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A couple weeks ago, we noticed areas of our front lawn getting oddly floody. Why? It hadn’t been raining. Could it be…? Uh oh. Sure enough, it was the pipe carrying water from the city main under the street into our house.

Several of our neighbors had already experienced this problem: the latest plumbing technology when our homes were built back in the 1980s was a particular kind of blue polybutylene pipe that, as it turns out, only lasts about thirty-odd years before cracking. And guess whose turn it was in the neighborhood to replace the original pipe at great expense? Sigh.

So here comes the plumbing company to turn off our water—for a week. They needed time for the ground to dry out before they could dig up the old pipe and put in the new one. What were we going to do for that week?

Oh, no problem: they would hook us up to our neighbor’s house using—get this—a garden hose. They ran an ordinary garden hose from the outdoor faucet of our neighbor’s house to the outdoor faucet of our house. Turn on the neighbor’s water, and it flows right through that hose, through our outdoor faucet, and into our house. Thankfully, our neighbors are also our good friends. They graciously agreed to let us basically create an IV drip from their house to ours. (We did pay them to offset any hike in their water bill.)

A week passes, and here comes the plumbing guys again. Working for the better part of the day, undaunted by the foot of snow that fell in the meantime, they installed gleaming new copper piping. We’re all set now with our water flow from the city main, but of course now we also have a basement that’s even more chaotically messy than before (because they had to work down there) and a completely dug-up front yard.

The point is: it’s always something.

Not just in home ownership, but also, you know, in life. Things break, disturbance and disruption come along, there’s a mess to clean up. In our culture, our churches, our politics: conflict, division, disagreement. Change and grief. How do we manage?

Well, one way is to find our lifelines. What are the metaphorical neighborly garden hoses hooked up to supply our needs while we face the day’s challenges? We here at the Reformed Journal hope that you, our readers, consider the RJ a kind of daily lifeline, supplying thoughtful, challenging writing every day—water to keep us all going while the crazy continues.

Actually, the RJ is much more than a little garden hose now. We’re more like a whole ecosystem, a thriving oasis of essays, poems, book reviews, and—of course—our daily blog, now a full eleven years strong with 4,000 essays posted. Every day, dozens of writers and thousands of readers gather here to ponder and muse and challenge and joke and lament and consider. We cope with disturbance as neighbors together, offering one another grace for the daily work of faithful discipleship.

And it all comes to you free, with no shocking invoices, paid checkmarks, or niggling fees. However, it does cost money to run this little endeavor. So we’d be grateful if you could help us with your financial support so that we can keep a good thing going—without leaking or cracking!

Give a one-time gift, help us with a monthly donation, or take advantage of this year’s fabulous But Wait…There’s More special offer.

Thank you so much for being a part of this neighborhood.

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Don’t be daunted by the “Give Monthly” label above. You can click there for any sort of gift — one time, or whatever, although monthly gifts are such a help.

But, of course, the real deal, for both you and RJ, is for you tap into our great But Wait…There’s More offer, and receive one of these books, and two forthcoming books in 2023, plus special events with the authors.

Debra Rienstra

I am a writer and literature professor, teaching literature and creative writing at Calvin University, where I have been on the faculty since 1996. Born and bred in the Reformed tradition, I’ve been unable to resist writing four books about theological topics: beware the writer doing theology without a license. My most recent book is Refugia Faith: Seeking Hidden Shelters, Ordinary Wonders, and the Healing of the Earth (Fortress, 2022). Besides the books, I’ve written well over two hundred essays for the RJ blog as well as numerous articles, poems, and reviews in popular and scholarly contexts. I have a B.A. from the University of Michigan (Go Blue!) and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Rutgers. I am married to Rev. Dr. Ron Rienstra, and together we have three grown children. Besides reading and writing, I love classical music, science fiction, fussing in the yard, hiking, and teaching myself useful skills like plant identification and—maybe someday—drywall repair.

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