Brick by Brick

Brick by Brick

Ever feel like you’re trying to get somewhere but you’re not going very fast?

You put in the time and effort, work as hard as you can, yet the amount of things you have left to do feels untouched, unmoved, unproductive?

Yesterday, I moved two tons of bricks. At least, that’s what I’ve calculated from my brother’s estimation of the weight upon completion of our little project. And I’m kind of proud of myself.

As I write this, we are to be practicing “social distancing” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Which I’m sure you have heard about unless you are living in a hole and if you are living in a hole, I suggest you stay there, it’s safer for you.) This means Andrew started working from home last Tuesday (March 17), creating time to tackle a project that has needed done here: our pantry needed gutted due to water damage that caused mold.

If you know me or have kept up with my blog at all, you should know that mold and I do not get along. Not only am I an asthmatic, I also have mold growing in my lungs that caused the upper part of my left lung to collapse and need removed. So, having a pantry that was added on to the back of the kitchen at some point that leaked and got moldy is not a fantastic thing for me to live with. To be honest, it’s probably not good for anyone to live with.

A couple months ago, Andrew sacrificed and moved all the contents of the pantry into his office so I wouldn’t have to go in there anymore. I started feeling much better soon after he moved it. I can’t help but think that is why – I’m no longer exposed to all the mold that was in there. We couldn’t see any, but there was a smell, and I knew it wasn’t good.

Since he’s been working from home and my little brother hasn’t been working full time at the moment, they decided to spend these spring-y days fixing the pantry. We expected to gut the inside and replace some of the roof, but we were not expecting to have to completely tear everything out, leaving only the roof, and start from scratch.

But that’s what happened.

Jacob and Andrew posing with rare smiles after completing the new floor.

Once they got working and tore away layer upon layer of building materials, they realized that the problem was deeper than anticipated and that the whole structure was sketchy. Therefore, I am getting a whole new pantry.

I spent a couple of days hiding in the back bedrooms of my house because they were removing things from the inside and carrying them out. The kitchen was covered in dirt, plaster, and who knows what else. I’d walk in the room and feel it in my lungs, so I stayed away as much as possible, only going out if I needed to and using my mask when I did.

After searching for a while, they finally go to the middle of the layers of pantry. There they found bricks stacked between the wooden framing. These too had to go, so they got piled up like all the other debris. Since I was unable to help with the destruction of the pantry and wouldn’t be very helpful in the construction of it, I decided what I could do was move the pile of bricks into the back of a dump trailer that was graciously loaned to us by Jacob’s boss.

Yesterday afternoon, I put on a pair of old jeans and a sweatshirt that could get dirty, found my work gloves, and got to work.

At first, it felt like it would take forever. Not even exaggerating, when there’s a pile that size of bricks (how was it so big, though?! The pantry wasn’t even THAT big…) it makes you wonder if you can actually move it, or at least make a difference. Instead of just looking at it, though, I put my earbuds in, turned on some Christian rock music, and got to work.

Brick by brick, the pile outside got smaller and the pile in the trailer got a little bigger, and a little bigger…

The end result of my solo efforts.

After an hour, I was hungry. I stopped for a 15 minute break to refuel and let my body rest a little bit before starting again.

I know that at least one point in time, my strong, healthy little brother was judging me for how slowly I was going. I purposefully did that from the start, knowing slow and steady wins the race and as the person God made me, I have to pace myself or I wear out quickly. I also get dizzy if I lean down and stand up too fast thanks to the adrenal insufficiency. I started at the further away end of the pile after cleaning a walk way so there would be more time in between each armload of bricks and I could more easily pace myself by creating distance.

Two and a half hours into me starting, the boys, who had just finished wrapping the new pantry with house wrap, decided to change plans and finish loading the bricks so we could dump them sooner than expected. They hopped in, after I made them take a picture of me with all the stuff I did all by myself. We kept loading (it’s amazing how fast it went with three people moving it compared to just me) and soon it was time for Jacob to go get his truck so he could pull the trailer out so Andrew could hook his truck up to it.

All filled and ready to be hooked up to Andrew’s truck.

After a bit of work and last minute running around, we took the bricks and watched the trailer effortlessly dump out the bricks we spent three to fours hours loading up in less than two minutes.

As I was loading the trailer in solitude, I thought about how often our efforts seem futile, like we aren’t going anywhere, until we stop and look at how far we have actually come. It is the greatest encouragement to keep picking up your bricks, one at a time, even if you have to go slowly. It may not feel like much now, but it might make all the difference.

Had I not been halfway done with the pile, the boys wouldn’t have thought to make that their next step. Because I worked slowly, thankful to be slightly helpful, my back yard is now *almost* cleaned up (there is one pile of burnable things left to take to my parents) which means Andrew and I SHOULD get to relax some today for the first time since our “quarantine”.

Maybe what you dream of doing seems difficult, maybe you think you don’t have enough time, energy, or resources, but maybe you CAN start, move one brick at a time, and sooner than you think, there will be a pile showing how much you have done.

And then.

Keep going.

Please let me know if you need prayer during this time. I still feel like I am in a dreamlike state, but I know for some this is a nightmarish reality. Let’s use this time to join together and pray for each other. We can still be close in spirit while we are far apart in body.

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