I had a realization the other night, actually it was dead in the middle of the night, 3:34 am to be exact. I was sitting up in bed trying to remember when I took Advil, how many I had taken and if I could take them again. I was replaying the tape of the cracking of my ribs from several days before.

I clearly recalled the moment that I tried to scale this brick pillar while wearing a skirt in an attempt to hang a wedding decoration at the top of this gazebo only to miserably fail and come crashing down on the corner of the bricks right on my ribs. The cracking sound was loud to me as I bounced off the corner. I grabbed my ribs and ran in circles around Tim, who was horrified and just kept spinning in place with his arms out like he was going to catch me if I ever stopped running or eventually fell down.

I eventually stopped running. I couldn’t decide if I was going to have him leave the wedding and take me to the hospital or if I could make it. The fact that he was officiating the wedding did have some bearing on my decision to stay. When I actually saw the look on his face I felt like I was about ten years old again and my dad was shaking his head like I told you not to do that, kind of head shaking.

I know, oh boy do I know. I am a 54 year old woman wearing a skirt, probably climbing a brick pillar was not a good idea. Clearly now, it wasn’t a good idea. However I survived. We both survived the great rib cracking and then the long awaited wedding.

The realization that I was surviving this year actually hit me as hard as the brick pillar. This is the year of perseverance. Perseverance is not the same as surviving. Surviving means you are behind the curve. Sort of like you are doing everything you can to make it through the trial and then just waiting for the next thing to come. Perseverance has a negative feeling at first, actually it is a word of hope.

“Beth, I never thought I would say this, but…… I can not wait to go back to ICM to work,” Hugo firmly said.

Hmm I didn’t think I would ever hear that come from anyone’s mouth, ever. I can’t imagine not wanting to tape windows in the beating hot sun for several hours straight. I was standing on the top of a ladder skim coating an entire two story house with bondo when the declaration hit home. I think I would like to be at ICM as well. It must be 900 degrees out here on this ladder. This bondo smells like rubber cement and sweat is running into my eyes.

We have been on an exterior house painting job. It is actually the first real program funding job we have been on in a year. We have spent most of our time this past year restoring the Inner City Mission. I was really excited to be on a job. Jamie volunteered his time to help. Samm was going to be the crew leader and all I had to do was show up and paint. Ideally we would be able to be at two different sites and rotate in and out of the job site.

That did not happen.

We had a plan and it sounded and looked good. A little scraping, a bit of sanding, some power washing and bam, Jamie could spray and we would call it a week ! Oh, no, no.

“Beth, there is some wood. Uh it doesn’t look very good. Do you think you can look at it and possibly replace it? “ was the call I got from Samm shortly after they began.

“I will be there tomorrow and take a look,” I said.

I began on the second floor looking at the rotten wood. So far there were only three small visible spots. I took the first window sill off. It was rotten clear through. “This is an old house, I am sure this happens,” I thought. Next I moved on to the front face of the house. Samm showed me a small rotten area. I took my pry bar. I gently placed it under the front face piece. Tap, tap, tap, crrrraaackkkk.

Aggggghhhhhhh, the piece flew off and revealed a GIANT ant the size of my thumb!!!! I almost fell off of my ladder. I screamed and ran down my ladder.

“Quick bring me the bug spray as fast as you can. There is the mother lode bug in here!” I yelled at the top of my lungs to whoever was the closest.

Someone brought me the hornet spray. Ah that should work. Hornet, ant what’s the difference.

I cautiously climbed back up to the giant ant.

“It’s the queen, it’s the queen!!!!!” I yelled. I whacked the wood and sprayed the Queen! I literally beat her to death. “Survive that queeny!” I yelled. The queen and her minions had eaten the whole board. Suddenly millions of ants were there. They were running down my arms. They were biting me. They had sent out a radar memo that I had killed the queen and they were mad as hornets. Challenge accepted ants! I would not give in to an ant factory in this house. I would remove this wood and thereby remove the ants. Samm had made her way over to the ant farm. She looked distressed. Since she was the lead she had to notify the home owner that he had an ant problem. Suddenly there was a change of plans. This was going to add time to the job. This was not in the plan.

Eeyore ground a hole in his finger. The grinder ate divots in the soft old wood. The paint reveled the divots. Jamie had to go on a fishing trip. The divots looked like someone on purpose hit the entire house with a hammer. The temperature was rising. The humidity followed. The job kept growing. The natives were getting restless. They began to long for the mission.

We were all now in survival mode. We needed to persevere. We needed to be in front of this train, not running behind it.

I didn’t know that we were only surviving. I didn’t know that when we persevere we have Gods strength and direction to hold steadfast. The staff needed to model perseverance here and strength. This is a real life job. This is what the real world looks like. It looks like the unexpected. It is hot, it has deadlines, it has trials, it has ants. I began to pray on my way home. Perseverance builds character and community. Surviving is lonely.

I have survived the fist half of this year. Now I will persevere! And try not to breath to deeply.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5 NIV

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