An Unexpected Patient

The Mister and I spent part of this past Sunday afternoon performing surgery on our back porch.

We assembled our tools and prepared the space before bringing out the patient. During the hour-long procedure we were able to explore the entire body cavity and clean out an obscene amount of gunk and build-up clogging the arteries. The patient is still on rest orders and cannot perform any work until replacement parts have arrived, but we are hopeful for a full recovery.

Whoever thought a vacuum cleaner would be so much work!

I knew I smelled something funny while cleaning on Sunday, but the carpet had gotten pretty bad and I powered through. Besides, the last time I smelled something burning I had sucked up a cell phone charger, and since there were no chargers present, I ignored it. Then I emptied the almost-full canister into the kitchen garbage.

That’s when I noticed it.

There was — and I am ashamed to admit this — all kinds of dog hair and nastiness filling up the inside hose components of the vacuum. I mean, this was a wedding present, and we’ve been married almost three years, and I’ve never done this before….. so picture that.

Now, I don’t completely abuse the thing. I empty the canister periodically and I sometimes have to remove gunk from the bottom, but it had honestly never occurred to me that I might ever need a second vacuum cleaner just to clean the first vacuum cleaner.

So out to the porch I went… soon discovering that a pair of needle-nosed pliers was not going to cut it. The Mister came out to help and, with the help of a wire coat hanger and a few brave puffs of air, eventually managed to remove a small puppy from the appliance. Top to bottom, every inch of the hosing was stuffed to capacity, and every time we thought we were done, we’d pull out another owl-pellet of compressed dirt. No wonder I couldn’t clean anything off the carpet! The next time I use the thing (after new filters get delivered, since we don’t even want to TALK about the state that was in), it will probably have enough suction to pull our thin carpet completely off the floorboards!

What was a time when you realized you were not as wonderful a housekeeper as you thought? Or that a small appliance got the best of you? Or that you had to perform unexpected emergency surgery on your porch, for that matter – I’ll take anything.

Happy Wednesday, and remember, love your vacuum.

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Who’s talking to you?

Our home congregation here just finished a short gospel meeting with Mr. Sidney White from Florida. His lessons each night were well-presented, however there was one statement in particular that really stuck in my head.

I forget the exact context of this example, but he gave the example of a young college girl that once came to their house in tears over a break-up. She told him and his wife that she had dated several young men and nothing had worked out. She felt that “maybe God was trying to tell her something.”

In response, he asked her,

“Have you ever thought maybe Satan is trying to tell you something?”

He went on to wonder if maybe Satan weren’t trying to tell this young girl – and all young people like her – to lower her standards, settle for less than the best, and look for a mate who might not have the Christian values she was looking for.

Mr. White said, “Sometimes we give God credit for things He doesn’t do.” God wants us to hold on and wait for the good things He has promised for those who obey Him. Satan wants you to give up early and settle for being just short of the goal.

So I know I’m still very young and relatively newly-married, but I would like to say this to those out there who are still looking (and yes, that includes those who might be engaged, because engagements can be broken but marriage is forever):

Hold on to the picture of a Godly spouse found in the Bible and have the strength to wait for him or her. Don’t settle for less because you fear being alone longer than society says is acceptable. It is better to wait than to find yourself yolked to a spouse who will not help you get to Heaven. That voice you hear sometimes, telling you that your standards are too high and you need to relax a little, or that no one else will ever love you if you give this person up, or that you’re getting too old to wait any longer and might as well go for it… that is not the voice of God. That is the voice of Satan, and he wants you to miss out on the joys of a strong Christian marriage and the help of a Godly spouse to get you and your children to Heaven. That is not to say that marriages to non-Christians never work; there are too many examples to the contrary to say that. But you do enter into what could be years of struggle and heartache and hurt until that conversion occurs, and even those who are strong going in run the risk of losing themselves along the way. Be careful, singles. Marriage is not just a pretty ring and social media congratulations and pinterest decorations and professional photos. It’s forever, and that’s a really long time to settle for less than what God has intended for you – which, by the way, is more and different from what you have intended for yourself.

