All great relationships start when people choose to trust God. We are all imperfect people trying to love other imperfect people in an imperfect world. Therefore, we all have perfectly imperfect marriages. The greatest moment of your marriage is when you realize you don’t have all the answers, when in reckless abandon you throw your hands up in the air and say to God, Okay, we’ll do it Your way! Lead on.
That’s exactly what happened with the house. I’ll never forget the Friday morning I was standing on my newly poured foundation. The framers were to arrive the next day, and my job was to get everything ready for them. I had never done this before. I had committed to this because someone with experience was willing to walk me through. Now that man was not available, and I was standing on my cement, asking God for wisdom and any help He could send my way.
My new neighbor happened to have a day off from work that day. He also happened to have experience preparing job sites for a framing company. He volunteered about four hours to show me how to mark the studs so the workers could stay busy. That was just one of many stories.
We endured a pretty strenuous 18-month process from conception (of the house, not the baby!) to our move-in day — two weeks after Caleb arrived. The actual building time was about the same as the pregnancy. During this nine months, Bill was pastoring full-time and building full-time, so he was getting very little sleep. My job was running around town, taking care of the kids, and providing on-site meals. I ran the phone lines, tied steel rebar for the foundation, hammered together walls, and helped insulate, finish wallboard, and clean up each day. I have a renewed appreciation for what the homestead women went through on their trek west!
The two days before Caleb was born, Bill stayed up 48 hours straight while the driveway was being poured and the concrete was setting. We thought we had a shot at bringing the baby home to our new house, so he burned the candle at both ends. I went to the hospital for a scheduled C-section on August 3 at 6 a.m., and Bill, the amazing dutiful husband, was by my side all the way. However, when I came out of recovery, I looked better than Bill did!
The first day after a C-section, Mom is supposed to stay flat in bed. But in the middle of the night after feeding Caleb, I tried to wake Bill, who had crashed in an uncomfortable folding chair. When I couldn’t wake him, I attempted to sit up enough to place Caleb in his clear bassinet.
Accomplishing this was no small feat, but with prayer, determination, and mothering instincts, I set Caleb safely in his bed. In the process, my IV got tangled and was pulled out of my hand. Blood began to spray everywhere. I pushed the nurse’s button and yelled for Bill. Bill was in such poor shape that I couldn’t wake him. I was up and had walked partway to the center station before a nurse came to help me. Bill never moved an inch, deep in REM sleep!
Even the nurse noticed and said, “Deep sleeper, huh?”
I explained all that Bill had done for our family and me the past few months, and she smiled in approval. I looked over at my sleeping prince charming, and a rush of love overwhelmed me. I knew regardless of what life threw our way, we’d find a way to stay in love for a lifetime. I had married a real keeper!
Upkeep for the Keeper
When our house was finally completed, I (Bill) was exhausted. All I wanted was to go to work, come home, eat, and sleep. I figured I had earned the right to live at a slow pace for at least a year. But I have a family! Our three boys are just that — boys — and that means things in our home are often broken.
In order to obtain the final permit to move into our house, I had to install a sprinkler system and groundcover on the hill in my backyard. About two months after we had moved in, I pulled into the driveway after a day at work, when suddenly something flew over the windshield of my car. As I got out of the car, I looked in the backyard and saw my two older boys and one of their friends with baseball bats in their hands, practicing their golf swings on my sprinkler heads! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I felt as if I were in a bad dream I couldn’t escape from. I told the boys’ friend to go home immediately. He dropped the bat and ran like a gazelle. I then said to my boys, “You’d better get in the house before I do something we all regret.”
I wandered around the house for the next hour in a disillusioned stupor. I found myself expecting my four- and six-year-old sons to possess the maturity of adults. What were they thinking? Don’t they realize how hard this is on me? Don’t they appreciate the year of hard work I have just put in? I bet they did this just to make me mad! As I walked around the house, I forced myself to pray one of my most profound prayers: Jesus, I would rather have kids than sprinklers. I had to repeat this prayer over and over again because I didn’t really mean it at first. But after about an hour, I finally convinced myself that it was true.
Ever since that day, a question has haunted me: Why does life require so much maintenance?
Fixed things won’t stay fixed. Weeds grow faster than everything else. Relationships deteriorate unless you nurture them. In other words, remodeling is a way of life.
We bought home number three because Dr. David Jeremiah offered Bill a wonderful position on the staff of Shadow Mountain Church. The new ministry position was a dream, but the 60-minute commute in Southern California traffic was a nightmare. Right away, we prayed that God would give us a home a few minutes from the church and the high school where Caleb, our youngest son, attended.
Our real estate agent, Cynthia, found a home on a hillside with a gorgeous view three minutes away from work and school, but it seemed a little unusual. The owner was a machinist, and his “shop” was 800 square feet and sat next to the home. The home was built over a seven-car garage, where he restored antique cars. We only had two cars (three if you count the 20-year-old VW our son was trying to get running again). I loved the cabin feel of the upstairs, but Bill never seemed to make it up there. Every time we visited the home to decide whether to buy it, Bill stood downstairs, pondering the enormity of the garage. Finally, a little perplexed by this behavior, I marched downstairs and said, “Bill, you don’t need a seven-car garage!”
Then my very wise husband smiled his broad, beautiful grin, the one that made me first fall in love with him, and said, “Pam, picture this. Two-car garage, three offices, and a guest room suite. And the shop can hold all the books and products as our ministry grows!”
He was brilliant! He could see what I had missed — the amazing potential for a bright future housed in the shell of that garage. And that’s the attitude we hope you two embrace as you read this book. Don’t look at the problems, look at the potential of your love!
Adapted from The 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make: Bringing Out the Best in Your Relationship.
Copyright © 2008 Bill and Pam Farell, Published by Harvest House. All rights reserved, used by permission.