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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Providence and Washing Machines

   The title of this post seems incongruous at first glance, but I assure you there is a connection.
During my adult life I have never purchased a washing machine, but I've always had one in my dwelling.  They have never been terribly flashy.  At times they have had issues of functionality, but by interesting providential circumstances a newer machine would come into my possession.
   For just under a decade we used the suds-saver washing machine that "came with the homestead" that my in-laws moved out of and left for my husband to live in.  When we moved away two hours to the west, this appliance was put in the U-Haul with our other basic possessions.
   About one year later, the machine was not sounding happy.  All of the lubricant had leaked out, and the transmission had almost broken.  We did only small loads to preserve its limited capacities and began searching for a replacement.  Since we were living on just my husband's part-time wage (he was a student, and I was staying home with our three young children), a used washing machine was our only prospect.  However, every newspaper ad we followed up with had units that were in even worse shape than our own: filthy inside and out, detached lids or something out of antique shop.
   One Sunday evening, our children asked, "Can we drive home a different way?" after the church service. As we took a longer detour around the subdivision, we spotted a white washing machine out for garbage day.  The next morning (actually 3:00 AM),  my husband drove there again for a closer look.  It had a broken agitator, but it was a similar model with a functional transmission!  After his December exams, he gave the old washing machine a transmission transplant that extended its life for two full years.
   When that washing machine finally gave up the ghost, a patron of the food bank where my husband was then working told him he had a washing machine in his house that we could have for free.  This gentleman used to pick up appliances put out for garbage day to repair and then sell.  From 2007 until the end of 2015, this one served us well.  Yes, it occasionally did not spin out the second load when two loads were washed back to back, but resettling the damp clothing and turning on the spin cycle again would work just fine.
   At the start of 2015, because we knew it would eventually quit on us, we decided to start saving up for a new washing machine by setting aside $100 per month until we reached our goal.  At least twice during that period when we had accumulated $300 to $400, we came upon an urgent need and gave away this appliance fund.  After the second time it happened, we felt led to stop saving up for a washing machine.
   Last fall, our brother-in-law told us he had a washing machine he did not need.  Some folks had moved into a house and wanted new appliances even though there was nothing wrong with the existing washer.  They asked our brother-in-law to please take away the washing machine and give it a good home.
   In October we removed a seat from our minivan to make room for the washing machine and drove it to our house.  Not surprisingly, about a week later the old washing machine broke decisively. There was no stress about where to get another one quickly.  Even in the mundane things, I can see God's care over our family.  It's not because we are better than anyone else.  We give God the glory.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Ways to Pray

   War Room, the latest faith-based film by the Kendrick brothers, highlights the importance of prayer.  Audiences across North America were shown how a family is transformed by humble prayer, done in one's closet.  The idea of praying in a secret place (an inner room or closet) is introduced by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.  This was a strong contrast to the prayer-as-public-performance that the Pharisees had popularized at that time.
   The movie War Room gives some guidance around how to pray.  Using prayers in Scripture and making them our own is helpful.  Specific requests that we record on paper can help us remain focused and we also feel encouraged when God acts in response to those prayers.  I wanted to share a few other ideas not shown in the movie which I know have been helpful to some people:

  • Pray when folding laundry.  As you pick up an item, pray for the person it belongs to.  This can be a good way to pray for one's immediate family.
  • Pray when doing sewing, knitting or crocheting.  These arts seem to be making a come back. The process of stitching can make us focus our thoughts in a way that sitting to watch TV never could.  If the item being crafted is intended for a particular recipient, prayers can be offered for that person. 
  • Pray while colouring in an adult colouring book.  When you switch colours, you could pray for a new person.  I recently wrote names into the designs of some of the pages of my book.  As I add hues to each section, I lift a prayer for the person named there.
  • Pray while falling asleep or when you wake up in the middle of the night.  Ask God to bring people to your mind who need His special care at that moment.
  • Pray by writing in a journal.  Writing prayers to God works well for some people, but it is not for everyone.  If our prayers are about very personal things, we may be uncomfortable with the thought that they might be found and read by others some time in the future.  
  • Read and speak the Psalms.  Become aware of the types of situations and needs fit with each Psalm and then use these to voice your praises, sorrows and requests for justice.
Please leave a comment if you know of another way to pray that is not mentioned here.