Thursday, May 01, 2014

Drama Mama

A week ago, when our weather was nice enough for the boys to play outside and ride bikes, Zeke came running in screaming with a bloody finger.  He said the bicycle wasn't really riding smoothly, so he turned it upside down to see if anything was caught in the chain.  He was spinning the chain around (using the pedal), and accidentally caught his finger in it.  Poor Zeke was pretty freaked out.  I knew he needed attention just to get calmed down.  We loaded up and went to the ER immediately.  He was panicking.  On the way there, he said, "I just want to do school--I don't want to be hurt!"  He said, "Is it going to hurt?"  I said, "Well, we don't have to go."  He said, "No, I want to go.  But is it going to hurt?"  I tried to help him see that the anticipation was way worse than it would actually be.  I brought along some lavendar essential oil, and instructed him to take deep breaths and just smell it.  It must have worked, because he was quiet as a mouse as we entered the ER.  Unfortunately, we had a long wait ahead of us...maybe he should have been screaming still!

While we were at the ER my friend Bonnie "heard it through the grapevine" and gave me a call.  Her husband, Tom, is a plastic surgeon with Midsota Plastic Surgeons.  I texted her a picture, which she forwarded to him.  He then called me at the ER.  I asked him to speak with the Physician's Assistant who was treating Zeke, which he graciously did.  The PA ordered an xRay and found that the tip of Zeke's bone was chipped...ouch!  Tom told her to wash it, bandage it, and he would see us in his office the next morning.  Zeke was amazing.  It was really hard to get his finger numb, but he was patient and calm.

Bonnie told me that Tom is great with kids, and this was not just a wife brag--he really was great with Zeke.  He was so gentle and did a good job talking to him.  Bonnie even came and babysat the kids for me while Zeke and I went in.  I was fascinated watching Tom sew up Zeke's finger.  Bonnie said it's like watching an artist, and it's true.  I had as much appreciation for the skill of Tom's hands as I have watching a composer work.  It was really cool.  Zeke wasn't much into watching, so he was distracted by watching a movie on Netflix.  :)  In the office though we had a skeleton of a hand to look at, as well as a drawing that showed the nerves where Zeke would receive the numbing shots.  I said we can homeschool anywhere.  I'm really glad we were able to have Tom stitch up Zeke's finger.  Once I saw how thoroughly he cleaned it, and how skillfully he repaired the finger, I wondered why in the world we would have gone anywhere else.  Soon we were back home.  Zeke rested for about 5 minutes.

Then he was up and feeling too good to rest.  Unfortunately when the numbing medication wore off later that night Zeke was sorry he hadn't rested.  We have done several dressing changes in the past week and his finger is looking a lot better now.  The OT who saw Zeke said it will probably take a few months before it's not really "sore" anymore.

Once we were finally done with last week, I was relieved.  I thought that we would get back on track this week.  Monday just before lunch I headed down the stairs to get something (who knows what), and at the bottom of the stairs my feet sunk into the wet carpet, "squish."  My first thought was that someone had poured water over the ledge.  It only took seconds for me to realize the problem was much, much bigger.  I peeked into the crawl space and saw standing water everywhere.  Of course, our crawl space was not empty...not even close.  The boys have not stayed out of there, even though I made the rule that they should.  Not only that, but things had been "rearranged" to a severe degree and since the crawl space has a door I had quite neglected cleaning it.  In other words, I couldn't really see the floor.  Only enough to see that the sump pail was overflowing.  It was no wonder--later I found out we had had 0.73 inches of rain Monday morning alone, and 3.5 inches since Wednesday morning.  We suspect that the ground is still frozen deeply, so the water had no where to go but under the house and up through the floor.  At first I hoped the seeping water was limited to the crawl space alone.  As I walked around the carpet, my compression brought water to the surface in seemingly random places all over.

I knew that the first thing I needed to do was get the sump pail empty.  I wasn't sure where the sump pump was, or if it was working.  What if it was in the bottom of the full pail?  I would have to reach my hand in, pull it out, and hook up the water hose to it while it was slimy from sitting in the water!  Gross!!  Not only that, but the water hose was outside on the grass, covered with mud and wood chips and DIRT.  Oh, and you know, I do have a bunch of kids to watch at the same time.  I started to panic.  The first thing I did was call Mitch.  I don't know why--he couldn't be home.  He could only tell me to do what I knew I needed to do.  He didn't answer.  :(  So I hit facebook.  I simply requested prayer.  Then I breathed deeply, decided mud on the water hose was the least of my worries, and got to it.  Caleb helped me get the screen out of the window so we could thread the water hose out to drain.  Thankfully the sump pump was sitting beside the pail, high and dry.  I got it hooked up and it worked perfectly.  It began draining the pail with no problems.  I cried a little bit, then I got to work.  Eden helped out by serving the kids lunch upstairs.  While she had them taken care of, Caleb and I emptied the crawl space and vacuumed up water.  It was a mess, but we took it one step at a time.  The work was back-breaking, and I am STILL sore.  I really worked my core muscles!

