Nailed It

Since none of us are getting any smaller, the whole kitchen floor had to be pulled up and the dirt dug down and hauled out as we should have done years ago. 

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Over a year and a half ago we had a little run-in with some unwelcome guests: termites. When we found those unwanted intruders, we called pest control to come spray and assess the damage they’d done.

Since our house is an “antique”, when we bought it we had to replace almost every floor down to the joists. We even brought shovels, wheelbarrows and the teenage boys in the family in as reinforcements to help us dig up dirt close to the floor that had caused the wood to rot.

One room we didn’t dig much of the dirt down and haul out was the kitchen. The pest guy said we’d have to dig down so his worker could crawl underneath to treat for the termites.

Since none of us are getting any smaller, the whole kitchen floor had to be pulled up and the dirt dug down and hauled out as we should have done years ago.

If you’ve ever had your kitchen floor replaced, you know it is a dreaded job that is only done when necessary. The refrigerator, stove, cabinets and anything else on the floor must come out.

After the area was treated the floor was rebuilt but had a weak spot in it and was unlevel. We lived with it like that for quite a while… until this past weekend. I decided I was ready and it was time! My refrigerator has actually been in my dining room all this time because I wasn’t taking the doors off and moving it back in until the floor was completely fixed.

I pulled everything out of the kitchen Saturday morning. I put my daughter and niece to work and later, my husband too. When I found out the guy wasn’t going to be able to work on the floor until Monday or Tuesday of the coming week, I told my husband it was up to us and I couldn’t wait that long to get started.

Thankfully some friends came and spent their Saturday night helping pull up our floor, jack up floor joists and cut plywood subflooring and piece it together.

Sunday rolled around and me being determined to get the house back in order ASAP (Thanksgiving dinner will be at my house next week!), we spent time cutting, measuring, suffering.

When time came to lay what is called underlay that the vinyl will lay on, it called for staples. I’m a cheapskate and refused to buy a staple gun so we opted for nails.

My poor husband is constantly on call for work so when he was frustrated with the hammering and the phone, I grabbed my trusty leather gloves, the nails and hammer and decided to bend a few myself.

The night before, I’d hammered screws in to get them started and my friend (and reinforcement), Brandy, followed behind and screwed the plywood to the floor joists with the drill. I’d hit my fingers several times with the hammer so using my gloves the following night was a stroke of genius.

I’ve never been good at hammering so as I hit my thumb a few times I was thankful for the bit of cushion. I was bending nails left and right and throwing them across the floor (with an attitude). Suddenly I thought, “Why don’t I just ask for help?”

A simple “Lord, please help me,” and what do you know- the nail went straight through. I started saying “please” and “thank you” and found myself moving right along. Of course I bent some more nails along the way but as I started thinking about this I thought of how bad it must’ve hurt to have those nails driven into Jesus’ hands and feet on the cross. My attitude began to change.

As I hammered and the nails went straight on through, I thought of myself- my sins, causing those nails He had to feel. I began to struggle with hitting them as hard as I had to hit them. I am grateful for that act of love that was done for us.

I then thought of Jesus and how in Mark 6:3 it is written, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.

It says He was a carpenter. How He could actually give me some tips on where to hammer those nails and how to get that nail in right every time, so I began to ask for that too.

It was quite the time I had down on that floor in the kitchen with Jesus. He was there helping me out while helping me remember what He did for me and how He continues to do for me.

When my husband came back to the kitchen he said “woah”. I’m not sure if he was talking about all the bent nails thrown across the floor or how much work I’d gotten done. He knelt down on the floor and asked me if I was ready for him to hammer for a while. Of course I had saved him some edges I couldn’t seem to get.

As I went for one more nail I reminded him that Jesus was a carpenter. I told him a few of my thoughts I’d been thinking and how I’d been seeking His help in there and had received it.

It turned out to be a good time, just me and the Lord. My time knelt down on the floor changed my whole way of thinking. It always does.

