No more fear?

About two weeks ago, I realized that
I hadn’t felt fear in at least ten days.
This was huge …. to the point that I stopped in my tracks and stood there on the deck …. dumbfounded.

Me - paralyzed with fear ... on my roof

This ^ …. is me …. paralyzed with fear in March of 2011. I was TIRED of waiting for someone else to come along and fix my roof so I marched out into the yard and got the ladder. I leaned it up against the roof, climbed up on the roof with fear and trembling and then … laid there grasping the asphalt shingles with fervor. In the end, James fixed the roof for me.

James took the picture as he danced and leapt over me and around me. By the time I was able to find the courage to climb back down, my belly muscles ached from laughing at him … making fun of me.

Since then, I’ve written over and over about my roof-relationship, I’ve made great progress. I can now climb up without fear. I know which ladder to use (the 6′ step ladder NOT the 75′ telescoping aluminum ladder that can reach the sky!) and I know where to put it to feel comfortable (next to a wall … not in the middle of the roofline). I’ve figured out how to walk on the roof. And now … I’ve even repaired holes!

I haven’t had the money to do any big repairs … and paying someone else to repair even the smallest problem quickly makes the repair feel like a “big repair.”  I’ve had a friend or two help me here and there … but lately, I’ve started asking myself, “What are you waiting on? Why can’t you figure this out on your own? Do you really think some guy is going to ride in on a white horse and save you? Because … if you’re waiting on that, the house may fall apart around you! Figure this out! You can do this!”

So …. I wrote over here  about a hole.
If I can be brave enough get up there to replace the patch,
can’t I figure out how to repair the hole?

Plastic temporary coverA few weeks ago, I googled how to repair a hole in a shingle roof.
I watched three videos.
I made a list of things I needed to buy.
And the other day, I filled a bucket with all my tools
and climbed back up on that roof.

That hole was about the size of my thumb. It didn’t need a huge repair job because the hole doesn’t put at risk the stability or integrity of the roof.  All I had to do was pull up a few shingles, fill the hole with roofing tar and put down new shingles. It took me a little while, but I did it … all by myself! I DID IT!

Small hole repair job

And repairing this hole, gave me the confidence to tackle a bigger one.

The next morning, I headed back up that six-foot ladder
and I thought about a phrase that has become a mantra.
For almost a year, I’ve posted on Instagram  and Facebook
and I’ve written text messages to a few close friends …
“I CAN DO HARD THINGS!”
In my head, as I climbed that ladder, I thought
“I can do hard things” …
and my next thought was ….

” ….. wait. this isn’t hard.”
It hit me ….
this was unfamiliar … but it wasn’t h.a.r.d.

I realized that climbing up on the roof wasn’t hard any more.
Worrying about making a mistake wasn’t an apprehension.
Fretting about losing my balance wasn’t a concern.
Getting stuck and not knowing how to get un-stuck in the repair hadn’t even crossed my mind.
And ….. having someone I love doubt my ability and warn me to slow down or quit wasn’t a fear.
I … wasn’t even afraid.

The hole ..

This hole was larger than the first one.

Revealing the damage

Once I peeled away the shingles and roof paper, I could more easily see the damage.

Damage revealed

I cut away a small piece of wood so that I could determine the thickness of the wood of the roof
and match it with a piece of wood that was the same.

Squaring up the hole
Then I cleaned up and squared up the hole.

Sewing tools are multi-functional

I used a sewing tool to help me get the EXACT depth needed for the brace to be properly spaced.

Building the brace

I made braces to attach to the joists that frame the roof.

Perfect fit.
I was absolutely shocked at how easy it was to repair this hole.
My rectangle fit into the existing hole with ease.
It was surprisingly precise.

Do you see that? FLUSH, I tell ya!
And it was perfectly flush.

Roof Paper
I tucked new roofing paper as far up under the existing paper and shingles as I could, making sure that it was under the paper above the hole and tucked under the shingles but on TOP of the paper below the hole (so water won’t work it’s way under the shingles and onto the raw wood).

Completed roof repair! Yay! I did it!I used 8-10 shingles total for this repair. I KNOW that I did an excellent job and I know that my repair is as strong and secure as any other part of my roof.

And I wasn’t even scared.

I can’t really put into words just how excited I am about this repair. As I told my dad the story, my voice quivered and I found my self trembling (a nervous reaction for me). I was just so proud of myself!

