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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Helper-Accomplice



My in-laws are saints. If you could see their garage you’d know what I mean. Well, actually, if you saw their garage you’d wonder what exploded. You’d wonder how owners of a built-within-the-last-decade townhouse could have acquired such a build-up of dust and grime. But I assure you. It is NOT their fault. They are the victims. My HUSBAND is to blame. And perhaps. Just maybe. He has an accomplice. (It’s the dog, Maple. No. That’s a lie.)


The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”


I’ve recently been my husband’s helper, in his woodworking shop. We’re creating stair treads, 30-something in total, for our future home. I say WE. But really, it is mostly my husband, the mastermind craftsman, and power tool genius, maker of so much dust. Filling his parents’ two-car garage with saws and a planer and something I believe he calls a router. Barrels and bags filled with sawdust and scraps, enough to fill the curbside can five times over. Red oak planks stacked in piles. And did I mention? So. much. dust. Garage shelves, neatly ordered with picnic-coolers and stadium chairs. A fridge and a freezer. Jigsaw puzzles—framed on the wall. Every square inch, of every surface—gritty coated.


SAINTS. I tell you.


And I—the accomplice. Those wood treads being my idea, and just recently I’ve become, willingly, my husband’s assistant. The list of budget-saving “sure we’ll do that” projects growing exponentially with every pre-construction meeting, and I’m thinking I’d best have some skin in the game.


The biggest shocker? It’s seriously fun. Who would have thought it? But yes. Having participated in a half-dozen or so bigger-than-my-normal homesteading projects, I’m willing to say, this just might be bringing out my inner Little House on the Prairie.


“Fill the earth and subdue it…” Just this week I’ve started reading John Mark Comer’s Garden City. Listening to his accompanying sermons from a few years back:


You are a modern day Adam and Eve. This world is what’s left of the Garden. And your job is to take all the raw materials that are spread out in front of you, to work it, to take care of it, to rule, to subdue, to wrestle, to fight, to explore, and to take the creation project forward as an act of service and worship to the God who made you.


A couple of summers ago it was poison ivy we wrestled into submission on our untamed land. I wondered if my husband was destined for a lifetime of oozing rash and prescription steroids. Wondered if we’d live to regret all this glorious wild. A summer later and an online order of one amazing homeopathic remedy, and he’s had nary an itch.


I’m remembering, too, how it felt to fire up that gas-powered hedge trimmer, taking it to the prickly ash on our lakeside slope. I’d never wielded such power. Almost lost a finger, but for the grace of God. Also came away with my own first taste of weed-induced-rash. But so very worth it. Subdue the land. Indeed.


Last December, just before our first official snowfall, I was again my husband’s helper, laying hay in gale-force winds. Our guy, Joel, last-minute suggested insulating the building site for the possibility of early-spring construction, and we complied. I kid you not. Those massive sheets of professional-grade plastic underlayment—unfurled in such gusts—might have sailed the ship straight back to the motherland. We fought nature, and fought briefly with each other, too, over Kyle’s insistence that I ought to HURRY and push that wheelbarrow UP the elevated path to where he waited for the load of logs meant to weigh the operation down. (That being the night we agreed heavy-lifting is not the helping I’m best suited for.) And yet. Out there working side-by-side, well into the dark—defying the wind and laying our hay like pioneers—was scary amazing. Sense of RULING. I can feel it still.


Mid-winter and we’re at it again. This time unloading two trailers and several TONS of discount slate for a future fireplace and exterior foundation. Assembly-line unloading with a couple of teens. We’d made our discovery back in December—our 30th anniversary to be exact. A builders’ outlet and fraction of the cost of the identical product everywhere else. Those snow-covered boxes sit alongside our driveway like our own buried treasure, waiting for thaw.


And so. It is with exhilarating anticipation I stare down that long list of tasks. Walls to be painted and floors to be sanded, tile to lay and stone to be set. I am my Husband’s Helper. Taming the Wild. Creating Beauty. Modern-day Eve in a Garden City.

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