Saturday, August 26, 2023

 Fixer Upper

In 2013 Chip and Joanna Gaines aired their first ever episode of “Fixer Upper” on HGTV.  The episode lasted for 43 minutes and in that astoundingly brief period of time, Chip and Joanna were able to fully renovate a young couple’s home.  In less than three quarters of an hour the home went from drab…to fab.  In an interesting contrast my parents purchased their own fixer upper in 1980.  In a mere 43 YEARS later…they have been able to…keep working on it.   

During this past winter, my retired parents sent me a series of photos of their extensive kitchen remodel. In their 43 year old “episode,” this has become their second or third kitchen remodel.  I am sure that many of you can relate to their story, especially if you are a home owner that has lived in the same space for 20 or more years.  This is all the more to be expected when you consider that the home that my parents are “still” fixing up  happens to be more than 100 years old to begin with. 

Many of my childhood hours were spent working on this “fixer upper.”  Before the enforcement of child labor laws, I was sent onto the roof to shingle the roof…by hand.   It is likely that I, as a 6th grader, secured between 0 and 100 shingles…single handedly. 

As with any remodel, or “fixer upper” project there comes a time when a job arises that takes particularly specific skills that only a few craftsman have.  Even as a 5th grader, I had obtained some of these skills. 

“Ryan…I have a job for you.  It is a job that only you can handle.  Are you up for the job?” my dad asked.

“I guess…can it wait until after Bugs Bunny?”

“No! Come here!”

“What do you need?”

“I need you to crawl into this 3 foot dark and dirty crawl space and glue this piece of insulation board to the inside of that concrete wall on the opposite side.”

“Why can’t you do it?”

“Because I no longer weigh…  Because I am too bi….  Because I am not smal…  Because my waist is too…  Because it is a hard job, in a hard place and only you can do it.”

“Well…ok…since you put it that way.”

That day…I did a hard job…in a hard place…and I would like to think that was the day that I became a man.  However, 7 years later when my dad wanted me to enter into that same crawl space to run some wires, I realized that I too had grown too large to fit.  It became clear that it was now my little brother’s turn to become a man.    

My dad has a way of bringing young boys to manhood by sending them into the nether regions of small hard to reach places.  Several years ago, my own son, (12 years old at the time), was sent into an attic crawl space by his grandfather…to do that which my dad or I could no longer do. 

Life is filled with hard tasks in hard places. Yet, just because something is hard to do…or perhaps involves going into a hard place, doesn’t mean that it is not worth doing.  I find that God has designed each one of us to do hard things in hard places throughout our lives.  For some of us the hard places could be a middle school classroom, for others it could be bat-infested attics, while yet others it could be being sent to the jungles of Gabon…if in fact there even are jungles in Gabon…which I really don’t know. 

May you see the hand of God leading you to do hard things in hard places, while remembering that it is HE who has given you the power of His Spirit to accomplish what he has for you to do. Phil. 4:13

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