As I worked up there on the roof, I thought about how closely related my fears of repairs at home,
my fears of creating my art and showing it
and my fears of working outside my home
must be intertwined to my fears of not pleasing people.
In my head, I have heard lines like,
“You don’t know what you’re doing.” “It’s easy to lose your balance and fall.” “See. I told you.”
But, in the past few years of working through fear, rejection and people-pleasing,
my practice of “I don’t care” is helping me shake loose these worries.
And it’s really a good thing.

And as I start 2015, I realize that I am beginning more fearless
than I’ve ever been in my life.
It’s a wonderful feeling.

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Surprised by my own words

I listen to stories of friends. They tell me of altercations with husbands, lovers, strangers who speak into their lives as if they have authority …. when they don’t know “the whole story.” And these friends use wisdom and they defend themselves. They offer quick replies and stand up for what they believe in. They are not rude. They are not unkind. They choose words carefully and speak succinctly and they are firm.

They call me on the phone and we talk. We sit on the couch and share coffee. I run into them at the grocery store. They tell me their tales and  I listen to them. And I am absolutely awed. I have such strong, brave, wise relationships in my life. Often, I ask, “Did you really say that? REALLY?”  Their words are hard for me to grasp. They thought of THAT reply, THAT quickly … right there on the spot?
I tell them time and again,
“I admire you. You are so brave.”
“You are my hero.”

A few days ago, I found myself in a conversation where I had to defend myself.
I doubt my words meant anything to the person that I was talking with
but they were brave and strong and big for me.
I almost trembled.

I remember when I first read this quote. My eyes teared.

Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.

I used to be quick to speak, but now, I wait.
I have to process. I have to let things soak in. I need think it over.
I want to consider why the person said what they did.
I want to ponder every angle and then respond in love.
Often, I don’t respond at all. Some things are better left unsaid.
And sometimes it’s just too exhausting to explain yourself
to someone who might not “get it” anyway.
If I have explained the situation to you three times in three different ways,
and you still can’t “hear” me, I’m not going to keep talking …
especially if you’re going to respond to me
by yelling, using exclamation marks  or you’re going to blame me for the mess you have created.
I have finally learned that you can’t fix or help some relationships.
I’d rather just be “wrong” in your eyes.

This ruminating, though …
means that I’m sometimes speechless in conversations.
I find myself thinking  just fifteen minutes later, “I should have said ____________,”
or the next day, asking myself “Why didn’t I think of THAT??”

But, recently
I said just the right thing
at just the right time.
I was so proud of myself.

You see, I haven’t been to church in a while. I was not raised in church, but when I was in high school, I was invited to church. I learned of God’s love and Christ’s redemption and asked God to show Himself real to me at a youth rally. I have attended church since then. We have moved over and over through the years. Finding a church was always high priority for me when we moved.

But, since my divorce, going to church has been difficult … even disheartening.
There are so many things that I hear in church that I find difficult to swallow.
All of those Proverbs 31 lines remind me of what I’m not.
Those verses by Paul in the New Testament remind me that I wasn’t good enough.
And the women that surround me with their husbands and children, remind me that I am alone.

Layer this with a child who doesn’t believe in God
and my sweet but feeble van ….
and you have more of a “whole picture.”

So, several months ago, I began to spend my mornings at home watching inspirational television shows
and working on creative projects. I take notes. I pray for guidance that God would show me ways
that the words I am hearing would apply to my life. I’ve even had a friend join me some mornings.

So, when I say that I am not going to church, I am NOT saying that I have turned from God.
God and I are good … in so many ways.

And yes, I know that scripture says  that we should not forsake the gathering together with other believers. But, there are also verses about husband and wife making the decision to refrain from physical intimacy for a time. There are verses about women staying home for a time after giving birth. And there are verses about fasting food, as well.

Just like staying home to nurse a broken leg is okay,
or staying home to care for a little one with a stomach bug is acceptable,
I have given myself permission to stay home on Sunday mornings
and worship in a way that is fitting for me right now.

I see my choice as a temporary fast of the organized gathering of Christians in a large steepled building.
It is not a permanent choice, it is a temporary one, but it is where I am.
And I am okay with it.

That having been said,

I recently I ran into a beautiful, sweet friend whom I adore. She is gentle and kind,  loves the Lord and serves Him deep and well. She is very active in church, Sunday School and a youth evangelism group.  She has an amazing husband whom I also adore.

