Thursday, August 6, 2009

A New Chicken House

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Our chicks, which were purchased in the spring just after they were hatched, had grown to a size that means they needed to upgrade their apartment. My small dog house converted to chick house, and attached to a small chicken run, no longer offers enough room for the quickly maturing chickens.

The other part of the equation consists of numerous pallets left at the church after Vacation Bible School. I’m not sure what our children’s ministry director did with all those things, though they always decorate the rooms and hallways in 3 buildings and always have many props left over post VBS. It seemed everywhere I looked there were pallets which needed to discarded. The thought crossed my mind that the pallets could be dismantled and provide lots of interesting hardwood to create a rustic suburban henhouse.

Inspired lightbulb moment… or not?!

Have you ever taken a pallet apart?

If you’ve moved one by hand you might know they are solid, and made of unfinished, rough cut hardwood. If you’ve ever taken one apart you might have had the same experience I did. The thin cross pieces are typically twisted, gnarled things that take a nail well, but don’t want to release any nail in its grip! I found the skeleton of the pallet- 3 long boards about an inch thick and 3 inches wide- were the most useful, but again tended to be made of wonderfully twisted oak. Perfect material for a pallet because it is hard as rock and it doesn’t matter if the wood is straight or not. Most often the pieces had as many curves as a river, and were as crooked as a dog’s leg! FYI- I learned that a pallet could be deconstructed most easily using other lumber to pry it apart, or for small pieces need for my creation to merely cut out what I required with my circular saw.

Along the way, as I dismantled 7 pallets & imagined what it would take to piece together a decent chicken coop, I realized I couldn’t use only pallet lumber. To make anything square out of this mess would require time and tools I didn’t have! How do you refit something made for one use into a presentable, useful item for an entirely different application? As I mulled this over, sweat pouring out of me during these “dog days” of summer, I easily decided to broaden the plan to include everything from old lumber and wire from previous projects to the wood and hardware I would need to purchase from a store. The “piecemeal” chicken coop was beginning to come together during this “learn as you go” outdoor carpentry!

My mind jumped to other creations I find myself part of:
-the ongoing transformation & work of God in my own life
- campus ministry
-the work of the local church
-the work of the larger Church, and in particular I thought of the challenges of adding younger clergy with older clergy.

Consider how often you are working with the available tools and materials wishing you had more options! Piecemeal ministry is a common experience to all of us.

Consider how often you aren’t working with a full plan, and even if you are the changes that are thrown into it by the developing situation and the numbers of other people involved, so that “learn as you go” is a critical skill to develop.

Somewhere an oak tree gave itself up to be fashioned into a few strips of twisted lumber which became a pallet. But was that all it was destined to be? In this day of creation, often using old wineskins and adding new wine (careful here if you think of that Jesus story), we all have a need to be refit and refashioned into something useful to the Creator.

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