Prayer and the Plumber

ando-hiroshige-hiroshige--navaro-rapidsExtended Unemployment. Simple little words, but words that have rocked my world. Who knew? I mean, when this all started nineteen months ago, we were so confident it was nothing more than a minor blip- a new job would surely materialize quickly- We’d never even heard of someone who wanted to work actually being unable to find a job. We figured we’d call some connections, float some resumes and something would come up. Tick… tick… tick… tick… the weeks turned into months, and more surprises surfaced in our lives.

My husband suffered some unexpected health issues, and without medical insurance (because earlier we had to decide: Mortgage? Or COBRA?) we were saddled with some hefty bills. Recovery and therapy followed. Tick… tick… tick… We had our six-months reserves, as counselled. We had our credit cards paid off. Our modest cars and student loans were paid off.

My husband picked up odd jobs where he could, while continuing his search. We paid a headhunter to help us. We broadened our horizons, looking in other cities. At one temp-job, my husband broke his hand in some machinery. More medical bills. Tick… tick… tick… At the same time, our youngest son was officially diagnosed with Autism, and we began learning a new language.

Every once in a while, I look up from where my shoulder meets the wheel and think, “Holy hell, who’s life is this? And why am I not utterly, terrifyingly, panicked?” Part of me- the part that remembers my life before I had Faith- knows I should be curled up in a shaking ball, peeking from between quivering fingers. And yet… I’m not. It’s odd. Is it shock? Is it faith? Is it foolishness? Some would say so.

I remember life before prayers were familiar and comfortable. I remember when I had never cracked a bible, and thought of Jesus of Nazareth as a mildly cool guy that had some good ideas. I remember not knowing the safely and comfort of the Gospel. I find it curious- all around me is chaos and dismay; I can’t even watch the news these days- and yet, I feel insulated, loved, and even protected. It feels like nothing so much as a life raft. Instead of being in the icy rapids of the raging river, we’re on a raft. We get wet, yes, and we can see the crazy whitewater- yet we are floated over the hardest dips and jagged edges in our flexible and strong boat.

This is prayer. I know, with all my heart, prayers are the life raft. Prayers of loved ones, friends, and even strangers. Prayers from the rolls of Temples all across the country- these are what carries us over the hard rocks, and sustains our family.

Can I prove it? Could I convince my extended family? Nope. That doesn’t make it less true.

Last week, our kitchen sink exploded, and water seeped into all kinds of places it’s not welcome. We called a plumber, because we had to- again grateful for the low-balance credit cards. Mr Plumber got to work under my kitchen cupboard, twisting and banging, and shortly all was well. He was cleaning up and making to leave, when he approached my husband. He doesn’t know us, or anything about our situation- but Mr. Plumber looks at my husband, and says, “I don’t know you Mr. M. but the Lord has strongly impressed on my heart to tell you it’s all going to be all right. You and your family will be fine, and you are not to worry.

And with that he packed his tools and drove away.

David and I stood in the kitchen, wiping tears as we looked at each other over our new faucet, while the kids ran around our legs shooting each other with their water guns. Every time I turn on that faucet, watch the water safely cascade into the basin, I hear his words…

…it’s all going to be all right. You and your family will be fine, and you are not to worry…

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  1. Wow, Tracy. That’s so powerful and true. Thanks for showing us this. Good luck with everything. I’ll keep you in my prayers.

  2. You’ve got me wiping away tears too. Isn’t it amazing how He will put people in our lives – and such “mundane” reminders for the rough days as a supposedly simple faucet – to remind us of this during the tough times?

    Sure hoping the job search turns up something that is the perfect fit for your hubby and family – the icing on the cake would be some good medical coverage for you all. :-) As someone who’s been trying to learn about ASD’s for a long time, I know it can be expensive to just get an official diagnosis…. let alone to get access to the resources you need for your kiddos once you’ve got that. Many cyber-hugs to your whole family.

  3. Researcher says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful experience. Best wishes to you and your family.

  4. We are in a similar situation with unemployment. We too were prepared with savings, no loans, food storage etc. I look to the future and feel absolutely certain that things will work out for our good. I just wish I knew when. Some days are easier than others as I am sure you know. I applaud your faith and hope that the Lord will soon give you what you need.

