photos where we have emerged from our cocoons back into life again.
Yet ... looking back I can see how God gave me peace and so much strength. Our photos show parties, fun times, gifts gleaned from the darker days. They show a family that lived in the midst of strange times, but lived happily. They show kids living in an abandoned house, sleeping on air mattresses on a concrete floor, but they show those kids sleeping in warm blankets borrowed from loving church family, cuddled with stuffed animals donated by a loving organization where we volunteer. They show a family enjoying plenty in the midst of poverty. They show laughter and smiles that overshadow the pain. They show eyes rolling in response to ridiculous jokes, peering over the edges of breathing masks. They show the thrill of ecstatic children playing with their once estranged dogs in a pen in the living room.
My God never stops giving. Not ever. Dark days are just a chance for him to shine even more brightly. I hope that He grants me the grace to reflect just a little of that glory to others.
Now I'm sitting at my desk, complete with a computer. My printer sits at the side, under a scanner that I got under the most amazing circumstances (ask me). There is a bookshelf of art supplies, and another full of crisp new books for the school year. We have a table for art and another for school. My dog is asleep at my feet. That would be more than enough, but that does not begin to address the worldly items that I find around me now. Our property, which looked dark, hilly, and surrounded by rusty cars at first, is now a wide open field, free of clutter, surrounded by woods full of singing birds. It is more than double what we had before. I am looking outside from a high window, more than double the height of any windows in our old house. I have four windows in my bedroom, more than double the windows of my old bedroom. The kids have a bedroom and a playroom, and another smaller room - more than double the playspace. I have a finished attic to sew in, more than double the space for my sewing area. Our new couch is a big wrap around - more than double the size of any couch I've had in the past. I have a long driveway - more than double the length of our old one (you may see that as a negative, but I love long driveways). Chris has a shed - with an area on either side for outside storage - more than double the shed space that he's ever had before. We've never had a garage before, but ... you guessed it! Now we have a double garage. I wanted a porch - I have a screened in porch more than double the size of our old one, with a patio on each side (double patios, yep). I have a double garden - a raised garden and another one in the yard. I lost my pottery studio, and now I have one more than double the size of my old one (and as of last night, it now has a pottery wheel!!!).
I have hoped that my experiences with allergies, intolerances, mold issues, multiple chemical sensitivity, etc would allow me to help others -now I have a double chance. In the past month two families desperately needing this sort of help have come into my life. One needed three respiration masks, which I sent off in the mail today - we no longer need them. I had hoped to be partially well in a year - in double the speed (6 months), I am almost completely healed, as are my children.
I am looking at our blessings - God does promise double, but His double is so much more than we can imagine. Those things that I listed previously are just worldly. He has blessed us also with increased wisdom, peace, acceptance, and joy, just to name a few. Those mean so much that I just do not have the words to express the fullness of those blessings. I hope that our ever changing story reflects a little of His glory to you. Some days now, I feel almost blinded.
Instead of your shame you will have a double portion,
And instead of humiliation they will shout for joy over their portion.
Therefore they will possess a double portion in their land,
Everlasting joy will be theirs.
Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope;
This very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you.
The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends,
and the Lord increased all that he had twofold.
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