Thursday, March 22, 2018

My First Wall Scraper

Are you handy with a hammer or are you all thumbs?

Though I have owned a home for over 18 years I have not taken on very many home improvement projects. This, combined with the fact that my mom did not do well in the area of house upkeep, leaves me in a situation where I have gone back to school. What am I currently learning? I am taking a real life course in how to update a very...very dated home, turning it into something that is both modern and comfortable. My classroom at the moment is our dining room which we hope to split into a dining and sitting area. My first course: learning how to take down wallpaper.

When we first bought the house I freshened up the bedrooms by painting over the old wallpaper. Actually I should say I have painted over where the previous owner painted over the wallpaper. I wanted to do the same in the dining room but water damage from a leaky roof is forcing me to replace the drywall. This is going to leave us with new drywall sitting side by side with old (painted) wallpaper. Not wanting to see the difference in texture between the two I decided it's time to buy a wallpaper scraper.

With two big box hardware stores nearby, I headed into one for my new scraper. I always enjoy buying a new tool and walking around a hardware store is one of life’s great adventures. The only drawback is having to fight the urge to buy something I had not planned on getting. So after gathering a few new ideas I started my search for a wallpaper scraper, which was not where I thought the store would put it. After walking around for several minutes, I finally gave in and let my wife ask for help.

As is often the case, we easily found a sales associate ready and willing to offer advice. So we asked where we could find a wallpaper scraping tool. The associate told us they no longer sell wallpaper. I am not sure why he told me this. I didn't want to put wallpaper up. I wanted to take it down. By the look on his face I could tell he was a bit puzzled as to why anyone would buy a wallpaper scraper. After admitting that he did not know if they carried scrapers, he pointed us to the department a scraper might be in if they did carry them. As it turns out, they did.

While my shopping trip was successful I was left wondering: Why do people so often answer the question that was not asked? While you ponder this, I have a wall to scrape. I will post updates on my progress along with descriptions of my successes and failures as I learn home improvement on the fly. And the next time I need a tool, I suspect I’ll visit one of the local independent hardware stores where I hope to avoid any funny looks or strange answers.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Book Review: 7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness

I knew I would like this book by the second paragraph of its introduction, which I found hard to put down. In describing the goal of his book, Eric Metaxas promises something different: a book of biographies written to challenge our current definitions of “What is a man?” and “What makes a man great?” Metaxas tells us the stories of seven great men (eight if you count his mention of the Duke in the introduction). In the process he delivers on his promise, asking the reader to see masculinity through a much different pair of glasses.

As promised in its title, this book is an introduction to greatness. It is a reminder that by developing and following the right convictions people (men in this book, women in the companion book which I am reading next) have achieved great things. Each of these men are known for the impact they had on the human story. What is often overlooked is how the faith which was at the core of their beings lead them in a lifetime of making the world a better place. They did not set out to be great. They set out to follow their callings. By reading their stories we are encouraged to follow their examples.

With enough facts to feed those who love reading biographies and yet light enough to entertain those who normally run from non-fiction, “7 Men” is a book that I recommend for all types of readers. While the target audience appears to be people of faith, as well as those seeking to find lives that were changed by their faith, this is at its core an introduction to people we may think we already know. I give two thumbs up with an exclamation mark to “7 Men,” a book that both informs and enriches the lives of its readers.

Eric Metaxas’ web page:

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Spontaneous or Planned Bedtime Prayer?

“Now I lay me down to sleep…”

If you grew up in a Christian home there’s a good chance your childhood bedtime routine included prayer with your parents. Perhaps you routinely prayed something like the words written above or maybe your prayer involved giving thanks for all the good things that happened that day. Some of us prayed at the side of our beds with our parents. Others prayed while in bed, mom or dad sitting on the edge of the bed. It was all part of a very comforting routine, an expectation in any “good” Christian household.

As a parent of teenaged boys I no longer can get away with the old wrote repetition prayers. How do I keep the routine going without it ringing hollow, nothing more than a habit passed along by tradition? Perhaps I should plan what we will say each night, avoiding the memorized prayers in order to bring something of substance before the throne of grace. If not a planned prayer, perhaps bedtime should involve something more spontaneous and less routine. After all, payer is a conversation with God. I do not want my kids asking me the same question over and over again night after night. Why would God want to hear the same non-petition night after night after night?

Of course the old standby routine prayers are good for helping younger children establish the habit of going to God in prayer. Yet, as they get older it seems like there is a need for something else. A little planning and a lot of listening can become an avenue for helping them learn to open their hearts to God. With the opportunity to speak openly with him about the things in life that concern them, perhaps prayer might become more real and meaningful. As a parent, spontaneous prayer might even afford the opportunity to get to know my children a little better by hearing what they lift up to God in prayer.

Moving forward our bedtime prayers are going to be a lot less routine. Some nights I will think ahead of time about concerns the children have expressed or about things that are on my heart concerning them. At other times we will just wing it, saying whatever is on our hearts. Whether planned ahead of time or spontaneous, our prayers will not follow the same wrote pattern of the past. I look forward to seeing how God responds as my children learn to earnestly seek him.

What do you think and what is involved in your family’s bedtime routine?