[ThisDay] God Saved Our Bacon

January 25th may not have the most posts from which to select, but it was interestingly challenging to pick the “winner” for this day. First, on this day ten years prior, I wrote about how special Jen is to me. That’s worth sharing again! But also on this 25th day of January I wrote about our Backyard Ice Rink escapades—a great family memory. AND, BEST of ALL… please read the highlighted post in the list of other posts on January 25th at the bottom of this story. It’s kind of amazing! (Remember the point of these repostings was to see if indeed life (or at least, my head) is cyclical? Well… just click that link! For now, though, please enjoy this great story of God—quite literally—saving our bacon!


God Saved Our Bacon

January 25th, 2009

It’s been a full week. Fuller than usual for some reason. (I’m not sure “fuller” is a word, but, in this case it seems to fit.)

Each day has ended very late, and been full of either lots of one thing, or many different things. But whatever the landscape of the day, each has ended with a very tired Greg’s head.

Yesterday was no exception. Perhaps only in that it was the day this week that I actually felt the most tired. (Tireder?) I got home from a long day of training people at the Apple store, tired, hungry, and ready to eat a (quiet?) dinner with my family.

Oh right… I have five kids ages ten and under… 🙂

So, it wasn’t quiet. It wasn’t even particularly pleasant. (Though the meal was fantastic. Nice job, Jen!) 🙂 I kept feeling more and more tired, more and more badder…

And that’s when God decided to save our bacon.

After finishing my dinner, and as the kids were still complaining, fighting, whining, and pretty much exhibiting every bad behavior known to mankind, a peculiar thought entered my mind: “I should make the kids some really special ice cream sundaes.” (Yep, you read that right.)

I remembered that we had a bucket of vanilla ice cream left over from Ian’s birthday party about a month ago, and even some cool toppings from that day. The kids had been horrible, Jen & I were fried – and not letting the nicest things come out of our mouths – and for some reason, the idea I had was to be ridiculously generous to our little hooligans.

Well, I acted on my strange impulse and got up and lined up four bowls on the table (for the oldest four) and began bringing out all the awesome toppings. Chocolate and strawberry syrups. Maraschino cherries, peanuts, and even coconut flakes. The kids were getting pretty excited!

Finally I grabbed the 5-quart bucket of ice cream and popped off the lid. And that’s where it got interesting.

I dipped the scoop into the bucket with a decent amount of force, as the ice cream promised to be pretty hard having just been removed from the freezer. What met my decent amount of force was a very unexpected, squishy, super-soft blob of almost completely melted ice cream!!! What??! I tested a few other areas, and indeed, the whole thing seemed like it was room temperature!

This was very disturbing, and NOT what I wanted at my then current energy level. But, with a freezer full of meats, veggies, and a few fruits (thanks to the generosity of friends and family, actually) … I knew I had to try and do something to save it.

I am no refigerator repairman, so I really had no idea where to begin. But I poked around, and did notice the fan was not blowing. That has meant in the past that it was frozen over. I pulled out all the contents of the freezer, with “Plan B” being to store them in a giant Rubbermaid container outside that night. When I got the panel off in the back of the freezer, I discovered that it had frozen over. I got out the hairdryer and melted away the ice… and the fan came back on!

After cleaning it out – what better opportunity would I have to do that?? – I put all the food back in, moved the fridge back in place, and in just a couple hours, all was back to normal. (The water dispenser had frozen up as well, but as I type this, the ice maker is back in full swing.)

That night – and again this morning – I was super thankful that God had (I believe) prompted me to first, bring peace and joy to our dinner table and our home with a special treat on an especially bad night, and as a very cool side-effect… he quite literally may have saved our bacon! Who knows when I would have checked the freezer again? Probably not till I saw a pool of water outside of it the next morning.

See, the that’s the cool part of the story. In the middle of an otherwise forgettable evening, God took a very simple (yet strangely generous) idea, and turned it into a rescue effort. And it worked. And he definitely gets the credit.

God really did save our bacon. 🙂



The Campbell Kiddos

It’s funny…

I’m really not OK with messes. But, I have kids. Several.

(And they are all really good at making messes!)

Sometimes—after I am able to calm myself down a bit—it makes me smile just to think what a sense of humor God has. He, being all-knowing, must know that I am fairly particular about the environment around me (clutter, noise, odors, textures… you name it!) and yet, I am father to six (beautifully messy) children.

The eight of us reside together in a relatively small home: three bedrooms and one bathroom. (Yes, we have just one bathroom.) Two oldest boys in one bedroom (with lots of other “stuff”), four youngest kids in the other room (with even more “stuff”) and Mom & Dad in the last room, with the rest of the “stuff”.

