Exhibit: Finding Purpose in The Great Flood of ‘88

So, what does the “Flood” thing have to do my banner illustration?

My banner art this month is what I call my on-going “Tree Project”.  There is a tree I observe on the western horizon at our home which serves as the centerpiece for many sunset photos of which I can’t resist taking with my trusty ten-year-old Sony Mavica CD400.  I have hundreds of these pictures; and when I began to compile them to see what I’d captured with intent to “commit art” (as my husband suggests), I was thrilled upon combining the images, to find the emerging stained-glass patterns of light and color created by various weather and seasons.  I love that the tree stands stalwart through seasons of storm and glorious sunsets; in darkness and in light.  It stands as a reminder that faithfulness pays off.  There are days when we stand surrounded in drabness and cold, and days in the splendid warmth with skies illustrating the epitome of grandeur.  There are infinite combinations of the scene: light, sky effects, weather, season, sun or moon position…

Soon, the tree will enter another “growth period”.  Its silhouette against the colorful evening skies will have a different form, like an opening cocoon.  A new purpose.

For Lent this year, I‘m publicly disallowing myself the endorphin-filled “happy place” that chocolate provides.  Privately, I reflect on God’s promises and my part in the big picture of the prayer process for others, and for myself.  And, I’m working on my attitude.

Every day, as soon as you open your eyes, try thanking God for giving you another day to be the best you can be; consciously think positively—-and when you find yourself slipping into a negative mind set, remember you have a purpose.  You would not be taking up space if you didn’t.  You will be amazed at the difference it can make on your physical body, your mind, your soul; your outlook.

I love the scene from the recent elaborate Academy Award winner, “Hugo”; as the children search for their purpose in life, Hugo Cabret innocently concludes,

“Machines never come with any extra parts, you know.  They always come with the exact amount they need.  So I figured if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn’t be an extra part.  I had to be here for some reason.  And that means you have to be here for some reason too.”

Being grateful for another day won’t insure that bad things won’t come along.  The only difference is how you accept the tempests of life.  Remember to be mindful of the fact that they advance to you God’s promises that your “growth periods” will pay off.  Pray, and be specific when you pray!

In keeping with the Great Flood theme, “God”, as portrayed by Morgan Freeman in “Evan Almighty” explains to Evan’s wife, Joan:

“Let me ask you something.  If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience?  Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient?  If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous?  If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”

You’ve heard the expression, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”?

And now, for the main event:

Everyone has an epic tale or two that they fall back on in social situations.  A funny or amazing story from their life with the <laugh!> or <gasp!> factor to suffice as good old-fashioned entertaining or fascinating conversation.  I guess it took being married for nearly 24 years, and telling the story so many times, that constitutes the “Great Flood” story as one of the crown jewels in our arsenal of tales.

When my husband and I had been married for only three weeks, and had only been back from our Thanksgiving Honeymoon cruise for two; my parents hired a moving truck to move my stuff and our wedding gifts from my hometown an hour away, to Bryan’s college-town house.  The gifts were still stacked in boxes in a corner, towering near the ceiling in our dining room; but Christmas was coming and though overwhelmed with new life-stuff, we had started preparing for our first big holiday in our new home by decorating the tree and wrapping packages to put underneath it.  The new adventure was playing out in fairytale perfection.

An opportunity came for Bryan to interview for a job in Minnesota, so I drove him to the airport, about an hour and a half away.  I spent the night with my folks nearby, then picked him up and we drove home the next night.  Although it was very cold, the trip home that night was an enjoyable drive and we even stopped to split a chocolate chip crepe from TCBY (brrr!), leisurely making our way back home.

When we pulled in the driveway and pushed the garage door button, it was obvious right away that something wasn’t right.  There was an unexplainable puddle of water in the garage floor originating from the door leading into the kitchen.  The slow-motion memory of next few minutes still plays in my mind as a macabre combination of cartoon and nightmare.  Remember the old Looney Tunes cartoons where someone would leave a bathtub running and when the poor sucker, seeing a trickle of water coming from underneath the door, would turn the knob…..then a horizontal wall of water comes blasting out, flattening the unsuspecting knob-turner?

OK, well, it wasn’t quite that dramatic.  It was, however, extraordinarily traumatic.

There may not have been 10 feet of water (more like 5 inches…standing….everywhere…), but it may as well have been.  The house was built on a slab, so the pipes were in the ceiling.  A pipe had frozen and blown in the kitchen ceiling; so the entire ceiling —yes the WHOLE THING—where the tops of the walls touched it, all the way around the perimeter of the room; all of the insulation, the drywall, the large light fixture, the whole shebang, was in a 4-foot disgusting paper mache heap in the middle of the floor under the shower still spraying from above.

