Posted in Family, life, prayer, Scripture, wisdom

Mr. Fix It

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:16-17

Call me Mr. Fix It.  I love to fix things and I love to be the hero.  No matter what the problem, no matter near or far, no matter what.  Back when Blake and Sarah were living in Savanah, Georgia, courtesy of the United States Army, she let us know her vacuum had a broken belt.  Well, instantly my hero genes kicked in.  It didn’t matter that she was eleven hours away…it only mattered that my baby girl had a problem and she asked her Mr. Fix It dad to solve the problem.

Now a couple of side notes. First, Blake, her husband, is an able Mr. Fix It guy in his own right. I’m not sure why she asked me but it may have had to do with “husband hearing loss.”  It goes something like this.  “Blake, can you fix the vacuum?”  Silence. Just saying. Second, Sarah asked me to go by our Walmart and get a replacement belt.  I just assumed she knew that was the problem. That was a bad assumption. You may be asking, “Oh, they don’t have Walmart’s in Georgia?”  Well, actually they do, but somehow it made sense to her for us to go get one and take it to Georgia.  Maybe they are just better here. Who knows? As it turns out, I actually had a belt! We had a vacuum like hers (or maybe we had given the vacuum to her) and I had a spare belt laying around.  Cha-Ching!  Thank you, sir and keep the change.

We get to Georgia and the day after our arrival, the time to fix the vacuum was at hand. First, I unscrewed the 1,247 screws from the top and bottom and removed the cover.  It was then I had the first ah-ha moment. There naked before the world was a 100% not broken belt. So, I said to Sarah, “Hey girl, this belt isn’t broken.”  It was then she said, “Well, it wouldn’t work.” Suddenly, finding a spare belt was anticlimactic.  You see, as an amateur Mrs. Fix It, she had misdiagnosed the problem. So, I put the machine back together, including the 1,247 screws.  I plugged in the vacuum and, of course, it fired right up. The roller thing was going around and then Sarah said, “Dad, the real problem is, it wasn’t picking up the dirt.” “Oh,” I said.  And that’s when it got interesting.

Assisted by my son-in-law Blake, I began a close examination of the vacuum.  It soon became apparent that it was clogged up. Now if you are not familiar with clogged vacuums there are at least three classes of clogs.  There is the “partial” clog, the “hmmm, this is serious” clog, and then there is the clog of “Biblical proportions”. Since there was absolutely no suction, we knew this was definitely NOT a “partial clog”.  We soon discovered we had the “mother of all clogs”.  Upon examination we found, and I’m not kidding, three golf balls, two match box cars, and six inches of impacted debris. Holy moley.

Well, Blake and I carefully removed the trio of golf balls and two Matchbox cars. Finally, we began to dig, pull, tug and poke at the six inches of debris. Three days later (ok, not really but it seemed that long) the hose was finally clear.  At that point, we emptied the debris catcher thing, cleaned the filter, plugged it in, and it fired right up.  The results were incredible! In fact, before we could stop it, it sucked the carpet off the floor and a small section of the sub-flooring.  (Ok, that part just isn’t true, but I needed to beef up the story.)

Soon we were high-fiving and celebrating the ultimate vacuum cleaner rescue.  Mr. Fix It and his able assistant had saved the day. Now believe it or not, there is moral to this story—besides the obvious one that says don’t suck up three golf balls and two Matchbox cars with your house vacuum cleaner. The moral is this–when something is wrong, don’t automatically assume you know the answer.  Sarah just assumed the belt was broken and it wasn’t.  And, even with a house full of boys, never in her wildest imagination could she believe that her vacuum had consumed three golf balls and a couple of cars. I could just see the boys having such a good time with their new game of “sucking up” golf balls and match box cars…like “how many can we get in there?” Boys.

And what is true in vacuum repairs can also be true in our lives.  When things just aren’t clicking in your life, look closely because it may not be what you think. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” In other words, we need to watch where we vacuum—what we pick up, and where we step. Being wise is knowing what to do and then doing it. Remember the old saying, “A ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?”  Well, trust me, it is true.

Remember this, too.  Take the time to figure out the problem—whether it is a vacuum or your life. You see, too often we just want to treat the symptoms and don’t want to address the real problem.  All the belts in the world weren’t going to get our vacuum going. You should never try to fix what isn’t broken. How do you determine the problem?  Ask an expert. If you are a Jesus follower, ask Him and He will point you in the right direction. Let’s be honest. Life can get pretty clogged up, but don’t let the frustrations get to you. I bet Blake and I took a rest after fixing the vacuum and maybe you need to take a rest too…in Him.  After all, He’s got this.

