Find a Busy Person

If you want something done, find a busy person. Why? Because a busy person is someone who can get stuff done—otherwise he or she wouldn’t be so busy. Unfortunately, I’m a busy person. When I finished writing A Year With God, something I accomplished from start to final rewrite in three months–I was tired. But having finished the book, and with it being accepted by the publisher, that meant I finally got paid the final third of my promised payment. And having a pay day meant that my wife’s plan for our master bathroom could finally be set in motion.

If I were a bestselling author on the order of a J.K. Rowling who wrote the Harry Potter books, then I would simply have found some contractors, collected bids, and then spent the next couple of weeks in a hotel while they tore my bathroom apart and put it back together. Or maybe I’d just buy a new house. Unfortunately, my books are not quite as popular as Harry Potter, so a remodel plan meant the contractor was me. Another job on top of all the other stuff I was doing. Like trying to work on my next book, with its deadlines fast approaching. How fast? At the time, I had barely two months left before I had to have that book finished, including the final rewrites and edits. All three hundred eighty-four pages of it (A Year With Jesus).

But my wife had been waiting a long time for her new bathroom. And over the previous two years I had somehow remodeled my daughters’ bathroom, remodeled my kitchen, and remodeled my living room. The master bathroom was simply the last piece in the grand plan that my wife had for our house.

This remodel began as all remodels begin: with a trip to the local hardware store so my wife could show me what she had in mind. The centerpiece of her plans was the replacement of the then current shower stall with a Jacuzzi-style bathtub. Given that the dimensions of the shower stall were the same as those of the tub she wanted, how hard could it be?

The next step, therefore, was to take out the old, to make way for the new. For this, I needed a sledge hammer. Probably the idea of taking a sledgehammer and hitting a bunch of stuff with it sounds appealing, perhaps a way to get out all your aggressions. That theoretical dream fails to take into consideration the physical reality of swinging a sledge hammer. Sledge hammers are heavy. So the fun of smashing stuff lasts, oh, maybe two or three swings. After that, it is just hard work.

On top of that I have severe allergies and asthma. And I was doing all this during the time of year pollen levels were at their highest. Thankfully, I have and had good prescription medication, so I barely notice my allergies.

Unless I’m pounding on a wall of tile with a sledge hammer. Oddly, that created quite a bit of dust. Which led to sneezing. And a mild asthma attack. But I avoided a hospital visit.

After working for about eight hours on Saturday, the bathroom was at last stripped of tile and the old shower was gone. The old shower stall had a drain in the exact center. I had hoped, when I took up the shower floor, I would discover the drain pipe running from the wall to that center. Unfortunately, I simply found concrete, except for a two square foot spot in the center where the drain pipe was. Given that the new tub has a drain pipe on the far right side, as most tubs do, I had a bit of a problem.

My first thought was to drill holes through the concrete slab—but given that it took me about a half hour to drill one ¾ inch hole through five inches of concrete, I decided that was not a practical solution. My next thought was that I would rent a jackhammer to smash through the concrete.

By then it was late, so I went to bed. Easter Sunday, I awoke with a headache that lasted most of the day. We spent that morning with my brother-in-law and his family at his church, an hour’s drive from my house, where his youngest son and daughter were getting baptized by my father-in-law (who was a retired pastor). Feeling tired and grumpy, all I had wanted to do was sit. But the pastor of this distant church knew me, because he’d attended several of the conferences where I’ve spoken. So he asked me to assist him that morning in serving communion.

After enjoying Easter dinner with my in-laws, I finally got home late in the afternoon and promptly took a nap for about three hours. Thankfully, my headache left me. I also came up with a solution to the plumbing for my new tub that wouldn’t require the jackhammer: I would simply build a four inch platform for the new tub and then run the pipe across the top of the concrete and down into the old drain. This worked splendidly, and the raised tub actually looks nice.

Of course, just because my wife’s plans for my house were nearly done, didn’t mean I didn’t have more remodeling to do. My wife has parents. And their house needed a bathroom remodel, their kitchen sink needed to be replaced, and they wanted me to put ceramic tiles in their dining room and kitchen.

Maybe someday I’ll have a best seller and then I can just hire someone to do all that stuff for me. Or maybe someday I’ll learn how not to be a busy person.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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