Going Home–Flood Journal 5

Yes, I’ve been silent for more than a month. But I’ve hardly been loafing. As April ended, so did the lease on our temporary housing. We moved out of the rental and back into our home.  The same strong hardworking friends from Chino Valley UMC who’d helped move us into our temporary quarters in early December helped us move back home. For the next few days we did a dance with the builder’s crew as things like sinks and kitchen counter-tops were finished. It was good to be home, even though we knew we had a mountain of work ahead of us. (If you missed previous installments, “Flood Journal” chronicles our return from a trip to China in mid-November to discover that a “water incident” (broken pipe) had flooded our home.)

Carson, the four-legged member of our family, may have been the happiest about going home. We had traveled the three miles back and forth between our home (The Jobsite) and our temporary housing (The Cabin) almost daily, often multiple times. Carson was always glad to be “home” (at The Jobsite). But whenever we told him to get in the car because we were leaving (for The Cabin), he would give us a look—“Are you nuts? This is our home.”  He had a point, but we left anyway.

Carson finally got his way as April ended. We moved “home” and got completely out of our rented house. The next Thursday the crew that had packed all our possessions into three 8’x20’ storage containers after The Flood came and moved everything back in. They left us with hundreds of boxes stacked (sometimes ceiling-high) approximately in the rooms where their contents had been. The next day the furniture restorer employed by our insurance company delivered the truckload of furniture he’d lovingly and skillfully brought back to life. It all fit (sort of) among the ceiling-high stacks of boxes. My sister and brother-in-law spent the weekend helping us start unpacking. By late Sunday I’d taken two pickup loads of flattened boxes to the recycler, along with a load of 12 40-gallon trash bags stuffed with packing paper from fragile items.

On Monday morning we still faced cold, harsh reality–mountains of boxes packed by total strangers! We’d needed their help, they’d done their job well, we appreciated it, along with God’s provision of the material resources to buy the house and the insurance that came through when we needed it. BUT– the boxes were labeled generically, often cryptically, hardly the way we would have done it in order to find stuff easily. After three weeks we found our silverware! A few days ago a box labeled “Office Supplies” yielded a computer printer. The printer was in perfect condition. It had all the pieces—except the power cord. It looks great sitting in my study, but it has yet to print its first page! This process has been a graduate-level course in PATIENCE! (Yes, in BOLDFACE ITALIC CAPS!) I don’t see that learning curve flattening out any time soon.

Diana and I have had a running conversation about what “Enough” means for us. As we unpack, we ask, “Where was all this stuff hiding?” and “Do we still need it?” Our present household is the product of numerous “mergers and acquisitions”. We worked and lived in different places about half of our last twenty working years, so we maintained two households. My mother lived with us for her last twelve years, so we have her things. After Dianna’s parents died (both within the last five years), we acquired some of their substantial lifetime accumulation. When I retired two years ago, we lost a room—my study at the church. All those books, papers, etc., now live at home. To make this all more interesting, Dianna’s a keeper and I’m a tosser—except when it comes to my tools! So “Enough” is an ongoing dialog.

We’re also learning endurance and perseverance. “Move-in burnout” strikes often. We don’t care how tall Box Mountain is. (Parts of our house look more like The Cardboard Range than a single peak). We’re just mentally and physically DONE! Of course those mountains don’t shrink while we’re on strike. They loom as large as ever. A couple of rooms have become choke points. The contents of those boxes came from those rooms and the movers put the boxes right back where they went. But they’re so full there’s no room to work, no room to put up shelves or bring in furniture to hold what’s in those boxes, no room even to shuffle stuff into the hall or another room to relieve the congestion. So we work through one box at a time. One of these days, we keep telling ourselves, we’ll reach the “tipping point”. Our “home-reclaiming” process will gain conclusive momentum. Then we’ll really and truly be “home”.

What is God teaching us through this process? That depends on how teachable we are. Some days, not very!

  • A) I’m learning a ton about patience. One can wait when one has to wait. Sometimes waiting improves the timing in a way we never imagined. But sometimes one has to act. The balance between waiting and acting can be tricky.
  •  B) “Enough” is a continuing dialog. Friends engaged in similar conversations in their own lives contribute to our conversation, and we to theirs.
  • C)  Endurance/perseverance grows with practice, and I’m getting tired of practicing! In our case, I’m also looking for ways to work smarter as well as harder. Some solutions we haven’t thought of, or been willing to try, may provide the break-through we need.
  • D) We’re newly appreciating friends and family who’ve helped in so many ways throughout this process. And we’re appreciating letting each other survive as we worked through a very difficult period in our life together.

We’re home. But we’re trying to get all the way home. We’re not there yet, but we’ll make it. Meanwhile, as that car commercial said, we’ll “Enjoy the ride!”

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