My wife is an amazing organizer. She loves to do it, too. People seek her advice and assistance when they want to organize things in their lives. And still, we never can seem to keep up. Piles dominate our living space (if we’re lucky enough to have things stacked neatly) and the moments when our floors, counters, tables, and even chairs and couches are not cluttered with various elements of material life are so rare that they are hardly worth mentioning!

Even more humorous, if you go back a generation, my mother-in-law is just amazingly disorganized in her spacial environments. I can’t even describe to you here how impossible it is to navigate her various domains. So, as my father-in-law says, Jen “comes by it honestly”. 🙂

So I have a wife who has a heritage of spacial disorder, and six children who don’t know how to put clothes or toys or books or anything back where it belongs…

This doesn’t seem quite right, does it?

But it is. I am in the right place. God knows me, and he wanted me—particular, obsessive, over-sensitive ME—to be husband and father to these people named Campbell.

I can’t help but laugh as I ponder these things!

So I can walk into the bathroom and find the towels strewn across the floor, bath toys damp from the previous night’s baths and showers, toothpaste over most parts of our small sink, and—more often than not—the toilet holding something that someone forgot to flush. Many times my natural, involuntary reaction is to clench up—OK, probably every time!—but usually I am able to calmly put things back the way I want them to be.

And sometimes, I’m even able to be thankful.

Recently, as I pushed aside soggy toys to get to my toothbrush, I thought, I’m glad for all these teeth to brush. I’m glad for a sink with cold, running water. I’m glad. I took effort, but the corners of my mouth lifted with a smile from deep within me.

Thankfully I do have one space that is somewhat spatially serene. My office is my “sanctuary” because, for the most part, I can keep that relatively organized and clutter-free. It’s a sure sign that I’m overly busy when you see piles or “mess” in my office space.

I really, really, really don’t like messes. Really. I almost can’t handle them.

But I am a blessed man. Surrounded by six children, and a wife who loves me.

Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
Children born to a young man
are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!

Psalm 127:3-5

Someday I may have a living space free of clutter. (Though, with Jen’s heritage…) 🙂

But now, even in the midst of the piles of clothes and toys, the sticky surfaces, the dirty dishes and forgotten food behind furniture, the mud, bathroom messes, and everything else—I have an abundant blessing that is worth the messes.

And for me, that’s really saying something!

May your life be full of messes, too.

House-i-versary: Ten!

Our House

April 25th is the day that we became home owners. The year was precisely one decade ago: 2003. Ten years of mortgage payments, tax payments, home owner’s insurance payments, home improvement and maintenance projects and cost…

Yippee! 🙂

But, it is still a fun day to celebrate.

This home is the only one that four of the Campbell children have known. Ten years is a long time to live in one place. (I think this might be the longest that I personally have lived at one address over my lifetime?) Much life has been lived in this domicile; and some, over that time, has been lived elsewhere, with Campbell hearts hoping to return to this place we call ‘home’.

The attic remodeling—now my office!

The attic remodeling—now my office!

In ten years we’ve reconstructed and deconstructed, repaired and replaced, upgraded and removed, laughed and cried, and we do not lack for anecdotal evidence of all of those things. (Some of which you can find here at this blog!)

I’m not entirely sure how we will celebrate this decade of residing here. We’ll think of something, I’m sure. (We do enjoy celebrations, commemorations…)

Kitchen Remodeling—Oct 2011

Kitchen Remodeling—Oct 2011

One thing that I love about this little parcel of land and this fairly old edifice is that we are part of a larger history. When we first purchased the home and then obtained the deed to this property, I truly enjoyed reading through the history of our home. Who owned it through the years; the agreement with one of the neighbors that the owner of this land could cross several other owners’ lots to reach the community well—that being, perhaps, my favorite—and just knowing that much more life had happened here at this place we now call “ours”.

Our Yellow House

Who knows how much more life will be lived here in this spot? We can’t know. Perhaps another decade? The rest of our lives on this planet? Maybe just a short while longer? You just never know.

But I do know that today marks ten years in our Little Yellow House. Our ten-year house-i-versary.

I wonder what memories will be reminisced on April 25th, 2023…

The Defeat of the Vile Black Sludge Monster!

The battle was fierce, lasting a few days, culminating with a full day of intense action. The Monster would win one battle, and then another. (And then another…) But I was resilient. I persisted, pushing through adversity after adversity.

At one point, after several humiliating defeats in the protracted fray, I began to feel my will to fight slipping away. It was then that I reached out to a fellow soldier who had passed through many such battles before me. He gave me just the tactics and inspiration that I needed for the final push.

