What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Friday, December 12, 2014

You don't know what you've got

There are these infuriating moments in everyones' life that seem as though if everything could go wrong it would- and all at once too.  Usually, if all goes as it should, at the end of things the person is made stronger for it.  Or so I have been telling myself.  

That has been my month of November- December.

It has been nothing earth shattering or life altering...just many things all going wrong at once.

My dryer has not been able to work since spring- which was of little consequence in the summer but now requires curtain rods to be set up between chairs in the school room to hold the gazillion socks that get wet and replaced after snow playing each day and undies hanging all in a row on the curtain rods above windows in the laundry room and clothes hanging from every spare nail down cellar, requiring you to stealthily slump and spin between them to add wood to the woodstove every few hours.
The pile of eggs we use at breakfast time- it's ridiculous.
Our van started acting crazy so I took it to a local guy who told me that it won't pass next inspection (in a few months) without first socking a tidy sum into it (and it is at 150,000 miles and so...a conundrum) so a different vehicle must be in our near future.

Then about a month and a half ago, my oven stopped working entirely.  It miraculously revived just long enough on Adele's birthday to bake a cake for her and then it went back to its silent, black, gasless coma.   A birthday miracle, of sorts.

For several weeks now our computer has been whacked out and shuts down/freezes up very often when I get on it.  It works when I finally get Matt to check it out and then it throws a little fit as soon as he heads off to work.  Thus, no computer for me either.  (Hence, the lack of blogging.)

And then, two days ago the dishwasher quit working too.  It was at this point that my eyes began to glaze over and my neck began to twitch.

All of these things still sit, unrepaired, because the extra money that we have had access to was put toward something different.  (Before, of course, we knew that it would come in handy again...and again...and again.)  This 'something different' is something I would have shared with you by now (because it is very exciting!) had my computer not been being so mean to me.  I will, though, and soon!  (Because it is very exciting!)

Being out of all these conveniences all at once is pretty overwhelming!

When I find myself inwardly grumbling at the unjustice of it all (grin) I realize just how spoiled I really am and have always been.  Dryers are a CONVENIENCE item.  A dishwasher is a CONVENIENCE.  A computer is a CONVENIENCE.  Even an oven makes things easier but isn't necessary for life.  I am not saying that they aren't huge conveniences and that I would ever want to live without them- but once upon a time people did and not only did they survive, they thrived.   Even today- there are millions of people who are somehow living without a computer.  (Can you believe it?)   They are not pivotal for our existence...they don't sustain us in some way.  They make life easier.

And so, even though I live like the wealthiest of all peoples just in the owning of these conveniences, I can fully attest to taking them AND my circumstances in life for granted.  I fully admit I have felt poor and,when I think of all our repairs and upcoming bills- FEEL poor even now.  This coming from the girl who has never lived out of her car, sacrificed her own dinner to feed her children, gone without shoes or slept without blankets or wondered where the next meal would be.

How dare I complain about what I don't have!?

Sometimes, when life gets a little bit too easy (or we forget to see just how easy it really is) maybe it is a good thing to have a reminder, every now and again, that a dryer is a gift from God that makes things easy.  Not just something that sits in the laundry room drying things.  My dishwasher is a gift from God and a huge help to me when I have just made a big meal at the end of the day and the last thing I want to do is clean up all the dishes covering every surface of the kitchen.  I remember that now.  The capabilities to put something raw into an oven and turn out something delicious and warm is an AMAZING feat that shouldn't be taken for granted.  It's amazing, people!


We have so much.  So much.

back when the oven still worked...
Another wonderful realization occurred to me the other day while contemplating all this.  Matt has been very positive and cheerful about it all!  Now, you must know that I am the eternal optimist in this family and Matt is the eternal pessimist. (He may say 'realist' to that point.)  But I tend to think positively and view things with rosy glasses and he tends to get discouraged more easily and focus on the negative things.  But in this case- and completely contrary to our natural tendencies, I have been the one discouraged and he has been the one encouraging me...despite the fact that it will be up to HIM to do the fixing of these things!

Isn't that just so how God works?  When Matt is discouraged, God has allowed me to encourage him.  When I am discouraged, God has enabled Matt to encourage me.   God so ably provides for every one of our needs- physical, spiritual, and emotional.

Sometimes He needs to clear away the excess and take a few things away for our needs to be met in the best way possible...and maybe it isn't the way we first thought.  But God knows just what we need- even when we don't- and He always provides.

I took the children to a show about the Wright Brothers.  It was cheap (meant for school children) and oh.so.fun.

