Friday, October 25, 2013

Six Important Phrases

One of the deacons in our church, Art Kixmiller, shared this recently.  I always appreciate the extra push in the "others-centered" life style.  He titled it "6 Important Phrases." I share it with you as another one of those gentle reminders that we all could use from time to time.

#6 "I admit I made a mistake"

#5 "You did a good job."

#4 "What is your opinion?"

#3 "If you please..."  He admitted this one is a little outdated and emphasized "please".  

#2 "Thank you."

and the number one important phrase to Art?
#1 Anything involving the word "WE".

While we're on positive phrases, here are a few Kid President had to share on Facebook recently.

A few things we should all say more:
1. "Thank you." 2. "Please." 3. "Here is a surprise corn dog I bought you because you're my friend."

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." - Ephesians 4:29

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Right Button - Living Lessons Bulletin Article for October 27th, 2013

The Right Button

“That man was absurdly adamant about hitting the right button!” 

This was my thought as the metal doors were sliding smoothly away before my entrance to the elevator.  It
Press the "L"!
was my first time visiting the Select Specialty Hospital in Evansville where one of our church members was receiving treatment.  At 6pm I was greeted by a pleasant older chap who gave me directions to the third floor via the visitors elevator.   His discourse on navigation wasn’t finished with my arrival at the room, but he was even lengthier in how I was to return to the lobby.  In particular he spent time describing the elevator buttons.

“Make sure to press the “L” button to return!” he was direct, clear, repetitive, and passionate in relating this instruction, and rightly so.  Had I not been forewarned, I would most certainly be confused as the button configuration contained the following: “B” for basement, “L” for Lobby, “1” with a star by it, “2”, “3”, and “4”.   I know, had I not received instruction, I would have been pressing that “1” button with the big star by it, mistakenly thinking I would return to my desired destination.    After realizing my error, I’m sure I would have pressed the lowest button marked “B” only to be confused when the doors opened to the basement.

I wonder how many people arrived at the wrong floor of the elevator, only to waste time and energy in frustration trying to reach correct exit level.   I wonder how many people this lobby greeter had saved from the trouble by giving his direct warning and instructions.  When I returned to the lobby on the first try after pressing the “L”, I made sure to thank him for taking the time and effort to talk to me about the right path. 

You see where I’m going with this don’t you?  God’s Word contains the right path to save our friends a lot of trouble and grief in this life and in the life to come.  You and I have access to this knowledge and instruction.  Do we care enough about people to share it?

I think it is with this others-centered, caring, and sharing mindset that Jesus tells His disciples the “Great Commission.” 
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Documenting the Damage

Hey guys, this post is meant just for the elders, involved deacons, and potentially the insurance company.  It's about as easy to document things within this blog and share as anywhere else.  Rather than repeat the story every time for everyone who asks, the full story is right here.

So here we go.

How we feel:  The parsonage owned by Washington Church of Christ is a great home and we are grateful for it.  Even with the water damage now, it is no where near the amount of work we put into the old farm house in Tennessee!  So we're happy to help out in fixing this problem on the house and taking care of the congregation's investment.

Prior history - We moved in August of 2011.  We noticed water marks that had creeped up the dark wood panel wall boards around half of the den area, but assumed it was a problem that had been corrected as Mark Petty told us about a sump pump he had installed in the crawl space.  We have been grateful for that sump pump and Mark's work.

Within just a couple of months we had a pretty hard rain and noticed that the floor area in the den was a little damp, but didn't seem to be anything major.  We put fans on it and dried it out.

About twice a year, we would notice a little dampness and we would take efforts to dry it out.  During heavy rains I would go outside and try to figure out where the water was coming in.  I finally determined that the main problem was the water in the crawl space leaking into the den area.  The sump pump worked when the water rose several inches, but in really heavy rains, a little water was still seeping in.  I wanted to figure out how the water was getting in and prevent it.

Recent History - We did a little landscaping this year and noticed the mulch in front of the porch was getting washed from the south side of the house downhill toward the north side, meaning pretty significant water flow.

After a lot of study and thought, I determined that water was flowing from a downspout on the south side of the house, across the drive way, pooling up in the landscaped area, and seeping in underneath the porch.