In the end, through sheer power of will, I was victorious over the evil, vile, Black Sludge Monster and he was banished to that horrid place from whence he came; disintegrated into eternal oblivion!


I had a really bad drain clog in my bathroom sink. I finally decided to have a go at unclogging it. I fished a wire hook down the drain, only to come up empty. So I removed the trap under the sink… gross!! Bad smelling, cloudy water with flaky black stuff in it dumped out into the bucket I had there to catch whatever came out. I cleaned all that out and replaced the trap.

When I ran the water, it was still clogged. And, now, thanks to me moving the trap, the seals no longer held. Very bad leaking!! Ugh. Now I had two things to fix!!

It was too late to get to the store before bed time, so I just left the sink undone and instructed my fellow cohabitants to desist from any sink usage until further notice.

Then this happened.

So, after a brief health emergency break, I finally got to a hardware store for a new trap. I replaced the trap and… voila! Oh wait… It’s STILL LEAKING!!!

Frustrated, I decided that I had to get some office work done, so I left the still-clogged, leaking drain and reminded everyone to use it as little as possible. (At least it was leaking less?)

As I complained to my friend and co-worker over instant messages about my predicament, he suggested I try to focus on the clog first instead of the leak. Perhaps the leak was simply because the clog wasn’t letting the water go where it is supposed to go. Good thoughts.

So, properly inspired, I headed back for a final push.

I had read a blog post by his wife (she’s a famous blogger!) about drain care not more than a few days earlier, so what he was describing was familiar, and I had intended to do that after fixing the leak. As she describes in her post, I boiled a large pot of water, poured it down the drain (it SLOWLY drained down) then I dropped a good amount of baking soda down and poured vinegar in after it.

FUN! Do you remember making tiny volcanoes this way when you were younger?? I forgot how much fun this was! 🙂 And it sure did seem like it could eat/clean away anything in its path.

Sadly… our problem was a tad bigger than a one-trick fix.

A second pot of boiling water did not show any progress. (In fact, I think it was slower.) So I tried again. Baking soda/vinegar/boiling water. Still slow. Painfully slow. A third time… a fourth…


Finally, slightly exasperated, but still properly inspired, I filled the sink with regularly hot water and grabbed my plunger. I covered the air flow hole with my left index finger and began to plunge…

Three quick pulls later I heard a marvelous, wondrous sound! A loosing of the terrible drain demon and a pleasant sucking sound…


Oh, joy! Oh wondrous, fabulous joy!!!

Then I looked in the tub.


It seems that the Black Sludge Monster can not be defeated quite so easily! This horrible, awful (copious) abundunce of dark, thick, black sludge was sitting in my tub around the drain. Lots of it.

I ran the water in the sink to see if the clog was really gone, and the water disappeared down the drain immediately. That was good; one great victory one. Glancing again at the tub, though, I discovered that the water was being directly routed toward the tub drain. As the water entered the sink drain, it came up the tub drain. (Really! As fast as it went down it came up!)

Oh boy…

So, after sucking up the gross stuff with my wet/dry vac, I went to work with what remained of my baking soda and vinegar supplies on the tub drain. Boiling water (ridiculously slow drain—though the tub drain had been free flowing before I plunged the sink drain), followed by baking soda, vinegar (fun!) … short wait, then more boiling water.

Nothing. VERY slow drain.

OK… I’m done with this, Black Sludge Monster! BACK to where you CAME FROM!!!!, I screamed.

Grabbing my weapon (plunger), I filled the tub with a little more water, plugged the air flow with a wet rag and went to work. Slightly more stubborn than the sink, it took a few more aggressive plunges but…


That lovely sucking sound, followed by watching the stopped water flow quickly down a beautiful swirling spiral, through the newly sparkling clean drains (thanks to the massive amounts of baking soda and vinegar used on them!) and out of my house!

I tested both the tub and sink drains and they both performed marvelously.

The Black Sludge Monster put up a dastardly valiant fight, but… I was victorious!

Thanks to perseverance, good (smart, inspirational) friends, and …

My plunger!


The Surface Issue

I have discovered a problem here in the Campbell home. It’s quite prevalent, affecting most members of the household.

Surfaces abhor a vacuum?

I know, I know. That’s not exactly the famous phrase. The slight variation though is definitely true in this home!

Is it that way for you? Do you find that any flat surface in your house is quickly filled up by all sorts of random goodies? The day’s mail, a book or a toy (or three), yesterday’s snack, last week’s underwear…

You get the picture.

