Random Reflections from the Week

February 5, 2009 at 11:24 pm 1 comment

It’s Thursday night. I’m enjoying the first night with just my five here in ten days.  The Hub’s mom and dad got power tonight!  Yeah!  We are so happy for them.  We are also a little excited to snuggle back into our bedroom, though we were happy to share it.  At least the guest room is comfie.  It’s a full size, which we handle fine, but it’s very high off the floor as well, and we couldn’t risk falls.

The guest room was an upgrade from the 45 degree kids room upstairs, and from the mattress on the floor of the basement–I slept like a log down there,.  Unfortunately The Hub tossed and turned from 3:30AM on each night…which put a bit of a kink in my slumber.

We’ve enjoyed sharing what we had.  We planned a home for “such a time as this”.  Two nights, we had his mom and dad, his brother and wife, and our family…that time was very special to his folks, they told us tonight.  We had a big time with games and the one allotted hour and half slot the generator could handle per day together with Whirly Pop popcorn.  I think I have my recipe down pat now.

However, the best recipe involves the same butter-lard goo everyone is avoiding for health reasons in the microwave popcorn I do suspect.  It is more fresh, theatre quality, and fun to watch pop though!  It’s premeasured from the same Wabash company who makes the Whirlie Pop.  They make a “sold separately”  butter, but they recommend only added their specially formulate salt to the poppers.  Why?  I don’t know.  I started adding it anyway because it tastes so much better when you cook the corn in it rather than trying to get it to stick later…it never does and gets all over the hands.

I’ve been feeding two diabetics, one allergic to strawberries, tomatoes, and chocolate.  Okay, that eliminates my three primary food groups, people.  But, who’s counting.  I cooked a full breakfast, with meat, eggs, biscuits and gravy everyday, and then a “kid breakfast” because we had little guests as well, and they all didn’t eat eggs.  By 9:00, the kids were wanting snacks.  By 11:30, they were wanting lunch, the ones who didn’t eat many snacks…with five kids here…they just would not stay on the same schedule, and they weren’t all my kids…they didn’t have heat or power at home, and I really wanted to try to keep them fed with foods they liked, when they were hungry.  So, we got lunch washed up, and breakfast, with no dishwasher, for sixteen or so people (because people were in and out from work all day to check generators at all four homes to try to keep pipes from freezing).

Then, we started supper, and that took most of the afternoon.  But, I could only have the oven on for about two hours a day, one hour for breakfast, and one for supper.  In between, we supplemented the gas logs by running the blower on the house.  My husband was delighted to find out it was a “110” rather than a “220”…whatever that means.  I just know it meant more heat when the house was getting really cold with three layers of clothes on!

It also cost me time on the generator though (we were borrowing a small one to begin with).

The first day, we overheated it, and I didn’t allocate time well and cleared internet obligations, losing my refrigerator time.  That was a bad move.  But, I did enjoy my computer time.

We didn’t lose much food, but we did cook most of the meat in everyone’s freezers of any value.

We got power on Sunday, but were  in the first 10% of people to get it due to living on a priority route.

I think if I had to choose between not having power for a week, and water…my vote would now be for water.  No doubt about it.  Sixteen people in here and toilets that won’t flush?  Let’s just say that several of us and popcorn cans with lids outside got aquainted in a familiar kind of way for several days. Going potty in sub-freezing weather is not as bad as I thought it would be.  I needed to go to bad to care.  However, I will say that checking one’s surroundings first is advisable.  For example, knowing that leaning back to catch oneself on the fence behind would work better if it would not covered in an inch of ice.

No…I didn’t hit the ground…the popcorn tin was pretty sturdy, but not too friendly on the thighs.  And, don’t forget to take the toilet paper with you.  I did have that part down.  Fortunately, all the screened in porch was frozen and there were enough fallen trees everywhere that there was plenty privacy at least!

Moving on…

We found that you can wash dishes in water collected by snow.  In case you need to know, two medium buckets yields about two cups of water.