Thanks for reading!

Messy Monday

I feel as if I’m being held captive within the walls of my own home, but in all actuality, my captivity stems from the walls of my own heart.

Today, once again, the house is quiet: everyone is back at work and school and I am home alone. The only noise I hear is the sound of raindrops lightly beating on the rooftop.

Mondays always make me feel a little detached from the world, but with the much needed rain falling today, that feeling is magnified a bit more. I feel as if I’m being held captive within the walls of my own home, but in all actuality, my captivity stems from the walls of my own heart.

Today, in the quietness, I have no choice but to recognize this reality. The issues I can pinpoint, even try to justify, yet I know the loneliness I feel is the result of separation from my Father.

Today, as I wander around the house aimlessly, I remember something I’d once written many years ago. I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be song lyrics or a poem, but nothing else came to my mind to go along with it. Those words, much like me today, stand alone:

“I only come to You when it’s raining outside; I only run to You when there’s nowhere else to hide.”

So often I’ve been known to call on others instead of first communing with my Father.

As it so happens, our home phone has been having problems for quite a while now and seems to worsen with any sort of moisture, so with the constant rain, a conversation with anyone today is not a viable option.

One thing I have learned is when it comes to matters of the heart, there is nothing anyone can say or do to change it’s condition except my Father.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 KJV  12) Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. 13) And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. 14) And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.

On a day like today, He leaves me no choice but to commune with Him, and for that I am grateful. 

Now, please excuse me as I prepare for freedom once again.

Thank you for reading.

 

The Speeding Ticket Part I

In a desperate attempt to escape the inevitable, I said, “This is my first ticket in 9 years.” Unimpressed, he handed me the clipboard and an ink pen and asked me to sign the ticket.

Last school year, the day before the last day of school, I was in a hurry.(Imagine that!) I had to get my daughter to school on time, then had to be somewhere else, somewhat of a distance away, with very little time to spare.

The speed limit was 45. I saw a policeman coming towards me from the opposite direction and I knew I was busted. Somehow I had gotten away with going the speed of however far down my foot pushed on the pedal for quite a few years. Nothing outrageous but nonetheless, breaking the law. I began to think maybe they couldn’t clock me, or in my own little mind, that they just wouldn’t pull me over.

I so often justify my actions regarding my miles per hour by debating why the speed is posted as it is, what think it should be posted and why. I actually even see myself take my fingers off the keys as I’m typing this. It seems I just can’t completely shake the feeling of needing to justify my argument. In reality, it doesn’t really matter. In the words of so many these days: It is what it is. It surely was what it was: I was pulled over.

I rolled my window down as he approached my car. “Ma’am, do you know how fast you were going?” “Uhhh…. 50 something???” I said. After all, once I saw him and slowed down, that was what I was going.  “61!” He replied.

I was irritated, to say the least. I’d already grabbed my license and proof of insurance and handed them to him when he asked for them. I told him I didn’t have my registration with me but he only said “ok”. He took what I had and walked back to his vehicle behind me- you know, the one with the bright blue lights flashing.

My stepson and daughter were with me. My daughter in the back seat saying, “This is great. I’m going to be late.” And my stepson sitting beside me, shaking his head, saying something about accepting the consequences of my actions. I, of course, didn’t want to hear it.

When the cop came back to my car, he had his little clipboard with a bright pink piece of paper on it. In a desperate attempt to escape the inevitable, I said, “This is my first ticket in 9 years.” Unimpressed, he handed me the clipboard and an ink pen and asked me to sign the ticket. The $187.25 ticket!

If my low fuel light would’ve been on, I still think I would’ve made it many more miles on just fumes because I was fuming mad! Me, the kids and my attitude pulled back out onto the highway. I dropped my daughter out at school and went on towards my next destination. I spent half the day blaming this on whoever, or whatever, I could. (Yes, I’m 38.) It’s almost as if I had to go through different stages of emotions before I reached the point of admitting it was nobody’s fault but my own.