EVERY time we clear of a flat surface in an attempt to de-clutter—to create a more simple, more beautiful space—within seconds something has been placed there to start the clutter parade. And it’s quick. It’s like a ultra-strong magnet, drawing anything light enough to be carried to the level of the available surface, and it doesn’t stop until there’s no more surface to be seen.

This used to also happen with our floors, but it seems as we have been diligently eliminating “stuff” from our home, that is happening at least a tad less often.

Surface, Oh Surface

But wherever you go, it’s true you know
That a surface abhor’s a vacuum
Both high and low, to and fro
You’re sure to find a sacked room

For surface you see is just the place that we
Seem to fill our deepest longings
For short or for long, at times with a song
Flat places are just where you store things

I think that might need to be posted on a wall of the Campbell home. Maybe all of them. It accurately describes our condition, our issue: We have a surface issue.

I’d guess any other large family reading this has a similar problem, but please… if you have discovered a solution, some way to keep at least some of your surfaces clutter-free… please explain in the comments below. Email me if it’s too private to share publicly.

Hi, we are the Campbell family, and we have a surface issue.

Now that we’ve admitted it … WE NEED HELP!!!

Maybe we are just doomed to this cluttered surface life forever. Perhaps there is no cure. I mean, right now I can’t seem to find the cause. It’s really just sort of magical! One minute you get it clean the next it’s got a whole new collection of surface cover!

Maybe our surfaces are just cold … they need to cover up?

If you know a way out for us, we’d love to hear it.

For now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go clean off a couple surfaces… 🙂

Mastering Money or Money Is Master?

Dave Ramsey - Total Money MakeoverA couple conversations of late have reminded me of a book I read a while back (at the recommendation of a friend who had really loved it) regarding the management of money.

It was (and is) particularly relevant as we are facing mountainous debt (accumulated over many years, and some the result of “questionable” business practice by others…) and God convinced us that trusting him even more—by only spending money when we actually have it—that life would go even better for us. Or perhaps better stated, that life would continue to get harder if we didn’t do that.

(If you like reading, see this post, and this one, too. Good historical accounts of God’s direction for us.)

So in recent conversations, I’ve been very encouraged that people are getting smarter about money. Maybe not everyone. And maybe the people I’ve been talking with recently have always been smart. But either way, it’s so nice to see the results of diligence and wisdom in money management.

A friend of mine told me today that their house would be completely paid off this year, and both of their cars by next year. Debt free. All by the age of 35. That’s awesome. Other friends tell similar stories, and almost always it is a result of being smart with the money you have.

Our culture has for too long thought that you could spend money you’d make later. (Just look at how our government, from federal down to local, handles money and budgets!) That just doesn’t really work. In a way, it seems there’s no other way to purchase something as large as a house, but we’ve heard stories of young adults who have saved up to purchase their first home with cash (and did!) so we’re already starting Ian (our oldest) on such a savings path. Rather than instant gratification—enjoy now, pay later—Ian is learning the value of saving, which in the end means you keep much more of your money, and usually get to enjoy the things you wanted to anyway. And more!

We are coming up on three years of not adding any debt to our existing debt. That means that the overall amount is coming down. That’s fantastic. And it’s fun to hear real-life examples along the way.

Do you have one? Feel free to share it here. Hope you, too, are your money’s master, rather than the reverse.

The Unexpected

Sometimes in life we go along thinking that we really know what’s going to happen. We know how the day is going to go, how the week is going to go. We have it mapped out, and it works quite nicely, thank you very much.

At times, life plays along, and for the most part, our plans are accomplished.

Most of the time, it doesn’t seem to work out that way for me.

It’s usually nothing catastrophic, or life-changing, though sometimes it can be. More often it’s something unexpectedly breaking, or even just a series of “reschedulings” and cancellations by others around you (or even by you) that throws your whole plan out of whack. Doesn’t everyone have a copy of the script?!?

Today I’ve been fixing stuff again. Stuff that’s supposed to “just work” on its own, but sadly, picked today to stop playing along. It’s costing time, money, and plenty more time.

On the other hand…

I woke up today, and so did all of my family. My house is still here (and at least “sort of” in my name). My in-laws are visiting, which the kids love, and is allowing both Jen & I to get some more work done. God continues to provide money for us to buy what we need.

AND, my air conditioner works. (That’s actually no small thing for my third-story office on an 80-degree day!)

All in all, life is grand, even when it doesn’t follow the plan. (Hmm, if that were a bit more succinct, it could be on a t-shirt or something…)

Here’s hoping today that you remember the “unexpected” will almost certainly happen to you. If not today, then this week. If not this week, well… then you’ve probably already learned to expect the unexpected.