Monday, December 24, 2012

Don't Send a Plumber To Do a Rooter's Work

Sewage spilled to our basement for the second time in two weeks. The pipes were backed up. My girls go overboard on the toilet paper, and there are only three of them. Families of five and nine flush far more often then we do.

Of course, the problem is not with what escapes our house, but what is trying to get it. Roots from our maple tree creep and encroach and enter through the sewer line. Sometimes they make it hard for the dirty dishwater to make it downtown. Other times they stall the progress of our biological waste.

Root problems are serious. So I called the plumbers on Friday afternoon. We have them on speed dial. The operator recognized my voice. "Can you come out today? Can you get rid of some roots?"

"Not today," the man replied. "Maybe tomorrow."

"Is there an additional fee for coming on the weekend?" I asked, my last minute Christmas presents in jeopardy.


"I'll call someone else."

"Good luck with that."

Pipes dripped; noxious fumes circulated. I scanned the list of plumbers frantically. Roto-Rooter was next on the list. I called.

"Where you at?"

"Main Street."

"I'm just heading out of Warsaw. I'll swing by."

A minute later the Roto-Rooter man knocked on our door. He wore a navy jump suit, brown smears on the shoulders and knees. A crop of silver hair swept over his head, white teeth gleaming from his grizzled face.

"Your pipe over there?" He pointed to the location of the pipes. I nodded.

He strode to his van and grabbed his machine. He sent the wire down the channel, spinning and cutting invasive roots from my backyard to my sidewalk. The wire continue to unravel. The machine continued to rotate. But I could only imagine its progress: root issues remain underground.

Within a quarter hour he packed up his machine and said, "Got her cleaned." Then he showed me a clump of tiny membranes. "Here's your problem. Roots grow most in the winter. Should flush some Crystal Copper Sulfate down your stool once a month. Kills the roots before they grow to big."

Roto-Rooter man handed me a bill. He charged thirty bucks less than the plumbers. He gave me advice to stall future issues. He even wished me "Merry Christmas." And laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, down the street he drove. 

The moral of the story was all too obvious: Don't send a plumber to do Roto-Rooter's work.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Beans, Booty, and Adopting our Boys

"I'm only going to give this pitch one time," I said as our worship service commenced. "I don't want to abuse the platform. But I wanted everyone to know that Liz and I are selling freshly roasted coffee beans. I've set a few jars on the back table. They should be good for the next few weeks. Three dollars from every jar goes toward our adoption."

After the announcement my friend Micah commented to Liz, "I didn't know Tim was such a salesman."

I'm not, but every container of coffee was claimed. This was our first stab at fundraising as we wait to adopt a sibling pair from Ethiopia. We've been roasting for four weeks, waiting for eight months.

Selling beans has proven profitable. The math is simple:  $4 (beans) + $3 (donation) + $1 (refundable jar) = $8.  In a month, we've grossed $102. People from our church have rallied around us. One man only makes payments of $11. As an added bonus, the product never goes to waste. We either turn leftovers into gifts or breakfast. And the branding process--it's called the Fuller House Roast--has incorporated the artistic talents of our biological daughters.

In addition to weekly payouts from coffee sales, Liz and I received an early Christmas gift from a stellar couple in our church. They pointed to a box beneath our tree. "Get your present."

Margot couldn't lift it herself. We helped her raise it to the couch. Curious, we opened the card: "Thanks for being part of our marriage the past two years. We love the Sprankles and can't wait to love their "Fuller House."

Inside the box was a collection of gold coins and confetti. Liz teared up. I shook my head. The offering reflected a year's worth of love for us. A dollar here. Clink. A dollar there. Clink. Adoption booty.

We spread the green and red confetti on our Christmas tree; we put the booty in our bank. For the boys...we wait.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pastor Finally Confesses Laziness

I'm tired of being lazy. I figured if I told enough people about it, the confession might prove motivational. I mentioned it as a problem during Sunday's sermon--I hadn't taken the time to think of anything else to say. Exposing my personal flaws is much easier than biblical exegesis.

Now is the hard work of doing hard work. Mind you, "hard" is a relative term. I can read a book for hours. I can write emails and post blogs like a canon fires. I can consume calories and spit out questions like four-year old boy.

Hard work for me is making phone calls and planning meetings and sending letters and setting organizational goals and communicating organizational goals and evaluating organizational goals (and many other phrases that include the words "organizational" and "goals"). I'm still exhausted from organizing a shelf in my closet on Saturday because I'd made it a goal.

But I'm not ready to lay down and accept my indolence as a mere quirk of personality. God demands more from me. He wants me to put the shopping cart in the corral, put folded laundry in the dresser, finish my book, clarify my point, pray for the lost, floss my teeth, and learn the banjo.

In the end, my renewed effort to execute will expand my service for God. One gentleman from my church let me know his approval as he departed yesterday. "Great sermon, pastor," he said, his brow raised and handshake extra firm. He appreciated my self-disclosure. He's looking forward to the banjo.