At one point I looked up from my work and saw Jamie Brouwer come by to help.  Jamie was diagnosed recently with sarcoma cancer and has been undergoing painful treatment (caring bridge site here:  Mitch and I had just helped out at a benefit on Saturday for him.  I was humbled and grateful.  It was a relief to know that someone was able to help and give advice in a tangible way.  He brought over some fans, helped run the vacuum, and just help me make decisions on what to do next.  Others stepped in to help, too.  Doug and Teri Kleinsmith brought some fans and took our boys for the evening.  Luke Neuman came over Tuesday and helped remove the carpet.  Another friend, Jennifer, loaned us her huge industrial fan.  Many others called to offer support or prayed for us.  I am so thankful!  It really helped me to manage the stress and do the hard thing. 

At one point while moving/cleaning, I had a thought, "I wish I could just do school!"  I remembered Zeke's cry the week before, and I felt empathy much deeper for him.  Oh how I grumble and complain!

As we pulled back the carpet, we discovered water had leaked in through all the cracks and along the walls in some places.  We really couldn't leave the carpet down anywhere because we couldn't know all the places where it was wet.  I'm hugely concerned about mold growth, so we just got rid of it all.  :(

Mitch put boards down to keep stuff off the cement so it can dry, but also so we can watch to make sure it doesn't continue to leak (it shouldn't). 

We have lived here 11 years and this is not a problem that we have had before.  The combination of soaking rains, frozen ground, and OUR failure to empty the sump pail is what did it.  If we had checked the pail sooner, I'm sure it would have been ok.  It's been a long time since we needed to, though, so it hadn't even crossed my mind.  (Though as recently as 3 weeks ago we were debating how many times in 11 years we have even had to empty it--I said it was only a couple and Mitch said it was more like 4.)

In just one day it dried significantly.

Mitch text me yesterday at the end of his school day to ask how things were going.  I sent him this picture.

Haha.  This was taken before we moved in in 2003.  We lived in our house while finishing off the lower level (it's really only half-way under ground so it is not technically a basement?).  It took us 4 years.  We have had carpet for only 7 years down there.

 "Been there, done that."

We don't have flood insurance coverage for a few reasons--ultimately it boils down to cost vs. benefit.  I'm so thankful that we only lost carpet.  Yes, it was frustrating.  Yes, it was hard work.  Yes, I'm disappointed.  Yes, I am exhausted.  But that is all it is.  When I read about Rob Tittle, who was a father to 9 and worked at Family Life, who lost his life in the tornadoes on Sunday, I really had a shift in perspective.

I feel God is pressing in to show me what it really means to believe that He is sovereign.  He ordains my days.  When I grumble and complain over math not done or crackers smooshed all over the floor, I am grumbling against His divine authority.  I have been reading the book A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger Than You  by Paul Tripp.  I highly recommend it. It's taking me a long time to go through because I highlight every other page.  I have been challenged to die to myself--to my expectations, to my to-do list.  Tripp writes, "Christ calls each of his children to this three-fold death: death to the priority of self, death to our pursuit of our lives, and death to our pursuit of our own plan" (p. 116).  Oh that sounds so logical, so "christianese."  It's an over-used phrase, "Die to self."  It comes from the Bible--Matthew 16:24, Luke 9:23, Galatians 5:24, and many more.  But how do you actually do it?  How do I stop living as the king of my own little kingdom, and surrender to God's sovereign authority and power?  Ah, that's what I'm working through!  That's what God is pressing in and teaching me, slowly, day by day.  It isn't something I can just go read and then I've got it.  He's teaching me, loving me, disciplining me, and He is so patient.  Some more quotes from Tripp:  "Only as we die to the glory of our claim on our own lives will we begin to experience the transcendent glories of living for the Lord" (p. 116). "To jealously hold on to my dream of what I want to accomplish, experience, and enjoy is to guarantee that I will never ever experience true life" (p. 117).  "Christ's call to you is a rescue.  In asking you to deny yourself and follow, he is giving to you what you could never earn or achieve on your own.  You will not find it in your marriage, in parenting your children, in accumulating possessions, in the esteem of friends, in theological knowledge, or in the most beautiful location" (p. 121).  "Big kingdom living is living with the purpose character, call, grace, and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ as central motivation and hope for everything you think, desire, do, and say...And living this way will result in a life of meaning and purpose, where you really do make a difference wherever God places you" (p. 124).  "The issue here is not doing a bunch of new and different things, but responding to the things God has already placed in your life in a very new way" (p. 126).

Meditating today on these words from Philippians 2:14-15: "Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world."  And these from Galatians 6:9 that my friend Heidi text to me: "And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up."  While I meditate, I head out to be used where God has placed me.  It is not easy...unless I die to myself.  This little promise from Matthew 11:28-30 strengthens me, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

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