Down the Drain

A few weeks ago I reached my hand under the sink to quickly grab a plastic bag and found it slightly wet. This dark place in my kitchen is rarely paid attention to. Items that need storage are quickly tossed in and the cabinet door is shut. I usually sense what I need by touch and don’t even look. This meant I actually had to get down on my knees and peer inside.

I did not see any water leaking at that present moment. Upon further investigation, I found more wet bags, and a few ruined paper towels. After shifting and dragging things out into the open, I found the entire bottom shelf soaking wet. The paper towels that had come out unscathed were used to sop up the mess.

There was no denying that something was amiss. Before turning on the faucet, I placed a plastic bowl under the pipes to see where the trouble was coming from. I ended up carefully taking off the elbow portion and seeing if something was stuck. As far as I could see, it looked normal. I carefully put everything back fearing that I would damage something.

I have to admit that during times like this I find myself frustrated that I cannot solve it myself. I am not a plumber, an electrician, or a carpenter. Yet, I wish secretly I was so that I would not have to rely on other people.

I was left with one option. To call my dad who always can fix the problem or give me advice on how to go about repairing something. He is the one I give a jingle when a sink isn’t draining, a sink is leaking, a fence is falling apart, a lawnmower is malfunctioning, ect.

He always knows a ‘guy’ if he cannot help me. When I explained my situation, he said,

“I know this handyman. I will give him a call.”

I don’t know why certain words conjure up images in my mind, but the word ‘handyman’ reminds me of a guy wearing overalls who carries a box full of various gadgets and tools of the trade.  Two days later, Tony  the handyman was knocking on my front door. He didn’t disappoint as he fit my imaginative handyman image perfectly.

He arrived at the exact time he said he would which I am not accustomed to. Usually, I am given a three hour window of time for sitting and waiting until the person usually shows at the last minute of the three hours.  Not this time. He was prompt and headed straight for the kitchen sink.

I have had other repairmen in my home over the years, and I often sit nearby while they work to find out more about them. Some have taken my friendliness for an invitation to ask me my relationship status which instantly makes me less friendly. It’s a repair call, not a booty call.

Most, I have found, are very open about their problems. I have spoken to many who have been through divorces such as myself with child support issues, ex-wives that are not very nice and the struggle to juggle work and parenting time with kids. Usually, as I engage in this question and answer period, most of the workmen talk freely about their feelings. I figure as long as they have come all this way to help me, I can at least listen and take an interest in what concerns them.By the time the job is done, they hardly know they have worked, and I am happy to have learned something new about a person.

This was not the case with Tony. He asked me as many questions as I asked him. I found out that he and his wife had raised children to adulthood and then went on to adopt two more children who they home schooled. Because of my experience with home schooling, this made our conversation easy as we connected on this common ground. Our interaction was positive as we discussed triumphs instead of tragedies.

What I found refreshing was his concern with how he billed people and how much time he took to do a job. After putting sealant on the drain, he found that a new drain was in order but didn’t have one with him. He told me he didn’t want to charge for time spent running out and coming back so he would just return the following week to install a new one.

He cleaned up his entire mess, which is not always the case with some, and he bid me goodbye until the following Monday. There was such a peace and calm about him that I had not felt with others before. I wondered what was it with Tony that was different?

True to his word, he showed up ahead of schedule when he said he would and was done with the job in record time.

I walked him to the front door, thanked him for helping me and thought he would rush off. He said he had another job to get to, so I didn’t expect what he said next.

“Could I pray a blessing over your home?” He asked with slight hesitation as if I might decline this wonderful suggestion.

“Yes, ” I replied without a stutter.

He went on to pray the nicest prayer anyone ever could. I was slightly surprised when he made a request to heaven that all of the things in my house would function like they should. Not a normal thing to hear a repairman say. He finished up by speaking a blessing over me and my children.  The entire time he spoke, I felt great waves of peace flooding over me because I knew he had been sent for more than just my sink repair.  When he finished, I thanked him again.

