Where Have You Been -- yet Again?

The old crawl space

The old crawl space

You may recall—I know you hang on every word I write—a blog post about a year ago telling you that we had a water leak under our house. 

Before that (still the optimist), there was this post updating you on my absence. Before that, there was this one explaining why I was away. Promises, promises, but the best of intentions. 

The recap is that we live in a house built in 1926. (No! I did not build the house and am offended that you even wondered (smile).) One look under the house and it is obvious that building codes of the day were indifferent about how much room there was between the ground and the underside of the floor.

So, during Christmas of 2012, a buried pipe underneath the kitchen sprung a leak about the diameter of a pencil lead. Within two weeks, the water saturated the ground in the crawl space and caused it to swell. It rose up against the beams of the sub-flooring and began lifting our house. Eventually, this broke a water pipe feeding one of the toilets and I heard the water running.

When I looked under the house, I was greeted by what would eventually be measured as 10,000 gallons of standing water. Never mind how much water there was in the dirt. The water bill was so many pages they delivered it with a fork lift.

Thus began a five-year ordeal. It was a big event, nothing like a tornado or fire or hurricane in scope, but this leak created a major-league project.

Creating a new crawl space

Creating a new crawl space

I will carefully moderate my words here, but you need to know as it is a significant aspect of this story: Our insurance company behaved absolutely abominably and escalated what was a big project into a near-overwhelming tsunami of interference, prevarication, and duplicity. With practices that can only be described as a calculated business model, the company obstructed, lied, manipulated, and compromised. Their behavior cost me hundreds and hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars for no other reason than to delay their payout obligations (or grind me into giving up). It was a shameful, disgraceful display of bullying. My agent, a friend and Christian brother, led the way with indifference and abdication to do right by his client.

There were other stressors as well. My youngest brother died. Friends passed. There were disillusionments and things that compromised our wellbeing. You know the drill of life. Just because you have a lot on your plate doesn’t mean the pile stops growing.

Twenty-eight days short of five years after the leak occurred, I paid our superb contractor his final money. The punch list was complete and our once-broken house looked like something from a home magazine or a posting at Pintrest. 

The Latest Leak

The Latest Leak

Eight days after paying the contractor, there was another water leak. This one was caused while the powers that be were installing a new gas system in our neighborhood. Our house heaved and settled, heaved and settled, and broke and cracked until I figured out what was happening.

Our model home was once again marred by brokenness: walls, ceilings, moldings, cabinets, fireplace, counters, tiles--and the owner's heart and hope.  

A year ago, when our contractor began renovating our home, I had every intention of continuing to write to you. But as the days wore on, my already-flagging momentum slowed, and slowed, slower still, and then when we vacated our home and moved to a hotel, I stalled. That was nearly eleven months ago.

As the reconstruction endeavor concluded this past Fall, I took time away from my nearly full-time job of wrangling with the insurance company to recast fresh goals for writing and publishing once the New Year launched.

But then, there was this subsequent leak. Instead of beginning again early in January, I’ve just now gotten my world subdued enough that I believe I can reliably write again.

This latest event doesn’t appear as complex as our five-year ordeal, but it’s early yet. For now, the water leak is fixed and it is a waiting game. The ground needs to dry out, the Summer season needs to pass, and the old house needs to settle and find her new resting place. She’ll need nine months or so to calm down, and I don’t blame her one bit. 

Around the Winter holidays, we will begin repairing. The bad news is that this must occur. The good news is that I have a great contractor and already know a convenient hotel that welcomes guests with a dog. The best news is that someone else gets to pay for this renovation. 

Meanwhile, I’m back. Back here to engage you with the words I believe help us both think courageously and passionately about what it means to know God and be known by Him.

We live in two worlds, one earthly, one spiritual. The first is temporal, the second eternal, but the two overlap, interweave, and integrate. Each has its stressors and the rulers of each leverage their world to a higher goal, one dark and self-serving, the other a burden that is light and redemptive.

I’ve already written more words than I want to for a normal blog post, but I wanted you to know where I had been. I won’t belabor my time of forced renovation and forced march, but suffice it to say, the last five to seven years have been a handful.

That is where I think we will begin next week. I won’t bore you with the burdens I’ve hinted at in previous paragraphs, but I do want to discuss my plan for how you recover when you find you must.

I concluded the renovation project dangerously depleted. My routines and disciplines were nonexistent. My ability to focus for a block of time was gone. My outlook was determined, but dark and distrusting. My sleep? Nightmares every night. My days? Tumultuous.

I would like to report peace in the midst of the storm. There were days. But, there were other days. Patience? Little. Composed? Yes, but tightly managed. Restful? Nope. Satisfied? Um, hostile is more accurate. Hopeful? More foggy.

I’ve promised to be honest with you by taking you into my walk with Christ. In all honesty, I have spent untold hours of late exploring the nuances of recovery, replenishment, refocusing, and restoration, not only of an old house, but of my soul.

This is where we will begin. More soon.