Black Currant is growing quickly! Today we had to put in her ear tags (Quebec law for all livestock), but we thought we’d take some pictures of her first. Blackberry and Currant are so friendly they had no hesitation about following us out of the barn.
While cleaning my room recently, I came across the following story written nearly 10 years ago… I share it partially to bring smiles to others, but also because what the Lord was teaching me then still rings true in my heart and life. May we always hold every relationship with an open hand!
The Story of the Toilet Brush
WARNING! This is a very sad story. If you don’t have a box of Kleenex near you, you had better get one.
Once upon a time, there was a toilet brush. His name was Downstairs-Bathroom-Toilet-Brush also know as Yellow-Toilet-Brush. He was a very nice toilet brush
That wasn’t how the story started. Let me try again.
Once upon a time, there was a girl. Her name was Elizabeth She cleaned bathrooms very well, especially toilets.
That wasn’t it either! Here is how it really went (with a little exaggeration!)
When I was about five years old, my mother would get my siblings and me to help with the clean-up on Saturdays. The way she worked it was as follows: She would print up a list of jobs that needed doing and set it on the table. The first person to put their initial next to a job was the one who got to do it. Problem: my legs were shorter than those of my older brother and sister. So, when Mommy called, “Job time!”, though I ran as fast as I could, my older brother and sister would always get to the list sooner than I and, of course, get the “better” jobs such as washing the sinks or the mirrors. I was always left with the toilets! But Mommy, being the good mother that she is, somehow persuaded me that washing toilets was a very honourable job and made me proud of being the one to do them! To this day, the simple job of washing that toilet brings back many memories.
As we got older, there were more jobs that we were capable of doing. That meant that we each had more than one job to do. Eventually, I found myself washing the whole downstairs bathroom by myself every Saturday. My favourite part of cleaning the bathroom was washing the toilet, for although I now had the opportunity to do the other “better” jobs, there was always a kind of bond (if I may use that term) between me and that toilet… and of course the toilet brush.
Now, you must allow me to introduce you to the toilet brush. This was not just any toilet brush. He was made of a wire ring covered in white bristles which was attached to a bright yellow handle. From the very first day I met him, I liked him. And as time progressed, I became rather fond of him. Often I would boast to my brothers (who washed the upstairs bathroom) that he did a much better job at washing toilets than the one they used. And so it seemed, for “my” toilet always looked cleaner after I was done than “theirs” did, and if they were having trouble getting theirs clean, I was always ready to show them what my favourite toilet brush could do! I don’t ever recall his being new, so I supposed he must have been around for some time before I began to use him. But despite his age, he was always bright and cheerful, ready for service at any time of day or night. He and I got along really well, and we made an excellent team. On several occasions, when I was away from home, I had to use some other toilet brush. But those brushes never worked quite as well, not being as familiar with my way of doing things.
Many years went by, and that toilet brush and I continued to work together. He was getting older, but that only served to increase his effectiveness as it made him more flexible and ready to squeeze into corners that were difficult to reach. His bristles were also less stiff, which meant that he could have a larger area of himself touching the surface of the object being cleaned thus allowing us to clean more quickly. By this time, we got along so well,that we hardly had to communicate to get the job done. Each knew what the other was doing and responded accordingly.
One summer, however, everything changed. I was away at a course for three weeks. During my absence, my mother helped one of my younger siblings clean the bathroom. While cleaning, she noticed that this old toilet brush was rather used and worn out and decided to replace him. I was completely oblivious to this change until the Saturday following my return. When I came to clean the toilet, I opened the cupboard expecting to find my faithful old favourite toilet brush there. What I found, however, was very unexpected: in the place where he usually sat, I discovered a blue-handled object with a ball of stiff blue-and-white bristles at the end. A quick search of the cupboard revealed no other brush, so I immediately inquired as to the whereabouts of my favourite toilet brush. Mommy’s response was mild: “It was time for it to be replaced.” My favourite toilet brush was gone! Gone forever! Never again would I see his cheerful yellow handle (true, it was fading, but it was still yellow) sticking out of his bucket. Never again would we clean the toilet together, and enjoy the silence of mutual consent! How could I ever get used to this new brush? I had always cleaned the toilet with my favourite brush! He was old, it was true, but he worked so well! Why should he be replaced?