Let’s go ahead and face the truth. Rebellion is not a good thing. Me being a Christian makes it even more not a good thing. 

So many times I talk to the kids, and whoever else as it may come up, about our own actions. How on the day of judgment we won’t be able to point fingers at anyone else for what we do. That will be unacceptable.

2 Corinthians 5:10 NKJV says- For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

So, did I deserve the ticket?

(Just kidding! No hesitation there.)

YES! I acknowledge that I deserved the ticket.

There is a statement on this citation in all caps right above the line where I had to sign that says:

I UNDERSTAND THE ABOVE NOTICE, AND THAT MY SIGNATURE IS NOT AN ADMISSION OF GUILT.

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The thing is, to me it was an admission of guilt. My signature clearly shows my attitude of pride and rebellion against authority, yet I really had no other choice but to admit that I WAS GUILTY.

Thank you for reading!

Stay tuned for Part II of “The Speeding Ticket”.

 

 

Solitaire

I had no choice but to go back and work on myself, by myself, in complete solitude. To be able to continue on, I had no choice but to do so.

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Since my job of cleaning houses requires very little brain power, last summer I decided to download a solitaire game on my phone. I’ve heard people say it is a good activity to keep your mind active. It didn’t take long for me to become addicted to this pastime.

As I played the game, I learned more and more. I paid attention the cards I needed and tossed the rest aside, moving towards the prize: winning the game. I stayed focused on all the cards around me. I soon developed a strategy to help me move swiftly through the game. I watched for the opportunity to make the right move, constantly moving forward. At times I became discouraged, but the more I played, the less I quit. I was determined to finish the game.

On this particular game, I also had the option to play in tournaments. As I began doing so, I saw others and looked on them with pity as they trailed behind. Even though I wanted to win, I felt bad when others didn’t. The cards they were given just weren’t played right. There was the option to end the game before it was finished, but if you quit, you had no chance. If you could hold up and place in the top three, you could move on to the next level. 

At times I would see players begin to gain points rapidly toward the end. Sometimes they would end up winning, but sometimes they still lost. I would watch the one in last place and I knew their struggle. I would see their hesitation to press “END GAME”. I knew that feeling from my own experience. You don’t want to give up when you’ve come so far, yet sometimes that’s exactly what we do.

I started winning many tournaments. I spent way too much time on this habit-forming game. Once I’d won so many times, I started relying solely on my strategy. Eventually there came a time when it wasn’t working for me anymore. Maybe it would even be considered cheating to the experts, yet that loophole had gotten me so far. I began to lose at the game. My option to enter tournaments had closed due to my many losses.

I had no choice but to go back and work on myself, by myself, in complete solitude. To be able to continue on, I had no choice but to do so.

As I have lived the Christian life, I’ve made use of the cards I’ve been dealt. I’ve stayed focused and I’ve lost focus. I’ve seen the enemy (aka the devil) hit me where it hurts. I’ve seen me struggle to “stay in the game”. I’ve seen my strategy fail. And I have found myself completely removed from the tournament. 

As I sit here typing, the house is quiet. Everyone is back to work and school and I have the day off. I’m trying to spend my time wisely, staying busy doing things that need to be done. Only the sound of the keys pounding on my keyboard, the dryer and the occasional vehicle passing by break the complete silence, yet the silence is deafening. I am alone. I have a lot of things on my mind and I can’t fix them. I hear the Holy Spirit whisper, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10 [a] NKJV) In my stillness, I am made whole. And the silence? It helps me to better hear God’s still, small voice. I know I need to study His Word, I need to pray and I need to do these things alone, by myself, in complete solitude with my Father. I listen, by reading, what He has to say and even if I don’t understand now, I know that He is God and I am not and that is reassuring to me.

Be encouraged, be still and don’t quit the “game”. (By the way, it IS NOT a game- just an analogy.) Thank you for reading and God bless!