The entire house was under inches of water and everything that was light enough to float, was.  The Christmas packages floated lazily in the swampy marshes of our living room.  The tower of wedding gifts stood erect, the unfortunate bottom gifts submerged in the bogs of our dining room, and the (much-loved) original NES of which we had shared joint custody of for many months prior to our marriage, was buoyantly afloat, bobbing in its plastic console in front of the entertainment center in our family room.  It might as well have been a battlefield.  Talk about an eye-opener!  Someone once said that the test to see if you could stand to be married, was to drive across the country together in a VW Bug.  If you didn’t kill each other after that, you could get through anything.  Well, I’m of the opinion that if you can survive a flood together, you’re good.

There we were with the power off, in the dark, in the cold, dead of winter, and our home was a huge indoor wading pool with lots of expensive floaty-toys.  We have video footage which I took with our brand new gigantic 80’s camcorder on my shoulder, shlosh-shlosh-shloshing around with a flashlight, and sniffing every few seconds though my tear-filled narration.  The poor insurance agent came out in the middle of the night and told us not to worry.

The next two days were filled with shop-vaccing.  The carpet rescue people ripped up entire rooms-full of carpet and propped them up like furry circus tents, then set up huge high-velocity fans in an attempt to dry them before they began to mildew.  Beyond 48 hours, they could not be saved.  Most the carpets were destroyed and we weren’t able to live in the house for weeks.  The kitchen cabinets were splitting with popping veneers.  The insulation from the ceiling was plastered everywhere it had dried and needed to be jack-hammered off walls and appliances.  This was my first “married” purpose.  I spent long days in the cold damp, cleaning and repairing and replacing.  New flooring, replaced wedding gifts that we hadn’t even unpacked…  At the time it felt like a disaster of Biblical, or at least Titanic, proportions.

When it was all said and done, we had rung up $10,000 in damages.  As newly weds, a catastrophe of this magnitude back in nineteen-hundred and eighty-eight could have easily ruined us—or at least set a new couple back considerably.  When we got to move back in, the house (which was pretty nice to begin with), looked like a showplace.  New carpet, new kitchen cabinets, counter tops, some furniture and other items replaced…so much value added to the property “for our trouble”.

Very few months later, Bryan got a job offer in Columbus and we listed our home “For Sale By Owner” and started looking for a house near his work.

Here’s where the “payoff” started; the miracle from the mess.  The very first week we advertised our home, without a realtor, we sold it (with the buyers accepting our price, no negotiations!), for 40% more than Bryan had paid for it just two years prior.  The upgrades because of our “disaster” made it possible for us to buy the bigger home we wanted, in an more expensive suburban cul-de-sac setting, more than double the upgraded worth of the home we’d just sold.

“Come back to the place of safety, all you prisoners who still have hope! I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles.”  New Living Translation (©2007)

Looking back over my life, I can now see in completion, the times that were the hardest, and how God caused me to grow, to put me in a better position, and lifted me up by rewarding me “double for my trouble”.   The trouble is, it’s hard to see when you are in the thick of it.  The lesson there is that we have to be patient, have faith and wait out the storm.  (And at the risk of sounding trite, learn to “Dance in the Rain”.)  Once we are in the clear, look back and see that God’s hand was guiding you through those times.  He did it before, and he will do it again.  That is HIS purpose!  Look for these patterns of storm in your life, they ARE there, and discover what you gained for your trouble, knowledge? peace of mind? safety? rest?

I’m thankful that we were initiated early with The Flood.  The first time adversity knocks on our door, it seems impossible to wade through (see what I did there?); but the next time, you’ve beat it once already, little ‘ole you have already zapped Goliath square in the middle of his massive boney noggin, and you lived to tell the tale at parties.  You are equipped, you are blessed, you have purpose.

So that was the tale of the Great Flood of ‘88.  The story does seem to make its way into a lot of party conversation!  …Along with the simultaneous shocker/payback call I once got from my vet when I’d taken my kitten to be spayed,

“Uh, Mrs. Moore?  Turns out “Bella” is a “fella”.

Good news is, the surgery is cheaper!”

Blessings of peace to you as you wade through trials, annihilate your giants, and discover your purpose.  Down the road, it all makes for a pretty good story.

Julianne Moore

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One thought on “Exhibit: Finding Purpose in The Great Flood of ‘88

  1. Bryan Moore says:

    Reblogged this on A Call to Leadership and commented:
    Understanding your purpose and counting your blessings.

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