Have you ever asked yourself this question? I usually slip into a state
of bemused amazement when a task I’ve been putting off for months (or
years) takes all of ten minutes (or an hour, or half a day) to
complete. Suddenly, the onerous chore, the very thought of which filled
me with dread, is done. I am overwhelmed with the warmth of
I’ve been forced to face a character flaw, something
off-kilter in my basic makeup. I put off for months (years, sometimes!)
household tasks I don’t want to undertake. This tendency has been
counterbalanced by one son, who shames me into finishing hated projects.
“You know, Mom, this looks awful out here!” Joel Mains commented one
summer about the weed garden at our front door. He was right—it did
look awful. I had hauled paving bricks from the city when we moved to
the West Chicago house in 1977. Some had been laid for the front walk,
but 22 years later the rest were still hunkering up against the west
side of the house. The plan for a front-door patio garden was hidden in
At my not-too-gentle instigation, David laid out the bricks for a patio
(with Joel lending a hand at crucial paving moments). I hacked out the
invasive ground cover the former owners had planted, and pulled up the
black plastic, which had been laid everywhere around the house
foundation as a plant block. Then, monitoring sun patterns, I amended
the clay soil, moved in the bulbs and shrubs and daylilies and
flowering plants so I would have the gardener’s coveted “continuous
bloom” from spring through fall.
I love my
front patio garden. The bush I planted at the corner has now
grown and hides me from the street when I have coffee outside in the
morning and do the “Quick Cross” puzzle in my USA
newspaper. And the trellis I hauled from the Kane County Flea Market is
now twined with Dutchman's Pipe Vine, Aristolochia
covered in the spring with little green hanging pipes. It too gives me
anonymity from joggers and strollers and dog-walkers and makes an
inviting entrance to the secret place where I sit unnoticed, resting
from the day’s tasks.
“Did you just plant all that?” asks a Covenant Group member who has
been coming to my house for some 13 years. (The garden appears to be a
really secret one!)
I love it out on my front patio garden. Why in the world didn’t we
finish this sooner?
“Mom!” Joel again, recently. “If you get your garage cleaned out,
you’ll be able to put the cars inside.” Well, we only have one car now
since I totaled the station wagon, so we ought to be able to manage
that. Our adult children pitched into a fund to pay for a few things we
needed—a worktable, some new pegboard. (And in the winter, snowplowing
for our circle driveway. Our daughter watched her dad slip on the ice
and fall on his back, and our adult kids felt we needed to keep that
from happening again.) Then, they each donated a couple of
garage-intensive labor hours. But the major chore was up to
me—organizing 46 years of accumulated Christmas boxes (and spring and
fall and summer boxes and canning equipment—my boxes and my canning
equipment) so we could move everything to the attic and clear the
garage floor. That took me a month of concentrated “an hour a day,
In the midst of cleaning what was left in the garage after the seasonal
decorative boxes were moved, I found a door weathering strip. It was
tucked into a corner, and I vaguely remembered buying it to put on the
back door—another decades-old purchase! Why hadn’t I replaced the
yucky, cruddy, back-door weathering strip before?
Holding it against the back door, I suddenly remembered. The
replacement weathering strip was about three inches too long! I had
simply stuck it in the garage corner and forgotten about it.
But I’m a different woman than I was decades ago. Now, I have an adult
son who cares enough about me to shame me into action! I also know that
any metal can be cut, drilled, hacked or blowtorched if you have the
right tool. And I now own various metal dividers. And what’s more, I
all the metal haws, snips, hacks and files are stored!
In a couple minutes, I crowbarred off the old strip, scrubbed the wood
beneath it, measured the new metal length, clipped off three inches and
pounded nails through the manufacturer-provided holes.
Why hadn’t I
done this before?
Very simple. I didn’t know how. I wasn’t aware that metal could be cut.
I didn’t have a son pushing me to do things I don’t like to do (I like
them done, but I don’t like to do
them to done). I didn’t understand the lore of clipping, snipping and
chiseling. I didn’t have any metal-cutting tools. And I had totally
forgotten about this little project.
I did take some basic electrical training in a required home-economics
class in high school. With a little further oversight from my dad, and
under his cautious scrutiny, I performed some early electrical work
(hanging chandeliers). In the last year I’ve installed dimmers,
repaired the switch on two living-room lamps and rewired matching
Chinese-style bedside lamps for my daughter. We found them for $3 at a
Goodwill store, and the parts probably cost me about $20. I HIGHLY
& Decker Wiring 101: 25 Projects You Really Can Do Yourself.
Check out “Replacing a Broken Plug,” “Fixing a Pull-Chain Switch” or
“Installing a Programmable Thermostat,” The first project I do all the
time, particularly on vacuum cleaners; the last two projects I have on
If you buy
the book, I strongly advise you begin with the section “Turning Off the
This spring I rewired the two chandeliers that hang over my dining room
table on a track so I can adjust them when the table is extended to
full length. Had some trouble with this. Rewired the first chandelier a
little wrong, but when I took the second one apart, I used it as a
model to redo the first one again. Once up on the track lighting, one
dining-room dimmer turned on both lights—there are two dimmers, one for
each chandelier. Back to the drawing board; the next try was another
malfunction, but the third try was the charm. Each chandelier responds
to the appropriate dimmer; the right dimmer makes the right light grow
brighter, and the left dimmer controls the left light. See! This is how
it’s supposed to work. I will say that I do stick with a job until it
is done right.
