family life, spiritual life

7 things I’ve learned in a week without running water

“When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2

It started before dawn one day last week. Three of us were already up and having breakfast when a low rumble began in the backyard and morphed into a trembling that could be felt through the house. Our water main, our home’s sole connection to city water, failed.

Water. It’s precious.

And, so began a week without running water.

It has been an experience. But, I will confine this post to a handful of things I’ve learned about coping, my own limitations and God’s lack of limitations. Here they are:

  1. Jesus wasn’t kidding when He spoke at length about “neighbors,” and that loving them is pretty good evidence of one’s relationship with God. Our literal neighbors have opened their garden spigots, showers, kitchens and so on. Without them, we would be huddled in a hotel room instead of glamping in our own home.
  2. The Boy Scouts aren’t kidding, either. Be prepared. As soon as we figured out what was going on, my husband instantly produced an array of buckets and many gallon jugs of water. They would prove to be absolutely necessary in a matter of hours. He also had rolls of quarters to do laundry and knew a weird technique to force toilets to flush with only two gallons of water. Who knew?
  3. Humans have basic needs that cannot be ignored. Food, water, clothing, shelter, compassion, dignity, safety. How we interact with refugees — the world’s most vulnerable people — is not a partisan issue. It’s a human issue. It’s a spiritual issue, too. God is watching.
  4. You know more than you think you know. When I was in my 20s, I had a job in which I worked a lot of group tent-camping events. I learned odd skills such as how to brush my teeth with less than a Dixie cup full of water and wipe dishes clean without any water. It all came back to me.
  5. There’s a reason earlier generations were slimmer, stronger and slept better. Hauling water in and laundry out for a large family everyday is no joke. (Looking for a great Christmas gift? Check out an agency like Heifer International or World Vision, through which you can help sponsor well drilling and provide clean, safe water to an entire village.)
  6. Baby wipes are duct tape for girls. There is virtually nothing a motivated woman cannot do given a sufficient supply.
  7. God is a good, good Father — even when His children succumb to lunacy. At one early point in this comparatively small crisis, I was so overwhelmed I threw a hissy fit and then went to bed for three hours in the middle of the afternoon. The words at the top of this post came to mind — a bit of scripture I had somehow memorized without knowing it. He let me rest, then He gave me fresh hope and the zip to do what needed to be done.

How about you, blog friends? What has God taught you during life’s tougher circumstances? How has He taught you to hope?

P.S. An eighth lesson: Contractors rock. We are looking forward to their soon arrival. πŸ™‚

28 thoughts on “7 things I’ve learned in a week without running water”

  1. Before every hurricane, especially a cat 3 or higher we fill our car gas tanks, generator gas cans, tubs with water for flushing, washing, cleaningβ€” forget showers πŸ˜’β€”and stock drinking water, enough for 1 gallon per person (or pet) per day. And then pray.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Boy can we relate. πŸ™‚

    When the landlord’s cut the power to the rental we were living in everything just stopped, including the well pump. For 2 months we had to haul water in just to flush the toilet and clean ourselves. Really thankful that that at least one neighbor was kind. πŸ™‚ Yes it is back breaking work hauling jugs of water 1/4 mile one way (we gave our new car to the landlords in lieu of rent but they still cut the power). Sure builds up muscle though. I have to admit though that it sure prepared us for homelessness. After we moved and were then locked out our only shelter in October of 2011 we had to live 40 days in the woods. The distance to haul water to our little tarp camp was about 1/2 mile one way. Sometimes we had to make the trip two or three times a day. We needed water to have some erstwhile washing, drinking of course and we boiled what potatoes we could kick out of the frozen muddy fields nearby. It sure did build up a lot of muscle which we promptly lost due to hunger. I lost about 60 pounds that summer. Started at 185 or so but was skin and bones at the end. πŸ™‚ At least God got us through that and taught us how to lean our entire being on Him. For that our family of 4 is eternally grateful.

    Homer Les

    Liked by 3 people

  3. We were without electricity for 2 days during an ice storm several years ago but we have a wood stove so we kept plenty warm. I realized that God really knew what he was doing placing me on earth in the latter half of the 20th century. I’d have made a lousy pioneer!

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  4. Well written. God teaches us patience and to strive hard. Indeed with every difficulty there is relief- so has been written in holy Quran. on neighbours, once a person asked the prophet about the criteria of being a good person, he replied- if you neighbour refers you as a good person, then indeed you are a good person. Surely, being good with our neighbours, relatives, kith and kin, etc is a prophetic tradition and we should abide by that and love our neighbours was said by Jesus peace be upon him and the world would be a better place. Thanks for sharing Nora. have a great day! 🌹 🌹 🌹

    Liked by 1 person

    1. πŸ™‚ Thanks, Atul. This experience — a very small one in the scope of things — has given me a moment of clarity that is good to have in mid-life. I hope to focus on basics such as love, kindness, joy. And, you’re right — that would bring peace and a better world.


  5. Nora, so sorry for your water challenges! When I worked overseas I often β€œshowered” with a 1-liter bottle of water – a learned skill to maximize limited resources in the Middle East & especially Africa where many women & girls spend 6 hours+ every day getting clean water for their families. Hope you’re reconnected soon!! πŸ’¦πŸ›πŸ’¦

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Virginia. I’ve thought about those girls and women hauling water (and facing all kinds of danger) every time I’ve carted our daily supply across the street from our neighbor’s garden tap. Life really just doesn’t need to be that hard given today’s technology. I wish I could fix it for everyone! Our water is supposed to be flowing before the weekend. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. When my dad was the pastor for a very small church in a very small town in Vermont in the early 1970s, he provided the manual labor to bring clean running water and working sewage disposal to the rural poor in the state in a diocesan program called TAP Water. That project was how he lived his faith. It meant the world to him.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. πŸ™‚ Wow, a whole month! It is pretty amazing what you can learn to cope with when you have to. Now we have to get the yard back into the realm of community acceptability. It’s basically a long dirt tube at the moment.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. We are not without water, but we have a septic tank that we try not to put too much stress on. I routinely wash my hands over a kettle in the kitchen sink, and when it’s full, I use it to flush the toilets. I also fill buckets before washing my face, rather than just running fresh water down the drain waiting for it to get hot. I shower and wash my hair at the gym. (All this might be unnecessary in our case, but it doesn’t hurt, and I don’t take water for granted the way I used to.)
    Good point about people in the old days being in good shape. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually, after figuring out all sorts of tricks like the ones you are using, I’m still doing a few of them just to be green. Back to running the dishwasher though. I surely missed that. πŸ™‚


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