“Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established (Proverbs 24:3 KJV).” Building a deck from scratch takes a lot of time and discipline, especially if you’ve never done it before. Why in the world would I want to build a deck? Why not just pay to have a better, sturdier deck installed? It would save on time, energy, precision, and, most of all, money. Money that I so desperately needed to save and be meticulous about, especially when spending on things other than medical bills and monthly payment obligations. Before I began building the deck, I said to myself, “Either you’re going to build this deck well and be proud of your accomplishment, or you’re going to let this deck get the best of you, making you tap out in shameful defeat.” One thing that you should know about me, if you don’t already know, is that I love a good challenge. My brain is always active, working on new projects, reading my Bible, helping my daughters with schoolwork, etc. “Prepare thy work without and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine [deck]” (Proverbs 24:27 KJV), was one of the verses I thought about as I contemplated whether or not I would build the deck. Only time would tell if I would withstand the test of deck building.

The deck proved to be more than just a simple building challenge for me; it was a journey of physical and psychological well-being and self-awareness, one board at a time. One minute at a time. One hour at a time. One day at a time. They all add up to a lifetime. Building this deck was personal for me. With my husband being away, recovering from health complications stemming from COVID-19, I became the “handyman” around the house, a home in which we’ve been residing for only a few months. The back deck was something on my husband’s list of home fix-it projects that needed to be redone due to the boards beginning to rot and cave in. I felt that redoing the deck while he was away would make him very proud of me for building it and provide a safer space for my family and me to enjoy.

I could go on for hours about how building this deck was an inconvenience and how it took me over a week to build it. How frustrating the process of cutting each piece of wood the same length was. The frustration of educating myself on what spindles are, how each spindle needed to be constructed and cut on an angle, how problems like building the deck over water pipes could cause a major water leak if punctured, and how annoying it was to realize how short I am when trying to hold up support beams in drying concrete.

Undoubtedly, building this deck tested not only my patience but my physical and mental strength. With each board laid, I thought about my life and the events that have happened throughout these past months, and I have so much to be thankful for. God has carried me through many trials and tribulations this year, from almost losing my husband, being diagnosed with COVID-19, to my daughter being diagnosed with kidney stones at 15. Not to mention dealing with multiple deaths of family members and friends. These events are just some of the challenges that I’ve had to overcome. For some, going through just one of the mentioned situations could have bought on addiction, avoidance, and/or other various psychological disorders.

I thank God for loving me, keeping me, and knowing exactly what and who I needed in my life at those moments to encourage, uplift, and support me through those tough moments in life. I want to thank every individual who was and continues to be a support for me. Building this deck challenged my brain, had me work with my hands, and be in tune with my surroundings. It also enhanced my emotional well-being, giving me a sense of gratification and accomplishment. For me, building the deck was like putting the pieces of my fragmented life back together. You cut and move each piece strategically until you find where each piece fits. Once in their proper place (much like a puzzle), the pieces work together to create a completed masterpiece.

Collage of a deck in different states of development