As we talked in the store, we did a little catch up and she mentioned,
as we were parting, that she had missed me at church.
She asked, “Where are you going to church?”
Because I have already given this much thought, I had a response
but I was floored that I was able to speak the words.
I said, “I’m not going to church right now.”
She very-teasingly shook her finger and said, “Shame on you.”
Without hesitation, I replied, “Oh, no. God and I are good.
I’m just not going to church to worship right now.”

Even as those words left my mouth, I was in shock!
Had I just said that out.loud?
Had I just shared my position without embarrassment
and some long-winded defense to try to get someone to be pleased with my position?
I became my own hero … for a few brief moments.

In the same way that I don’t understand agoraphobia,
she probably wouldn’t understand why I’m not going to church.
But, her not understanding my motivation to stay home
shouldn’t cause me shame.
I refuse to be ashamed. I am not ashamed.
I have made this decision and it is a good one for me right now.

I share this story because it is a good example of me learning to say, “I don’t care.” 
I am working hard to “own” my beliefs, ideas and motivations
even.if they don’t please others.

I want to be brave.

I want to be brave to say the things that defend
my ideas, my place or my being.
I want to speak my truth even if
my hands tremble,
my knees knock,
my lip quivers,
or my voice shakes.
And sometimes I have actually been
surprised by my own words.

In practice of “I don’t care”

I still remember the first time someone brought to my attention
the fact that I often use the phrase “I’m sorry.”

I was in the car on my way to high school with a neighbor, her father behind the wheel.
In conversation, Sandra  interrupted me to instruct me.
“You need to stop saying ‘I’m sorry.’ You say that all the time.”
I.had.never.even.noticed. 
But, after she pointed it out, I realized … she was right.
That was over thirty years ago.
Through the years, I’ve THOUGHT about how often I still say it,
but I’ve never really been able to figure out what motivates me to say it
or how to stop.

These days, it is my daughters who tell me.
“Mom. You said it again!”
“Don’t apologize for that! It’s not your fault.”
“Mom, WHY are did you say, ‘I’m sorry’?”
Yes, my girls …  wise and fierce, they are.

I apologize for all sorts of things ;
when I forget to stir the sauce which causes it to curdle or become lumpy,
I will sit down at the table, sauce boat in hand, and begin dinner with an
“I’m sorry ….” that spills into an explanation.
When I cut someone off in traffic,
I offer a wave and an “I’m sorry” …  though they can’t hear my words.
If I’m running late for school carpool pick up,
I take time to offer an apology to each child.
When I create something …. give a gift … I begin with an “I’m sorry”
for the things I see in the gift/artwork that are flawed.
When I say something that is truth, but could possibly hurt feelings …..
when I bump into someone …..
when I sneeze …….

As I watched Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday episode the other week, I heard Mariel Hemmingway do it. Oprah, Mariel and Bobby (Mariel’s boyfriend) were talking about what it means to love yourself. Bobby shared an observation that Mariel used to thank people when it was not warranted. And Mariel chimed in adding that she a used to say “I’m sorry” all.the.time.  .  .  .  I leaned the ear of my heart in to listen more closely.  .  .  .  They briefly discussed WHY someone would find themselves beholden to the “I’m sorry” habit … as Oprah appeared completely unable to relate to this habit, asking “WHY do people do that!?” and wearing completely-dumbfounded face-mask.  She didn’t understand the motivation at.all. The words and phrases Mariel used to describe the “why” included feeling less than, feeling insecure, not liking yourself, trying to make yourself small. She may as well have been trying to explain to Oprah how to use her wings to fly. Oprah knew she didn’t have wings and she couldn’t relate at all. It was an interesting part of the conversation for me.

Two new verbal  habits that I am working on include choosing to use the phrase, “I don’t care” and also refraining from explaining myself. When it comes up in conversation or I see someone who says, “I just don’t care,”  I say out loud, “I need a little more of that!” Because, if truth be told, I care too much …
and for many wrong reasons.

I think p.a.r.t of my apologizing and explaining is that I don’t want people to feel “left out.” I don’t want them to feel rejected because we don’t see eye to eye. I don’t want them to think that I think they are wrong. I want to be inclusionary.
But, this gives the illusion of being vanilla
when I am not.
In some ways, I am hiding … making myself “small,” as Mariel called it.

I want to begin to use a new phrase. I want to incorporate it in to my life. I know there will be times that I will need to preface the with the words, “with all due respect”   ….  like when I’m talking to my daddy or someone in authority over me…
But, for the most part, I want to be brave and begin to say
“I don’t care.”  I have been practicing. It feels good. I want to become proficient in using the phrase
often, with courage and in a timely manner (not later  … when I am explaining!).

