His Faith Overcame His Pride
A blind man who long dreamed of building his own home learns to accept help.
It was slow going. It took us nearly two days to finish a single log. Once the notches were cut out I had to plane the wood with hammer and chisel, following Debra’s indentations, until it fit perfectly against the log above it.
The final piece was putting the log in place using a forklift. Debra wasn’t strong enough to pop the clutch, so she guided me while I drove and maneuvered the lift. That’s right. A blind guy driving a forklift with a 2,000-pound log on it. We made it work.
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By fall, walls nearly four feet high surrounded a beautiful, tongue-and-groove wood floor. We were on our way.
In March the floor collapsed, buckled by five feet of frost underneath it—like nothing we’d ever experienced in balmy North Carolina.
“That’s okay,” I told Debra. “We can fix it.” I knew from hiking, when you stumbled you just had to get up and keep going. Stumbling is part of learning. I drove in deep support posts that held until the next winter, when heavy snows crushed the floor again.
So much for learning! A thick steel I-beam ultimately proved the solution.
As the walls grew higher the work of fitting the logs together grew ever more difficult. Debra and I were short with each other, our halcyon days when everything was new and exciting fading as time went by. We spent the next 10 years slowly working on the log home whenever we could.
There were frequent interruptions. Between work and day-to-day life it was hard to dedicate the time that was needed. Still, we kept at it. I’d thought we were near the end.
Now, the inspector’s words still burning my ears, I paced around our home, feeling the logs with my hands, digging into them with my knife. There was no saving them. I climbed the ladder to the top of the scaffolding and jerked the starter cord to my chainsaw. It was late evening when we toppled the last wall.
That night I lay in bed thinking. The vision had been so clear. To build a home by hand from scratch. It would be almost an extension of my soul. I’d seen it so clearly in my heart. Now all I could imagine was a pile of rotting debris. It was a blessing I couldn’t see it. I might just give up.
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The next day friends invited us to their house for lunch. The husband, Sam Francis, was a builder. I dreaded telling Sam what had happened. We weren’t five minutes through the front door when Sam asked, “How’s the log home coming?”
“I cut it down yesterday,” I said. “The wood rotted on us.”
The room went totally silent. “You must be devastated,” he said.
I shuffled my feet. “What if you tried another approach?” Sam said hesitantly. “You could use beams and posts, prefabricated panels for the roof and walls.” I knew that. Everyone knew I knew that.
But that wasn’t my dream. And the panels were huge, unwieldy. No way could Debra and I handle them on our own. Pioneers didn’t use panels!
“I can knock out some plans for you on the computer today,” Sam said. I heard Debra clear her throat. She might as well have punched me in the back. Lord, I prayed, if this is your will...
Somewhat reluctantly, I followed my friend’s advice. Debra and I worked nearly every day that summer, cutting notches in the beams and putting them in place with a hoist, one every couple of hours. We quickly fell into a comfortable rhythm. It was fun again. A labor of love.
By fall our home’s beautiful exposed wood skeleton was nearly complete. One chilly afternoon I bolted in the last roof beam. Time for the panels. It was critical to get them on before winter. Yet we had not made any arrangements.
What now, Lord?