Monday, November 07, 2011

More Blessings

(Bear with my background info, before I dive into blessings. I'm not complaining, but laying the stage.)

Round 2 for major storms this fall in Hartford. (Round 1 was Irene a few months ago.) Last week we got hit with a weird and totally out-of-the-ordinary snowstorm in October (29th and 30th). Only about 6 inches "stuck" but more fell and melted before and after the main storm. The problem was the leaves still on the trees, the moist trees from previous rainfall, some winds, and a partridge in the pear tree. . . all combined to make heavy branches and therefore lots of limb falls.

Unreal amounts of tree limbs all around. Driving through parts of the area, it's like a forest curbside, with people piling all the fallen branches along the road for the city to pick up. Some of the trees in our apartment complex have more bulk on the ground than still on the tree. Results were widespread power outages, and lengthy ones at that. Most of our friends were out of power for close to a week - 6 days for us, longer for others.

Our basement has drainage issues, so heavy rains (or melting snow) always mean a small puddle in corners, but we have a basement sump pump which does its job. . . unless there's no power. *ahem* With Irene and heavy rainfall, we lost power for 2 days or so, and our neighbor got a hold of a generator after a day, to pump out water. This time around, no generators to be had, so our basement sat in 1" of water for 6 solid days. The humidity was amazing down there (in a bad way ;-D). The problem was that our snow quickly melted because of the fluctuating temperatures in the low-to-mid 30's throughout the week, and the melted snow congregated in our basement ;-).

So anyway, rotten week, right? Nah. Adrian and I truly felt uplifted and blessed by God's provision for us. Great is His faithfulness:

  • Dear friends from church took us into their home for 6 nights in a row, while we were without power. They truly have the gift of hospitality.
  • The above dear friends are empty-nesters and also grandparents - perfect combo, with extra space in their home and all the "gadgets" (high chair, toys, crib, etc.) to make hosting a young family easy.
  • I survived power outage #2 while staying on the GAPS diet.
  • A gracious hostess who allowed me to partake of food or decline, depending on my own dietary needs.
  • Most of our freezer/fridge food was saved, transferred in time to a friend's fridge/freezer.
  • My kefir grains and sourdough starter appear to have survived :-D.
  • Nothing of intrinsic value was lost in our basement water-log. Yes, we took some losses, but nothing we can't live without.
  • Grace to thank God for the losses and see them as freeing, not a bad thing. Forced purging can be good!
  • Outside of a handful of non-important books, the rest of the books all survived, without water damage.
  • Friends willing to watch the kiddos for a few hours while Adrian and I raced against the humidity to bring up the belongings we wanted to save, when the basement flooded.
  • A friend's large basement play area for expending 3 year old energy on cold days last week.
  • Warmth and heat at our host home!
  • Underground power lines that made electricity in our friends' home possible :-)
  • A week without internet. Yes, this was definitely a good thing.
  • The kiddos doing remarkably well with the upheaval of the past week. (Usually Hans' attitude rapidly digresses with major changes like visitors or vacation.)
  • Our church and Christian fellowship. It was so neat to see the body of Christ help each other, those who did have power (definitely the minority!) open their homes for bed, food, or laundry.
  • Warm days this week (to spend out doors!) while back home with no elbow room indoors yet (as we ready the basement for re-habitation of the items currently invading our living/dining room).
  • Friends who immediately and cheerfully drove 30 minutes south to pick up me + kiddos, when we got a flat tire the day we finally make it home. . . these the same friends who just hosted us for 6 days!
  • A dedicated hubby who spent most of Saturday hauling soggy items to the dumpster and then spent Sunday afternoon and evening "de-oxing" our ditch, scrubbing down the basement with an anti-mold solution.
  • DRY air in the basement this morning(!)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Counting Blessings

The past year (since mid-way in Gretchen's pregnancy) I've really been more keenly aware of God's day-to-day blessings. Not for a major life-changing reason (we weren't miraculously saved from a life-threatening situation a year ago, to my conscious knowledge), but God brought me out of a period of a few months of discontent, when I saw fault with everything and everyone. And since then I've been a bit more in tune to God's blessings in the little things.

A few of my friends have been blogging through 1000 gifts, and it's been fun to see them chronicle some of God's blessings in their own lives week-to-week. With Gretchen's birth and newborn-hood I mentally created a list of blessings (there were a lot of them!), but never got around to posting. Life can be very distracting with 2 littles ;-).

