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Paying the Bills

By Kathleen Kjolhaug                            

Is it just me? Or has paying the bills turned into an all day affair these days?

I don’t remember it being like this in days gone by. Balancing the checkbook, paying a few bills that would dribble in now and again used to take some time, but not like it does now. Flat out, it’s a time sucker upper.

Making sense of the statements that arrive on time, automatically consumes much of my time because it’s not automatic for me. I must set plenty of time aside in order to focus. 

What started my hissy fit isn’t the fact that I have bills. We live; we pay bills, nothing new with the concept. However, when I opened up one bill this past month, and presidentially combed through each line item, I noted a $25 charge from a particular book store. Next to the amount were the words, “Automatic annual membership renewal fee.”

They had charged my credit card in order to renew that which I’d specifically asked them not to during my last visit to said store. Apparently, their automated service was on auto pilot, and they automatically took my money without my permission.

That is the difference in mind set from “back in the day” to those who are maneuvering the money management mindset of today. When exactly was back in the day? It was precisely the time in which you actually had to sign a statement to allow people to take your money. It was when you said “no” and they didn’t automatically charge you anyway. It was when your money was your money, and not anyone else’s just because you had some and someone else wanted it.

It was the principal of the overall operation of automation that bothered me. That amount would have gone unnoticed had I not been diligent in taking the time to look over my bill.

Perhaps I will never go that store again...or...perhaps I will. I haven’t made up my mind yet. But I will tell you one thing, if I do enter, it will be as a customer who will choose when and how to spend my money by not allowing them to automatically take while it’s still mine.

How did I resolve this incident? I called the number that was attached to the statement, and they promised to refund that which they took. Of course it will take up to thirty days as that, too, is automatic. So, the good news is that while it was mine...it’s apparently still mine...but not quite yet.

I thought it was sort of fun to read 2 Chronicles 20:15 in the middle of my muddled mess. “This is God’s war, not yours. Tomorrow you’ll go after them; see they’re already on their way up the slopes...You won’t have to lift a hand in battle, just stand firm...and watch God’s saving work for you take shape.” 

Stand firm. Watch. The battle is His. It belongs to the Lord.  Amen.


Waters Rising

By Kathleen Kjolhaug  

I entered our home one day to the tune of a hollow whirring noise beckoning from the basement. My first inkling was to check out the odd sounding echo coming from the chamber of the vent nearby. As I am an organizer, my first order of duty was to finish unpacking that which I’d hauled in from my vehicle. Thus, I delayed checking it out.

One thing led to another, and as I opened the refrigerator door, I noted the water pitcher needed refilling. Over to the sink I went flipping on the faucet. When nothing erupted from it, I instinctively remembered the odd noises!

Within seconds, I was not only standing at the top of the basement steps looking down upon cement walls filled with murky water, but quickly noted that electrical cords were dangling within it.

One phone call was all it took for the voice on the other end to direct me to the fuse box on the back porch. With the flip of a switch, the pump shut off, halting the flow of water coming in. 

That was the beginning of the trials bursting forth...so to speak. Not having water within the house was one thing, but as the farm animals were also dependent on that pump...well that set into motion a whole new set of circumstances.

As temps dipped precariously low outside, we noted that within the temps were dipping rather quickly as well. Apparently, electric furnaces sitting upon basement floors do not like waters rising through them.

“Just open the oven door, that’ll keep us warm until we can get it replaced,” remarked the brain with the brawn flying from one end of the house to the other managing tasks I knew not how to. I did as he requested and hovered close by keeping warm just as he suggested.

Later, when things had simmered down, we managed a conversation about the situation.

“Actually, it’s a miracle,” he reminded. “Remember that furnace went out a couple of weeks ago and the part needed was under still under warranty? Well, rather than replace the whole thing, we only invested a couple hundred that round. Had we put a whole new furnace in at that time, we would be looking to replace it again...a mere couple weeks later!”

“And, look at this,” he stated as he plopped the burst joint of a pipe the plumber had replaced. “Here’s the culprit of the whole problem. Plumber said he’d never seen anything like it!”

As I picked up the metal piece, before me was one elbow where the water had to pass in order to connect to the other main lines it was to travel. One side of it looked solid enough, but when I flipped it over, the metal had been wearing away within and, it burst. A quarter sized hole stared back at me.

What was meant to move liquid on through had actually worn right through. And, because it hadn’t been tended to, all the pressure from within came out and into the basement, wreaking havoc as it did.

Miracles are messy. Knowing it could have been worse made it so much better. Calling it what it was, a miracle, helped us to see it more clearly and to recognize the protection all around. Even in the midst of the disaster, it put the focus back where it should be...on Him. 

After all, it does not say to give thanks for all circumstances, but rather to “be thankful in all circumstances” (1 Thes. 5:18).  Amen.