I admire the woman who holds her head high … her chin points further away from her body than it does towards her chest. She has a look in her eye …  that really isn’t a twinkle
because a twinkle is just too pretty. The look …. is more like a metal-against-flint-born-sParK.

She has a steeliness about her. She wants to hear your thoughts,
but she doesn’t care if you agree with hers. She can say “I really don’t care if you agree with me”
and you know she means it. She has an opinion and she isn’t afraid to have it.
She.does.not.apologize for being herself or for owning her opinions.

I’m wondering if this idea … this focus should be part of my “Word for the Year” for 2014.
Do you choose a word for the year?  I have for about five years now.  I haven’t written about the last two years … but I’m looking forward to sharing those stories.
Yes, maybe just maybe, this could be the year that I learn not to care.

What does bravery look like?

I just did something so brave.
In fact, I almost chickened-out before I followed through.
I sat in the chair and thought about it
and gave myself one deadline after another.
“When she comes back, I’ll get up.”
“When it’s 10:30, I’ll go over there.”
“When the receptionist comes back from downstairs, I’m going to talk to her.”
It’s just crazy how I try so hard
to keep from making anyone upset.

I made an appointment to have my eyes checked. I was so excited! I lost my glasses a year ago September. I don’t have really bad vision, but I have trouble crisply seeing things far away (like road signs in the far distance or movie screens) or some things close-up. I have trouble threading a needle or reading super-small print.

I have no vision insurance, so I had to shop around for the best price. And I don’t like to drive far from home since every trip 10 miles from home …. means I am using a gallon of gas to travel (if I get 20 mpg). It adds up .. and I try to be super-thrifty. I just don’t have money to wastefully toss away.

After a year of putting off making an appointment, I finally made one with a vision center that is fairly near my house. The cost for my appointment would be half that of my old optometrist and about ten miles closer to my home, so I was pleased.

But, when I got in the office and signed in, I waited for at least ten minutes before mentioning, “I could be filling out my paperwork to get things moving, if you’d like?” I heard, “Oh, are you a new patient?” I was one minute late for my 9:40 appointment, but I thought that was still okay. Nobody seemed to notice.

As I filled out paperwork, I overheard a conversation by a disgruntled patient who told the receptionist she was tired of waiting. She waited at least an hour every.time.she.visited. And her glasses were filled with the wrong prescription over five weeks ago and they still hadn’t fixed the situation. She had spent $1,500. but basically gotten nothing in return.

Time ticked by.

10:00 came and went.

Sometime shortly after 10:00, I overheard that there were six patients waiting … and I knew I was at the end of that list.

10:15 …. and I began to think, “I should just leave. If I do get called back now, I won’t make it to my noon appointment with someone else. I really can’t keep waiting.”

I wrestled with all those thoughts about walking out:
I didn’t want to be confrontational …
What if I was charged anyway for the appointment I skipped?
What would happen when I ran into the girl at Kroger?
Would she remember me as “that bitch customer?”

Then I thought about friends who are brave.
And about Glory, James and Joy who are super brave.

I thought about Heather who shared a super-tough blogpost
(that you can read here) after months and months and months
of very sporadic blogging. She was avoiding telling the truth.
You see, she did the brave thing in her marriage.
She took her four young children
and walked away from her husband
because she needed to … because she had to …
because she needed to stop being the martyr.
She needed to leave the toxic marriage .
She needed to do what her gut said was right.
She did the brave thing!
::trembles:: she.is.my.hero.

I sat there in the doctor’s office and thought about my heroes
and how they do the tough stuff.
I thought about how silly and insignificant it would be
in the realm of world events
or in someone else’s eyes ….
for me to call myself brave to talk to the receptionist
and tell her I would be leaving before my appointment ..
but I did it anyway.

At 10:29, I walked up to the desk and said,
“I’ve been waiting for over 45 minutes. I don’t have time to continue to wait to be seen.
I have to be somewhere at noon. I’m afraid I am going to have to leave.”

She tried to get me to reschedule.
But, I politely declined and left.

And it might not seem like much to you,
but it was such a big deal for me.
I told someone “No.”
There is value in my time and I claimed it as mine.
I couldn’t be late for my next appointment.
And I was uncomfortable in the office.
They didn’t recognize that I was a new client.
Others had waited for quite a long time
and been given poor service.
I did a brave thing.
I walked away.

It is a practice.
It doesn’t come easily.
But, I will continue to exercise my strength
in taking up for myself in small things
so that I can do a better job … a good job
in the big things.

