When you discover your toilet in the bathtub

We couldn’t find our toilet. We noticed it had been removed, but it wasn’t anywhere in the garage. And then later, I walked further into the bathroom and there, partially hidden behind the shower curtain, stood our toilet. In our bathtub.

All photos: Marlys

Two weeks ago, we returned from a full day out of town to find water running out of our house into the garage. A cold-water pipe had come loose beneath the prep sink in our kitchen island.

The flooding was minor, but enough to warrant pulling up flooring, baseboards, and trim in half the kitchen, the mudroom, around the corner to a bathroom, and into part of the family room.

Water got into one of the heating/air ducts and today, the Heating & Air Guys pumped 43 gallons of water out of the ducts. (Prior to this, six gallons was their record.)

Enough damage was done to necessitate transplanting the toilet into the bathtub, relocating the kitchen stove so now it disrupts the flow of traffic, and keeping eight high-powered fans and two dehumidifiers running day and night for several days—a sound similar to that of a jet taking off, give or take a few decibels.

Stove blocking the flow of kitchen traffic
Jet engines doing their work drying out the mudroom

It’s what you would refer to as a First World problem.

Counting what remains

In her book, Waymaker, Ann Voskamp wrote about taking up a dare from a friend to record one hundred gifts from the Giver:

… and I had been fool enough to do it. I’d seized a pen and wielded it like a weapon against the dark and jotted down gifts, moments of grace, throughout the day.

Ann Voskamp

It was Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, that inspired me to start keeping gratitude lists during the season of facing widowhood after dealing with loss of home and financial setbacks and cancer.

  1. Family, friends, and co-workers surrounding us with so much love and support as my husband is dying
  2. Getting to live in this beautiful town at the foot of the Cascades
  3. A meaningful job at the cancer center
  4. This tiny, cozy place we call home
  5. Flickering light of Salted Butterscotch candle
  6. Ability to get out of bed on my own
  7. Anticipation of Christmas
  8. Knitting soft, fuzzy scarves as gifts
  9. Snow falling
  10. Christmas Eve service bathed in candlelight

Actually, the list is quite long.

I learned back in those days to count what remained instead of counting all that was slipping away.

Counting God’s benefits

David, a shepherd boy turned king, wrote a beautiful song that is nothing but praise and blessing to the Lord for His love and mercy and grace. Verse 2 reads like this:

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

Psalm 103:2

If I were to list God’s benefits despite this small, wet mess, here’s how part of that list would read:

  1. An intimate relationship with my heavenly Father
  2. Dan—this new husband who thinks the world of me
  3. Friends who are like family, and family who are engaged in our lives
  4. Peach raspberry pie
  5. The joy of hiking tall mountain trails
  6. Aroma of pumpkin scones hot out of the oven
  7. Sound of water falling over rocks
  8. Laughter
  9. Blindingly blue skies
  10. Promise of spring

This list, also, runs a long way.

Fighting for joy

Voskamp’s quote from Waymaker continues:

For years I’d fought for joy because any life worth living demands that you refuse to let anything steal your joy.

Ann Voskamp

I refuse to let an inconvenience and the disarray in our home steal my joy.  

I refuse to count any losses, disappointments, or heartaches that are part of living on a broken planet.

I choose, instead, to count all that a good Father has graced us with, all the things I never want to take for granted.

This admonition from Nanea Hoffman:

For the week ahead: May your coffee, your resolve, and your Wi-Fi be strong, and may you face your challenges with humor, grace, and chocolate when necessary. And always, may you notice the small moments of beauty.

Nanea Hoffman

Our flooding issue may or may not have required a bit of chocolate.

But mostly it involved meeting our challenge with grace. And good humor. And noticing all the beauty and benefits in our lives.


Should I say yes … or no?


Road closures ahead


  1. Dave & Nancy McDowell

    Oh no…we are so sorry! Miss you both and so excited for your new home together!

  2. Carol Sherman

    You have a beautiful attitude towards life, which I know is well pleasing to our Lord, and to all the others your life touches, including me. Thanks for writing to us all. Love, Carol

  3. Ramona Allen

    So good!
    So much perspective to remember & so much to be thankful for!

  4. Allison

    I love this, “meeting our challenge with grace.” If we can consistently do this, how different our life would be. Thank you for making us think differently about our circumstances!

    I’m hoping the toilet finds its way back to its rightful place and the jets land elsewhere soon. ☺️

    • “Consistently” is the key word, isn’t it, Allison? I may be good at meeting challenges with grace one month … and not so good the next.

      (Pretty sure the toilet will eventually vacate the bathtub … but the jet planes are still circling.)

  5. Debbie Daniels

    So sorry for the mess! I really appreciate your lists of thanks. Bill and I have a long list since our motorcycle accident. We are grateful we both survived, thankful for the ways God showed us He was working things out for us in so many ways, and thankful for our continued healing. Love your posts!

    • Oh, wow. I’m grateful you survived, as well, Debbie, and that you’re continuing to heal.

      Isn’t it amazing how we can close our eyes to the goodness around us and focus on only the hard … or that if we really pay attention, we can see so much good, even in life-threatening circumstances.

  6. Rita

    This is a great reminder for me to notice the moments of joy in my daily life. Thanks, Marlys!

  7. Sharon Brorson

    Marlys, we are not surprised at your positive attitude as you share your recent “home challenge”. We do feel bad that this happened and I still talk about how nice your “big remodel” is as we toured your home last October. But we know you and Dan are handling this “minor set back” and are eating a bit more chocolate…maybe? Here is to “drier and quieter days” for you two “dear people” who Bless everyone who knows you. Love from Sharon and Bob Brorson

  8. Janice Kimbrough

    My deceased husband had given me my Bible early in our marriage. It was my go-to for side notes from sermon and study notes for years. It was destroyed during a minor kitchen flood. I was heartbroken! Off the shelf came my husband’s Bible. What a gift unfolded! I had no idea the extent of his written notes and highlights! Now, as I study God’s Word, I receive special notes from my husband in his unique handwriting. My flood is now viewed as an incredible blessing!

  9. Killam Jennifer

    I enjoy all the articles, and all your stories. I talked to you 5 years ago, when my husband died very unexpectedly on Thanksgiving. We used to pray together. I’m so glad we reunited with my new email!

    Much love and joy!

    Jennifer Killam

    • Has it really been that long, Jennifer? I hope you’re doing well. Thank you for getting in touch again! With love, Marlys

  10. Ginni Kennedy

    So encouraging Marlys! Thanks for reminding me that God gives us hope, no matter what.

  11. I’m so sorry for this flooding inconvenience, but God loves to bless all the time. God bless you today 🙂 and always.

  12. Donna Hendley

    Oooohhh my…..yes you needed chocolate! Yes we all need to be thankful for our “routine” lives so that when change happens we’re thankful … for our routine lives! Next time come over for tea and get away from the fans…oh nnooo next time! Love your writing Marlys!

  13. I love how you said this, Donna: “… we all need to be thankful for our ‘routine’ lives so that when change happens we’re thankful … for our routine lives!” Thank you.

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