The men collected the snow, the women thawed it out by gas stove top burner, and rinsed items by holding them with tongs.  The water gets quite hot.

No…the dishes aren’t that clean in the end, most likely.  But, we were thankful and pleased with our ingenuity.

You know, I pray for times like this for my kids.  I really do.  Not for the hardships on all…no, not for that.  For that, I am also prayerful, even tonight.  But, for times when they have to hear all day, “What are our priorities?  Heat, and food.  No, you can’t watch TV, we need to cook, and we need heat.  If we get those needs met, we get one show together, tonight.  We all watch it together, we get to rest, and we all go to bed.”

None of this hyper-stimulation from every imaginable entertainment source.

I hope they learned from it.  I hope they remember.  I hope that if hard times come, and we, someday, are not around, or if they have families of their own, they will know how to plan their days.  They will understand how we must all work together and help one another, or we never make it.

The mayor of our town spoke at the church Sunday to update us, along with our State Representative.  I loved the words of the mayor, loosely quoting Ben Franklin, “We either hang together, or we hang along.  We are a people who hang together.”

I was proud that our churches were the first to respond to needs for food and shelter, welcoming any and everyone, even before the government or FEMA could respond.

I am proud to have been able to help where I could with a family who hangs together.  I am proud of kids who, though it took some breaking…finally started to “get it”.  That they could have fun with the situation, or choose to be miserable.  I’m proud of neighbors who helped get us gas cities away when there was none to be had locally, helping us stay operational.

I’m proud of the elderly, the injuried, the unprepared, who helped us clear limbs, carry piles, and keep our roof from suffering damage.  I’m proud of those who left a day of leisure to bring us clean water when we couldn’t boil it fast enough.  I’m proud of those who brought us a few new board games, of those who helped us re-wire our house for heat, of those who helped take our dog out when I was busy, of those who took whatever came in good spirit.

I’m not just thankful.  It goes way beyond thanks, though that is surely there.  I am proud.  I am proud of what the human spirit can endure, it’s ingenuity; strength, boundless energy, resources, and enless care for one another.  Sleepless nights, concerned for the next day’s agenda, trying to keep everyone we could from having frozen water pipes…men with plans, working schedules, all while caring for hundreds of people’s needs.

We are a strong people.  We cannot endure without one another.  But, we are strong together.

I listened to Obama’s speech tonight to the Democratic Party, and I was sorrowed.  To fix a bad problem of debt by example of this unbelievable bomb of debt?  We may see some growth from that and a decrease in unemployment.  But, let’s be sure of this:  our only fix is God’s way to financial freedom, that is, to teach people how to be free by personal saving and discipline.  And that’s not what he wants…it’s more spending to stimulate the economy.  We will build this nation by people working together to build lives come good or bad times…just the way I’ve seen this week.

President Obama is right, we need a change.   Government spending to unprecedented debt while they party in the nations most expensive hotels in conferences like the ones they are having right now and higher taxes is not any change at all from anything.   What they are wanting only decrees the resources we have to share with one another freely like I’ve seen this week.

Our country has some painful lessons ahead of it to learn personal responsibility again toward self, family, and fellow-man.  I wonder how many of these situations the Lord will have to place in our laps before we are able to surrender and re-learn what it’s all about? We’ve suffered three emergency situations like this, to lesser degree this year.  None of us can help but wonder why we are being prepared to serve to this level, to be stretched to this level.

My husband and I want, more than ever, for our kids to learn to use a hammer and nail.  To prioritize work and use their hands, to garden and learn to preserve food, to learn to be content in whatever situation they are in, as the Apostle Paul said.

I hope that where you are, you are safe, dry, and have heat, and food.  That is my biggest blessed of prayer to offer tonight, and for us, here, it is a big one.  Medicines at clinics for tests do not keep without refrigeration.  Stores will not sell even good food after the power has been off, they are taped off.  Stores cannot operate without generators, not even gas stations.  Banks do not dispense money for a week, and stores only take cash for gas and fuel for heat.  Without water, food sources, heat, with trees blocking roads and even hospitals without water for a day…a new perspective is gained.

