Friday, June 29, 2012


Last week a woman came to the house to ask if she could clean my carpet in one room.  She said she was from Kirby. 

I said I'm not interested in buying a new vacuum cleaner. 

She said there is no pressure to buy a new vacuum.  They are in the area and want to let people know what they have to offer.  They want to clean my carpet.  There is no pressure to buy.  Did I just say that there is no pressure to buy?

I thought, "A couple of months ago we were supposed to be praying about opportunities to give/receive hospitality.  I know I am not buying a vacuum cleaner, but maybe I am supposed to offer hospitality to someone who sells them."

Big mistake.

First a shout out to Kirby.  The machine can clean carpets.  It really can.  I'm convinced that it probably is the very best vacuum cleaner on the planet.


I was under the assumption that someone would take a half hour and quickly clean my carpet and we would visit and get to know one another and I would offer some tea and friendship, and then everyone would be happy.

Instead, the woman who knocked on my door dropped of her son-in-law, who spent 2 1/2 hours demonstrating how filthy my carpet is with my old vacuum cleaner, how much cleaner the Kirby can get my carpet, how the Kirby can also shampoo my carpet without getting water all the way down into the pad and causing mold and mildew, how it is almost hospital grade as far as getting even the dust mites out of my mattress---yes, he had to vacuum my mattress so that he could demonstrate that too. 

There was the 'use the old vacuum to go over one spot 100 times and then get more dirt out with the Kirby' trick.

There were a lot of questions and leading statements:
  • When you bought your vacuum, you got it because it would get your carpet completely clean, didn't you?  (actually, I thought it would do about what it does, which is clean enough for me, but not for a hospital)
  • Did you know there was this much dirt in your carpet?  (does anyone know how much dirt is in their carpet?)
  • How often do you shampoo your carpet?  (This question was designed to help the salesman compute how much money I would save if I didn't need to rent a carpet shampoo machine at about $75/cleaning....I have NEVER paid $75 to rent a machine, and I don't rent one nearly as often as the salesman was hoping)
  • This machine retails at $3000, but think how much you will save because you won't have to replace carpets as often!  (This one is rich.  My carpet is still the same carpet that was here when we moved 20 years ago.  When we get rid of it we will not put new carpet in because the wood underneath is beautiful.)
Then Chuck came in, and the leading questions with reluctant answers were repeated back to him as though I were an enthusiastic customer who was so astounded by the performance of the Kirby that Chuck's approval was the only thing standing between me and my heart's desire.

Chuck is a devout believer in NOT impulse buying, lucky for me.

Anyway, this is what I learned.
  • Kirby is a very good vacuum cleaner, getting dirt out of carpet better than any other vacuum I've seen.  If you have trouble with allergies, a Kirby might be worth it for you because it has a lifetime warranty.  Not only that, but they encourage you to put the warranty in the name of one of your kids, and pass it down to them when you no longer need it, because it is that good.  They have no worries about giving it a very very long warranty.
  • $3000 is the beginning price which went down to $1200 pretty quickly after the demonstration was over.
  • There is no place in a sales pitch for anyone to say that right now, if I have money to spend on my house, it would go for replacement windows, and that a new vacuum would come after the end of world hunger and the end of global warming in my list of priorities.
  • There is definitely pressure to buy.
  • That a really nice guy, who was vulnerable about his family and his relationships and his willingness to change in order to be a good husband and dad wasted 2 1/2 hours of his 14 hour workday to demonstrate a vacuum cleaner in summer in a hot house, trying to sell a vacuum cleaner to me...when I knew I would never buy one.  I liked this man.  I even liked his persistence, even when I hated it, because it was his job to sell a vacuum cleaner.  He had to do his job, regardless of how little hope he was given.  And if he is telling me his real story, he works 6 days a week so that his son can have a parent at home instead of going to a day care center.  I could not do that job for a half day, let alone 6 days a week for 14 hour days.

That is not hospitality.  I would have done better to offer them all cold sodas and send them on their way without a demonstration. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Servanthood: Update #4

It is finally summer, and I can't walk to the mailbox at noon with bare feet anymore without burning the soles of my feet.

Morning work today consisted of:
  • digging the onions
  • digging the yukon gold potatoes
  • repairing the sides of the raised beds from the damage I did while digging
  • pushing mulch up against the sides to hold them in place against erosion
  • planting and watering green beans where the potatoes and onions used to be
I love the days when I have a list of completed items like this.  It doesn't happen every day.  Many days are filled with small things that will be done again the next day, or with phone calls, or errands.

Before today's work I took a two mile walk followed by a breakfast of home made yogurt, fresh apricot sauce, and rolled oats while I had devotions on the front porch.  One of the benefits of not using the air conditioner is that the front porch is more inviting than the closeness of the house.  For a person who is content to be indoors a lot, that is a good thing, because I forget how good being outdoors is for my spirit.

Update on my 'kingdom' goals:
In summer, and also coincidentally in my devotions right now, there is a lot of serving.  I chafe at serving sometimes.  Maybe lots of times.  Praying for ways to be part of the spread of God's kingdom here in my spot on earth precedes spending the day refilling the jars of iced tea, running errands, cleaning up clutter, fixing lunches, and in general dropping my plans to help others accomplish theirs. This has consistently been difficult for me over the years.  I allow myself self pity and comparison.  "Who drops everything to do something for me?"  It is small thinking and I'm embarrassed to admit to it.