Posted in Family, life, Scripture, wisdom

Here Kitty, Kitty

“Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him.” Proverbs 7:5

“Dewayne, we have a problem.” It was Judy and it was what greeted me as I was going out to the garage to get something I needed.  I think I know how it must have felt when the crew of Apollo 13 uttered those now famous words, “Houston…we have a problem.” I had started painting our upstairs bathroom. You need to know I am no Leonardo da Vinci and this was not going to be a Mona Lisa. Into that throes the news came.  “We” have a problem. 

I quickly explained to Judy that I didn’t have time for a problem.  My paint was drying and some of it was in the wrong place—like the floor.  She told me there was a cat trapped in her car.  Wait.  What?  Well, the night before she had told me she saw a cat go in our garage and I should check before I closed it up for the night.  About 9.30, I went out and did the “Here, Kitty, Kitty” thing, shined my flashlight around in the corners and such.  No cat. “Good.” I said.  Or not. 

So it turns out our homeless friend didn’t move on—it moved in.  The crazy part was that it took up residence in the engine compartment of her car.  Silly cat.  I was going to say, “stupid cat” but I thought you might think me harsh.  So anyway, I left the drying paint in the bathroom to attempt a rescue.  It was about then that I discovered why it is so expensive to work on Volkswagen cars.  You open the hood to only discover that every square inch is stuffed with something.  And somewhere in all of that was the cat.  Silly cat. 

A friend was there with Judy and all three of us looked and prodded, we called and cooed and nothing—just the occasional meow of the cat. Judy volunteered to look if I jacked up the car to see if we could see anything from underneath.  I did and she couldn’t.  It was time to call in the calvary.  I called my neighbor Jared who manages a local tire place.  Surely he would have an idea.  As we waited for him to come, we continued to prod and poke, coo and call.  In my sweetest voice I kept saying, “Hey silly kitty, come here silly kitty.”  I wanted to say stupid cat but I was trying to be Christian about this whole deal. 

Then it happened.  The cat, who turned out to be the cutest kitten south of Chicago, wiggled out of its tight spot and ran to the corner of the garage.  So I moved from poking and prodding under the hood to poking and prodding in the corner filled with stuff we didn’t need.  Cute or not this kitten was about to mash my button. Not to bore you with details but four grown adults spent the next ten minutes chasing this cute little silly kitten from one corner of the garage to the other.  From behind the washer and dryer to the corner of no return, we played hide and seek. Finally, the cute little kitten saw the light of day, ran through our friends hands and legs and out the door.  Game. Set. Match. 

The cute little silly kitten was on the run and that was all that mattered.  Jared went back to work, the ladies went on with life and I went upstairs to scape dried paint off the floor. I know I heard this kitten laughing from across the street.  So what is up with all this?   Surely the kitten knew better.  Surely he or she knew the danger of living under the hood of a car—but probably not.  To the cute little kitten it was just a place to hide. 

You see the kitten wasn’t silly, the kitten wasn’t stupid (well, not real stupid anyway). The kitten just lacked experience.  It was naive. It hadn’t lived long enough to understand the dangers of garage living.  And do you know what?  That is true of a lot of us. Solomon, the wisest guy to ever live, wrote in Proverbs, “I saw among the inexperienced, I noticed among the youths, a young man lacking sense.”  And the crazy part it was nothing to do with age.  We have all made some crazy decisions at one time or another. Too often we just throw common sense to the wind and well, we end up with a train wreck. 

God is in the train wreck avoidance business.  That’s why He led the half-brother of Jesus to write in James 1:5, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him.” If we would do that one simple thing we could avoid a lot of painful situations.  Just stop for a moment, ask God if this is the wise thing to do, and wait for an answer.  By the way, silence might be an answer, so don’t miss it. 

Well, I hope our cute little kitten found a new place to live and hopefully it isn’t in someone’s engine compartment.  And I hope we will learn to trust a wise, loving Father to give us the wisdom we need to live better lives with fewer regrets and better consequences.  You know He loves you, don’t you?  He wants you to come to Him and rest in the safety of His arms.  He wants you to know He has this.  And He does.