That is the story of the toilet brush, but it isn’t the end of the whole story. As I thought about that toilet brush, it seemed unfair to me that he should be thrown out. The one upstairs didn’t work nearly as well as him, yet that one had been allowed to stay. This new one was awkward and stiff. It would be a long time before I could use it in the same way as I had been able to use my favourite brush. Yet, the mistress of the house decided that his time was up. His task was finished, his mission was accomplished. To me it seemed as though he could have served for many more years, but that was not to be his destiny.
How often do I respond in the same way to God? He puts people in our lives for a season and then takes them away when His purpose for them is accomplished. To us it may seem as though they could have been useful for much longer, but the Master in His wisdom knows when their mission is at an end. This does not only apply to people. There are other things with which He does the same thing. He gives material things. He gives opportunities. There are times when everything seems to be so perfect that we wish it could always stay that way. But this is not God’s way. Changes are a part of His plan. When He brings about those changes, how do I respond? Do I complain and question His decisions? “Lord, why did You take me out of that situation? I was learning so much. Others were blessed by what I was doing. ‘The toilet was getting clean!’? Or, “Lord, I don’t understand. You have put me in such an uncomfortable situation. The tools You have given me don’t seem adequate. ‘How can I clean the toilet with this?'” Will I weep and sigh over the people or things He takes away (I didn’t really cry over the toilet brush!) and pine for those He does not see fit to give, or will I trust that His will is good and that He has a purpose in everything even though I do not understand it?
Last summer I was born.
But I grew up quickly.
I like to explore.
Sometimes I find new things.
One day, I met a rabbit.
It turned out to be friendly.
I also met a cow and a lamb.
But now I’m grown up.
And I’m expecting my own kittens.
How many do you think I’ll have?
Once upon a time, in a land far, far, away – actually, Germany – there was a sleek, shiny, stainless steel dishwasher. This was a special dishwasher – he had not one, not two, but three racks for washing dishes. And he just knew that he was made to wash dishes. One day, as he was sitting in the warehouse waiting for someone to come in and buy him, he was pondering his life purpose.
“I just know I’m made to wash dishes,” he thought. “My beautiful water sprayers, my perfect hoses, my sleek and fancy dishwashing racks – yes, everything about me says that I was made to wash dishes. My hope – my dream, my only desire in life is to wash dishes. But here I sit on a shelf, totally unused and apparently unwanted. What is my maker thinking? Why did he fit out me so perfectly to wash dishes then leave me on the shelf like this?”
“Patience,” a voice answered him. He hadn’t realised that he was thinking out loud. “Patience,” it said again, and this time he recognized the voice of Aldert, an older dishwasher sitting on the shelf in front of him.
“Every dishwasher is sold sometime,” Aldert continued. “The master dishwasher builder does not make a dishwasher to no purpose. He always puts them to his purposes in his time. But if you are to find the perfect fit with the perfect people for you, you must be patient. Who knows, you may be taken to a home where you will wash more dishes than any of us – but you must be patient.”
Watler sighed. He believed it was true, since almost all the dishwashers who had been there before he was were gone, and even some of the ones that had come in after him. He sat back and waited.
Then one day, I heard strange voices talking. They were talking in German, but here is a rough translation of what they said:
“I think it’s the dishwasher on shelf A52,” the first voice said.
“Why are we supposed to ship a single dishwasher off to North America? Usually we ship in bulk from the warehouse down south, don’t we?”
“Yes, but they ran out of this model in North America, and someone ordered one, so rather than waiting for the whole shipment, we’re sending one solo.”
The voices were growing louder, and suddenly two men appeared in front of Watler. They glanced him up and down, checked model numbers and other worthless jargon, and finally inspected his fine stainless steel front, and checked that his beautiful racks were all in place. Then they packaged him up, and loaded him on a truck.
“Hooray!” thought Watler. “I’m finally going! I wonder if I’ll be at my home tomorrow. I was made to wash dishes, I just know it. And finally, finally, finally! I’m going! I’ll be washing dishes soon!” A tear of joy escaped from one of his pipes.