What does bravery look like to you?
Do you struggle?
What are the difficult areas for you to be strong?

Rain in my house & FEAR

This summer, parts of the south were W.E.T.

We had rain for 6-8 weeks …. big rain. Big. Wet. Drippy. Soggy. Pummeling.
Not “normal-for-the-south, afternoon thunderstorms,” but all-day-long-hovering rain showers.
I had 6-8″ of water standing in the storage area under the mother-in-law suite for weeks. THAT was new!

Summer 2013 snapshot.

rain

So, one afternoon while doing dishes and watching the rain pour outside my kitchen window ….
I realized that the rain was coming into the house. My feet were getting wet. I could feel the water soaking through my socks.
I was standing in a puddle!  I panicked and  thought was …. “HOW was the rain getting INTO the house????”

A rainy summer day

Trying to imagine HOW the rain was making it THROUGH the wall and INTO my house,
I slowly opened the cabinet in front of me  ….
when I saw it.   The rain outside and my wet feet inside were completely coincidental.
The water puddling under my feet was draining through a HUGE hole in my garbage disposal.
Our garbage disposal - springing a leaking

^ Not THAT hole ^  That is a small hole that I wrote about  HERE way, way back in 2008. That hole was repaired with duct tape.
I know. I know. That’s not the PROPER way to repair a disposal … but it worked!
But now, there was a much bigger hole in the bottom of the disposal!   ::trembles::
I knew immediately, duct tape … was not going to fix THIS hole!

See, my sink is cast iron …. it’s like an old cast iron tub, only smaller.  It has a ceramic coating that makes it LOOK harmless,
but it is not.
Even as far back as this post in May of 2011 I wrote about needing to replace the sink.
My words: “This was certainly a reminder that the next job to be accomplished here in our home definitely needs to be replacement of this sink.”
But, I pressed on …. washing dishes daily  …. paralyzed by fear … of the unknown.

 

The last of our favorite Valentine's glasses. gone.

My head would just spin when I spent too much time thinking about the job.  I know nothing about plumbing. I don’t even know what to buy.  If I buy everything I think I need and replace everything, what if it still doesn’t work! What if I disconnect everything and it takes weeks to figure out how it goes back together? What if I do it and the pipes leak and ruin the cabinet or the floor? How do I disconnect the garbage disposal? It uses electricity, for heavens sake! Can I replace it? How do I do that without electrocuting myself? I’ve heard that water and electricity don’t mix well!

But, the biggest fear of mine was that removing the old sink would ruin my long kitchen countertop. I had read and been warned that an old sink could become so sticky and adhered to the counter that removing it would cause the formica to splinter and split. I could probably find some way to handle a sink problem …. but I KNEW that new countertops for my entire kitchen is WAY out of my financial budget. And to be honest, I adore my yellow speckled retro counters! Truly. Truly.

No. No. No. I couldn’t muster the courage.
I put it off. It didn’t HAVE to be done
just yet.

God is so merciful. I never cut myself on broken glass in this sink.
He is also gentle to push us when we need to move.

I was holding on to fear … more fear … like I wrote about here and here.  I had to be brave and DO this.
So, He gave me a push.
He allowed the disposal to become so wounded that it had to be removed.
With water POURING out of the sink, through the rusted out disposal and onto the floor …. it was time.
There was no more waiting.

Within just an hour or so of my puddle-hole-realization, my sweet friend Travis texted to say
he was coming to Augusta for a while and wondered if he could stop by for a bit.
I was happy to have the reprieve from thinking about the work to come.
As it turns out, he had recently completed a kitchen plumbing rebuild so his plumbing muscles were freshly flexed.
Travis offered to give a look at the job that needed to be done and see if we could tackle this together.
Travis' feet - relaxing as he works?

It took several hours but we disconnected the disposal and taped off the wiring, disconnected all the pipes and headed to Lowe’s for replacement parts and supplies. Time ran short and Travis had to leave, but we managed to get the old sink out, the new one in and the plumbing almost all the way back together.

Want to see something beautiful? LOOK at this!

A clean removal of the sink

The sink came out clean. We were able to ever-so-gently lift and separate an inch at a time
until the sink was fully loose from the countertop and ready to be removed.
After pulling it out, I weighed the sink. Who knew a cast iron sink would weigh 94.5 pounds!
I really, truly, surely could NEVER have done that job without help.

