The Most Important Thing in Building a House


I never thought I’d be hearing a sermon in my bathroom.

I stood among the sheetrock dust and cast off nails and listened as my tile guy told me how he could not put the tile on the wall the way I envisioned. On the far right and far left of our newly constructed master bath stood our bathroom vanities – one for me and one for my husband. On the floor was some type board to go under the tile, that had been recently nailed into the subfloor. The shower was tucked in the corner and coated with red waterproofing.

My tile guy, Randy, stood in the center of the bathroom where my tub was to sit, behind him were red lasers running the length of the wall and floor to guide his tile installation. This was the wall where I dreamed of large white textured tiles running from floor to ceiling.

My husband and I are in the home stretch of building our dream home. We moved from the city to the country to build next door to my parents. My brother and his family live on the other side. Through the process there have been lots of ups and downs. I’ve learned a lot about pressure treated pine, building codes and the true meaning of “estimates.” (It means add 20% to your estimated cost and pray to God you don’t exceed it.)

Randy walked to the wall where the laser made a line parallel to the floor and measured from floor to line. Then he walked across to the opposite wall and measured again. “Yep,” he told me. “It’s 7/8th of an inch difference from one wall to the other. If you run tile all the way to the ceiling vault, you’ll be able to see that.”

Let me be straight with you. I know there are more important things in life. People starving. Those who don’t know Jesus. Too many kids in the foster system. Homelessness…just to name a few. In comparison to the big picture, me not getting tile on the wall behind my tub doesn’t even rank a blip on the radar. It’s not important.

But, it was a little disappointing nonetheless.

I stood there looking at the floor with my wary eyeball trying to see the difference in height – which I couldn’t – and imagined the framers as they put the floor down. Honestly, in this process I’ve learned how one small decision or mistake anywhere in the course of the build can alter the whole thing.

“It’s crazy how one small thing being a little bit off can affect every single thing that comes after it,” I told Randy.

From behind me, Randy’s helper, Anthony, spoke up, “It actually goes all the way back to the foundation. If your foundation isn’t right, everything in the whole house is off. The foundation is the key most important element in the whole build.”

I’m pretty certain my mouth hung open a second as I realized the sweaty, dust-covered man in front of me had preached an entire sermon in one statement.

I chuckled a little and told him, “Preach it, brother.”

You don’t have to build a house to need that important information. Your foundation– everything you believe and stand on – must be strong in order for your life not to fall down around you at the first storm.

That foundation, the building blocks of your life and who you are, must be in Jesus Christ. He alone can smooth imperfections and level out floors. Have you ever tried to put something together and realized it won’t work because you don’t have something lined up just right? It can be frustrating. But don’t give up. It’s never too late to start over with a new foundation in Christ.

And if you forget, don’t worry. Wherever you are, God will remind you – even in the bathroom.

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11 ESV


Did you Inhale?

I stood mesmerized by the floating and dancing in the sun’s rays. Moving my arm like I was cutting through water I stirred the air before me, then paused to watch the wake.

Tiny bits of dust twirled and hovered. The sunlight illuminated the large quantity of dust floating through my bedroom. I turned from the window to look back into the room, and the dust was gone. At least it seemed that way, but I knew it was ever present. Whether dancing in the light, or hiding in the dark, the dust remained.

As I watched the performance in front of me, my intrigue turned to disgust. All I could think was, I’m breathing that. I had no idea how much dust was in the air until the morning’s light brought it to my attention. Our air filters were just replaced, and dollar signs danced in my eyes as I thought of a home air cleaning system.

So I stood frozen, staring at the tiny invaders and said it aloud this time, “I breathing that.” The breath of my words started more spinning and movement.

Dust isn’t the only unwelcome guest in my home. When I turn on the television or radio or pick up a magazine or book, those people, those words, those situations walk right in through the front door. And I’m breathing them in. Without completely comprehending it, I invited them.

Over time, I’ve realized I decide what to inhale. I can choose a television show with an uplifting message, the transforming power of God’s Word, or Christian radio with encouraging songs. Or I can select programs with compromising situations, magazines with unrealistic photos, and I can sing along to songs with inappropriate lyrics.

When I hold things to the Light (John 9:5), I get a much better perspective.

I’m not saying I don’t ever listen to rock-n-roll, and I’ve seen my fair share of inappropriate movies and tv shows. But let’s get real. Whether you believe it or not, everything we see and hear in a day sinks down into our soul and settles there. It’s what we breathe.

Each morning now I look for them – my dust dancers. And it’s a reminder for me to inhale wisely.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV


Convenient Worship

He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 1 Kings 12:28 NIV

The clock read 6:45 a.m. I hit the snooze button and rolled over. The room was dark, and I was cozy under my covers. It was too cold to get up and out of bed. Nine minutes later, I did it again, telling myself I’d get up in a minute. But thinking of getting three kids ready for church already had me exhausted and my pinky toe hadn’t even hit the floor.

I closed my eyes thinking of reasons we should stay home. 1. I’m tired. I’ve been busy all week, and I can worship God from home… I never got to number two. I fell back asleep. But instead of waking up again in nine minutes, I was awakened from the light in my room and rolled over to look at the clock. 7:45 a.m.