As he drove on to his next appointment, I realized this was what I had sensed was different about Tony. He had a deep faith in something other than himself. He did his job, but at the same time realized that he wasn’t only just living for his work. The person he was doing the job for was the important part.

I found myself thinking back to a few days prior when I didn’t want to rely on someone other than myself to fix the sink. Yet, had I been so self reliant, I would never had Tony come and speak such kind words over my household. His visit turned out to be a surprise gift in encouragement.

When you are in a place where help is needed, God will always send just the right person along to uplift you and remind you that everything has not gone down the drain.

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Days of the Weak

Monday Mourning: And so it begins when the eyes have not yet opened, the alarm is set to go off, and that dreamy world is slowly slipping away. The mind begins to conjure up images of the day and the problems that seem unavoidable.  The lips begin to move and form the words, “I hate Mondays.” You crawl out of bed and pick out your best black outfit.  Murmuring into the shower, over the bowl of cereal, and all the way to the dreaded desk in the back office where mounds of work await. And the clock ticks ever so slow as the air is filled with dissatisfaction and not one single moment affords a smile.  Co-workers approach with perky attitudes and depart with heads hung low as if they have just attended a funeral after leaving your presence.  Mumblings continue on the commute home all the way through the evening news until the moment for bed arrives.

Tuesday Tirade: This day finds you at the top of your game demanding and belittling those who are blessed enough to be in your proximity.  You wish you had a missile launcher to clear your path to work because everyone on the road is a moron.  Your colleagues are graced with your snappy responses and treated like something stuck to your shoe that you cannot remove. Even the family dog is not immune to getting ‘barked at.’  You fall into bed exhausted after the multitude of idiots you have had to deal with all day.

Wednesday Whinning:  Why are gas prices so high?  Why can’t anyone put ink into the printer? Why is milk so expensive?  Why do people make stupid decisions?  Why don’t I get a raise? Why do I even work here?  Why do I have to do all the busy work?  Why didn’t I get invited to the important meeting?  Why do people take up two parking spaces?  Why can’t someone else mow the lawn? Why do I have to do all the decision making? Why can’t someone else do the dishes?  Why do I have to always take out the trash?  Why don’t I have more money in my bank account?   Why do I have to get up so early?

Thursday Thin-Skinned:   All questions, compliments and sentences set you off. Whether written or verbal, all forms of communication are going to irritate you.  You find hidden meanings in everyone’s words that send you reeling into a silent simmering anger and possibly tears by lunch.  You ready yourself for arguments that never happen, but you are prepared anyway.  You sit at your desk and rehearse what you will say, how you will say it and practice squinting your eyes to show that you mean business.

Fretful Friday:  You wake up disappointed by the fact that it isn’t payday.  If it is payday, you dread the idea that you have to pay bills and all your money is gone before it has hit your account.  You wonder what you will do all weekend if you are single.  The prospect of a Netflix binge with junk food gorging sounds depressing. While everyone else is out having fun and posting selfies of excitement to their Facebook status, you will be using your shirt as a giant napkin to wipe the excess cheese off your fingers from the crunchy curls you are inhaling.  If you are in a bad marriage or relationship, you wonder what your plan should be this time to avoid the other person for the next three days. You can’t fake being sick every weekend. You clear your throat indicating that a cough is coming on.

Someday Saturday:  You don’t have to jump out of bed today, but this leaves room for the imagination to wander and begin to think about how you are doing nothing that you want to do.  You had big hopes and plans to travel and live the high life, but you have found yourself in the same job year after year doing the same tasks over and over.  Your vacation days are spent at home getting around to all those extra projects that can’t wait.   You make yourself feel better by saying “someday I am going to..” and you repeat this weekly only to find that it never is happening.   The closest you come to taking that big dream trip is watching the Travel station on cable.  With more crunchy cheese curls on hand.

Somber Sunday:  You might as well get into your car now and drive to work.  Your mind is already there filing papers, answering phones and fixing problems.   The entire day is spent dwelling on where you will be tomorrow and you are totally missing today.

