Hey there Gonzales. Gotta ask, did someone move us to Seattle when we weren't looking or what? I don't know about you, but I've had about all the rain I can handle, for now, anyway. Trying to keep the mushrooms from growing out of my forehead is getting to be a full-time job. Looks like Kitchen Pride may have some competition, but that's Texas for you, go big or go home!
The book of Ecclesiastes (or EcclesiEstes as I lovingly refer to it) has always been one of my favorites. King Solomon, trying to find the meaning of life through work, wealth, possessions, wine, women, wisdom, knowledge and status, came to the conclusion that it's all meaningless, like chasing the wind. The answer: Serve God and follow his commandments, for this is where true contentment is found. Solomon was trying everything he could think of to find peace and happiness, but through a self-centered perspective. When Jesus condensed the ten commandments into two, (1) love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and (2) love your neighbor as yourself, neither came from a self-centered perspective. From my own experience, before vs. after accepting Christ (self-centered to loving others as myself), I can say with confidence that cheap thrills can never replace or compare to true peace and happiness, exactly what I received by serving this family!
As Eloise, the boys and I had completed our first six months as a new family, having finished our awesome honeymoon and my dad's visit, we were excited to (correction, Eloise was excited to have me) get started remodeling the house. As Ecclesiastes says, there's a time and season for everything, a time to tear down and a time to build.
First up, the main bathroom. The house was built in the mid-seventies and looked every bit of it. Being new to anything house, I figured what the heck, just go for it! Garbage can in one hand and a hammer in the other, it's time to do some tearin’ down. My first swing into the old tiles surrounding the bathtub was an unexpected explosion of ceramic chunks and shards, some straight into my eyes. Probably would've knocked that bell clean off at the carnival. Note to self, don't swing so hard dummy, you'll need those eyes to be checkin’ out your fine new wife (oh yeah).
A couple of days and 200 pounds later the tile and sheetrock were at the curb waiting on what we hoped, after the workout to come, would still be our friendly garbage guys. After replacing some rotted 2-by-4s and fixing a leak, it was time for new sheetrock and tile. Eloise suggested we go to Home depot, my reply: What's a Home Depot? Like I said, new to anything house.
Now after so many years and thousands of projects later, any time I enter one I get a warm fuzzy, smells like home. Yep, I've been programed, good job honey!
After installing new sheetrock, tile, fixtures and a sliding glass shower door, we both beamed with pride. It was my first time and she was gentle. My probationary period was complete, I passed the test and was deemed a keeper.
Next a new toilet, not a complicated job, but somewhat messy. Hey, what’s all over this wax ring? You may not have realized it, but I'm pretty sure that picking out a new toilet at the depot is the original Game of Thrones. A pedestal sink, anyone? How about some paint, flooring and new light fixtures, got it covered. One tiny room down, only eight more to go before we can start on the outside.
Eloise and I have always talked everything over and decided on things together, and yes, even though I poke fun at her, she actually did help and we had a lot of fun in the process. We made a great team (tag, you’re it). They say that remodeling and/or building a house is one of the most stressful situations a couple can face, but that wasn't true for us. We really enjoyed it and each other’s company along the way.
While still a novice at being married with children, I tried everything I could think of to make Eloise and the boys’ lives better and easier. Having all survived a bitter divorce, Eloise working full time and going to school to try and better their situation, while the boys were being watched over by family and neighbors, made their lives pretty tough for a while. During that time Eloise had become known as the hors d'oeuvres queen (i.e.; the 1990 movie Mermaids, starring Cher). She was actually a pretty good cook, just didn't have the time, but the reputation did get her out of cooking for family functions. Having always been a big eater myself (Mom really drove it home about all the starving children out there, so I was always worried about where my next meal was coming from) and working in restaurants growing up, I learned to be a decent cook to survive. I started doing the bulk of the cooking, preparing things like Rueben and Italian beef sandwiches, prime rib, Swedish meatballs and my famous “Gringoladas” (white boy enchiladas). Are you hungry, I am, sorry, gotta go eat something....ok, I'm back. Needless to say we were getting fat and happy. Things were going great and we were having fun. I still thank God every day for putting us together as a family. It's been the greatest joy this old boy has ever known, thanks again Lord.
I want to encourage you to enjoy your life's journey. Even during the tough times we can learn something useful. We only have a limited amount of time and control, so do what you can, but try to relax and take something valuable away from every second of it. Remember, life's a process and can't be rushed, there really is a season for everything!
Until next time, try to stay dry.
Love you guys.