Monday, November 7, 2011

Giving Up to Receive

~ What Eight Days Without Power Taught Me ~

Have you ever been driving and lost all concept of how you got from mile one to mile two? You stay in the zone, eyes focused on the road, but you lack aesthetic (or any) appreciation for the view you’ve just passed.

I feel like I’ve been driving through my life like that lately.

And with the recent snowstorm, my brakes failed and spun my car directly in front of a wooden sign with the words: Scenic View (time to pay attention).

Was the last eight days without power bouncing from a hotel to our house to a dear friend’s home back to our house stressful? Sure it was. But I gained something back in that time. I was reintroduced to a refined sense of my role as a mother, wife, caretaker, and even as a writer.
This forced break was exactly what I needed and I’m not sure I would have taken the time had I not been stripped of power (heat and electricity included).

Here are some comical (and chaotic) ways the storm impacted us:
~I learned that toothpaste can freeze.
~Steve was traveling for four days during the outage so I took action with getting the girls to warm places.
~I now understand the description “swampy eyes” Zusak used for the Standover Man in The Book Thief after spending five nights sleeping in the basement with the temperature reading 45 degrees inside the house.
~Each morning, I sat up anxiously waiting for the pipes to click and churn to life as though the house was in a coma and I willed it to snap out of it.
~My girls played a nice round of musical coughs.
I started my first fire and kept it going for hours. (I will not stop you if you are now clapping.)
~We looked stylish wearing our scarves and hats 24/7.
~All sense of the date and time got entirely whacked out inside my head just in time for Daylight Savings.
~I kept the kids busy and content even as their school was cancelled for the week and they were hopped up on Halloween candy we never did get to hand out.
~Did I mention our downstairs toilet is broken and at night when we had to go to the bathroom (which sadly I have a habit of doing) we had to hike up to the Arctic with a flashlight.
~I know I haven’t mentioned the way I fell in love with the way my kids laugh, how my husband kisses, and how great our neighbors and dear friends were during this time. We were blessed to have neighbors help in small ways and longtime family friends host us for a few nights. We turned those days into a vacation, sightseeing and fine dining on the coast. I was entirely too close to jumping onboard a sailboat (excursions were reasonable in the town we visited) and sailing away with my kiddos.

So what’s the takeaway here—the big shebang?

I can’t tell you how many times I about lost it over the course of the last eight days. But every time I was on the verge, something snared my attention, bringing me back to the beauty of the moment—the blessing of simplicity. And I learned that sometimes we need to lose it to gain it back again. Gain it back with more heft and promise.

Ever been forced to slow down? Tell me about it.

Check out who All “I”s are on today on my FB writer page (should be there by 9:00)!
*photo by flickr


  1. Beautiful stuff, Wendy! Sounds like a crazy adventure!

    I think it's during those times when we lose and don't have everything we want or need that we're able to refocus on what's truly important.

  2. I've been thinking about you and did again last night when I saw on the news how many still are without! I have been in the cold without power for a few days but never that long. Not sure I would do as well as you did but it does make you appreciate SOOOO much!!! Enjoy a hot shower!

  3. Hi Wendy -

    We take so much for granted: the comforts of electricity, heat, indoor plumbing, and our cars. A few days minus any one of these conveniences reminds us to be thankful.

    I'm glad you were able to meet the challenge head on. You did a fabulous job!

    Susan :)

  4. Looks like we're up and running again here in G'bury. But we'll never look at a tree the same, ever again! I guess Mother Nature showed us who's boss ...

  5. Oh, my! I'm so glad you have power again! And I love that you chose to see the unexpected gifts of the situation.

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  7. I've gotten the "slow down" reminder several times before, but not in such hard hitting ways. It's usually just a tick in my thinking that goes off balance, and I have to readjust my rythm to fit the new pace.

  8. Beautiful post, Wendy. Most touching was to hear of your falling in love with your children's laughter.

    Thanks for the inspiration this Monday morning, Andrea

  9. What a wild time you've had this past year, but I love the way you're tackling it, seeking the good and carrying forward good memories.