I’m not sure what all I’ve “learned” from this.  Right now, I just know that I’m tired.  A good kind of tired, but I’m tired.  We all are.  And school and life starts back Monday as of right now.  Many don’t even have power yet, though it’s getting closer to done.  High school parking lots right now are filled with huge white prom-like tents with hundreds on hundreds on hundreds of utility trucks and workers serving us in absolutely freezing winds and temps.  Higher temps expected today never came.  We may have finally gotten slightly above freezing.

Yet, we see the Mennonite communities, rolling in with chain saws and axes for boys about age 12, not accepting any pay, just there to help in the worst areas, making it possible for the linemen to get us power more quickly.  Amazing.  That is the human spirit at work.

It leaves you shaking your head…the generosity of the prepared.

“Expect the best, prepare for the worst.”  I’ve used that phrase many times this year. I can’t tell you if it’s original or not, I’ve just kept saying it.  It’s so true.   We need to be a people prepared enough to serve that when disaster hits, we take up our axes and we pool our resources, and we do what we can and learn what we can and serve where we can.

I’ll try to post some humorous things that come to mind, but these are wind-down thoughts of a sleeping mind with her first real writing access to the computer in about ten days.  I think most of us are left with such jumbled emotions from being poured out that we could all cry just to cleanse.  Most of us out of our routines, taking one emergency after another, fifteen schedules piled up, making one working household flowing with grace.  It’s been amazing, surreal, inconvenient…but in our case, it’s held nuggets of gold if you can stop complaining long enough to see then.

Much like the photos I posted yesterday, you can see what you want to see.  Whether you want to or not, you have to see all of it. It is overwhelming. You have to choose what to focus on.  And, long after it’s over, you still see it’s effects.   Long after the beauty of ice is gone, I pray I will see be able to capture and focus on the dazzling beauty of gleaming ice-castles of art made by God, rather than the fierce and deadly ravage on the trees.  As someone said last night, “I’m so amazed at how FEW houses I’ve seen damaged by all this.  In fact, I’ve seen no blue tarps at all!”

While many didn’t make it, didn’t want to leave home, couldn’t find heat, or found toxic heat…there are things to be thankful for.  A very mixed response…but, “because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed.  His mercies are new every morning.  Great is Thy faithfulness.”  (Lamentations).

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Entry filed under: Everyday.

Ice Storm 2009 Photos–Welcome to Narnia Prove Us.

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. MizB  |  February 8, 2009 at 11:45 am

    Hey Mag! I haven’t “talked” with you (online) for a couple of years, I think! I was just reading through my old blog (“The Relevant Element“) and saw the comments there, from you. And, it made me think, “I should go look her up, again”. So, here I am. 😀

    How’ve you been? I miss your comments! 😛

    I’m hoping to get back to blogging spiritual stuff (see here for my newest blog), so hopefully we can ‘chat’ again. 😀

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ME: “MAGGIE”

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Sifting the joy from the mundane:

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I am married to the love of my life, as we raise three children, learning the ways of grace.

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Magnanimity (derived from the Latin roots magn- great, and anima, soul) is the virtue of being great of mind and heart. It encompasses, usually, a refusal to be petty, a willingness to face danger, and actions for noble purposes. Its antithesis is pusillanimity. Both terms were coined by Aristotle, who called magnanimity "the crowning virtue."

Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary of the American Language defines Magnanimity as such:

MAGNANIM'ITY, n. [L. magnanimitas; magnus, great, and animus, mind.] Greatness of mind; that elevation or dignity of soul, which encounters danger and trouble with tranquillity and firmness, which raises the possessor above revenge, and makes him delight in acts of benevolence, which makes him disdain injustice and meanness, and prompts him to sacrifice personal ease, interest and safety for the accomplishment of useful and noble objects.[1] (Source: Wikipedia)

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