Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Collateral Thinking

An amazing thing happened this morning. Most of the world would probably laugh derisively that I assign any importance to this, but to me it is an almost imperceptible sign that in the midst of our struggle to make wise decisions as our financial security wanes, (among other issues!)the Lord is at work keeping His promise to meet our needs.

Around mid-morning I busied myself in the kitchen wiping crumbs, stacking dirty dishes in anticipation of later having 20 minutes of running water, and making a fluffy pureé out of canned cat food. No, we have not been reduced to eating cat food; I do this for our dear little cat whose teeth no longer allow her to chew.

As I worked, I was thinking about the problems we are working, and acknowledging that our struggles are nowhere near the struggles of others. The thought also came to me that there is nothing I could suffer that is in any way as awful as what our Savior went through just before He went to the cross; in my minds eye I pictured Him kneeling in Gethsemane praying to the Father..."And he said, 'Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will'."

Close to noon my husband broke away from the computer where he had spent the morning searching and applying for jobs. We assembled a small lunch and sat down at the table to eat. Before turning off the television news, he watched tape of the morning's opening at the stock market accompanied by discussion of the current economic crises. He turned to me and said (I kid you not) "I just had an interesting thought this morning...I was thinking about whether there was anyone in the world I'd trade places with right now, and there really isn't anyone. All of our struggles could be lifted in a moment. There are so many people whose pain can't be fixed in this world; there are so many people suffering so much worse than we are...then I thought about Jesus in the garden praying... we aren't facing anything like that."

Let the world laugh, between the two of us we had a misty-eyed moment and felt the comfort of the Lord being nearby. I need nothing more than that for this day!

The End Of The Internet

This morning I sat down at the computer. Newly poured cup of steaming, aromatic coffee at my elbow and tiny space heater at my feet, I settled in and prepared to surf.

Clicking to my first stop, I caught up on the latest news in the post-post-evangelical world. I moved on to some wonderfully inspirational blogs, checked out what's new in Indian cooking, then went into the job-seeking routine. Craigslist, newspaper want-ads, local employer websites and the state unemployment department yielded nothing today so I wondered what to look at next.

I could think of nothing else I wanted to read. Did you ever feel that strange sense of realization that there might actually be an end to the Internet? That, considering the endless supply of websites out there, it might actually be possible to run out of things to read?

Maybe it's just my frame of mind this morning. Maybe it's spring fever. The rare-for-Oregon stretch of dry days we have right now are turning my mind to the garden. I think I have time to go outdoors and prune roses, grapes, apple and pear trees.

I'm on my way!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Descent of Man and Boy...

Today the men in my life braved the dark, cramped space under our house in search of the elusive water leak. It took them some time but they finally found it. They tried to close the hole with solder but couldn't do it so we still do not have running water. My son says the space is to cramped for my husband to get to, so we're not quite sure what we're going to do now.

We cannot afford the hundreds of dollars it would take to have a professional make repairs, so it looks like we're going to have at least another week of water rationing.

Situations like this sure make one appreciate the simple pleasure of brushing teeth or washing hands thoroughly. The same for laundry and dishes.

And I am starting to feel like some unseen, sinister force is working to make my life increasingly uncomfortable. I have hurt myself in the most unimaginably strange ways this last week or so! I want to crawl into my bed and hide under the covers till the siege is over.

I still say, "Be Ye Glad!" Here are the lyrics I promised (and another link to the video in case you didn't catch my post from yesterday):

Be Ye Glad

Words and Music by M.K.Blanchard
© Gotz Music/Benson
(860) 673-5100

In these days of confused situations.
In these nights of a restless remorse,
When the heart and the soul of the nation,
lay wounded and cold as a corpse.
From the grave of the innocent Adam,
comes a song bringing joy to the sad.
Oh your cry has been heard and the ransom,
has been paid up in full, Be Ye Glad.


Oh, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad,
Every debt that you ever had
Has been paid up in full by the grace of the Lord,
Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad, Be Ye Glad.

