If I were a carpenter

Where we live in the western suburbs of Des Moines there is building activity in all directions. The beautiful cornfield behind our house when we moved here nearly five years ago is now a new townhouse development.

Some of the units show “sold” signs before they are completed.

It has been interesting watching the progress of the development. Large tractors pulled heavy equipment over what looked like level land to make it more level. Then basements were dug and towering equipment pumped concrete into the foundation forms. Finally walls came up followed by roofs.

The roofs have been of the most interest to me. I nearly fell from a two-story roof 50 years ago and have not been comfortable working at heights since. The townhouses coming up in our backyard are two-stories tall and the roofers walk around up there better than I can walk on level ground.

On a recent winter morning I was surprised to see workers walking on a frost-covered roof. I am not good at judging the pitch of the roof but it’s at least as steep as a 1970s ranch home. Again I’m guessing but the eaves must be more than 20 feet above the ground.

The roofers were tied to anchors but I was still awestruck.

As I watched the guys casually walking around on the roof I considered how fortunate we are that God gave each of us different skills. If it had been dictated that I be a roofer, I would have starved.

If it would have been dictated that I had to be a carpenter, I would have starved. Likewise, if it had been dictated that I had to be a mechanic, I would have starved.

Now here’s the gut-punch: all three of my brothers are excellent carpenters and mechanics. I don’t know how good they are at roofing but I’ll bet they’re better than I am.

The house needs a little remodeling? No problem; my brothers can do it all.

When I get out my tool box I reach for a box of bandages at the same time. Before any project is completed I’m bleeding from somewhere. I’m not what public television’s Red Green would call “handy.”

Forty years ago my wife and I decided to spruce up our basement. When we purchased the 25-year-old ranch house it had been converted into an upper-lower duplex. We were fine with that because the lower level provided a family room, an extra bath and two more bedrooms. Two means of egress had been included to meet city code.

The large lower-level kitchen, I figured, could be divided into two areas ? a sewing room for my wife and an office area for me.

With more courage than brains and more ideas than budget, I determined that if my brothers could do something like this I could do it, too.

Being a bit obsessive-compulsive I measured everything several times. With the kitchen nicely divided and the walls up I measured one more time. I shouldn’t have. One of the walls was ™ inch off plumb. When I pointed it out to others, they couldn’t see it. Every time I walked into the basement I could see that 6.35-millimeter mistake.

The new paneling in the family room went better.

To top it off I had decided to remodel the main floor bathroom including a new vanity, top and faucet set. My friends at the plumbing supply store gave me careful instructions but when it came time to hook up the new faucet it leaked. A lot. The home did not have water shutoffs at the point of use so the water supply for the entire home was turned off and I couldn’t turn it on again in fear of flooding the bathroom.

A handyman acquaintance came to my rescue and got things hooked up. Though I had not budgeted for a plumber I paid him generously. He deserved it. Toilets needed to be flushed.

Though things didn’t look all that bad when I was done, I decided to never take on a project like that again. And that decision, of course, included any work needed on the roof.

So when I watch the workers build those new townhouses in my backyard, I do so with admiration.

God gifts us each differently. Obviously, my gift is not in



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