Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dear Diary....

Dear Diary,
Merry Christmas! I know, I know... a few days late, aren't I? Well, there's a reason for that. On Christmas Day, the family wasn't able to get together due to work schedules and parenting conflicts. So, in order that everyone could be a part of it, we just postponed our Christmas gathering until December 30th.

I was full of expectations, which served me right when my visions of sugarplums were dashed to the ground. Excitement was my companion that entire week as we bustled about getting ready. This was the first Christmas that the majority of my family would be on the same page as far as knowing God's truth for Who He is. Most of us know, and accept the fact that we're forgiven. We know that we're not under the Law anymore, but under Grace, and that truth has indeed set us free. There is so much more love that flows from person to person, and the walking-on-egg-shells type persona isn't as noticeable anymore. Given that, it's easy to see why I was so excited about our first Christmas together in a long time as a united family. Don't get me wrong, we've had some great Christmases in the past, but this one was to be the first one under the umbrella of God's Grace, if you will.

It started happening around 10:00 that morning, I had been bustling about, cleaning, preparing and rearranging. As I was washing up the last of the dishes from round one, I noticed the water pressure gradually decreasing. Uh Oh, this can't be good! I thought to myself. Naturally, a few seconds later, the water was totally gone. The only thing I knew to do was to wake up my hubby, who'd just been to bed for a few hours after working all night. I hated to do it, knowing he didn't have any sleep, but what else could I do?

We call the well and septic tank guy that we always use, hoping it'd be a quick fix, and he could come. We were hoping he'd be home.

Of course not. We left a message, hoping he'd call back soon. Today of all days?? Not what I was hoping to greet my family with this afternoon.

Hubby gets up, goes to check the water pump, and immediately we both notice a burning smell, but didn't see any smoke. So much for a simple lost-it's-prime. The pump was totally not working. We call my brother and he offers to come help. My brother is one of the ones that's recently come to appreciate the fact that we're totally forgiven. I can't help but to tear up in joy when I think of each one of my family and how they've been set free. Of course, who God has set free, has been set free indeed! Anyway, my brother brings an extra capacitor down here, switches it out, and eureka! The pump works again!

For about 30 seconds. Now, the hidden smoke is plainly visible. Not only do we smell the burning smell, but we see the smoke billowing out from around the pump. So far, I've kept my temper, I've not thrown a fit, busted out in tears or muttered profanity under my breath. However, it was getting harder and harder to fight that. Today of all days? My family was due to be down here in just a few hours, my husband is trying to function on less than 3 hours of sleep, plus having to go back to work tonight. It was enough to make me pop a gasket myself. Instead, I watched my brother keep his light hearted spirit, showing my oldest son different tips and things, and narrowing the problem down little by little. It seems we need a new pump.

Okay, not too bad. We've the money for the pump, and the local store just so happens to have one. My brother agrees to ride in with my husband--at this point I'm really worried about husband's lack of sleep, and I also start to feel bad about my brother being pulled away from his family. They had their own things to do to get ready for the festivities tonight, and working on my well/water pump wasn't in the line up. His wonderful wife held down the fort though, as she always does, for which I was grateful. 

Family time--in three hours and counting. So, the menfolk come back with the pump, and should hopefully, tighten down four bolts, and maybe prime it, and it should be fine. 

Of course not. Whoever sold them the pump, included the wrong size/part and it was incompatible to whatever our pump was. So, hubby with oldest son goes back to town (half hour away) while brother returns to his home. An hour or so later, hubby and son return, only to find the 'right' piece also didn't fit. After a bit of finagling, they were able to hook the pump back up. A bit of priming and it should work.