For the rest of the day, Watler was excited. He was at last going to the home where he could wash dishes! He just knew that the master builder had meant for him to wash dishes – he could feel it in his buttons. But imagine his disappointment when the truck stopped, dropped him off in another warehouse, and left him there for not one, not two, but three days!
At the end of the third day, Watler’s pipes were boiling. He was made to wash dishes, and someone who didn’t know better had left him in the warehouse as though he had been nothing but a sink or garbage can. Suddenly, though, the words of Aldert came to his mind:
“The master dishwasher builder does not make a dishwasher to no purpose. He always puts them to his purposes in his time.”
Then, when he thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. Someone came and picked him up, and started bringing him toward the ocean. Then he descended into a dark, stuffy hole, and was dumped next to a supercomputer on one side, with a server rack on the other side. What boring companions! But in this dismal hole, packed beside worthless junk that was made to do nothing but process bytes that you couldn’t taste and bits that wouldn’t wash off, Watler truly learned the secret of contentment. He learned to trust that the master builder truly did have a plan for him, and that in his perfect time, everything would come together as it ought.
To tell Watler’s whole story would take far too long, because even after that long voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, there were more lessons in patience. But probably the most trying lesson in patience came the day that Watler was sitting in the living room of the house of the person who had bought him.
“At last!” he thought, nearly crying he was so happy. “At last, the waiting is over! At last, I’ve arrived! And look at those stacks of dishes!” he gloated. But instead of putting him to work, the family simply unpackaged him, flipped him on his back, and left him sitting there helpless for a whole day. If he hadn’t learned patience yet, he would have been fuming again, but instead, he thought,
“I’m made to wash dishes. And I know that at the right time, in the right way, the master planner will make everything right.”
Finally, he was installed. The installers weren’t very experienced, and it took them nearly a day, but Watler didn’t mind. He was being installed in a brand new kitchen with lots of dishes around. Finally, he was being loaded. And at long last, he was started. But once again, tragedy struck. Only half way through his cycle, suddenly, he was brought to a screeching halt. Someone had pushed his power button! For half an instant, he wondered if it was all a big mistake, but then he remember the words of Aldert – “…you must be patient.”
After a few hours, he was started up again (of course, he remembered where he was in the process), and was allowed to finish his first batch of dishes in peace. He went to sleep that night a very happy and fulfilled dishwasher – with many dishes promised to be coming his way. As he dropped off, he thought,
“So this is why! The master dishwasher maker sent me to this home, knowing that I was specially outfitted to wash lots of dishes. Truly, his plans are best!”
Now let me telll you part of this story from another perspective…
How many of you guys like plumbing? I mean, really like plumbing? I must confess, I’m one of those happy individuals for whom the sight of water pouring out of the top of a drain pipe isn’t a terror which brings to mind dark imaginations of hours of fighting with filthy tools down dark holes. That being said… it’s still not my absolute favourite thing to spend my evenings on. However, when it comes to installing a dishwasher on plumbing that has been out of service for some 6-7 years, sometimes you have no choice…
It all started around 6-7 years ago, when our dishwasher broke down. Our serviceman declared it irreparable, and thus it stood, unused – except for a variety of unconventional usages, such as storing dishtowels, hiding anniversary gifts, pulling parts off of, and even hiding the dishes once to make them look like they were already done. (Believe it or not, this was actually a good faith joke, not naughtiness.)
Whatever the case, when we came to do the kitchen renovation which the faithful reader has already ascertained that we were recently doing, one of the items on our agenda was to replace the dishwasher. Now, you have to understand that I hate dishwashers. Or rather, I love washing dishes. But even I had to admit that this dishwasher, if nothing else, looked nice – because I also happen to like the looks of stainless steel kitchen appliances.
So at it went we! We had left a hole so that it could simply slip into the “peninsula” (an outlying section of counter attached to the rest only by one end) once the plumbing was connected. We hooked up the plumbing and wiring with no major issues, et voilà! It was ready to roll. Or… so we thought.
