To entertain...Last night I took the initiative to prepare a family home evening lesson on missionary work. Our ward and stake are focusing on missionary work the next couple months and we even had a special ward fast for missionary experiences this past Sunday. I thought that it would be a great time to talk to the girls about the blessings of missionary service and how they could share their testimonies with their friends. (I pause here to say that my girls are actually already very good at this. We picked up one of Mary's friends to go to church with us on Sunday and as she jumped into the backseat of the suburban Mary asked her, "are you Fasting today?" which led to a long discussion about how we fast because our parents force us to.)
So, in one of my recurrent hypomanic states I became very excited about inspiring and uplifting my girls with a lesson. I prepared to talk about Jonah and his missionary experiences in Ninevah. Then in a stroke of brilliance I decided to pull out my old missionary journals and read to my children some of my personal experiences. The Jonah story went well; how could you fail to inspire when talking about running away from your responsibilities, getting thrown from a ship, swallowed by a whale and then puked up in response to fervent prayer. I then pulled out my journals. I read about receiving my mission call, arriving in the MTC, flying to Alabama and then read the entry from the last night of my mission. They mostly paid attention; I only had to ask Mary once not to stand on her head on the couch. After I finished my story I closed my journals, told them how great I thought being a missionary was and asked them what they thought. They stared at me for a minute and then Emma said, "Daddy, why did you write like that? You sounded so weird." Of course I could not explain myself. To my girls I may not be inspiring but I am, and probably always will be, weird.
To inspire...Since we moved into our new home we have had problems with the kitchen sink. When we fill it with water to wash the dishes (we have no dishwasher that doesn't have a first and last name) it takes about a half and hour to drain. I have tried several remedies over the last few months including taking the pipes apart under the sink, buying a snake to clear any hair balls or food clots (in addition to not having a dishwasher we have no disposal), and pouring down the sink some expensive combination of nasty chemicals called "Liquid Fire" all to no avail.
Finally we got fed up with the situation and had someone much more handy than me come over and diagnose our problem. His solution, "call Roto-Rooter, they have a big snake and they can clean out the pipe for you." So we did. Roto-Rooter man came by the house, spent 3 hours (at $150 per hour) digging around our basement pipes only to tell us that he thought our pipe was probably broken somewhere 20+ feet away from our house and may need to be fixed. But he would have to have Roto-Rooter man #2 come by with a special camera to make the official diagnosis. The next day the special camera showed up and after another couple of hours with the big snake and the camera, #2 said that our pipe was probably broken (although he couldn't really see the break even with his fancy camera) and that he could be by the next day with a crew to tear up our yard and fix the problem. His estimate for the repair (if it was broken): $4000. Holy Hannah! We had no idea where we would get that kind of money. Luckily we could just go back to how things were with a real slow drain right? Nope, in all of the Roto-Rooting our drain had gone from slow to just about non-draining.
We thought. We prayed. We talked to friends. They prayed. We fasted and prayed some more. We called our Home Warranty company and they required a different company to come out and diagnose our problem. They would pay for up to $500 against plumbing expenses. At least it would be a bit less. Today they showed up at our house and we paid them our $50 co-pay. They spent about an hour in the basement with different equipment, walked upstairs and told Karen, "Well, I cleaned out your pipes, things should work better now." She turned on the kitchen faucet and ran the water for twenty minutes with no problem.
I realize that there are probably a hundred explanations for the sequence of plumbing events that occurred over the past week. I felt strongly today however, that the reason things occurred as they did was that we have a loving Father in Heaven who knows us, cares about our every day lives, even about our plumbing, and who offers to us his tender mercies in so many ways to remind us of his love. Prayer and fasting are true and powerful principles.