Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The New Year Began with a Surprise

The first week of the new year has been very busy and trying.

New Year’s Eve at about 11:30 pm I noticed that the water pressure was very low. “Oh no!” I thought. I knew that the old galvanized iron water pipe must have burst finally. So I checked and found water bubbling up from deep in the soil of the front yard. “Oh no!”

I turned and went back into the house and filled the sinks and a couple of small buckets with water so that we would have some for the morning. I knew that most stores would be closed the next day and that I might have trouble obtaining parts to patch the line.

Saturday, New Year’s Day, I dug the hole to find the break in the water line. The hole, the first of four that I would dig, was about 6 ft long by 2.5 ft wide by 4 ft deep. Thankfully both Ace Hardware and Lowes were open for part of the day so that I was able to purchase the PVC compression couplings that allowed me to splice the line. Our next door neighbor graciously allowed us to fill buckets from his house so that we could flush the toilet and do other immediately necessary water activities. By nightfall the patch was complete and we had water again.

Monday I called the city central inspection office to purchase the required permit. The rest of the week I dug three more holes, two the size of the first and another about half that size. I rented a trencher for the 40 or 50 feet between the holes. Sadly, this trencher trenched so narrowly that the trenching shovel was very hard to use in removing the bottom crumbs of soil. I checked to see whether any of the irrigation supply or other plumbing supply places had a tool for removing such crumbs. Of course not. I could not even find a suitable scoop that I could purchase.

So I invented one. I needed one that was about 3.5 inches wide. So I made a scoop with which I could drag the soil to the larger holes for removal with a shovel. It was even more effective than I had hoped. Dad often quoted the old saying that necessity is the mother of invention.

Such work has a period of learning connected with it. The city requires that only certain types of pipe and fittings be used. Connecting to old copper pipe/tubing deep in the ground is challenging, but someone invented a wonderful adapter called SharkBite®, that one simply shoves onto the existing pipe after cleaning it thoroughly. It bites onto it and seals the union. Wonderful product!

Of course, finding the old copper line was a challenge, not having any record of how it exited the house. That hole was actually the largest of the four, being much wider. This was also through the gate through the fence to the back yard and under a sidewalk.

This fact is the cause of my being injured. In this area we have a motion sensor light that seems to prefer to turn off at critical moments. Thursday evening was such a time. As I stepped across this large hole through the gate the light turned off, causing me to misstep and fall. Catching myself against the wall with my left arm extended I injured my shoulder quite badly. That night I was in agony all night with no position that did not feel as though my shoulder was tearing apart. Ice and hot packs and Ibuprofen seemed to be of no benefit. Relief came slowly as I pressed on for the next two days through the pain. The inspector gave his approval Friday so that the holes and trenches could be refilled. Perhaps the work actually helped with the healing. I made a tamper for my mother-in-law’s trenches a couple of years earlier. It really compacted the soil and worked my arms thoroughly.

The shoulder still hurts, but it seems to be healing so that today I can return to working in the trees. Such things continue to amaze me. How the body has been designed by God is truly something that fills me with wonder and awe. Moreover, I know that He kept my injury from being as bad as it should have been. I could have and probably should have received broken bones as well as torn ligaments. His protection far exceeds even that of which I am aware.

So, now the long needed work of replacing the water line has been completed. I was able to finish the project as the threatening snows approached, the first small flakes falling as I folded the tarps and put away the tools. Even in this I see God’s gracious activity, for the water line broke at a time when we could do without running water for a day and when I would have the next day free to make the needed repair. If I am willing to see it, God’s gracious activity is manifest in all things. Thankfully, He makes me aware, even when I often want to grumble.

This is the greatest miracle of all, that He works in the heart to convert me and preserve me as a son of the true faith. This works in me repentance from what I would be and do and think and say so that by the Holy Spirit’s tireless work, the sanctification given in my baptism is manifested in my life. What greater miracle could God work than to convert me by grace through faith so that I am saved and declared to be righteous for Christ’s sake and that this justification and sanctification are made to be manifest above and beyond what I would do according to my own reason and strength?

When the Lord brings this to my awareness, I find myself realizing that this year has begun very well for me and my house.

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