  5. Tracy, your posts are always top-shelf. Thanks.

  6. I hope that this difficult situation will soon be resolved for you and your family.

  7. Now that’s the plumbing company I want to use!
    One of my friends would respond to awful events in his life with a big smile, and say, “Oh, the Lord’s gotta be planning one big blessing for us, because it doesn’t get much worse than this!”
    I think the tempest is about to calm, Tracy. You have been heroic.

  8. Steve Evans says:


  9. Interesting, how similar the feeling you have is to the feeling I have had in the middle of an earthquake, and hearing loved ones had suddenly died in a crash. That absolute feeling of being held in a protective bubble, or the feeling of peace, that all will work out. Must be coming from the same source. I’m sure you know Who I mean. What a beautiful experience! Thanks for sharing.

  10. Thanks for a very inspiring post. What a great way to start the week!

    I don’t want to be the guy who finds the cloud around the silver lining, but I have to ask about this statement:
    “At one temp-job, my husband broke his hand in some machinery. More medical bills.”

    You didn’t have to pay for any of the care related to this accident, did you? It seems like you shouldn’t have. (Steve Evans? Other lawyers here?)

  11. Wow, Tracy. I’m impressed by your positive attitude. I don’t think I would be able to be so upbeat in your shoes. Bless you.

  12. Tracy you are one one of my favorite bloggers. This post is topline.

    I wanted to agree with Mike in #10 about the fiscal responsibility of employers with employees hurt on the job.

  13. StillConfused says:

    I read this and think that perhaps other alternatives need to be considered. What is your husband’s profession? Is it something that could be freelanced? Does he really HAVE to work for someone else or can he form his own company and provide the services? Also, while an autistic child may make things harder, are you able to add to the bottom line? There are tons of at home computer based jobs (for instance, I pay my sister-in-law who has three small children to scan documents on her own schedule). Could it be that your husband’s profession is obsolete and he needs to change careers? Sorry for the practical response here — that is just how my brain operates.

  14. Thanks Tracy. You made me cry. Why does it always seem like the bad stuff happens in bunches?

  15. Tracy, this was wonderful. You are not only in a life raft, you are passing them out.

  16. Cynthia L. says:


  17. Wow.


  18. Kevin Barney says:

    Superb, as aways, Tracy.

  19. Tracy,

    Your posts always seem to be timed to when I need a positive lift, and are much appreciated. As one who has in the past gone through a couple of extended periods of unemployment in the past (but never for this long!), I sympathize with you and your family. Thanks for sharing, and helping us all learn to recognize the extraordinary blessings of the gospel.

  20. Thanks for this.

  21. The entire post was beautiful, but the ending is stunning. Thank you thank you!

  22. This is fantastic and wonderful, Tracy, Thanks so much. I don’t know if it’s any help, but you should know that most people would not be as well prepared financially or emotionally to handle this experience and it would most likely destroy their family. You and your family are a tremendous example and an inspiration. I doubt very much if my family could handle this as well as you have. And I absolutely love that plumber!

    BTW, as Mike alluded to, injuries that happen on the job should be covered by worker’s compensation. Email me if you have questions about this.

  23. Thanks everyone.

    Mike & MCQ, regarding the hand, the job was on the down low, and they simply offered him some cash to help for a few days- there was no paperwork, and thus no liability. His hand is healed, and we kind of look at it as the risk we took to get some cash. Lesson learned? Yeah, probably. We were able to get the ER to give us a reduced bill due to lack of insurance and income, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.

    As far as handling this, we haven’t always done it with grace, and have fallen flat on our faces more than once. I’m no saint, and neither is my husband- we just have been handed this, and what else are we going to do? You have to deal, even when you don’t want to. And believe me, some days I really don’t want to…

    Yeah, if anyone in Washington or Idaho needs a plumber, I know a guy who’s good…

  24. Moniker Challenged says:

    Your message was a perfect supplement to (or replacement for) the Sunday School lesson on adversity I sat in on yesterday. It is easily summed up quite completely as follows:
    1-Missourians are mean
    2-Adversity is good for you
    4- If adversity strikes it’s likely your fault (unless you’re a Mormon in Missouri)
    5- In case of adversity, read your scriptures, pray, go to church, and attend the temple, and repent

    I really longed for help jump starting my mental apply-this-to-me function. Your personal testimony of the peace you have felt and the presence of the Lord in your home during this time are just what I needed. Thanks!