So. I can do fix-it-up stuff when just a few elements come together.
Someone to prod me. Someone to introduce me to the discipline. A few
successful attempts. Someone to call on when things go wrong. A
template to study. A 101 manual. Oh, and yes, I shamelessly watch the
tradesmen who fix things when I find the money to hire one. I ask them
how to use certain tools. “Lady,” said the last professional, “you can fix that
pull-chain light yourself.
There are only two wires to attach.” Consequently, a place on the to-do
brings me to the thoughts I’ve been working with through this
don’t we have
deeper spiritual growth when we in the Western church have so many
• Why haven’t I read through the Bible before?
• Why don’t I give God quality time in my schedule?
• Why have I put off doing the things I believe God
created me to do?
• Why am I still suffering from that signature sin
that has marked my life way too long?
• Why does my life seem spiritually insignificant or
haven’t we gotten to all the spiritual things that we know need doing
Ah, well, it’s all there in my little metal back-door weather-stripping
• Sometimes, we just don’t know how.
• Sometimes, we don’t have the right tools.
• Sometimes, we can’t find anyone who will share
• Sometimes, we just forget we wanted to do this
• Sometimes, we don’t have a human nag who says,
“And why haven’t you gotten around to this?”
So. When was
the last time you asked yourself, Why
didn’t I do this before?Why didn’t I do this
sooner—look at the joy I’ve missed—? or What
keeps me from pulling it
is really wrong with me?
I asked all these questions of myself multiple times this summer.
Because the irony here is this: I love
order. I love
a clean attic. I love
it when I know where to find tools, foodstuffs, notes from friends,
certain books. I love
that my cupboard shelves are marked with organizing labels from my
Brother “P-touch”® label-maker. It is really,
really neat to be able to
get the car in the garage. I am rapturous when the garden is weeded,
the plants are watered, when a canopy of green shelters the yard, when
the smell of newly cut grass perfumes the early evening. I love it when
the path of river stones wends its way through the new peony garden
(something I’ve seen in my mind’s eye for years—why haven’t I done this
before?). I am happy—happy, happy, happy—with all this progress. So
what is it—in me—that has made me neglectful, wasteful, slothful and
forgetful regarding the materiality of my own life?
And (chillingly) how much of this is an outward symbol that exposes a
corresponding inward spiritual reality—a neglectful, slothful,
wasteful, forgetful quality in my relationship with God?
So?—why haven’t you done it (whatever “it” is) sooner?
If you are looking for a
spiritual companion, director, soul mentor — someone who is trained to
walk the spiritual way with you and if you are in the Chicago area,
contact us at
. AND — if you are trained as a
spiritual companion, director, soul mentor and have room in your
schedule for another mentoree, please contact us at
try to expedite spiritual matchmaking here
in the office.
We are so pleased to announce
that Carla Boelkens has agreed to become the Director of the Global Bag Project.
Carla, who has been ministering internationally for years, traveled
with Karen Mains to Africa in March of 2008 and has been a partner in
developing this microcredit outreach in the year since. Starting in
July, Carla will ease into this position by keeping her part-time job
and working one day a week, then increase her hours as the Global Bag Project
grows. A small office adjoining our Mainstay
suite has been made available to us by our building manager for a most
reasonable fee of $150 a month. We will need, however, to furnish it. A
computer desk, a relatively new computer, furniture to set up a
shipping and mailing center, and storage units are essential. If you
are downsizing, or know of some offices that no longer need these
items, please let us know.
Even starting up a small office (and starting cautiously) means there
will be expenses, so any donations to support the Global Bag Project
office would be greatly
appreciated. Checks can be made out to Hungry Souls, marked
for the Global Bag
Project and mailed to Hungry Souls, Box 30, Wheaton, IL,
The Soulish Food e-mails are
posted biweekly on the Hungry Souls Web
site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to
register on the Web site to receive the biweekly newsletter. You might
want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to www.HungrySouls.org.
"All this brings me to the thoughts
I’ve been working with through this spring— 'Why don’t
we have deeper spiritual growth when we in the Western church have so
many spiritual resources?'"
"Black & Decker Wiring 101:
25 Projects You Really Can Do Yourself"
By Jodie Carter
from page 5:
HERE'S HOW TO USE THIS BOOK.
The first two pages of each project give you the background information
and any technical understanding that will be helpful to understanding
what you're about to do. You'll learn about the skills required, get an
idea of how long the project might take, and see all the tools and
materials you'll need to gather to do a project.
Then, turn the page and begin. Virtually every step is photographed so
you'll see exactly how to do the work, and along the way you'll find
helpful sidebars that show you what to do if something unexpected
happens, tips for using tools correctly, safety recommendations, and
more. Before you know it, you'll notch up another home-repair success.