Thursday, July 2, 2009

Overflow Options and Groundhog Day


Wow! I am humbled as I realize it’s been over a month since I last posted a blog. In the last one I wrote about overflowing emotions—the joy of a new granddaughter and the challenge of seeing our son deployed to Afghanistan.

Since then—a different kind of overflow. This one in our basement. A couple of weeks ago I awoke to six inches of water in our beautifully finished lower level! A total shock, as both Woody and I had managed to sleep blissfully through most of a terrible storm which knocked out our power and dumped five inches of rain in our area in just a couple of hours.

This is where, curiously, Ground Hog Day comes in. Remember the 1993 Bill Murray movie in which a TV meteorologist found himself living the same day over and over? Well, just a year ago in this same month we had a similar storm. We didn’t lose power that time but found our basement underwater in just a couple of hours due to what was then called a “hundred year flood.”

We’re beginning to understand that these occur pretty much annually in Wisconsin.

We thought we had fixed the problem last year, installing a super-duper double sump pump with battery back up of the best kind we could get. Not enough, apparently for this year’s “hundred year storm.” So I find myself doing all over again the same things I did last year. Once again I am talking to neighbors and researching options for truly “fixing it” this time. We thought we had done that last year before we had the entire basement put back together again, with restored baseboard and dry wall, new carpet and pad, new paint and paper throughout. That was then—June 2008. This is now—June 2009. And once again I am dealing with ServiceMaster crews and insurance agents and plumbers and electricians and dry-wallers and carpenters . . . it is, as Yogi Berra famously put it, “déjà vu all over again.”

Actually, I thought of the comparison to Groundhog Day because of an email I received from Lars in Afghanistan in which he described his current life in a tent at a blazing hot, desert-dry Marine base as feeling like Groundhog Day. He wrote about the daily challenge to “choose joy” even in the midst of his very difficult circumstances. He talked about being on a journey to discover Paul’s secret of being content. You guessed it—he’s been reading Philippians.

Hmmm. Isn’t it amazing how much we learn from our kids? Now, whenever I feel frustration overwhelming me and think I cannot talk to one more person about water or sump pumps or generators, I think of Lars. And I think of Paul, writing Philippians from a Roman prison—or at the very least under house arrest awaiting a Roman trial. I ask God to help me choose joy.
Which leads me back to the “overflow” idea. In that little letter to the Philippians, Paul wrote about “overflowing with joy.” (Philippians 1:26) Amazing! I’m reminded of another place (Romans) where Paul talks of overflow: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)

Is it possible to “overflow with hope” amidst the deserts and floods and Groundhog Days of our lives? The Apostle Paul apparently thought so. I suspect the key is in that tricky little phrase in the middle of Romans 15:13: “…as you trust in Him…”

A daily challenge. For Paul. For Lars. Even for me, in my far more mundane circumstances.

How about you?