  25. Moniker Challenged (#24) —

    Sorry for the threadjack, but it sounds like you might like J. Nelson-Seawright’s post on “back-row questions” for that Sunday School lesson, if you haven’t already.

  26. Tracy M, I am more determined than ever before to make sure we stop by and meet you face to face, the next time we’re in your area. Thanks for this beautiful post–and thanks for being the kind of people sensitive enough to trust in prayer, and recognize the grace contained in the parting words of loving stranger. Sometimes, those are the very best kind. May God continue to bless you and your family.

  27. Russell, we’ll have to have you guys and Marjorie and Mike over for some home cooking. I would love it.

  28. merrybits says:

    Wow. Just beautiful.

  29. #24 Moniker Challenged:

    One of my direct ancestors was killed at Haun’s Mill.

    You can therefore imagine what my primary concern was when I took a job in St. Louis.

    After eight years, I have to say that the meanest person I’ve met would probably only rate “average” from when I worked at Zions Bank corporate. On the whole, you’d have a hard time finding more kind, considerate, and compassionate Christian people anywhere.

  30. This was a great read. Thanks!

  31. Jeez, swift roundhouse to the tear ducts there at the end. Great post!

  32. Mommie Dearest says:

    I read this post late last night and couldn’t bear to be the first comment, because I simply couldn’t think of anything that needed to be added to it. It’s perfect. All my thoughts, even this morning, revolve around me and how maybe if I could learn to pray better…blah blah…but it’s not about me. I give you credit for your openness in sharing this all with us, and for the courageous way that you journey through .

  33. Aaron Brown says:

    Love this post, Tracy. Thanks.


  34. chelseaw says:

    What a beautiful story. Thank you.

  35. A powerful post whose artistry is surpassed only by its truth. Thanks so much for sharing!

  36. Dang, I was hoping he said “The Lord has strongly impressed me to not bill you for this repair.”


  37. Stephanie says:

    My husband and I are anticipating being in this boat shortly. He’s started looking for another job to prepare, but no luck yet. Scary stuff. Thank you for this post. It was what I needed to hear.

  38. c.biden says:

    “Can I prove it? Could I convince my extended family? Nope. That doesn’t make it less true.” Actually, it doesn’t make it true either. It’s your belief and you find it comforting to believe it.

  39. “I remember life before prayers were familiar and comfortable.” I loved everything about this article (including “holy hell”…never a better phrase!).
    Thank you for sharing. Consider this your notice that one more person is praying for you and your family…
    (oh, and I think I have a little crush on the plummer.)

  40. Thanks for this, Tracy.

    I am SO sorry for your struggles, but a tiny little part of me feels like so many hundreds would miss the blessings you distill so graciously through these posts . . .

    Then I lock the door on that tiny little part and go back to job praying. God bless you and yours, as you have blessed us and ours.

  41. Beautiful post. We will pray for you, too.

    We are having the third in a series of “Adversity” lessons this coming Sunday in RS. If someone, like me, wanted to share your story, would you object?

    Remington Arms in Ilion NY can’t find enough people to keep their jobs filled. Just an FYI.

  42. [nr], If someone wanted to share my story, I would not object. Heavens, I put it on teh interwebs- to quote my mother, I “care not a whit for my privacy and I’m an idiot…”. Just give me credit if you copy my writing, per any blog copyright.

  43. Wow. Having been in the extended unemployment boat, I completely sympathize. I have felt what you have so beautifully expressed – thanks for putting words to feelings I forgot I had.

  44. That plumber has some spiritual balls! I would have such a hard time telling a complete stranger something like that.

    Maybe that’s why I don’t get messages like that, come to think of it.

  45. AspieMom says:

    Wonderful post, Tracy. I am the mother of an autistic child. I would never have chosen this path, but I am so grateful to God for giving the opportunity to have this special person in my life. Prayers to you and your family. Are you in Washington or Idaho?

  46. I needed this. I know this story, I am in the middle of it right now (without the cool plumber part). I needed to hear this because I have begun to let the fear take over a bit. Okay, a lot. So thanks for the reminder to allow the Lord to hold us in His hand.

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