    If everything always went perfectly, we'd have no awesome "remember when" memories to share with our kids someday. :)

  10. Wendy,

    I'm so sorry you had to go through the time without power, but it sounds as though you are making the most of it and really learning what you can from it!

    Since I live in Phoenix, I've never really had to deal with weather slowing me down. However, there are other circumstances that can make life stand still. When a loved one is very sick, for instance, your whole world is at a standstill. It is so strange to watch the rest of the world keep moving and passing by when you feel like you're stuck.

    But God is faithful whatever the circumstance!

  11. Beautiful post, Wendy.

    Although on a much smaller scale, our family was forced to slow down when we lost power with Hurricane Irene. No church, no television, no lights. We cuddled up and read The Swiss Family Robinson all day. Precious family time we wouldn't have gotten otherwise!

  12. Ah Wendy. We've lost power, but more often than not we have lost our ability to use water. You realize really fast how much the little things you take for granted. If nothing else, I'm sure you now appreciate them more, right? :) Your post speaks greatly of that. :)

  13. I'm glad your power has been restored and that life is returning to normal, but I'm grateful for the lessons you learned when you were forced to slow down and live in the moment.

  14. Wendy, you are a survivor! I would have weeped myself sick!

    I love your heart to see grace and goodness in the "heft" of what life throws our way.

  15. Wendy, what a beautiful post. I love how the Lord constantly brings us back to what's most important. Thanks for this reminder.

    Glad you survived the storm.

    p.s. loved that line about your kiddos and hubby. so beautiful.

  16. Beautiful take away from all of this! We had this happen a few times to us and when we were without power, also water and flushing and all that good stuff. But it is nice to just depend on each other and rough it a little, makes me appreciate things all the more. Glad your're back!

  17. Oh goodness, Wendy, I'm glad to hear you survived! I've experienced power outages for a day or two before and those were challenging enough. Can't imagine what you went through. Glad to see you back!

  18. Yay for the fire starter! I'm glad you're back and you all survived. I've had to slow down a lot recently, but I guess having a baby will make you do that. It also makes you more appreciative which I know you get :)

  19. Wendy, I can't even imagine that! Brrrr. You cracked me up with stating that toothpaste can freeze. Your attitude was amazing and I know you now have much fodder for writing. :P

  20. Wow. What an adventure indeed. Talk about slowing down. God needs to get our attention, and sometimes He just smacks us over the head (or turns out the lights!)

  21. Wendy:
    We had an ice storm that took our the electric. We had a friend who was in the hospital down the street from our house. We were up there when they came through and put chemicals in the commodes because they couldn't flush them. They were on generator power but that power didn't take care of the toilets.

  22. I had a very serious, i.e. potentially life-threatening, threatening illness in 2007. Needless to say, I hadn't planned that. It was no where on my calendar to miss weeks and weeks of my life.
    Recovery was slow--as in 12 months long.
    And I had to learn to be content with that. To let go of my normal fast pace. To accept that God was in all of this -- and in all that I couldn't do.

    It's nice to have you back, Wendy. You were missed!

  23. Wendy, I had no idea you got caught in that storm. I love storms for this very reason--to slow me down and help me appreciate the little things.

    I hope your electricity and heat is up and running now!

  24. I know this is terrible, but I enjoy it when these sorts of things happen--for the same reasons you give. Living in the middle of the high desert, I can't tell you how many times we've had a series of unfortunate events like these--usually water crises, but often power and water (which go together), and frozen pipes, and, and . . . When it rains it pours, when it snows it blizzards!

  25. Wow, my hubby was just sharing an article a few days ago with me about how some people were still without power after that last storm. I had no idea you were affected. I'm so sorry!
    I was forced to slow down when we had a hurrican scare this past summer.
    I don't want to say it was good for me (because I never want to go thru that again!) but in a weird way it WAS probably a good reality check for me.

  26. Sounds like one crazy week. It's good to be forced to slow down. I think you appreciate things more, because I too have driven home from work and wondered how I got there.

  27. Oh, my, you had a rude awakening, didn't you? I'm glad you allowed the Lord to use this pickle to bring prizes to you. Your kids and hus are uber blessed to have you...


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