Keep Building (Prayer Devotional for the week of October 12, 2014)

One of the most frustrating aspects of moving to a new house is not being able to find things that you could’ve sworn you used to own. A couple of weeks ago, the shower handle broke off into my hand when I tried to turn off the water. I didn’t panic, because I’m a fairly clever gal, and I knew that I had basic tools to tinker with and try to fix it.


For starters, I needed a medium size Phillips-head screwdriver, a wrench, and pliers. What did I find in my freshly unpacked toolbox? One gigantic screwdriver and one small enough to repair eyeglasses. I couldn’t find a crescent wrench to save my life, and the only pliers I saw turned out to be wire cutters. I don’t know how most of my tools managed to not get packed, but I had to make a trip to the hardware store, stat.


Speaking of tools, Nehemiah knew a thing or two about moving, building, and new beginnings. He sought the favor of King Artaxerxes to go to Jerusalem and rebuild the city’s war-torn walls. Section by section, he and countless individuals worked together to repair the gates and walls of the city. In Nehemiah 4:14, he encouraged his helpers to not fear those who opposed the rebuilding effort. He said, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.”


Maybe you haven’t physically relocated to another house, but perhaps life has thrown some obstacles in your path that feel like one rerouted detour after another. Don’t fear. Remember the Lord, who is GREAT and AWESOME! Equip yourself with spiritual tools like the ones described in Ephesians 6. Don’t listen to the detractors who try to tear you down; keep building!

Packing detour

2014-06-06 08.43.01

Garage door opener brace

Evening-before-last, I pushed the button to close the garage door, which was soon followed by a horrific crash sound. The lawnmower was in the way of the door, but somehow it didn’t trip the safety light to keep the door from closing.

Thankfully, I think the mower is ok. Unfortunately, the brace that holds the garage door to the opener along the track was completely off. What’s weird is that there are holes for three bolts in the brace, but there were no bolts on the ground or anywhere in the vicinity! I don’t know how the brace was attached previously, but I couldn’t make odds or ends of it.

I was too tired to deal with it yesterday, and although my stepdad offered to come over on Saturday when he gets back to town to fix it for me, I decided that since I’m working half-days this week, I could just go to the store this morning and buy some bolts to fix it myself. Ta-da! It works like new.

I’m so tired from sorting, purging, and packing. I haven’t gotten nearly as much done this morning as I intended (obviously, since I’m sitting in my arm chair typing this post!), but fixing the door was a necessary detour.

The mover inventory guy also came over earlier this morning to take notes on all the furniture, estimated boxes, etc. It didn’t take long to walk through the house, garage, and yard, but it was eye-opening to go room to room and realize just how much there still is to do. Ugh. I tried going to bed early (before 10pm) last night, and I slept hard, but I’m still pooped. My summer class starts tomorrow morning, so that’s a few more hours that I won’t be able to work around the house. I’m grateful for the opportunity to teach, and goodness knows that the money will be handy, but zzzzz … I sure would like to sleep in! 🙂

DIY Replacing a Toilet

I have changed the flapper, adjusted the chain, replaced the whole inside guts of a toilet tank, and plunged more than my fair share of toilet bowls (especially with five boys in the house). I finally decided that I’m tired of constantly trying to fix them, and I just need to upgrade to a toilet that does what it’s supposed to do on the first flush, every flush. So, this is how I spent part of my day off today …

I’ve been researching options for a while, starting with auto-flush sensors. I realized that not only are these very expensive, but they could be problematic if the toilet is clogged. The last thing you want to do in that situation is flush repeatedly! (Spoken from experience, I might add.)

The problem, as I see it, is two-fold: 1) Water-saving toilets are a pointless, ridiculous invention. It doesn’t save water if it takes three flushes to get everything down the drain! 2) Flappers frequently need to be adjusted and/or replaced, and if I add up all the money I’ve spent fixing them, I could’ve probably bought a new commode.

So, I bought a new commode.

I really need to replace all three toilets in the house, but I decided to start with one and be sure that I could handle it. Besides, the installation fee offered by the hardware store cost more than the commode (!!), so being the stubborn frugal gal that I am, I wanted to see if I could do it myself. I’m sharing the adventure with you, so you might feel more confident to try something like this, yourself.

2014-04-18 15.18.54My 14 (and a half) year-old helped me with lifting , as well as some of the work that required squatting down on the floor, like loosening bolts. They were pretty badly rusted, but with the help of some WD-40, we made it work.

(As with my foray into washing machine repair, I would not recommend replacing a toilet as a one-person job — it can be quite heavy.)

It certainly wasn’t a graceful endeavor. I put a throw pillow in the bathtub to rest my knee on as I straddled the edge of the tub so I could reach the toilet. It wasn’t pretty, but it helped!

Disconnecting the old toilet wasn’t very complicated — it was just a matter of turning off the water supply, disconnecting the hose and loosening the floor bolts. First, we flushed the toilet to get the water out of the tank, but there was still some left in the bowl. Be sure to have some towels handy, because water will leak out from the hose and/or the base when you move it!

2014-04-18 17.00.402014-04-18 17.00.33The next part was pretty gross, but I just kept reminding myself that it was only wax. For the record, whoever decided to make the wax rings for toilets the same color as poop has a sick sense of humor. Why not make them out of clear wax? Eww.

The photo on the left shows the hole beneath the toilet that goes into the sewer. I have already scraped off the old wax ring and adjusted the new bolts in place. The photo on the right shows the new, albeit still disgusting-looking, wax ring in place on the new toilet, ready to be squished into position and bolted to the floor.

2014-04-18 17.09.23At this point, it was just a matter of tightening bolts — first the two on the floor, then the three in the tank.  Then, I connected the hose and turned the water back on. Oops! I didn’t tighten one of the tank bolts firmly enough, and it started dripping. Turn the water back off, tighten more, repeat.

2014-04-18 17.21.14Check out the canister in the tank. It came completely assembled, so I didn’t have to do anything with the mechanism. There’s no flapper! It is supposed to flush more efficiently, more powerfully, and best of all — not clog. If I never have to plunge this commode again or waste clean towels by sopping up an overflowing toilet, then it will be money very well spent!

Voila! One down, two to go …2014-04-18 17.45.49