Tag Archives: water

Mother and Gumption

I’m sitting at my computer, towel wrapped around my conditioned, but unrinsed, hair; sitting here, thinking about my mother and how she gave me the gumption to do this.

By “this” I do not mean sit here and type with a towel wrapped around my head. The situation is a little more sticky than that. You see, I have no running water at my house. Except that twice a day, for 15-20 minutes, the water runs. In that time period, we wash our dishes, fill our pitchers, and try to get everyone through the shower. This has been going on for 12 days. And it led to my current predicament.

It was my turn in the shower, and the second I was covered in soap and conditioner, the water stopped. Just like that. No warning. No “Better be quick!” slowdown. It was just gone. I yelled, “NO! I’m covered in conditioner and soap, and there’s no more water!” My ever-helpful husband arrived on-scene with an immediate, and undesirable, solution.

At this point, you need to know that my bathroom is fully occupied by 5-gallon, not-so-clean pails of not-so-clean, cold water which we use to flush toilets and meet other similar water demands.

Ever-helpful Husband said, “I’m going to pour a pail of water over you and rinse it off.”

“No! No you aren’t! I will wrap a towel around my head and wait for the water to come back again.”

He just looked at me. We both knew that could be a long wait. In an effort to sound less ridiculous and more solution-minded, I told him that the water was COLD and not-so-clean. You get what I’m saying, right?! Who wants a pail of cold (not-so-clean) water dumped over their head (unless it’s a sweltering 95 degrees and you know you’re going to shower later)? He still just looked at me.

“Okay, fine, I’ll use that water, but I’m doing it MYSELF, with a pitcher, except for my hair, ” I said. “I’m still wrapping a towel around my head and waiting for the water to come back on!”

So here I am, towel-wrapped head, thinking about Mom. I know I get that stubbornness from her, but I’m really thinking about all the things she faced head-on in life. She was a do-it-yourselfer before it was trendy. Not because that’s what made her tick, but because she didn’t have an option.

My father worked hard, but we never had much money. He was a highly educated blue-collar man who lived in a little house with his wife and seven children. My creative-brained mother was always figuring out new and better ways to utilize the space and keep us all organized. She plastered and puttied, painted, sanded and varnished, sometimes late into the night, to get the job done.

She cooked on a stove that sat in the middle of the dining room for weeks while the kitchen was remodeled–a tiny closet of a kitchen in which she somehow functioned with all of her children helping by her side. For several years when money was too tight to vacation east to see our grandparents, we camped in state parks close to home while Mom cooked over the open fire, Dad read to us, we washed our hair with frigid water under pumps, and we made inexpensive but precious family memories. Mom never stopped opening her home to everyone, especially those she thought in need of friendship, family, or food, even when all she could offer was scrambled eggs.

I learned from my mom that God is sovereign–she never lets up on that theme. Both the good and the bad (our perception) come from His hand for our good and His glory. She never let me fret, but always directed me to prayer, because it’s God’s pleasure to answer the prayers of His people.

My mom taught me how to be frugal, that no job was beneath me, and that it’s better to do it yourself than complain about it not getting done. It wasn’t a can-do attitude that never accepted help, but one that was accepting of her lot in life. Many times in my adult life, I have spurred myself on by the thought that if Mom could do it, I can too. I think she always seemed fearless and strong-willed, though the perspective brought by nearly 25 years of motherhood myself leads me to believe that it was a confidence in Christ and determination to make the most of any given situation. No obstacle ever seemed too big to overcome, no person too unworthy to receive the benefit of the doubt.

That’s what I mean by gumption. All these synonyms apply–initiative, resourcefulness, ingenuity, imagination, mettle, fortitude, courage. I’m not saying that I actually have it, but I know my mother did. And watching her for years has encouraged me to be thankful in all circumstances, to make the most of every situation, to persevere whatever the difficulty, and to know that every good thing is a gift from God.

So I’m sitting here grateful for the mother I have and the water we get, with this towel growing ever-heavier, knowing that if the water doesn’t come back, I’ll be dunking my head in a bucket. Somehow that just seems better than having it dumped on me.

©Erika Rice 2017

Living Water

For 6 years I lived in a house where water ran in short supply. Some days a single flush of the toilet would drain the well dry. Circumstances like that tend to create a hyper-sensitivity to water’s source, supply, and squandering.

When I arrived in Jordan last month, I watched the vegetation grow scarce as I ascended up out of the Jordan River valley. I saw virtually no signs of water during the hours I journeyed south to the town of Petra. By the time I arrived, it was impossible for me to flush the toilet without wondering where the water would come from to refill the tank. I welcomed a shower, but reverted to my old water-saving habits. I wanted to know where the water came from in a place that averages 4-6 inches of rainfall per year.


Then I stood on top of Mount Nebo, opposite Jericho, where the Lord showed Moses all the promised land before Moses died. Overcast skies prevented me from seeing all that Moses saw, but my limited view showed me inhospitable desert land. My thoughts went straight to water. The people of Israel wandered in that wilderness. The people complained because there was no water.

“The people grumbled at Moses, saying ‘What shall we drink?'” (Exodus 15:24). “But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses” (Exodus 17:3a).

Looking toward Jericho from Mt. Nebo
Looking toward Jericho from Mt. Nebo

On it went as they wandered. I looked, and I related. I do not know that I would have done better than they. They who tasted God’s provision day after day. They who saw His power in so many miraculous signs, the power of a God who patiently waited for them to trust Him to meet each need. Every day he gave them food. Every time they thirsted, He provided them water to drink.

Then I think about Jesus telling a Samaritan woman at a well, where she had come to draw water, that “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14). She immediately wanted the water He offered. And when she ran to tell others about the one she’d met and what he’d said she left her jar of water sitting by the well, never giving it a thought. Can you imagine a promise like that to people living in a thirsty land? To never thirst again? Unthinkable. And so desirable.


God’s people spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness, learning to desire One greater than a drink of water and trust Him fully. God wanted the people to see that He, Himself, was the stream of living water, quenching all their thirst, meeting all their needs. I have lived where there is no water, and have learned that there is One more desirable.  One who meets my every true need, the very needs of my soul. I have drunk the living water and have found His promise true. May I never thirst again for water that doesn’t satisfy. 


© Erika Rice 2014