On the Monday before Thanksgiving, 1992, we awoke to find two inches of raw sewage in our house. Along with six other neighborhood houses, our house was ruined. We lost half of our carpet, half of our newly tiled floor, all of our bedroom and bathroom furniture, along with all of our furnishings. It was more awful than you can imagine. Our yard was six to eight inches deep in the yuk. It was bad!
To make matters worse, Donna hurried with our children to get them away from the horrible mess. As she traveled up the hill out of our neighborhood, she was run off the road by the fire trucks sent to help us. It was a horrible morning. But thanks to our insurance agent and Embassy Suites’ disaster discount, we survived this horrible experience. While we were thankful we didn't lose anything really valuable — like our health, our family pictures or keepsakes…but our house was never home again.
After our insurance replaced and repaired our house, it was in better shape than when we first built it. We put it on the market, sold it within ten days, got a decent price for it, and were able to get an incredible deal on a house not too far away. My wife got a nearby teaching job, we have wonderful neighbors, and a great neighborhood. We would have never been blessed with all of these things if we hadn't had the disaster in our old house. Our disaster was upside down blessing number one.
A couple of years later, I was speaking in Houston. We had a wonderful weekend and a fun New Years with our children and with Christian friends. At three o'clock that next morning, however, we were awakened by an alarm and a knock on the door telling us to get out, there was a fire!
We threw on clothes (I even crammed my forty year old body into my sixteen year old son's pants), then made our way through the smoke filled atrium to the fire escape and went down five flights of stairs into the cold and rainy night. The red lights of fire trucks flashed around us. Emergency communications crackled through the rain. Bleary eyed people wrapped up in sheets and blankets milled about, freezing in the cold fear of the moment. After several hours, we returned to our rooms and finished our sleep. They served us a very late breakfast, then gave us a free night pass to come back and see them. This was upside down blessing number two.
Later, to celebrate our four year anniversary since the sewage incident, we returned to the Embassy Suites for Thanksgiving. We let somebody else cook and clean while we ate, swam, slept, and watched two great football games. We gave thanks that day for the way God had turned two bad experiences into something memorable. For us, it was a reminder that God can undo those bad moments in our lives and turn them into something good. Since he did it with our sewer flood and fire disasters, we are confident he can do it with the really big problems that come our way, too. We give thanks for a God who turns disasters upside down and brings unexpected blessings!
We know that in everything God works for the good of those people that love him. These are the people God called (chose), because that was his plan. (Romans 8:28 ERV)