“The worst ice storm in years!”
“The coldest weather DFW has ever seen this time of year!”
These are just some of the phrases floating around social media and local news over the past few days here in Dallas/Fort Worth. It has been the coldest, iciest weather I can remember in DFW. It started on Thursday with freezing rain and sleet, coming down in droves, for a solid day. And here we are, Monday morning, and about 2% of it has melted. Literally entire freeways are shut down. People have been stranded on the highway for days. No one can go anywhere. Schools are shut down. Businesses are shut down. Churches didn’t meet this weekend. Needless to say, this would be the absolute WORST time for your heater to go off.
Which is exactly what happened to us.
Last week was Thanksgiving and the kids and I spent a few days with my family while my husband had to stay behind and work. (Don’t worry, he got to come out and spend Thanksgiving day with us!) When we got back home last Sunday, he told me that the heater had been making strange sounds and that I should tell our landlord. My first thought? “Oh Lance, you and your worries. I’m sure it’s nothing.” I almost said it but something (which I now know was nothing other than God Himself) told me to call our landlord immediately. So I did. I never do that. In the past when we have had the inevitable little problems that arise in a home (water heater going out, toilets on the fritz, etc.), I’ve always waited a few days to call. Perhaps out of a fear of sounding like a whiner, but whatever the case, I NEVER call immediately when a problem starts to arise. But this time, I did. Never having even heard the heater make the sound myself, I called.
The landlord sent someone out that night to look at it. Sure enough, it was dying. He said we needed to order an entirely new unit! (Wait, what?) The weather had been predicting the ice-apocalypse that was headed our way for a few days so I asked the repairman if we could get a new unit before it hit. He assured me we would. The weather was due to hit overnight Thursday going into Friday. He said we would have a new unit by Thursday.
So when the sleet started at 2pm Thursday afternoon, I knew the prospects of a new heater were slim. But no worries, it was still working, it was just making weird, loud sounds. But those weird sounds got weirder and weirder and louder and louder. By Friday evening the heater would kick on for about 3 minutes and then shut off again for hours. But oddly enough, it never got arctic in our house, despite the temperatures in the teens and wind chills below zero outside.
We called the landlord again to tell her what was going on. I could tell she felt really bad. I didn’t want her to – it’s not like she planned this perfect storm of freezing weather and a dying heater. Nonetheless, she asked her repairman to brave the icy roads and come see if there was something he could do to keep it going. He came on Saturday, worked some magic, and got it up and running again. He said he thought it would hold out until he could get the new unit here on Monday. But again, it still wasn’t arctic in our house.
The “fix” was short-lived and our heater died again. Lance and I were worried sick about our kids. We have two pathetically small space heaters and we kept them on in their rooms at night and rotated them around the house during the day in the areas we were using the most. We each separately laid hands on the heater (unbeknownst to each other) asking God to keep it going. We laughed when we both, embarrassed, admitted to each other that we were laying hands on our heating unit. Every time it would try to come on, I would start my 9-1-1 prayer, begging God, “Please, oh please, oh please keep it on! Let it work this time!” Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn’t. But still, the house wasn’t cold.
I was tired of begging God to keep the heater running and tired of feeling like sometimes He answered and sometimes He didn’t.
By Sunday night, I was frazzled and tired. I was tired of worrying about our kids, tired of praying like a dying woman every time the heater tried to come back on. I was tired of begging God to keep the heater running and tired of feeling like sometimes He answered and sometimes He didn’t.
Our sweet neighbors offered to let us sleep at their house last night (Sunday). Lance and I talked about it and as we did, I realized something – it had never really gotten cold in our house, despite the fact that we hadn’t had a heater for days and the temps were at record cold. Then it hit me. I had been praying all weekend for the heater to keep coming on. I had been riding a roller coaster of ups and downs – elated when it would come on, disappointed and upset when it didn’t. But never once on that roller coaster did I stop to take into account that we had never gotten cold. In fact the temperature gauge on the thermostat never went below 68º. And most of the time it stayed around 72-73º. It was a miracle. A true, no reason this should have happened, bonafide miracle. And the miracle made me realize that often we pray for something specific like “keep our heater on” when all we really need to do is say, “God, I trust You to keep our house warm, heater or not.”
How often could we apply that to our prayers in life? More often than not, I would imagine. When we have financial problems, it’s easy to pray to win the lottery. Sure, that would solve your problems (maybe), but what’s the real need there? The real need is for God to provide for and protect your family. Perhaps that’s what we should be praying. Because miracles don’t always (or ever) come in the form we think would be best (and thank God!). When we have a sick loved one, we often pray for their illness to be healed. And while I know healing happens all the time, and there is a time to pray for healing, sometimes we need to just pray that God would deliver them in His way. And sometimes that deliverance may even mean death. I’m not saying this to sound crass or callous. I’m saying it to point out that God’s ways are bigger than our own and infinitely better than we could imagine.
Our little ice-capade has given me a new perspective on what miracles really are. And as I sit here at my computer typing this blog on what should be ice-cold keys on the keyboard, I’m marveling in the warmth of my un-heated house, and resting in the warmth of the miracle that took place when I wasn’t expecting it.
We are a blessed house, indeed.
Isaiah 55:8 – “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
Left – Icicles on our house, some of them as long as two feet!
Center – The ice so thick it looked like snow. 4-6 inches in some areas.
Right – Virgil “helping” daddy try to dig the car out of the ice.