7:45!!! I hit the floor running and jumped in the shower. Knowing Alan and I couldn’t both shower and get the kids ready and out the door in fifteen minutes, I convinced myself it would be fine for us to just make it to the worship service. We would just have to miss Sunday school this week.

No big deal.

At least that’s what I thought until I was having my quiet time the next morning. In 1 Kings, I read about Rehoboam and Jeroboam. King Rehoboam was ruler over the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. His father was Solomon. Jeroboam was the ruler over the rest of Israel. The kingdom was split.

Jeroboam knew that if the Israelites journeyed back to Jerusalem to worship at the temple there, they were likely to turn back to God and move their loyalty to Rehoboam. In order to prevent this from happening, he made two golden calves and told the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” (v. 28)

The people content not to travel all the way to Jerusalem began to worship the idols and offer sacrifices on the altars Jeroboam built. Worship this way was much more convenient. And out of their selfish need for convenience, they sinned.

This story struck me as I thought about not getting up for church. It wasn’t easy to rise early and get everybody going. I revered sleep more than God. I was no different from those Israelites who worshipped the nearby golden calves.

There are those in this world who walk by foot to the nearest body of believers to fellowship and worship the Lord. Others do it in the dark of night not to be discovered. I’ve heard of some who have memorized large chunks of the Bible, in order to carry the forbidden Word of God with them wherever they go. But it wasn’t convenient for me to get up for Sunday school. It was chilly, and I was tired. My excuses sound so shallow now.

When did ease become more important than respect and devotion?

Oh, God, forgive me. I have taken for granted the freedom I have to worship. Let me remember that coming into your presence is a privilege not a weekly ritual. Please don’t let me place the idol of sleep or convenience in front of You. Use me, Lord, in spite of myself. Draw me ever nearer. Create in me a need to seek Your face, not your hand. I love you. Amen.


I Stand Amazed at the Presence

The streets were full with people going this way and that. I used my phone to track my way to the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Alan told me it was close by, and I thought it’d be an interesting place to visit. I walked with purpose, following the tracking dot to my destination. And when I looked up, I saw it.

Not the Jewish museum, but the church. The church I’d been staring at the back of every day. The one whose bells woke me my first morning here. Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church. It sat majestic on the street, beckoning weary souls inside. The sign said it was established in 1851, and the building looked it. It was old but not run down. History was thick in the walls. It is listed as San Francisco’s historic landmark #4.

The outer doors were open, and I was drawn inside. Not being Catholic, I walked in somewhat apprehensive, unsure what to expect. The inner doors were shut, so I laid my ear to the crack making sure I wasn’t about to interrupt a mass. I pulled the heavy wooden doors carefully, not making a sound. I had a sudden intake of breath as I marveled at the beauty within.

I glanced from the Holy water beside me to the rows of pews in front of me. I walked down the center aisle wishing to sit at the front but not wanting to draw attention to myself from the other worshippers inside. Candles were lit in bunches down the outside of each row. My girlfriend had lightheartedly asked me to light a candle for her if I found a Catholic church. I looked for unlit candles and matches, but didn’t see any. I was afraid to ask, for fear they might ask for my Catholic membership card or something.

I finally settled on sitting in a pew toward the back. I sat down and inhaled the glory of God. I was at home. Tears flooded my eyes, and all I wanted to do was fall on my face and cry “Glory! God you are so good.” At home, I closed my eyes to talk to my Almighty Father.

Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy. Psalm 99:5 NIV

God, you deserve all the glory and honor. Thank you for drawing me to You today. Thank you for placing a little piece of home in a large and busy city. I love you and stand in awe of Your presence in my life. Please continue to use me. Amen.


Climate Control

Something looked out of place under the cast-off comforter on our bedroom floor. As I made the bed, I noticed our fuzzy winter blanket lying on the floor on my husband’s side. A quick glance at the weather station confirmed my thoughts – 92 degrees outside. What would make a man top a sheet and comforter with a fuzzy blanket in the middle of a southern summer? I wondered but immediately knew the answer – a pregnant wife.

The fan above me spun wildly. It was on high. I reached up and turned it down a notch. Okay, so maybe that was a bit much in the airflow department. I could admit it. But being pregnant in the south during the summer ain’t cool. And I do mean that literally.

You may not be pregnant, but you probably control the climate in your home more than you realize. Have you ever uttered words that completely chilled a room? Have you turned up the heat on your spouse when they have unknowingly stepped on your last nerve? Whether you are the husband or the wife, I bet you could answer yes to both. I know I could.

Sometimes without even realizing it, we cause our loved ones to reach for the fuzzy blankets in summer, while they desperately try to create an environment in which they can live comfortably. Stop and ask yourself how well you’ve been controlling the climate in your home. Do you alternate from hot to cold or do you keep things at a relaxed temperature?

Perhaps you, like me, can’t control how you are feeling. Pregnancy makes me hot all the time; your uncontrollable situation may be your job, your children, or your health, just to name a few. Just apologize to your family members and explain what’s causing you to turn up the heat. Sometimes just an explanation can make all the difference.

Better to live in a desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife. 
Proverbs 21:19 NIV

Lord, help me to be mindful of how my mood and temperament affect the rest of my family. Show me how to create a contented environment for those I love, even when I’m feeling the heat. May all I say and do be pleasing in your sight. Amen.