Lessons I learned from my deck

My wonderful family has owned three homes and has built four decks.

A Firm Foundation

Our family has a tendency to buy a home and then build a new deck shortly after we move in. We bought our first house and promptly tore down the 3x3 "deck" and build a beautiful 900 square foot deck. Ok, we hired a friend to build the deck, but we were involved in building the deck. Soon after that we sold that house and moved into a new house. With in a couple of years we build a new deck. This time because it was a second story deck we left this to professionals, not only because it was above a garage but also because it was part of a major remodel of our home.

Three years later we are again pulling down a deck and putting up another deck. This deck, the main one off the back of the house, was in desperate need of a new top. The builder of the home, but on shoddy decking. As we pulled the decking off, we found the foundation to be strong, firm and well constructed. This was in stark contrast to the decking we pulled off. Our children, old enough to help now, got into the act of pulling the decking off and hauling it over to a pile of garbage. We added to the foundation and with the help of a friend (he had the tools and the contractor discount) build a marvelous deck.

Well, we find ourselves in a new home with a deck that on the surface looked wonderful. It was pleasing to the eye. It even had a hot tub on it. When we had the home inspected we found that what was pleasing to the eye wasn't necessarily structurally sound. The gentleman who built the deck didn't use proper tools or proper engineering techniques. We knew then that the deck would have to come down.

This summer it is our project to take down and rebuild a deck that is not only pleasing to the eye, but also structurally sound. This is hard work. For a little over a week, the boys (two now in their teens) and I have been taking hammer, saw and muscle to the deck to pull it apart. I should add that unlike the other decks we have built, this one proves to be a bit more challenging. It is (or was) a three tier deck with the top deck attached one floor above the ground. It also has a hot tub which required a tender touch. To complicate matters even more, the deck's edge also hangs over a rock wall that goes down another 10 feet, so at one part of the deck you are some 20 feet into the air. But, what really scares a mother is that as we took this deck apart we saw what truly poor engineering went into the construction.

At one point in tearing down the railings, my son swung his hammer up to knock the top rail off and the whole corner post just snapped off. As we examined the 4x4 post we realized that the previous homeowner had cut off a huge 3x3 chunk of the post off and just used finishing nails to hold the post onto the deck. After swallowing hard and making sure my son was still firmly standing on the deck, I made a mental note of thanking Heavenly Father for keeping that son on the deck and my family from not knocking that railing off though out the year that we have owned this house.

As the days progressed and the deck came down piece by piece I couldn’t help but think of the many decks we have built as a family and how this all relates to two very important aspects of my life.

The first aspect if that of the gospel. In the first house there was nothing to pull down so we built something from the ground up, and left it to professionals to do. Much like when we are first learning the gospel, we build from the ground up with a firm foundation. If it is done well with all the professionals working together you have a thing of beauty and usefulness. The second deck was much like the first. That third deck, had a firm foundation, but it just needed to have a new decking and while we were at it, we added to the foundation and built a bigger and more useful deck. I see this as those wonderful teen years. We have a firm foundation, but sometimes our decking is lacking a little. By removing the decking and replacing it we make something wonderful and beautiful, sometimes we even add a little more to the foundation to make it more useful; just like when I got married.

Now this last deck, unfortunately is like many people in and out of the church. The deck is pretty to the eye, but when you inspect it you see many shaky posts, cracked foundation, post only held on by finishing nails instead of galvanized nails or deck screws. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of work to tear it down and even more to build from the ground up. It is much easier to build correctly from the start.

The other aspect is that of education. As a homeschooling mom and someone who has a keen interest in knowledge and education, it stuck me how often we have shaky educational foundations. Shimming up the pillars that hold up our knowledge, we try desperately to act and be knowledgeable, but many times it is transparent to those who are in the educational field. Life isn't necessarily easy with a firm educational foundation, but it sure makes it much easier to add to your knowledge when the whole foundation doesn’t need to be pulled down. It is still even better when we start out with a firm foundation for our education to be built upon.

I honestly pray that my children, as well as myself, are like that first deck we built, firm foundation with the proper tools used and proper materials. Life isn't necessarily easy, but it sure does making changes and upkeep all that much more enjoyable and easier than it is to start all over and tear something shoddy down. I know because my body hurts and I'm so exhausted.