It was for grades 4-8 but even Judah and Adele' sat nicely through the whole thing.
One amazing convenience I was able to replace recently, thanks to a friend who wanted to sell hers, was a sewing machine!  So I have been busily stitching away in the afternoons on my very convenient, very amazing, very wonderful new (to me) sewing machine!  I may not have a working....well, ANYTHING ELSE (wink)...but I have a working sewing machine now!  And boy, am I so thankful for that!  Stitches even the thickest fabrics like it were stitching through butter.  (Thank you again, Michelle!)

St. Nicholas Day
I am woefully behind on all Christmas-making and have now settled on the notion to pare down, pare down rather than stress out, stress out.  I really so enjoy making things at Christmas but it is very unwise to begin just 13 days before Christmas.  The year I did at least one gift a month all year was so...pleasant.  I may do that this coming year again.  I already have a fabulous idea for my in-laws.  When we moved into this house, Gram had a suitcase filled to the brim with strips of fabric (she loved to make log-cabin quilts) and I kept them...for someday.  It just occurred to me that making Gary a quilt from his mothers' strips of fabric would be such a wonderful, sentimental gift that I am sure would greatly touch him.  This is one of those gifts I contemplated (for a second) trying to start and finish before Christmas.  I know, insane.  But for NEXT year....totally doable.

and a chocolate letter- a van der Jagt tradition.
It's been so long since we chatted- what's new in your neck of the woods?  

How are the Christmasy things going?  

Tell me- what blessing in your life do you most take for granted?  Remind me to be thankful for that too, would you?


Melissa said...

A wonderful post Rebecca-and a timely reminder! Of course, now I am on pins and needles to hear your news!! :)


Terri said...

It's a good reminder, Rebecca. I'm tempted to complain so many times and yes, am totally spoiled. But then I get news like I did the other day of a fellow pastor and friend who was killed in a car accident. His poor wife is distraught and it puts what is really important in life in perspective.

So, I'm learning to take these inconveniences as they come and look at the bigger picture and be content. Great thoughts today!

lydia.purple said...

just yesterday i had to head out in the morning to several meetings and appointments and just had like 20 minutes time for housework... plenty to get all my 'employees' running. turned the dishwasher on, put the washing in the dryer and started a new load. and as i did that i was overcome with some serious gratitude that turned into praise! i hope you will be filled with a new joy even in this not so convenient situation... and God will provide! maybe have your kids pray with you for provision... not only is this an opportunity for them to experience a miracle but the children's prayers get the best answers too. you should see my fridge... ;)

Unknown said...

Oh my goodness. I'm sorry, Rebecca, for all the "servants" quitting AT THE SAME TIME. YIKES!!! :( We are trying to make a big payment and it IS hard to be in the position of "which bill do we pay and which do we leave for now"...I understand in a small way. However, I am RIGHT with you in the fact that in the midst of being "tight", we are sooo very rich. We are warm, have food, have a Christmas tree, clothing, really EVERYTHING we need and so much more!!!

My Christmas is a lot simpler this year, because I chose not to do something little for EVERYONE in Amos' family. We are JUST doing our "name" person. Whew. So much stress off. If I could just convince my side to do that. I don't have a lot of handmades on my list...do want to finish a simple quilt for Annie, a grandpa shirt (fabric paint) from my FIL, a couple of grandkid salt dough ornaments (kids thumb prints on them)...hmm, I already assembled a little photo album for my mom full of kid pictures and made pumpkin spice granola in jars for a few gifts...trying to think what else.

OH! Where do you get those Dutch Chocolate Letters!!!??? I love all your Dutch traditions and ideas...where do you find them? Online? A book??? I'd love to start some of them!!! I also have some beautiful Dutch shoes!!! You've inspired me to use them more for decoration etc!

Christine said...

We do St. Nicholas day too! Not many do anymore. Although we just use our stinky shoes.;)

Bobbi said...

Thank you for the reminder as I'm lacking motivation... All of my conviences still work!!! When we were in Uganda (with our kids) those amazing women carried water from a well to their home, and hand washed everything.... Oh my ungrateful heart!! May you be blessed with a Christmas miracle ($$) or a freecycle or Craigslist goodie to re-supply your needs!!! Blessings to you!!! Now to get off my butt!!!

rebecca said...

I try not to take HEAT for granted and my own fertility. It is not nothing to look at my children and see their father's nose and my eyes and to know I grew and nourished their tiny bodies. And of course I'm grateful for my wonderful husband and my Savior.

Anonymous said...

Our washer, dryer, and dishwasher all died at the end of November, and we had already decided to help our grown son by letting him buy our newer, but with a lot of mileage, car, which meant we had committed to buying a new one.

So we can empathize. Your blog entry was very encouraging, and the mature, sensible way to understand how what was once considered convenience has become "necessity" in our modern age. Being thankful for what we do have -and our ability to adjust and adapt - is the key to contentedness.

But I really just wanted to offer a couple of cheaper, stop-gap ways of handling the broken oven and dryer. There are some really good and larger capacity toaster ovens these days. $68 is way cheaper than hundreds, and you could still obtain oven goodies while saving up for the new oven.