And as the day unfolded, I saw how perfect God’s timing was …..
to have Travis on his way to Augusta (30 minutes from his home)
with time to spare
and some skills in plumbing in tow
so that his strong-male-biceps were in my home
just when I needed them.
I’m telling you, I was amazed. Pressing the sink into place

We installed the “new-to-me” sink (that I bought at a yard sale for around $10. several years ago). It fit perfectly!

Fresh plumbing! Travis completed the right side pipe installation while I worked on the left.
And, naturally, the left was the one that gave me a fit.
It leaked. So, I took it apart and put it back together
six times
over the course of a week
until I could finally disassemble and reassemble kitchen plumbing
with my eyes closed.
I learned SO much!

Sinkworks!

But, the greatest lesson that I learned
is that I can do more
than I think I can
and that God can and will
help me more
than I usually believe that He will.
I allow fear to make too many decisions for me.
I allow fear to keep me paralyzed and afraid.

But, I am breaking free!
And I am excited!
I have identified that I have two primary fears:
1) I fear doing things that look complicated and require skills that I know I do not posses and
2) I fear being my quirky, creative, whimsical self … especially when with men whom I want to please
or around people who I deeply care about.

What about you? What do you fear? When do you let fear paralyze you
or keep you from doing things that you really want or need to do?

 

When you don’t recognize life falling apart

Have you ever had something fall apart … right.in.front of your eyes?
Have you ever seen something come unglued … but you didn’t recognize its undoing in progress?

Maybe it was a relationship … or a piece of equipment … or an article of clothing?

Over a year ago, I noticed that the nails on my deck were slightly exposed. I NOTICED … but I didn’t realize what was happening.

This photo shows the nails completely exposed, but when I first noticed them, there was just a slight gap between the single 2×14 piece of wood that ran the length of my deck. I expect that the extended, intense summer months of rain fostered this unraveling. The normal weight of the deck floor was increased by the fact that it was so heavily waterlogged. I think we had rain for six to eight out of ten weeks this summer.

Completely exposed ... and useless ... nails

S . l . o . w . l . y
and quietly, the deck slipped away from its mooring.
While I first noticed there was a change in the way the edge of the deck looked with the exposed nails,
I really didn’t understand what was happening …
until the entire coming apart process had come to fruition.

Exterior wood for bracing ... completely unattached from deck

And I’ll be honest. I was lost. I decided I would certainly have to hire someone to repair the deck. It looked to me as though the entire deck had warped! It looked like at least half of the deck floor boards would have to be replaced.  This would be quite costly and I had no idea how long it would be before I would be brave enough to have someone give me an estimate because I knew it would cost me hundreds … if not over a thousand dollars. I asked the children to stay off the deck for their safety, and I pondered.

With no “extra” thousand dollar bill in sight, I began to wonder if I could fix this? Maybe … just maybe …. those boards could go back into place? But, I was so afraid. HOW? How could I get them back in place? What if I got hurt? How much money would it cost? What about power tools? Roaring … cumbersome … frightening power tools??? ::trembles:: What if I spent a lot of money and made a mess and did more damage than good? What if I did all that work and it didn’t “hold?”

I had never even SEEN a deck built … unless you count the one my father built when I was in early elementary school in my College Park, Georgia home over forty years ago. And even the building of that deck couldn’t qualify as a comparable learning experience because it was built on a cinderblock footing on the ground as opposed to a deck built four feet above ground, suspended on 4×4 posts.

After several months of thinking about my resources and the execution of a plan,
I decided I had to at least give this repair a shot. I was ready …..
trembling and frightened and fearful … but ready to try.

Double jacks! Yes!
I got The Joy-Bucket to help me move some railroad ties under the deck. They were too heavy to carry by myself. We positioned them so that my sweet van’s jack and Glory’s car jack could fit securely underneath the deck. I was surprised that the deck flooring jacked up easily. It appeared that the wood wasn’t warped.

But … I knew the next step would involve this warped piece of wood. It was bowed away from the deck a good two to three inches.
So … I stalled again … out of fear.

Disconnected ... *boo*

With Glory getting ready for a trip to Atlanta on Sunday,  I knew that I had to get her jack OUT from underneath the deck and back into her car if she needed it in the case of an emergency on her trip.  With that pressure propelling me forward, I got busy taking down that bowed wood.

With James holding one end, I pounded the board off the frame and we flipped it over to find that it wasn’t bowed at all. The bent nails had kept it at a distance from the posts!! Yay! Reuse of the already cut-to-fit board saved me $22.00! Yay again!