I hope none of you are living your days like that.  I know some who do.  When you look for the good things in life, more show up, but it begins with a smile no matter what, having positive conversations with those around you, believing you are here for a reason, and being grateful to God for everything. It doesn’t hurt to pray for help once in awhile either.  Let heaven help make your weak be strong.

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Giving Me A Leg Up

I have dealt with self hatred my entire life.  I have gotten better, however, there are moments when I still criticize myself in subtle ways. While entering the store with my daughter the other day,  I noticed my reflection in the glass door. In that split second I thought, “I need to work on my legs to shape them up.” I had on a brand new tank top, shoes and a pair of shorts that I had purchased at the end of the season last year so they are fairly new. Instead of feeling good about my new clothes, I was slightly finding something wrong with myself.   It was a fleeting thought that soon was gone as we went up and down the aisles gathering my items off of my list.

As we exited, I noticed a pair of legs that appeared to belong to a woman.  She was standing near a garbage can off to the right side of where we came out.  Normally, my attention is not drawn to legs, but hers were covered with scabs from her kneecaps to her ankles.  Below her left knee she was wearing a large bandage.  From my quick glance, I could see that her wounds were dry but looked red and inflammed.  As I approached her line of sight I was telling myself,
“Don’t stare. Don’t stare.”  I put my head down as I strode past her.  My arms were full so I just pretended to be preoccupied with my bags.

“You look comfortable,” she said quietly to me. I stopped and turned to her.  Her smile was radiant.

“What?” I asked in disbelief.

“You look comfortable.”  I smiled wondering when she was going to ask me for money.  I knew where this was going.

“I do?” I asked.  I glanced down at myself and said, “Really?” She continued to smile and said again,

“Yes.  You look really comfortable in that.”

I allowed myself to look at her more closely. She was wearing a pretty sundress that came to just above her knees which clearly left her leg wounds exposed and open for all to judge and see.

“You are the one with the nice dress on,”I replied. “This is the best time of year to wear a dress in the warm weather. That looks good on you.”   She nodded and smiled.

“You just look very comfortable,” she said it again.

“Thank you,” I replied.

“Have a good day,” she said.

“You too.”

As I walked to the car, I was dumbfounded.  She had not asked me for any money, but she had given me something.  A compliment!  As my daughter and I discussed the situation I said,

“Did you see how bad her legs looked?”

“No.”

“What?!  Her legs were covered with wounds like she had leprosy.  I was trying not to stare at her before she started talking to me.  And, why did she say I looked comfortable?  I was questioning earlier if I really liked this shirt, but now I do. She actually made me feel good about myself.”

“I thought she was saying that you look comfortable in your own skin,” my daughter said.  “Like you appear confident and you like yourself.”

“HUH?”  Then it hit me. I recalled my harsh mental critique of myself when I had entered the store.

“You didn’t see her legs?”I asked again.

“No.”

“I’m going to drive around and see if she is still there.”  I pulled my car around the building and headed for the entry.  She was gone.  I drove away feeling like she had been sent to get something straightened out on the inside of me.

In the last few days I have been thinking about her smile and her words of kindess.  As I am becoming more aware of my faulty thinking, I am wondering where this all started.  When did I become conditioned to find something wrong with myself instead of finding something right?  Maybe it was demeaning words spoken to me at school as a child, a family member who picked on me or the media and its constant opinion of what is ugly or beautiful.  What do all of these things have in common?  Another person’s idea or judgment.

What trumps all of that?  The One who made me.  There is a passage in the Bible that says, “You are God’s Masterpiece.”  A Masterpiece lacks imperfection.  It is time to live in a place mentally where I let go of the negative self image that has some how made its way into my life.  The only legs I should ever judge should be the chicken legs I am about to purchase and make for dinner.  To the mystery lady who helped me see the error in my thinking, I say thank you for giving me a leg up.

chickenlegs