Unexpected: the story of my day

So, today did not go at all as I had expected it to go. With the weather bearing down last night, I had expected Nicole to have either a late start or no school today. And I rather expected Bekah to have no school as well. So I was really hoping to blow snow in the morning and then spend some time in the office reading, writing, and prepping for a wedding on Saturday and church on Sunday. Well, I got one right.

The morning started about 5:40 when the call came to announce that Nicole’s school would start 2 hours late. So we went back to bed for a bit until the kids woke up a bit after 6. Then we turned on the TV and started watching for news about Bekah’s school. When none came, we started getting ready to take her, and I started cinnamon rolls (from a tube) and then went out to clear the path at least to the van. I quickly realized that it would not be good to try and get out without first clearing the driveway, so I kept shoveling until I could get the car out of the garage to get the snowblower running.

The snowblower’s electric start cranked the engine once and then abruptly stopped.

Puzzled by the sudden death of the electric start, I realized that I did not have time to monkey with the thing, so I resolved to pull start it. No big deal, although I did notice that I was missing one of the two bolts that keep the blower in one piece. Noting that I would have to stop at the hardware store for the part, I had the blower was running in short order. But not for long. After pushing it out of the garage, as I pushed the lever to engage the auger, the thing suddenly jolted. The auger didn’t work. I had apparently blown a belt.

This was not a huge deal. I had a spare. So I went in to get a ratchet and then returned and changed the belt. Ten minutes later, I was back in business, and I knocked the driveway off in relatively short order. We were off to take Bekah to school a bit late, but we were off.

Normally, I take the interstate when taking Bekah to school. Today, as we merged into traffic, we were moving at 30 mph, but within just a couple of miles, things slowed down dramatically. Suddenly, we were moving at less than 10 mph. And it was that way for the next 5 miles or so. It took nearly an hour to get to Bekah’s school; it normally takes 15 minutes. We were 30 minutes late.

On the way home, we stopped so I could grab the bolt I needed for the blower. Since these two bolts have a tendency to vibrate loose and disappear in the snow, I bought two extras. And I accessorized each with a fender and a locking washer. Total cost: $2.53.

By the time we returned home, I had 30 minutes before we needed to leave again to get Bekah. So as Nicole and Drew went back inside to the warm, I went back to work. Strangely, though, there was what appeared to be a large puddle under it. Assuming that the puddle was snow being blown against the hot engine and running down with grease, grime, and rust, I replaced the missing bolt and pulled the cord. It fired immediately, and I quickly cleaned up the rest of the driveway. When I parked the blower to move the van, though, it died.

Not thinking much of the stall (the blower has a finicky safety), I returned to it and pulled the cord to start it again. The cord broke off in my hand. Oops. Now I had a broken electric starter and a broken starter rope. I was done blowing snow until I could replace the rope, so I went inside and waited to go get Bekah.

Fortunately, the John Deere implement is right up the road from Bekah’s school, so after picking her up, we stopped to grab some rope. At $.16 per foot (I needed roughly 4 feet), I decided to grab another spare belt. Total cost: $18.00.

Back at home and after lunch and a little break, I quickly removed the coil starter and brought it inside to thread the new rope. Once I had that done, I re-installed the assembly and started pulling, but for the first time in as long as I can remember, the thing wouldn’t start. Thinking I just wasn’t getting enough umph on the pulls, I started tinkering with the electric starter. After removing a couple of screws, though, I heard the jingle of something metallic landing on the garage floor. Uh oh. After looking around, I found a tiny little washer that needed to be returned to the inside of the starter motor. So I removed the whole motor and brought it inside to work on in the warmth.

It took a few minutes to get the motor back together, and I was back in business. So I returned once more to the garage, re-installed the starter, and hit the button to start the blower. Still no dice. So I hit the primer and noticed that it was sucking air rather than fuel. Looking in the tank, it was bone dry. So I picked up the gas can and poured some in. And that’s when I heard something trickling out on the floor: gas. The fuel line had cracked just above the shut-off valve.

Fortunately, I had some extra fuel line floating around from when the same thing had happened a couple years ago, so I cut myself a couple inches and replaced the broken length. When I couldn’t get one of the clamps back into place, I went and found one I had in my toolbox.

Another splash of gas, a touch of the button, and I was finally back in business.

So, what is the point of this rather rambling post? Well, besides relating the extraordinarily entertaining (or not) story of my day, I would point out that this is yet another example of a day which went terribly off course almost from the very beginning. And as frustrating as that can be, such days are also significant opportunities to allow grace to grow.

How do you deal with days that go completely to pot? I know I have a tendency to get frustrated and angry, even snippy. But could it be that it is those very days which are perhaps our greatest opportunity to experience God’s grace and demonstrate the same for others? I think it could be.

So the lesson I learned today (and maybe you will, too) is to be patient and embrace grace, even when everything around you is going absolutely wrong.

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