We turned it on, and nothing was leaking, so my father started attaching the back panel, and I attached the front panel. We marveled at the silence of this silver coloured monster which was steam blasting our dishes. All was well until it came to its first drain cycle. Suddenly, someone noted an unprecedented aquatic accumulation in front and to the side of the silver monster. A quick job with a screw driver sufficed to remove the front panel, revealing water under the whole dishwasher. My father was equally busy moving out the back panel, revealing water underneath at the back as well.
We quickly deciphered from various telling signs that this water came not from the pure source of our well, but rather from the drain. We conjectured that it was probably spilling out the top of the drain pipe, since there appeared to be traces of water pouring down its sides. A minute’s worth of patience was sufficient to confirm the hypothesis: when the dishwasher commenced its next drain cycle, water instantly spewed from the drain pipe at a prodigious rate.
Being the geniuses we are, of course, we turned off the dishwasher. For those who still wonder at this step, please consider that though our kitchen was well sealed, it was not intended to be a fish pond – especially not with the remains of everyones’ suppers floating around in it. The whirring silver monster made no complaint concerning its unfortunate halt, patiently waiting for us to resolve the issues and allow it to resume its happy occupation of cleansing the dishes.
The first thing to do at this point was relatively clear: clean the P-trap. Happily, there was a cleanout valve at the end of drain pipe. I quickly opened it, not sure what to expect, and narrowly missed getting hit in the face with a stream of a thick black soupy liquid. Unfortunately, the freezer, floor, walls, bookshelf, garbage can, and desk underneath were not so blessed. (Neither were my hands, for the record.)
Those who read my previous plumbing post may remember our famous snake. It was the tool for the moment. It quickly showed us that the pipe was blocked for about 15-20 feet with what I call “6 years of accumulation of 3 trillion bacteria, sitting down there laughing at us.”
Several hours, several handwashings, and several discussions as to how to clean out the pipe later, we finally managed to get it unblocked enough that my father could send down some baking soda solution, followed with a heavy dose of vinegar – which effectively cleaned out the pipe, and allowed us to resume the dishwasher’s cycle.
“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11-14)
It was striking me as I thought over Watler’s plight that it is actually not unsimilar to the plight that many of us find ourselves in from day to day. We just know that God wants a particular thing for our lives. We know that He has designed us for a given purpose. That purpose may be marriage, a family, a ministry, or a thousand different things. We look at our hearts, we look at our skills, we look at who God has made us, and we wonder, just like Watler,
“My hope – my dream, my only desire in life is [xyz]. But here I sit on a shelf, totally unused and apparently unwanted. What is my Maker thinking? Why did He fit out me so perfectly to [xyz] then leave me on the shelf like this?”
Aldert’s exhortation actually rings true for me.
“The Master does not make a person to no purpose. He always puts them to His purposes in His time. But if you are to find the perfect fit with the perfect place for you, you must be patient.”
As some of our readers already know, we have, for quite a while, been planning on a major kitchen renovation. Today the demolition began…When we were young, Mommy always told us not to sit on the overhanging counter, but here was a last opportunity to do “the naughty thing.” We just couldn’t pass it up!
So that’s why Mommy said not to sit on the counter…!
Sunday afternoons are often relaxing times of having fun together as a family. Sometimes we just sit around and talk (and play with the babies 🙂 ). Other times we play games. Yesterday we enjoyed a few rounds of what we call “the poem game.” Each player writes a question on a piece of paper, folds it over, and throws their paper in a pile with all the other papers. The sheets are scrambled and then redistributed. This time each player writes a word on the sheet without looking at the question. Again the papers are shuffled and passed back out. Now each has to write a poem answering the question, using the word. Sometimes this isn’t too hard, but occasionally the word really doesn’t fit with the question, or the question is simply a very difficult one to answer! The resulting poems are very varied and often humorous. Here are a few samples:
Question: What is a question?
A question is something that makes you to think:
Like “What will you eat?” or “What will you drink?”
It asks for an answer from me or from you,
But the answer may change based on what or on who.
One may eat haybales whilst others eat meat;
One may drink water whilst others drink feet.
You see that a question does no real good
Unless there’s an answer that makes sense, and it should.