Removing board nails

Had the deck had been put together with screws rather than nails when it was first built, the hold would have been strong and the deck floor would have never slipped out of place. Looking at the nails, it was amazing that it didn’t come apart even sooner.

weak nails

 

While  Joy removed the old nails from the 2×14 board, I went to Lowe’s to pick up the items I would need to make this repair. As I drove to Lowe’s, I was so excited. I had figured this out! I had come up with a plan!

I had picked up some 4×4’s from someone’s curb last year so I had the wooden support posts I needed. I just needed screws, cement post supports and a long drill bit. The screws were 4″ long and needed to be able to be screwed in all the way. I didn’t think I could do that without pre-drilling.

I also picked up some connectors. Well …. I don’t know what they’re REALLY called! They’re just pieces of metal that connect one piece of wood to another. I know they’re used by contractors to connect rafters when building a house. I had to look at all the different styles to figure out which one would work for this project.

The box of nails cost around 8.50, the connectors around $5 each (used 2), the post holder $7. (used 2) and the drill bit $2.50.  So, I spent a total of $35.00 … not the hundreds I first feared the job could cost.

My purchase

When I got home, I got busy getting the posts ready. I put the connectors in place so that the weight of the deck would rest in the middle of the 4×4. I knew the connector would keep the post from moving in the future.

Post stabilizing

I jacked up the deck a little farther than level so that I could get the posts into place.

Plumbing! Yes!

Once level and screwed into place, I let the deck back down so that it was level and resting on the posts.

My deck posts!! woot!
Oh! My! Goodness! This was working!

Level!

James held one end of the board while we put a few nails in to hold it in place and then
I began my pre-drilling. I’m telling you, I was so excited. I felt like God had walked me through all of this and helped me figure out each step.

I chose to move the end rail up by about an inch and a half  from its original placement.

A slightly raised deck edge

This allowed me to secure the deck floor boards AND the undergirding support system to the outer piece of wood … and I like that the board is now flush with the deck floor.

The deck support board

My total time spent outside Sunday afternoon was probably about two to three hours. It took me a while to mentally work through the logistics of this repair
and it took me significantly longer to push past the fear of actually doing it,
but Sunday afternoon
my deck went from this

My fallen deck. s@dneSS

to this!!
My repaired deck!

Now, I’m not afraid to walk on the deck.

In fact, I thought about a question that Oprah often asks guests on her show.
The question is the meat of the topic of her editorial in O Magazine every month. She asks the question

What do you know for sure?

“What do you know for sure?”

I’ve given that question a LOT of thought over the last year. I thought about making it a monthly blog topic … but then thought …. “I don’t even now if I could come up with a full year’s worth of posts!”  Life has been such a chaotic, crazy unpredictable ride the last five years that I’m not sure I know much of anything for sure.

But, as I screwed in the last screw from that brand new 47 count box of  four-inch galvanized screws,
I laughed out loud and said to myself,
“Well, there’s one thing I DO know for sure. THIS deck won’t fall again from lack of support!”

A level deck! Yay!
After this project,  I am a little less afraid
to conquer the next project that will surely show itself pressing.

My happy deck

I watched my deck  … pull apart.
I saw indicators. I saw evidence. I saw slow, faltering movement.
But I didn’t recognize it as something that should have been alarming. Looking for parallels in the spiritual physical world ....
This physical act reminds me of the spiritual parallel that fits well.
Sometimes our relationships become unglued, unhinged, unraveled.
We may only recognize the benchmark
in hindsight.
My focus has never been and will never be
to live in a dull, dry, empty relationship
that never experiences trials or even an unraveling.
My focus in any relationship is make note of what happened in a trial
and use that experience to build a stronger more stable friendship.
We live in a fallen world with broken people.
Decks … people … relationships … come apart.
It takes time, focus, energy and ingenuity to figure how
to make things stable again,
but for the one who sees value in the investment
the time is well spent. Sweet Gum

Fall is upon us.
I look forward to more well invested time
seated upon this sturdy deck with friends and family
in the weeks and months ahead.

I’m SO tired of living here

i’m so tired of living “here” …
in fear.

Everyone who is mentally healthy has fears. Having fear is natural and, in many ways, good for us.  Fear keeps us from making mistakes that can harm us. Most fears, it seems, are learned. We aren’t born knowing not to touch the hot eye of a stove. We learn it through the pain of experience. We learn not to step off a cliff … possibly by simply tripping off a curb. And we learn not to show people our hearts …. through the experience of being ridiculed or rejected by someone who got to peek inside to our tender, real places.

