A confession: I am not much of a DIYer. This is not a strong part of my skill set, and I am apparently accident prone whenever I pick up a tool. Experience has taught me that one of two things will happen if I attempt a DIY project. Either I will hurt myself, and/or break the thing I am working on.

We recently bought a new house, and I was surprised to find within myself a desire to engage in some home improvement projects. I’m not entirely sure where this came from. It could be the new found pride in ownership, or the binge watching of HGTV that I sometimes engage in (courtesy of my wife). I think I am under the illusion that because I have watched someone else do these projects on TV, that somehow my own skill has increased. As you will find it, this can be a dangerous illusion.

Project #1 was to clear a blocked sink in the master bathroom.

blocked sink

Water was draining very slowly from it, and I knew the problem was most likely a build up of gunk in the pipe. I pulled up a Youtube video on “How to clear a blocked sink” and followed the instructions. Step 1 was to straighten out a coat hanger to use as an unblocking tool. I started doing this, and within 5 seconds had jammed the metal end of the coathanger between my thumbnail and the flesh of my thumb. It bled, of course, but under the nail, so no Band-Aid required. I had the thought of, “Well, now that’s out of the way” and carried on. I then remembered that I actually had the proper tool for unblocking in the garage, a manually operated drain snake sort of thing (as you will notice, I don’t know the proper terminology for tools). So, I put a bucket under the U-bend, disconnected the stopper, pulled it out, inserted the drain snake and pulled out the debris (hair, gunk etc.) and cleared the drain. After I put it all back together, I had a great sense of satisfaction, seeing the water run freely out. Problem solved.

Project #2 was to add a lockable doorknob to the door between the garage and the house.

locking doorknob

The current doorknob was not lockable, so if someone gained entrance to the garage there was not any barrier to them entering the house. I went to Home Depot, and noticed something different there. Normally I am filled with trepidation and an overwhelming sense of incompetence as I enter these rows of mysterious tools and widgets, most of which I don’t understand. But this time, I felt that I could find what I wanted and not need assistance. I bought the appropriate doorknob and went home to begin the project. Phase 1 was to remove the old doorknob, which seemed an easy enough task, but here’s why my inexperience showed itself. I unscrewed the doorknob, while the door was still closed, and the other side fell out onto the floor, leaving me no way to actually open the door to put the new one in. I had to find the garage door opener, come in through the garage, reconnect the old doorknob, open the door and start again. I did that with no incident and project #2 was complete.


Project #3 was to install a new shower head in the master bathroom.

shower head

I put it all together and found that I had discovered a new way to shower the ceiling, as water spewed up and away rather than down. A little bit more experimentation, the application of plumbers tape, and twisting the thing one more tight turn solved the problem. But again, I did it wrong before I did it right. Seeing a pattern yet?

Project #4 was the most scary for me, and one that I’ve formerly hired a handyman to do: hanging an articulated TV wall mount.

TV mount

I was nervous about this one, because if I got it wrong, and the TV fell off the wall, that would be an expensive mistake. I drilled the holes, tightened everything up, but was dismayed to see that there was a gap between the screws and the bracket which meant that it was not flush to the wall. I’m no DIY genius but I reckoned that a flush wall mount needs to be flush and not leaning forward, even before adding the weight of a TV to it. My helpful J wife Cathleen then pointed out that I had neglected to add the washers, and as I corrected that, the gap disappeared and the unit was flush. Clearly I need to read the instructions more carefully. The end result was a TV stand that is sturdily attached and holds our TV just fine.

So, what to make of all this? Being a pastor, I naturally look for spiritual lessons where I can, and this experience definitely contained a few. Such as:

  1. Persevere – before you get it right, you might get it wrong
  2. Use the right tools (armor of God, sword of the Spirit?)
  3. Read the instruction manual carefully (The Bible is God’s instruction manual for life.
  4. Partner up. Cathleen’s help proved invaluable, both in pointing out what I had missed, and in helping me with the heavy lifting. In the Christian walk, we were not designed to do this alone. We need others to help us see what we are not seeing, and to carry the burdens with us.

Now, where did I put my drill?

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