Question: What time of day did it happen?
Did it happen in the morning?
Or did it happen after noon?
Did it happen in a snowstorm?
Or in the midnight gloom?
It matters not,
When it came to pass.
But t’is very important
To each lad and lass.
The King of Heaven
And Lord of the earth,
Was born in a stable –
A humble birth
He died on a cross,
To bear our sin,
And rose again –
Question: Why is Teddy upside down?
Why is Teddy upside-down?
It makes me sad; that’s why I frown.
Now the baby’s crying, too.
The pacifier will not do.
Please turn him right-side-up again.
Don’t ask me why, don’t ask me when.
He’s upside-down because of you.
That’s better, thank you: now SHOO!
Question: How many buttons does she have?
Asleep upon the pet toy shelf
A snoring teddy laid his head.
He woke his happy, cheerful self,
To measured steps, an even tread.
Each day he wondered who t’would be
Who’d buy him off the pet toy shelves.
A boy a girl – a he or she?
How many buttons would they have?
A little girl came in the store
With collar white and buttons blue.
She skipped and hopped across the floor
And saw our bear, and liked him too.
Our teddy looked her up and down
And slowly counted buttons ten.
Upon her blue and silken gown
He looked and counted up again.
“I’d like to be her bear,” he thought,
And gladly left the pet toy shelf.
And once she’d done – our teddy bought –
He left, his cheerful, happy self.
Question: Where was Paul shipwrecked?
The panic stricken sailors
And stressed Italian soldiers –
They paced the deck;
They cursed the night;
And looked for light of day.
But one below was peaceful
Though all around was stressful
He found his joy
In Christ alone
God’s hand was all his stay.
When off a foreign island
The ship stuck fast in quicksand,
The splintered ship
And made it safe to shore.
Paul knew this all along –
That none would come to harm;
He trusted God
And proved Him true.
He did it o’er and o’er!
So could those frightened sailors
And fearful, worried soldiers
Have braved the storm
Without a fear
Of drowning in the waves?
Instead of looking seaward
They could have played a game board –
Some tiddlywinks –
And trusted God Who saves.
And here is one that was extra tricky! (And rather difficult to understand!)
Question: How wide is a day?
Quantifies viral dilutions.
The girth of non-nocturnal juncture
Homologates diurnal course.
Another game we all enjoy is Balderdash, though we simply use a dictionary, not the actual game. One player finds an unusual word, abbreviation, acronym, etc in the dictionary and says it aloud to the other players. The one with the dictionary writes out the correct definition while everyone else invents something plausible. The papers all collected, the presiding player reads all the “definitions” aloud and everyone takes a guess at which is the right one. Points are gained by: writing the correct definition on your paper, guessing the correct definition, or having another player guess your definition.
So… here’s a challenge: WITHOUT CHECKING A DICTIONARY can you guess which is the correct definition for the the word “ullage”?
- a synonym of silage in rural Australia, used on cattle farms
- a musical instrument invented in the 500’s by Daniel Johann Ull
- the third part of Catholic Mass, right after the prayer to Mary is uttered for the first of seven times and directly before the chanting of the Lord’s Prayer and the collection of the offering for relatives in Purgatory.
- language. From the Latin “ul” pertaining to the tongue.
- a decorative headpiece worn by Malay chiefs
- the empty space in a partially filled container
- a delicious dessert which tastes somewhat like fudge, originating in the province of UI, Latvia
- acclamation granted to the inventor of any tool used in farming
- a tool used in sharpening sawblades
- the leather that comes from the back left leg of a 1-year-old calf
I’ll post the answer later!
“How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1
Though Daddy and Mommy recently attended a conference in North Carolina where, lacking the crystalline beauty that still decorates our outdoors, they strolled around in T-shirts, the temperature here in Quebec remains well below freezing. This has certainly been a cold winter. But there is a beauty that only reveals itself at -20 degrees or colder. And I have not yet seen a photograph that does it justice. I’m glad I live in Canada!
However, despite last night’s -26C, the climatic conditions are slowly changing enough to hint that winter may not last forever! The days are getting longer and the sun’s shining face draws us outdoors.
Anyone want a picnic?