And to those who aren’t looking for spouses anymore, but hear that voice in your head about other things – to accept that job, even though it will take you away from your family and from church services; to sleep in this Sunday morning because you don’t want to wake the kids; to skip church tonight because it’s too cold outside; to lower your standards of integrity and honesty to make a few extra dollars that “won’t hurt anybody”… that is not the voice of God. We must all learn to recognize that voice for who it really is, and for what he is really trying to do. Don’t give credit where credit isn’t due.

Taking a Cue from Mother Nature

We had two and a half more snow days from work last week, and in all the quiet time at home I’ve become strangely obsessed with animal cams.

Through the wonders of modern technology, I can use the web browser on my device to access a webcam attached to a branch hundreds of miles away to watch the apes at the San Diego zoo swing in their trees. They also have panda, elephant, koala and polar bear cameras there too (scroll down). You can watch the giant panda at the National Zoo eat his bamboo, sponsored by Ford Motor Company. The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California, has a webcam above their sea otter enclosure, and yesterday the Mister and I happened to check on them during their zookeeper presentation, so we got to see them being fed and doing tricks for the live zoo audience. I’m sure there are hundreds more, but these are the ones I have bookmarked for the time being, and I feel the need to check on them periodically to see what they are doing with all of their free time.

The camera I am most fascinated by, however, is not at a zoo or aquarium and the animals don’t do tricks for buckets of shrimp.

This camera is attached to a tree in Hanover, Pennsylvania, (wherever that might be) and watches the nest of a pair of beautiful bald eagles. The female is just sitting there now, warming her eggs, which are expected to hatch (according to the website) on or about March 21. You can bet I’ll be watching when I can.

Last night I was trying to think of a reason why I like watching this mother eagle so much, and I realized that it’s a calming sense of focus. This female eagle hasn’t left her nest in weeks – maybe months. She was covered to her neck in snow during the last storm, and still remained at her post. She’s simply sitting, protecting her eggs, with the instinctive knowledge that this is the task of highest importance, and that all other things can wait until this one thing is accomplished.

She isn’t worrying about the state of her nest. She isn’t worrying about what’s for dinner or what anybody else thinks of her personal decisions or appearance. She trusts that her mate will return with enough food to keep her alive; that her babies will develop and hatch as they should, when they are ready; and that the necessities in her life will be cared for. She doesn’t care about the wind or the cold or the cars passing on the road in the distance or the time passing as she waits. She only waits.

Something about that is so reassuring, as I work to finish all my assignments on time. She is propped up on my iPad by the desktop monitor, where I can check on her from time to time, and she is still waiting. Somehow that reminds me that I can slow down and do each task one at a time – I don’t have to be a whirlwind of anxiety at every moment – and everything will get done, even if it’s not all done in the next ten minutes.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:25-34; NIV)

Happy Monday.

How old am I?

Last week I was trying to figure out the age of an old friend and was using the ages of other old friends as benchmarks. The conversation with the Mister went something like this:

“So his brother was a sophomore when I was a junior, and he is a year older than my brother, and my brother is going to be … [math in my head] … 22… 22? That can’t be right, because I’m only… wait… how old am I?”

Yes. I actually and honestly did not know. The Mister said, “Well my birthday is on Sunday and I’m going to be 25, so that makes you….?” He waited for me to answer.

I didn’t.

“24,” he said. “That makes you 24.”

Oh. Really??

When did I reach a point in my life where I not only don’t really care how old I am, but I didn’t even KNOW when prompted?

I can’t figure out if that’s normal or just depressing.

I guess I don’t really need it anymore though. It’s been more than a decade (wow, can I really say decade?) since someone crouched down in front of me and asked, “And how old are you, sweetie?” I mean, sometimes people at doctor’s offices need to know for whatever reason, and I suppose I give them the right answer, but if I hadn’t been born in a year ending in 0 – thus making my age match the last digit of whatever year we are in – I probably wouldn’t even be able to do that.

I’m me. I’m a young adult. So does it really matter? I’m inclined to say no, because the next time I need to know, I’m just going to ask my husband because Mr. Smarty-Pants seems to keep up with that sort of thing.

[And no, I probably won’t know off the top of my head how old my children are either. They’ll just be “babies” or “toddlers” or “in middle school” or whatever other obvious stage they’re in at the time and that’s what I’ll have written on their birthday cakes too. It just makes everything easier.]

Happy Wednesday, and may the odds be ever in your favor.