Cartoon found via Google

This past spring we had a plumbing problem. Our kitchen sink wasn’t draining properly so we got out the plunger, washed down baking soda with vinegar, pushed a wire hanger through the pipe, and even resorted to emptying our neighbor’s Drano Max Gel clog remover (no subliminal product placement intended) down the hole.

Unbeknownst to us while we were fighting the plugged drain upstairs, water was backing up and spurting out of a pipe downstairs.

When I went down later it was quite the shock to see water pooling in our storage room. Thankfully the floor is concrete. It only took a few hours to remove our stuff and dry the floor so I admit right away that this was nothing like the flood Rock Valley experienced in 2014 when people had water in their basement up to the floor joists and there was extensive damage in over 150 homes throughout our city. That was a disaster; what Monica and I experienced in our house was only a mild inconvenience by comparison.

An expert plumber from Oostra Plumbing, Heating & AC (not-so-subliminal business recommendation intended) quickly had our drain issue fixed. Judging by the debris that was mixed in the water, he figured our problem was connected with our garbage disposal. In the water we mopped up, we identified pieces of vegetable scraps that had gone down the drain. Those carrot and cucumber bits accurately reported what had recently been on our menu.

The pieces of food floating in the water giving evidence to what we had eaten reminds me of evidence of something else: A lot of words flood out of my mouth on a daily basis. What kind of debris is mixed in with those words? I suspect that a lot of what I read, what I watch, what I listen to, and what I think about gets mixed in. So if I’m listening to stuff with objectionable content or surfing the internet to places better avoided, eventually evidence of that will appear in things I say – whether it’s using foul language, speaking ill and inaccurately of individuals or people groups, or just having a negative tone.

On the other hand, soaking up good and wholesome things will result in me saying more good and wholesome words. Time spent playing games with family or reading a story to my children, time spent in the Bible or in prayer – these sorts of things keep my language positive and helpful.

Just as I’m going to be more conscious about what goes into the garbage disposal, it wouldn’t hurt to be more conscious about what goes into my mind. I suspect that will keep undesirable debris in my daily flood of words to a minimum.

::– –::– –::

I wrote this column for The Rock Valley Bee back in May. Since then we have received lots of advice about garbage disposals and we promise to never put coffee grinds or egg shells through one again.

In (but not of) the Vancouver riot

The riot following Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs between the Canucks and Vancouver hockey riotthe Bruins a few weeks ago shamed the city of Vancouver.  The resulting mess continues to keep its citizens busy cleaning up and the police identifying the instigators.

Had I been there, I likely would have tried to get as far away as possible.  And I probably would have been smug about it, too: The police didn’t anticipate the violence? I can hear myself saying incredulously.  Come on!  NHL hockey is a violent Vancouver hockey riotsport.  Off the ice, you’d get thrown in jail for the injuries hockey players get away with inflicting.  As the fans are fed this diet of violence, how can you not expect them to become violent themselves?  They’re imitating what their heroes are modelling!  And I’d return to the safety of my home, blaming Vancouverites for their own problems and glad that I wasn’t one of “them.”

Then, while I was in Abbotsford a couple weeks ago, I heard Pastor Sid Couperus from Trinity Christian Reformed Church preach.  In his sermon he touched on the Vancouver riots and asked something to the effect of what the city would have been like that evening if there were more courageous Christians in the crowd seeking the wellbeing of the city.  What if Christians took the lead in saying, This is evil and I will not turn a blind eye to it ?  What if throngs of Christians stood in the way of hooligans trying to break into stores and set cars on fire?  What if every Christian refused to tolerate fans refilling their Tim Hortons and 7-Eleven Big Gulp cups with liquor?  Could we have been the presence of Christ and made a difference in downtown Vancouver?

In other countries people riot against oppression or for equality while in Canada we don’t do any of that… unless it’s over a hockey game.  I still think that’s shameful and that NHL hockey violence needs to be addressed.  But now I wonder whether you or I could have made a difference but would have chosen to walk away instead.

Photos from
CBC News.