Of course not. There was no prime to be gotten. Meanwhile, my brother has come back down and offered to help prime the pump. We were running out of water to do the priming with, and it was looking pretty grim. Meanwhile, my sister had called from work, wanting to know if we needed her to bring anything else for tonight's gathering. Fighting back tears, I tell her of the water situation, and she brushed it off, saying It'll be alright, don't worry! I wish I felt her confidence. I was SOO looking forward to this evening, having everyone around, sharing in the love of God. Why was this happening? We already postponed our celebration once. I didn't know what to do for a 'plan B'. The house wasn't totally dirty, but it wasn't totally clean, either. Earlier I'd sent the boys down to my parents with every pitcher and mason jar I could find. So, we had water to drink, we had water to make coffee, my sister was bringing sodas, and we had a few sodas already. To be honest, it was sort of like living in Laura Ingalls' Little House in the Big Woods type setting. We had food a plenty, we had drinks. My only worry really was flushing the toilets. Did we really want to congregate in a house with no flushing toilets? We were going to have pretty near 20 people in the house. No flushing toilets? Thankfully, Daddy brought down a 20 gallon trash can full of water to handle that job. We had two buckets that we could put in the bathrooms. I know, I know, seems rather bold to put out here, but it was really gnawing on me. I suppose we could get by without running water. We had a designated sauce pot of water for hand washing, so even if we couldn't shower, we could have clean hands.

So, after speaking with my sister, I started to accept the situation as hopeless. Like it or not, we were going to celebrate Christmas without the commodity of indoor plumbing. Prayers had already been sent up like the spoiled child I am, asking God to just please FIX  the well, or send someone, or show the menfolk what to do... anything.. just... couldn't it please be fixed?

So, it's time. The family starts showing up few by few, all aware that we have no running water. None of them seemed worried. They were really okay with it. I had washed down the counters as well as I could with the water supply, thankfully the bathrooms were cleaned before we lost water, and the food, as usual, was overflowing. When the last family member arrived, the water pump started working, and let me tell you, Diary, you're looking at one relieved woman! It was too late for me to get a shower, and to be honest, I was really worried about my hubby. He was due to go back to work in just a few short hours, and he had pretty much NO sleep. I begged him to call in, and thankfully, for once in our marriage, he listened to me. After he'd grabbed a shower, he came back to the living room where were were at, and said he'd called in. I felt better, knowing he could sleep tonight, instead of having to fight it.

Diary, I have to confess, I have never been so grateful for my family as I was that day. My parents allowed us to come to their house and load up on pitchers and pots of water. Daddy graciously brought down his 20 gallon trash can of toilet water, and it didn't seem to bother him. My sister encouraged me. My brother came and helped, and got us pointed in the right direction of where we needed to go; his wife held down their fort while he was helping us with ours. One of our --okay, my--family traditions is that my brother must make his sausage balls. It's a recipe from our Granny's and I dearly LOVE them. I only get them three times a year--Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, so it's a real treat. Of course, that day--I was surprised that he actually could make them--he was at our house more than his. When I saw the sausage balls come strolling in the back door, I almost cried. It might seem such a simple thing, but it really meant a lot, knowing what all my brother and his wife went through because they were willing to help us.

I'm not sure what I was supposed to learn--I jokingly told my sister later on, that I had prayed and asked God that whatever it was that I was supposed to learn through all of this, to please let me learn it quick so that we could get water back and continue on like "I" had planned. My sister laughed and said that's why it took so long, something about teaching me trust and patience. Seriously, I honestly think that's what it was!

It's like my sister in law pointed out, and she was right--there were some evidence that God was behind all of this: Everyone was home, nobody was at work and unreachable, the water line didn't break, in spite of no indoor plumbing, we had plenty of water and food; the local hardware store had the pump, so we didn't have to drive an hour to the next county to get it.. just little glimmers of things letting us know that God was indeed in all of this.

What else did I learn that day? How much I truly truly love my family. Not just because of the water pump, but watching them react in love and kindness, reaching out in encouragement, when they found out I was going through something that I normally would have pitched a fit about 5 minutes after whatever 'it' was, had started.

Yes, this truly was a special gathering. I think God gave me a gift I wasn't expecting. An appreciation for a family that I've taken for granted for too many years.
I love my family.

Merry Christmas, Diary. I know it has been for me.

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