Thursday, December 26, 2013

Impossible to Find

I lost an ear ring this week, going from house to house at the Anderson family's progressive Christmas dinner. In hindsight I knew that clasp had been slightly loose when I put it on. After the party I removed the left ear ring and when I went to remove the other all I felt was my bare earlobe. I freaked out!

The next morning Kent called his mom & siblings. They hadn’t seen it. We went to the church house to see if we could find it where the festivities had ended. Kent went inside to search, I looked in the snow where we had parked the night before. "Maybe it fell off out here." I thought as I strained to find it in the slush.

Deep inside, I knew it was hopeless. The only way I would get that ear ring back would be through the Lord. I said a silent prayer. It wasn’t the first time I had prayed to find jewelry.

When I was a child I lost a metal vending machine ring somewhere in the grass. I had been doing somersaults and cartwheels at the neighborhood park and climbing on the metal stadium benches. By the time I realized the ring was gone, the only lights to search by were the ones on the ball diamond. I raked the lawn with my fingers everywhere, summoned playmates to help me, praying earnestly, but I never found that ring. I finally gave up the effort and sadly walked home. I thought to myself that just because my prayer wasn’t answered this time that didn’t prove that God was not listening. I knew He was.

Now decades later I would ask Him again, and my prayer was just as simple. "Please, please, please help me find it." I admitted to the Lord that I knew I would never find it on my own, but I also knew that He knew precisely where it was. I asked if He would please put it in a place where I could find it and that if He did so I would call it a miracle.

We went home and I sent out emails with a picture of the ear ring to the nieces and nephews to whose homes we had been, siblings who would have cleaned up and might have found it and anyone else I could think of. It was still missing.

Then the next day I was at the "W-store" and I opened my wallet at the checkout counter and began fishing for some coins and there it was. The matching ear my coin purse. I couldn’t believe it. How could it have gotten there? I know I didn’t put it there. It couldn't have randomly fallen into the smallest possible spot in my purse, a coin pocket inside a wallet whose only opening is a tiny slit between the teeth of its zipper?

I went home for the other ear ring, and with both cradled in my hand I knew it was the miracle I had prayed for. Something impossible for me to accomplish was granted to me from a loving Heavenly Father and His Son. Something seemingly small and insignificant by comparison to the creation of galaxies unnumbered.

God can do all things, (even the smallest of things) for the good of his children. He is the Good Shepherd leading us home, caring for His sheep. God was listening when a child offered up her simple prayer for help long ago at a ball park, and to that same child standing in snow covered boots in a deserted parking lot talking to the only one who could really help. I am so thankful to the Lord for helping me find my special wedding day jewelry. I am thankful I know He is always listening. It has made all the difference in the world.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Vegetable Oil Burners and Lamps

My guilt about the oil in my food storage going rancid drove me to find a way to recycle it rather than tossing the investment out the window. I found some interesting ideas on how to use it for fuel to cook indoors and for lighting a shelter. It may give off a slight odor, but in an emergency with no power, I will appreciate the light and cooking it offers. By the way, Buddy Burners (tuna cans stuffed with a roll of cardboard and filled with wax or animal fat) if used indoors will set off your smoke detectors. I needed to improvise a type of indoor burner using the old oil that didn't put off a ton of smoke.

Oil & Sand Burner
This burner is made from a tuna or cat food can by pouring oil into a can half full of sand. Using a toothpick for a wick you wrap it with cotton and stick it into the sand filled can of oil. I used a can with a low profile and inserted three wicks. It boiled water fairly quickly.

Vegetable Oil Lamp
This is as simple as placing a wick into a bottle, filling it with oil (or shortening) and lighting it. Wicks can be purchased at a hobby store, or made from twine wrapped around a thin piece of wire. I used a couple of nails and wired them together criss-crossed to create a stand for the bottom of the bottle and then attached the homemade wick. You can even wrap wire around the lip of the jar and make a handle to hang or carry it. Who says guilt is a bad thing?


I decided to give it a try. If it didn't work, oh well. Guess what? I made a car battery powered low watt spotlight. I will use this makeshift light if a power outage outlasts my candles, or we need to shelter inside a small room and don't have enough ventilation for candles. Let me walk you through how I did it. By the way, if I can do it, anyone can!

First, gather some supplies:

Light bulb in socket, and spare bulbs
Wire, high-resistance
Battery clamps
Wire connectors
Tools to strip the wires and to crimp the battery clamps onto the wire

Always use the same light bulb voltage as your battery. Since my car battery is 12 Volts, I used the 12 Volt bulbs in my landscape lights. In fact, I used the landscape light. You can also purchase small 12 volt bulbs and sockets at a radio supply store. LED lights draw the least amount of power from your battery, and are the brightest.

I used some old speaker wire we had laying around but you could use high-resistance door bell wire and anything in between.

Measure then cut the length of wire you need to extend from your car battery to where you will use the light. I plan to bring the car battery inside.

Separate the two strands of high resistance wire on both ends and strip them to expose the bare strands of wire.

Now strip the ends of the landscape light wires, to expose the bare strands of wire.

Then connect the landscape light wires to the ends of the high resistance wires using cap connectors.

Next, connect the battery clamps to the other end of the exposed wires and crimp down on the ends to secure the wire.

When you are finished test it out by connecting the positive and negative clamps to your car battery posts. The light should come on. If it doesn't you may have to replace the light bulb.

Consider how you will position the landscape light in the room. Will you mount it to a wall, hang it from the ceiling, attach it to a stand? Have the supplies on hand to secure the light into a useful position. You might also consider adding mirrors, white boards or reflective material, such as aluminum foil to better reflect the light.

Now you are ready to light up a room for reading or playing games while you wait for the power to be restored.