Once I became single again, I was free to relax and be myself again ….
… the full-of-life, whimsical, untraditional, spontaneous, creative person that I am.
After twenty-five years of  “submissive wife” and “patriarchy”  indoctrination from the church,
it has been a very, very, very slow turning around.

But, last year, I began to notice
that when someone asked, “Why don’t you __________________?” …
I often answered with a statement that began, “Because I am afraid that _________________.”

And then I noticed that my fears
were almost always “fear of what someone will say or think about me.”
No. More accurately, they were a.l.w.a.y.s fear of what someone would say or think.

I began to realize just how paralyzed I live my life.

And God began to put one reminder after another
in front of me in a way that
I could.not.miss.

There were bumper stickers put into my line of vision.

Be not afraid - bumper sticker

There were craft magazine articles ….

Graphics from a crafting magazine

 

and a woman’s magazine at the dentist office.

 

Ladies Home Journal Magazine

Ladies Home Journal said it clearly:
“Fear is your real enemy.”

Fear is your real Enemy

 

The tag inside a gorgeous, earthen paisley shirt whispered  … “no fear”  … mounted to wings.

No Fear - label in a paisley shirt

There are a F.E.W words that my mind can.not remember how to spell. I spelled “calendar” with an “er” for decades! I still can’t tell you with confidence if vacuum has a single or a double letter c or u.  And the word afraid …. looks better with two of the letters t. But, to help me remember, I wrote it on my mirror well over a year ago (you can tell that it’s been a while because my mirror is dirty in that corner!) The word afraid has one f. To help me remember,  I made a note that “the ‘f’ is alone.”  Spelling trick for the word afraid

Alone.
That appears to be the root of my fears: rejection.
So, I try to appease …
to please …
and often that means being someone I’m not
in order to make someone else happy.

I want to dig deep on this subject
because it literally
steers my life.

How about you?
What do you fear?
And why?

Makes Me Happy Monday : James

We had a limb fall through our roof back before Comedy left. It’s not an uncommon thing.  We live nestled under a large canopy of trees.  You repair the hole and keep going.

This is how Comedy repaired our hole. Yes. That is a ziploc bag and those are pushpins. He told me more than once that he was going to come back and fix the hole. He has told us a lot of things. He never returned.

Sometime last summer, I decided that I was just going to HAVE to get over my fear of moving around on a slanted surface sixteen stories one story off the ground because the hole HAD to be repaired. I told James, “I’m going up on the roof.” I grabbed the ladder, propped it up against the roof and, with determination in my step, I climbed up those rungs. I carefully slung one foot over the ladder, planted it on those shingles and stepped forward.  Then I brought my center of gravity closer to the steady roof …. realized that I was immobilized and laid on the roof …. clinging on for dear life.

By this time, James had come to check on me.  He nimbly climbed the ladder and JUMPED over me like an acrobat. He began to dance on the roof … to show me how NOT scary it is up there.  He ran and jumped, leapt, twirled. Of course, I had a hard time LIFTING MY HEAD to see him. Partly because I was too afraid to look up. Partly because I didn’t want to watch my man/child TRIP mid-air over his own size 13 shoes and topple off the roof, bouncing on me on his way down thereby possibly knocking me out of my firm deathgrip. And partly because he had me laughing so hard making fun of me … that my belly muscles hurt! I just kept my eyes closed and tried to hold onto the flat, rough shingles.

I amused him enough – quite unintentionally, I might add – that he snapped a photo.  Thanks, James. I’ll forever have my fear encapsulated in a pixelated image.

We finally decided that I was … pretty useless on an incline …. suspended one story off the ground. James stepped back over me, scaled down the ladder like a monkey and coaxed me back down. It took me  …. QUITE a while to make my way back down to solid ground. But, I made it … without injury.

James is pretty handy.  His dad never really included him on projects so the things he’s learned, he’s had to figure by trial and error. It’s not the quickest way to learn, but many people have great knowledge from this style of instruction. He’s a pretty smart fella and will google …. anything! I am amazed what he’s able to do when he sets his mind to a job.

After being given the gift of shingles and some tar paper, James finally made himself get up on the roof last week and take care of that hole for me.

This is one more item that I can add to my Victory List! whoohoo!

So, this marvelous Monday morning
my happy, healthy, un-holey roof makes me happy
and my wonderful son that repaired it.

James Makes Me Happy this Monday morning.
What brings YOU joy this first Monday in March?