It was determined that our gutter system needed to be reworked to lessen the flow of water across the driveway to the porch.  This work was completed by an area professional hired by our church, Tri-State guttering.  They were quick, courteous, and very professional.  They made two major changes to the guttering.  Instead of one downspout on the front of the house, we were given two.  The new second downspout came down just in front of the porch with a downspout reaching across to one inch in front of the landscaping barrier.  They also put guttering on the upper level of the house with a downspout coming from the upper level down on top of the porch roof, and thus draining into the downspout in front of the porch.

The Rains Came Down - Then came the rains on Saturday October 6th and Sunday the 7th.  At about 7:30am on Sunday morning my wife noticed water "pouring" in from a new spot in the basement level.  Water was seeping from underneath the floor tiles in the bathroom near the sink.  The water was coming in too fast for us to sop up with towels and traveled all the way across the room.  We did our best before going to church and in between services to keep it at bay.  After church services we found half of the carpet in the den soaked with water soaking up the wall panels.

Here is video footage we took on Sunday, October 7th in the morning before church services:

The Cause - During my many visits outside I determined that there were two problems that created in increase in water.  First, the a grommet on the sump pump moved about an inch, which kept the sump pump from turning on.  I crawled under the house and fixed the problem here on Sunday afternoon, draining out the remaining water in the crawl space.  The second problem was with the new guttering.   The downspout put in front of the porch was pointed at a high spot in the yard.  The massive amount of water coming down in front of the porch was gushing out, hitting this "hill" and making a u-turn right at the front porch.  So our porch was receiving more water than ever before and the sump pump wasn't clearing out the crawl space in my opinion.  Double whammy.

The Dry Out Effort - We dried out for a week with fans, heater, and shop vac.  We also borrowed a carpet shampooer from the Tabers and after 5 days of drying out, we attempted to clean the carpet.  Ashley was surprised at the amount of "dirty" water coming out of the carpet.  She was also worried because she could still smell the moisture in the room if we shut the windows.  (Good thing we were blessed with good weather!)  On Sunday, October 13th, Coy Taber came over to look at the guttering and look at the damage.  He encouraged us and gave us permission to look behind the wall boards.  The budget committee at church approached us as well that day and offered to replace the flooring.

Christopher's Drain Work - The week prior to the 13th I purchased 10 feet of flexible drain pipe and 10 feet of PVC to direct all the water from the porch downspout to the north (low) side of the house.  It has a good slope in that area away from the home.  In small rains this week it seems to have directed the water exactly where we want it to go.

The First Panels - I finally pulled off the first two panels the next Saturday evening on October 19th.  I found black mold on the back side of the panel and on the dry wall behind.  I knew immediately more work than flooring would need to be done.  On Sunday afternoon the 20th, Drew Myers and Coy Taber visited to talk about what needed to be done to the room.  The determined that the panels needed to be pulled off, and the drywall ripped off at the 2 foot level and below for it to dry out.

Gutter Man - Mark Petty called Tri-State Guttering to come back out to change guttering.  On Monday the 21st the same installer came back out.  Instead of pulling much of the water down in front of the porch, he directed it toward the rear of the house where the ground has a better slope.  I put a 10' extender pipe on the bottom to move the water even farther away from the house.

Ripping Off - On Monday afternoon (Oct 21st) Scott Schnarr volunteered his time to help. We began ripping out carpet, pulling off panels, and tearing out drywall below 2 feet.  We found more mold, and moisture still existing below the 3 inch level all around this part of the wall.  The wood and drywall had to be removed.  Here are videos and pictures of what we found.
As you could see, there was plenty of mold, and rotted furring strip on the bottom.  Here are some photos as well.

The Clean Up - Scott and I tried to scrape off all the mold we could find (with the room blocked off, fan in the window, and our dust masks on).  We rolled all the debri up in the carpet and threw it out the window into the trailer outside.  Then we swept up as much as we could.  I finished the night by spraying bleach all over all of the studs, furring strips, floor, and brick wall.  We left the fan on all night exporting the fumes out the window. (It got into the 30's overnight, brrr!)  This morning (the 22nd) I bleached it again we are still running the fan to dry it out.  Here's a video I shot of the cleaned up effort.

So that's where we are for now in the water damage saga.  I'm calling our State Farm insurance agent as well.  We plan to continue ripping out carpet this week and letting the room dry out.  We believe we have the problem remedied with the guttering and yardage drain.  We hope this information proves helpful!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Are You Thankful For Your Toilet?

