My Redneck Deck

            And my God will supply all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:19 NIV

My daughter-in-law called it our redneck deck. She should have been around when we first started building this place we call home.

During our poor years in the late 1970s, when our oldest child was a toddler and I was pregnant with our second, we yearned to move out of our second-floor apartment into a house of our own. Being that I’d resigned from teaching to be a full-time homemaker and my husband’s job at the local scrapyard brought in, on average, a hundred dollars a week, no bank would take a chance on us.

So we decided to build our own house on the pay-as-we-go plan on land that had once been the Huey homestead. Every nail, every piece of lumber, every inch of wiring, every bit of plumbing, every sheet of drywall, every roll of insulation, everything that went into this place, we put in ourselves.

We lived in the basement for five years until the upstairs was done enough to be livable. We put siding on twenty-nine years after we first put the shovel to the dirt and moved the kitchen upstairs around the same time. After nearly three decades, over a quarter of a century, the house was almost done, with the exception of a painted wooden floor in the kitchen, a porch-less front door hanging on the front of the house, and our redneck deck.

The redneck deck was unique in that it was built with wooden pallets my husband salvaged from the rubbish pile at work. We wanted a deck constructed with treated or rough lumber that stretched along the entire back side of the house, but we were still on the pay-as-we-go plan and couldn’t afford the dream deck.

So when the first redneck deck built from castoff pallets became too unreliable to walk on (pallets weren’t made to be transformed into some poor folks’ back porch and suffer a western Pennsylvania winter), I prayed, “God, please supply us with the lumber to replace these awful pallets.”

I should have asked for new lumber—honest-to-goodness real lumber. Ask and ye shall receive.

Within the week, Dean came home with the “new lumber”: another load of castoff pallets. Only this time the wood was thicker, stronger, and sturdier. And he added extra strips of wood so that the grandkids’ little feet wouldn’t slip through the slats.

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor?

Truth be told, I loved my redneck deck until we replaced it with a real deck. I kind of miss it.

You see, it was a daily reminder that we don’t have to have everything perfect and exactly the way we want to be happy.

Dear God, thank You for the redneck decks of life. They remind us that happiness isn’t dependent on our circumstances, but is found in relationships—with You and with those You’ve put in our lives. Amen.

Read and reflect on Proverbs 30:8–9.

The finished back deck
The finished front deck (before that if you stepped out of the door, you dropped 8 feet to the ground. The kids loved to jump out that door!)

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Nothing Wasted

“Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” —John 6:12 NIV

I learned resourcefulness and frugality early. I was nine years old when my father lost his job and used his skills as a carpenter to put food on the table. Meatless meals, such as bowties and cottage cheese or tomato soup and potato pancakes, were the standard fare, as were leftovers.

The truth of the adage “waste not, want not” was a lesson well learned, for I needed to apply it when my husband and I were raising a family and building a house on one income. I threw nothing away. Even small, one-serving portions of vegetables were saved and used in a stew. Sometimes I forgot about the leftovers stashed in the refrigerator until obnoxious odors sent me on a search-and-pitch mission. At least a healthy growth of mold assuaged the guilt I felt throwing away food.

As the children grew, so did our income, and I began to be less frugal. By the time the empty nest years began, disposable dust rags, toilet bowl cleaning pads, kitchen and bathroom wipes, and eyeglass lens cleaning cloths filled our cupboards. It’s easy to become careless when there’s plenty.

Jesus, God’s Son, who had the riches of heaven at His disposal, disliked waste. After He miraculously fed a crowd that numbered close to ten thousand people (the Gospels indicate five thousand men were fed that day, but that number did not include women and children), He told His disciples to gather up the leftovers.

“Let nothing be wasted,” He said.

Jewish tradition dictated that bread scraps be picked up and saved, since the Jews considered bread, which often represents life, as a gift from God.

What a far cry from our attitude today! A mentality that everything is disposable has spilled over into how we view relationships and life itself. Aborting an unborn child, abandoning a spouse for greener pastures, and assisting the suicide of a chronically ill person demonstrate today’s throw-away attitude: “When you’re done with it or don’t want it, throw it away, whether or not it can still be used.”

The speaker for the 2014 Punxsutawney Christian Women’s Conference, Linda Evans Shepherd, had a daughter who was paralyzed and brain damaged in a car accident when she was eighteen months old. Laura was now in her twenties and had a host of ongoing medical problems. But she was able to communicate “yes” and “no” with her tongue. Linda said Laura was doing what she wanted to do, which was to live. She has since passed away.

In spite of their difficult life, however, Laura brought much joy to her family.

“Let nothing be wasted,” Jesus said.

Nothing. Not the shards of our fractured lives and shattered dreams. Not broken relationships or wrecked bodies. Gather the fragments and give them to the One who will make each fragment count.

Thank You, Lord, that, in Your hands, nothing is wasted. Amen.

Read and meditate on John 6:1–13.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea: 101 devotional readings to savor during your time with God © 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. Used with permission.