This year our Sunday School class studied the Gospel of Mark.  Throughout Mark, Jesus insists that becoming a servant is important in the kingdom of God. Whoever offers even a cup of water to one of the least of these...  Whoever wants to be great in the kingdom of God must be servant of all...  Take up your cross (which can mean be willing to give up everything, including my rights to determine my own schedule)...  Lose your life to save it...

Frequent failure in this is my hallmark, but I'm working on a new attitude.

Being a doormat is not the goal here, and I have spent some time thinking about how to differentiate.  Of course, no one in my house wants me to be a doormat.  The person I would be fighting here is me and my small thinking.

In not having a job away from home, defining my work becomes daunting.  If I don't have a 'job', how can I know if my priority for my time is more important than helping someone else with their priorities?  Once in a while it is obvious  that one of us needs to take precedent over the other because of an urgency or deadline.  Most of the time it is not at all obvious.  Sometimes both of us have an urgent deadline.

If it isn't clear, do I err on the side of servanthood?  Do I try to make sure I'm not doing this or that task just because I happen to be the one without a job?  Is the work I have set for myself less important because it is not financially compensated?  How much do gender roles and assumptions play a part in whether I serve?

Work of the Spirit:
While experimenting with serving there have been times when what was asked of me seemed like more than I could do.  Some days there are too many things that are obviously important.  On those days, there would also be needs from "the least of these".  I would think that there was no way I could be a servant in answer to those needs and still do all that needed to be done.

Then there would be a quiet internal reminder---I think from God---that God will provide the time to do the things that God asks of me.

I have found that to be true, when I have responded to that prompting.  Either I have been able to get everything done myself and still meet the need with time to spare...or others have also seen the need and have offered their service as well.  Those have been holy moments that increase my faith.

Playing games on the computer:
I am still not playing games on the computer, with a specific exception.  I have played a small amount of scrabble with a couple of people.  I decided to go ahead since it was not a solitary game that would suck me into a lost sense of time.

It has been harder to stay away from the solitary games lately.  I am most tempted on days when I have struggled with low sense of worth, which makes sense.  The games are an effective escape. 

Friday, June 08, 2012

Harvest Time

Harvest is a season of many things, not the least of which is cutting wheat.  We cut our last field this afternoon.  The other things that have happened in close proximity to harvest are:
Bible School:  I taught this year and had a mixed age group of eight children who were delightful.  Teaching is not a difficult task this year as I only am responsible for 20 minutes of time with my class.  The rest of my time is spent ushering them to centers.  I do take that 20 minutes pretty seriously.  If I'm giving up time during harvest to do this job, I want the job to be worth it.
Rain:  We had about an inch and a third over the span of two or three days after harvest started.  There have only been a couple of really hot and humid days so far, and most days the windows stay open all day.  It is glorious weather.  The garden is happy.
Mocking bird:  There is one that sits on the top of our windmill.  It sings all night.  On these cool nights when the temps are in the low 60s, with windows open and no noise from fans, I don't mind waking up frequently to enjoy the song so near the house.
Chiggers:  These instruments of torture often arrive sometime during harvest, and even though harvest was extremely early this year, the chiggers were earlier.  I'm spraying my ankles every day but a few of those nasty critters are still finding me every day.
Cherries:  This week I found out there were a couple of cherry trees where I could pick.  My parents came with me.  The season is almost over so nearly all the pretty cherries were only reachable with very tall ladders, but we got some.  Then my parents helped me pit all of them.  I'm pretty sure I owe them a pie, even if they would never put that expectation on me.
Apricots:  Because the apricots bloom very early, most years a frost eliminates the crop.  This year there are apricots, and I'm still hoping to pick a few.
Cicadas:  These start their evening droning at harvest time.  My sister-in-law has noticed the sound, though I have to admit I haven't heard them yet.  But I have seen one slip out of its shell and dry itself in the evening breeze.  On Monday when I was talking with Becca I noticed this one still pulling itself free on the cement curb near our house.  I grabbed the camera and snapped as we talked.  These are the two best pictures I got.  After about 15 minutes, it left.  I'd gone inside to put the camera back and missed the leaving.
Baling:  We need wheat straw baled to use as bedding for our hogs (and mulch for my garden), so whenever Chuck isn't needed on the harvest crew, he fits in baling straw.
Food:  During harvest we don't interrupt cutting wheat for meals.  Hence meals are delivered to the field.  On a good day of cutting that means two meals and an afternoon snack are delivered to the field.  For the harvest crews, the cooking is shared by the four of us women who are married to farmers.  If we are baling, the guys who are helping also need to be fed.  In the last five days I've cooked four crew meals and taken out snacks.  With Bible School added to the mix, it means that my mind and my hands do not have a chance for idleness.  It is good work, though, and people are appreciative of the efforts.

Enough for now.  Chuck is in, since he is not needed tonight, and we are ready for a little down time in front of Netflix...Friday Night Lights, perhaps?