This past week I was meditating on the scripture from Colossians 3:15-17 which deals heavily with gratitude in each verse.  While cleaning a toilet one day and meditating specifically on giving thanks in whatever I do, these silly words started flowing as if they had suddenly been flushed down the heavenly drain straight to me. May they remind you to be grateful and do acts of gratefulness everyday and everywhere.
"Are you thankful for your toilet?"  
Are you thankful for your toilet? Then give thanks while you clean it.
Are you thankful for your food? Then say "Grace" and really mean it.
Are you thankful for your sports? Then have integrity while you play 'em.
Are you thankful for your car? Then those bills on time you pay 'em.
Are you thankful for your family? Then to them let kind words be spoken.
Are you thankful for you wife?  Then let her heart not be broken.
Are you thankful for your life?  Then honor parents who made you.
Are you thankful for forgiveness?  The bless those who betrayed you.
Are you thankful for your Jesus?  Then obey Him as your Lord.
Are you thankful for your God? Then always let Him be adored.

written Christopher Wiles in preparation for a sermon on "Gratitude" on 10/13/2013.
You have my permission to use the content of this poem anywhere you would like.

"15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." - Colossians 3:15-17

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Getting old in the pumpkin patch.

Yup, today was one of THOSE days.  You know those days, where it is as if you suddenly woke up to the realization "I'm older".

We were taking pictures of our boys at a local pumpkin merchant when my wife mentioned something to the effect of "Yeah, he'll be 7 years old soon."

My brain fired immediately, "I'm not old enough to have a 7 year old!"  You sure are Topher, you sure are.

I was reminded his mature age a little while later when a honey bee flew up into his shirt.  He saw it happen and told us so without panicking, but in a matter-of-factly way.  As I was hunting down the bee, it stung him, right on the front of his rib cage.  Gabriel didn't jump, dance, cry, or whine but simply said, "Owww, that hurt."

Whatever happened to "Daddy, please kiss my booboo?"  When did I get old enough to have a kid that takes bee stings like a man?  Surely, I'm not that old!  The red welt combined with his nonchalant attitude reminded me: you sure are Topher, you sure are.  

Later in the evening my son would remind me that I am indeed old enough.  While riding in the car I was still lamenting this sudden new reality and said, "Gabriel, I can't believe you're almost 7 years old."  His reply was one better as he said, "Dad, I can't believe you're almost 35 years old!"  You sure are Topher, you sure are.

Yet I'm not going to sit here and cry about it.  I'm going to enjoy the short time I have left with him as
a kid.  I'm going to continue to impart as much wisdom in him for as long as he'll take it.  I'm going to continue showing him some of the greatest blessings in life by living for His eternal God.  Then I'm also going to pray that when the time comes, I have the strength, faith, and courage to turn him loose.

Lord, give me the wisdom and energy to use the little time I've got with them to mold them, move them, and love them.  Amen.  

To view the rest of the pumpkin patch photos, click here.  

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Living Lessons: For October 14th, 2013

Living Lessons:  for October 14th, 2013  
("Living Lessons" are articles I write for our church bulletin every Sunday.)

A Check Up from the Neck Up:   I was really blessed to enjoy a great message on Thursday at the Young At Heart devotional and meal.  Art Kixmiller used the words “Check Up from the Neck Up” in speaking about our attitudes.  Then he also hit a home run as he swung his devotional bat at one of my favorite topics, “gratitude”. 

Today’s living lesson is meant for you to do a mental check up on yourself.  How’s your attitudinal health?  Are you feeling down, depressed, and lonely?   Sometimes we get this one from being self-centered and studies have shown that being thankful to others can turn many of those situations around.  The doctor has some medicine prescribed just for you, and this medicinal curing system today begins with gratitude.

When was the last time you wrote a “Thank You” letter?  When was the last time you told your Walmart cashier, “Thanks for serving me today.”  When was the last time you called your parents just to say “Thanks for raising me.”  When was the last time you thanked your Lord for putting up with so many prayers that have more complaining and begging in them than gratitude?  Now, we’re not accusing anyone, but if you’re like me, you might be a bit guilty of not being too thankful.  Let’s see what scripture has to say about it.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” - 1 Thess 5:18
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” – Psalm 107:1
Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Eph 5:20
Be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” – Col 3:15-17
Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” - 2 Cor 9:15