This past week Connecticut prepared for a visit from Hurricane Irene and we spent some time preparing, rearranging the basement, insuring adequate supply of shelf-stable foods, etc. The past few days I've been mentally composing a list of God's mercies related to Irene, and I thought I'd actually *gasp* post it, instead of just think it :-).

  • God's protection over our life and property.
  • Only 33 hours without power. The original prediction was close to 3 days, and many are still without power, possibly for a week or more.
  • The wind and rain was less than originally predicted. (Irene was a tropical storm rather than the original Category 2 they predicted.)
  • No damage of belongings in the basement, despite some standing water and some original problems with the pump.
  • A handyman husband who figured out how to get the pump up and running (the apartment complex had poorly installed it on multiple levels - it was pumping water INTO our washing machine).
  • The bulk of the rain happened before we lost power, so our pump could keep the water to a low level in the basement.
  • Our neighbor offering to let us use her generator the next day, to run our pump and shop vac for a while to drain the remaining water from our basement while we waited for power to return.
  • Beautiful weather - neither too hot or too cold.
  • Clean water, albeit not heated.
  • Still being able to stick 100% to my dietary restrictions, even without electricity and a means to cook.
  • Losing less than $10 worth of food due to loss of electricity (mainly condiments). On Thursday when the storm was predicted, we had 7 dozen eggs on hand and 3 gallons of cultured dairy (yogurt and kefir). None of that went to waste due to careful planning and a lot of egg consumption! And our deep freeze stayed frozen!
  • My kefir grains survived :-).
There are many who were hit by Irene much worse, so do please pray for those still without power, running water, or with injuries and deaths, etc. We are thankful that Irene was much milder than some of the more infamous hurricanes in recent history, but it still has a real effect right now in many people's lives.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Societal Conventions, Single Mothers, and Old Age

Societal conventions are weird. And it's even more bizarre and confusing when they change constantly in our modern society, as tradition is disdained or new conventions are put in place.

I'm not an Emily Post type, but I see the wisdom in certain social graces. I don't worry whether my napkins are correctly sculptured on the table for company (or if we use paper instead!). I believe that thank you notes are a wonderful gesture of gratitude, but my ability to procrastinate means they don't always arrive promptly. My house has a high probability of not being dusted when you visit, but if your visit is scheduled ahead, it will almost certainly be vacuumed. My point in this paragraph is that I feel I'm pretty relaxed in the area of Emily-Post-esque conventions.

That being said. . . the societal conventions regarding what to call people have always amused and confused me to no end. I've waxed eloquent(?) on similar things before, though today's ramble has a different thought process.

I've heard that it used to be a minor insult to call a lady who was a stranger "Miss," assuming she was unmarried. But now ladies prefer being assumed "Miss" over "Ma'am", because "Ma'am" apparently sounds ancient. This could be because of our culture's obsession with youth (very antithetical to the Biblical view of youth and age) or a result of the feminist revolution. Since the middle 1900's we've thoroughly confused "Miss," "Ms.," "Ma'am," and "Mrs.," to the point where people mispronounce and misuse them all the time. . . "Mrs." should have TWO syllables, people!

Now whatever. I don't care that much. But it amuses me when I go to stores and observe what the cashiers call me. "Ma'am" should be a "duh" option, but recently I've been called "Miss" a few times. I don't care except without fail, when I shop I have two children in tow who look remarkably like myself (ie, my PROGENY). So my question to our modern society is this? Is it less of an insult to assume I'm a single mother than *gasp* an old married woman??? Our society is weird.

Am I knocking single mothers? Of course not. I have friends who are single mothers. They do a fabulous job and have more guts than I ever will. Some of them are in that situation because of circumstances totally outside their control, while others are prodigals "come home" so to speak. May God bless their sacrifice, and may I focus more on the plank in my own eye. (I have many planks.)

But my point is that never, ever in a previous society (as far as I can tell) has single motherhood been considered less of a shame or less desirable than being considered "old." (Or even considered to be "normative" in society.) What is so alluring about youth? What's so wrong about growing old? Maybe it's because I'm naive and 27 or something, but good grief. It's not like I'm quaking about turning 30. And I'm really looking forward to 50. The only thing I'm not looking forward to regarding old age is deteriorating health. But increased wisdom and experience? That is worth some creaking joints.

With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding. Job 12:12