The Week Before Christmas

Gosh, I’m not even sure where to start.  This has been a crazy week.

C-R-A-Z-Y.

I think it all started a couple of years ago though.  🙂  We have a service contract on our home for maintenance on appliances, HVAC, wiring, etc.  A couple of years ago, we called to have the service people come look at our vent hood over our stove.  The fan wasn’t working.  They showed up, did some stuff and essentially condemned our vent hood.  It was too old and broken to repair and would cost less to replace.  Our contract with them doesn’t cover the replacement on stuff, just maintenance.  From that point on, Mike has been reluctant to use our maintenace service.

A few weeks ago, our dishwasher broke.  Service guys came out and guess what?  It is totaled.  It would cost less to replace it so they won’t fix it.  *sigh*

For several years I’ve been trying to get Mike to call our service guys and schedule a furnace inspection.  I think he had vent hood DT’s and just kept putting it off.  This year he finally followed through, much to his disliking.  They arrived this past Tuesday.  Mid to late morning I got the call at work.

Mike said something like, “The service guys just left.  They condemned our furnace and shut it down and disconnected it.  I just wanted to let you know.”

I could hear a calm but clear distress in his voice.  I knew he wasn’t joking.  After that first call, I didn’t even know what to think.  I guess it would be best described as shock.  As I sat there I just kept thinking, “How could they do this the week before Christmas?  How could they do this in the middle of Winter in the heart of the Mid-West? ”

I talked to Mike again a little while later and reality hit as I broke down crying on the phone.  I was so afraid.  What would we do?  The thoughts in my head were swelling and swirling.  We couldn’t afford a few hundred to get a new dishwasher.  There was no way we could afford $5,000 for a new furnace.  I failed as an adult.  I failed as a parent.  I couldn’t afford to take care of us.  I didn’t want my children to be cold.  It is MY job to keep my children safe, warm, sheltered and fed.  Do I return the kid’s Christmas presents?  Even if I did, that is only a couple hundred dollars.  What are we going to do?  What am I going to do??

I threw up a distressed Facebook status requesting prayers.  I’m generally not the one to ask for prayers for myself.  When I pray I am typically thanking the Lord for everything wonderful that he has given me.  I’ve got a fabulous husband, two incredible and beautiful children, a job that I love and while funds are tight we’ve got enough to live on and for all of that I feel blessed and grateful.  If I had been able to step back from the distress and give myself some time to think I probably would have realized that some how we’d be OK.  Like my husband has said before, if something ever happens and we can’t keep our home, we end up in some efficiency apartment or even a shelter as long as we have each other we will be alright.  In the moment though, when I’m worried about the well being of my family, scared, feeling like a failure…all of that seemed so hard to see.  So, I cried out for help and I’m so glad I did.

I was truly just asking for some prayers and I know many of you out there prayed for us.  Thank you.  The support from friends and family overwhelmed me.  My phone started chiming relentlessly with calls or text messages.  Many of you offered wisdom that I needed to hear, like my step-Mom Teresa, who pointed out how lucky we are that it was discovered and nothing terrible and potentially even fatal happened in our home.  I was so mad that they disconnected my furnace that I wasn’t comprehending the blessing in disguise.  I called my Dad crying and he was on it like Blue Bonnet.  He called me a couple of times.  He was going to stop by our house on his way home and suggested a guy we call.  So many friends and family suggested people we could call and possible discounts.  My Facebook went crazy.  My phone went crazy.  My friend, Frankie, offered us his home if we needed a place to stay even pointing out that there is a Christmas tree and the works so the kids would get to enjoy Christmas.  My brother and his wife offered us their vacant rental house if we needed a place to stay.

We got our first estimate….$4,800+.  Oh my goodness.  Holy cow.  Where was I going to come up with that kinds of money?  I look into it and I can pull out a loan against my 401K.  Then I got the call.  My BABY brother calls.  His wife, Anne, saw my Facebook status.  He offers to pay for it and I thank him but let him know that I found a way and I can ask for a 401K loan.  He promptly says, “Why would you do that when you can get the money from me?”  I respond that I have no idea if and when I would ever be able to pay him back.  He said, “Look, I’m in a place where I can help and I want to help.  I don’t need you to pay me back.  I want to do this.”  As I’m sure you can guess at that point, I couldn’t talk, my tears took over.  My baby brother.  The same baby brother that drooled more than any baby I’d ever seen.  The same baby brother that I took every where with me when I was a little girl.  The same baby brother who cracked eggs on my head in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve as a practical joke.  My baby brother who is all grown up but in my heart will always be my baby brother.

In addition to John and Anne’s kindness, I get a Facebook message from my Mom’s best friend, Christy.  She lets me know that her husband does heating and air for a living and would be able to help us out.  We get a much lower estimate from him and proceed to get everything going.  He’s installing our furnace on HIS DAY OFF, the Friday before Christmas.

I don’t know what to say.  I’m overwhelmed by the kindness and love of those around us.  We are so blessed.  Thank you all!  Thank you, Jesus!

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