As for the wet clothes, inexpensive wooden or metal (I prefer the stainless; they are stronger)drying racks don't cost much. I spent about $20 on each of the three I have and place in my kitchen by my woodstove. You can also buy a cheap shower curtain bar to hang over the center of your bathtub to hang clothes so they will drip into the tub. If you have two bathrooms, you have twice the drying space.

If you use wood heat, you can increase the humidity in the dry house (better for not getting colds)when the clothes are issuing moisture into the air.

There are always ways to see new "blessings".

Have a nice holiday season and a very merry Christmas!

JenniferM said...

I think celebrating St. Nicholas Day is making a comeback. : )
We just use our stinky shoes too and read a few books about St. Nicholas.

Jenn in Indiana said...

Sounds like God decided maybe you needed a little excitement in your house! I will pray that your husband will have the knowledge to be able to fix these things and that your finances will support what you need to buy. What have you been cooking if you haven't been using your oven?
I think making your FIL that quilt from scraps sounds like such a great idea, when he will love and treasure.

beth said...

having lived for over a decade now with no dishwasher, i'm inclined to express a welcome to you (even if your membership be blessedly temporary) to the Club of Seemingly Endless Silverware.
(sigh ... the 'tween-tine handscrubbing of every fork-!)

b (and my wintry weather'd dishpan hands) in va

beth said...

p.s. - the photo of your contribution to the audience at the wright bros. show?! your foursome is the just the CUTEST.

Theresa said...

Perspective is a great thing. Billions of people live without(and always will) all the things you mentioned. I am like your husband, a pessimist. My favourite poem is the following:



Love reading your blog.

Stefanie said...

I'm so glad you have a sewing machine now to cope with everything going out at once. And of course over the holiday season. I am really hoping for some pics of your machine/sewing.
Hopefully these frustrations turn into blessings in the long run. Sometimes that's so hard to see while we're in the middle of things.

terricheney said...

I had all of my in state children together for a Christmas day/Chanukah/Thanksgiving day. It was hectic and exhausting and lovely and I'd have cried over the joy of it all if I'd not been so terribly busy, lol.

It is hard to do loads of laundry without a dryer and to have to do dishes by hand and bake in the woodstove must take a lot of your time and patience. And I know full well the want/need of a computer when you've come to rely upon it as a creative outlet, as you and I both do. I am sorry for this season, but it IS a season. It will pass. I pray it is a SHORT season with a plentiful one at the end.

Tracy said...

My microwave broke about two months ago. No big deal. My washer went two weeks ago. BIG deal. And my van? It has 318,000 miles on it. If you can, buy a Toyota when the time comes. (Mine was bought used.)

Several years back, my oven caught on fire on Christmas eve with my in laws in route from PA. We didn't have the funds to fix/replace it for several months. I did, however, have a big electric roaster. You can even bake in them. Crockpots are great. And soups are wonderful in the winter, anyway. :)

As to the dryer, that would be a priority for me. Have you checked Craig's List, or the like? Do you have a Habitat Restore anywhere near you?

Full of Grace said...

Rebecca..Thank you for posting this today..I've been reeling over more bad news about the house. News that could honestly be the end of us financially. I've been praying fervently but I've also been letting it consume me. I needed to hear what you wrote..Thank you and hang in there..Love You.

MJ said...

great post. You are not the only one who takes things for granted. I do too. Just tackle one thing at a time as God allows. Waiting is hard I know. I am so glad you are able to find joy in some things anyway...that can be really hard. Your kids are beautiful.

Unknown said...

cutest little wooden shoes ever. I look at pictures of your home sometimes...so peaceful and all of the country around you - no cement jungle and I see that you are SUPER blessed. Some of what you have is what I'm striving for...longing for in my future. And then again...I'm very happy that right now my dishwasher works and my car is doing just fine. I guess we all have our little blessings. :)

Six Pack Adventures said...

Hi Rebecca. I don't know if you remember me or not...Jen who lived in MD. I stopped blogging for quite a while but have kept reading your wonderful blog. It wasn't too long ago one of the kids mentioned the time we visited you when you were living near Altoona. I can't remember what year that was but it's been quite a while. I think you even had pictures of our visit on your blog :)

Farmers Wife said...

Can't wait to hear the update on all things modern :) I rarely comment on your blog, but wanted to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas!

Leanne from Farmingfolks.

Rosemary said...

Thinking of you since your last post. Our oven\stove and refrigerator of 14 years all broke the week before Christmas. I had 17 family members to cook for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Life certainly can throw us some challenges.

Bobbi said...

I am missing your little updates! Hope you have a merry Christmas!

Abigail said...

That top picture is one of my favorites you've ever taken. I just love it.