Back away from the shovel

Digging up dirtLast week I shared about what happened at our house when it rained.   That water has been a bit of an ongoing saga over here.  It turns out, the water wasn’t only in the front office, my entire closet was also drenched.

Oh, it was bad.

I immediately called a plumber to come help us figure out where all that water was coming from.  The meter was spinning at the street indicating that we had a plumbing leak, but they couldn’t find the main water shut-off valve (to separate the house from the yard) to isolate the leak.

Apparently these things are usually located in the in the flower bed.

At 10pm, they came inside and started by trying to rule out the shower.  They tore back the wallpaper to drill holes in the wall of the shower and in my closet using camera scopes in the walls to look for water.   They tore out the shower drain and tore back my carpet.  They couldn’t find the source.

They finally gave up and said they’d come back the next day to look for the shut off valve in the daylight.  They couldn’t find it so they said the only option was to start digging to look for it.  (I should have known better!)

After three days of digging and ripping out three of our 13-year-old shrubs, they informed me that pine tree beside the door would be coming out next.


Wait just a minute.  You’re telling me we’re just going to keep digging up the landscape and we don’t even have a clue where we’re going?

I went inside and made some calls to leak specialists.   They unanimously agreed that digging up my shrubs was not the best plan of action.  As it turns out, all you need is a long metal stick, plumbers call a probe.  Poking little holes in the ground is all it takes to find the cap to the valve.


The leak specialist came out.  Within 15 minutes, they located the valve.  (You can see their probe in the picture.)  The valve was about 6 inches to the right and 2 inches below the dirt.  And the other plumber was about to dig up my tree on the left!

The leak wasn’t in the house at all.  It was in the yard.  In fact, it was a tiny leak at the street, by the meter.  They fixed ‘er up and were on their way, when I asked how they thought all that water got in the house.

They said, You should call a roofer. 

I will spare you the rest of the details, but it turns out we have a hole in our roof, right in the middle of the rainiest spring we’ve had in years.  It just so happened that the leak in the yard, causing water to run into the street, had nothing at all to do with the water in the house.

Have you ever had a situation like that?

Maybe you have one now.  You know there’s a problem, the evidence is clear, but you have no idea where to start?  So you’ve just been digging.

Maybe it’s a relationship with a spouse, a child or a friend.  It could be a job, a co-worker or your in-loves.

I’m wondering if it might help to lay down your shovel.   Maybe there’s a better way.

What if you started probing instead? 

What if you got curious about what was going on instead of bull dozing, with determination that you know what you’re doing?

What if you asked more questions and sought conversation instead of answers?

What if what you find isn’t where you thought it was at all?

Maybe it’s deeper, or higher, or just 6 inches to the left?

I don’t know your story, but I know when we take time to get curious and open ourselves to more information, it can save us a lot of painful digging.

It might even save an old fragile tree (or relationship) whose roots are exposed and life is threatened.

Back away from the shovel with your hands in the air.

Try probing a little today.

To more love.



  1. Crystal: This is excellent! Getting to the root cause of a problem is so important but how we journey to get there is equally important. What a great reminder to approach life’s predicaments with humility, gentleness, and care. Have a blessed day!

    1. Thank you Jennifer! So true, real life happens in the journey to get where we’re going. 😉

  2. Great story, Crystal. So sorry you had to go through all that.

    1. Thank you! It’s been a mess but it will work out for sure.

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