From the dungeon a rumor is stirring.
You have heard it again and again.
But this time the cell keys are turning,
and outside there are faces of friends.
And though your body lay weary from wasting,
and your eyes show the sorrow they've had.
Oh the love that your heart is now tasting
has opened the gate, Be Ye Glad.


So be like lights on the rim of the water,
giving hope in a storm sea of night.
Be a refuge amidst the slaughter,
for these fugitives in their flight.
For you are timeless and part of a puzzle.
You are winsome and young as a lad.
And there is no disease or no struggle,
that can pull you from God, Be Ye Glad.


Waterless Woes

My house is a mess. My halls are lined with 5-gallon water jugs, storage boxes and other assorted debris. Everywhere we go we trip over something. What happened?

I opened my water bill the other day and was unpleasantly surprised by the balance owing. Why had my winter usage increased significantly from summer? We are not maintaining a garden, we are taking fewer showers, our household has decreased by one member. It doesn't make sense!

Not long after viewing the bill, dear offspring number 4 reported that she heard noise in the walls as if someone had left a hose on. Granted, I sometimes do leave the hose running after filling my chicken waterers, but after examining the faucets we determined there were none open. "There's a leak somewhere" said my husband. "The water meter is spinning like crazy and there are no water outlets turned on."

We scoured the house searching for puddles or stains but found nothing. We did discovered a "rushing" sound emanating from the floor vent in our kitchen. "Got to be a pipe under the house" said my husband. "I'm going down to look." To reach the access door we had to empty our bedroom's walk-in closet of storage boxes, bags of clothing, piles of shoes, old kids' toys, a stack of unframed posters, stuffed animals, the huge box containing my wedding dress. That done, Les went into the abyss.

Thirty minutes later his dust-covered body emerged, grunting, from the crawl-space. He said he saw nothing but that he did not get as far as the kitchen. The crawl-space access is at the opposite end of the house from the kitchen and the space under our house is very confining. We would need to send our wraith-like son down there if we wanted to see more. Dear son no longer lives with us and we would have to wait a couple of days till it was convenient for him to get here.

Recalling a leak outside near the water meter several years ago that cost us plenty, Les decided to dig a trench and check the repair. After opening a 4-foot deep by 4-foot long trench he found the old repair holding but a root had punctured another section of pipe. We turned off the water at the street and shlepped over to the local home improvement emporium for a couple of parts. At 6:30 PM the store was devoid of customers, but we encountered sales people at every turn asking "Can I help you?" I sized them up one after the other...too big, too young, too old. "Nope," I think to myself, "you can't get under my house." It was dark by the time we got home; the leak could not be fixed till the next day, but we figured we could do without water for one night.

Next morning my dear husband went out and battled stiff and uncooperative pipes. "I hate plumbing!" he declared, repeating a mantra developed over 32 years of home ownership. Despite the negative sentiments he persevered to completion. We confidently turned the water back on at the meter and watched. The repair was holding! We looked at the meter and saw it spinning; we returned to the kitchen floor vent where the sound of rushing water met our anxious ears.

Suspicion turned to the valves under the kitchen sink and pipes feeding the dishwasher. We've had mysterious water there before. Investigation proved the 20-year old dishwasher to be leaking badly, and the wood underneath it beginning to rot. We decided the dishwasher was not worth repairing and yanked it out.

We are on our third day with no running water, we can only turn it on at the meter long enough to fill jugs; then off it goes again. In our fourth month of unemployment we have no money for plumbers, no idea where the leak is, and now a gaping hole where my dishwasher used to be.

I am reminded that I am to be thankful in all things. If we look for them, we can find things for which we ought to be thankful in spite of difficult circumstances. I have much for which I can give thanks.

I have a song ringing in my head right now; it is another song from that wonderful ensemble, Glad. The title of the song is "Be Ye Glad".

I'll post the words in another blogpost but here is a link to the Youtube video: