30th September, 2014
Building “Judah’s Porch”
All thanks to a bunch of very loving and generous friends and family whose hearts belong to Jesus. Several months ago, Terry and Kathy (Wendi’s parents) felt God place a desire on their hearts to make a place for us, a haven, an oasis, to recover from the heartache of the last year and the uncertainties of the long road ahead. Wendi and I have said for years that if we could do one thing to make our house more of a “home” it would be a screened porch. Our back yard has always been kind of an eyesore. It was the best place to go with the kids to be outside but it wasn’t very functional and even a little dangerous. The back stoop was just a concrete slab that stood about 3 feet off the ground with no railing. The steps had sunk so the first step from the stoop was a full 10 inches down. Judah had more than one scary tumble from this mess. There was a little valley along the middle that always collected water when it rained and made most of the backyard unusable for a couple of days afterward. It was pretty ugly. So, Kathy’s first thought was to build us the new back porch of our dreams. She called it “Judah’s Porch”. The whole thing was a story of God’s blessing and provision from start to finish.
Wendi and I poured over design ideas. We went through about 20 revisions before we finally hit on a layout we both liked. Even once we settled on a floor plan it was still just that - a floor plan, two dimensional rectangles and triangles. I had no idea how to turn that into a functional and attractive 3 dimensional structure. Here’s where our good friend Bud stepped in. He offered to turn this two-dimensional dream into a three-dimensional reality for free. T&K supplied the materials and he supplied the expertise to make it happen. A week or so before the build, I spent the day busting out the old concrete stoop with a sledge - not fun.
Then Terry and I rented a gas-powered auger and with help from Gary Baker and my dad set the giant 16ft. 6”x6” posts that would be the main supports.
The very next Saturday a whole host of people showed up and worked their tails off from dawn till dusk. Bud was our foreman, having in mind the details of how this structure was to come together. I have to say, one of my favorite parts of the whole build was watching Bud lead, teach, and manage this large group of people. There’s something deep and awe inspiring in seeing a man really in his element. Like watching daVinci paint or YoYo Ma play cello, leading others is Bud’s gift and it was amazing to watch.
The vast majority of the deck came together in less than a day with so much help! Bud’s friend Fred came back the next morning with a few more of our friends and family to knock out the rest. I spent the majority of the second day trying to remember high school trigonometry to cut a stair stringer for the odd rise-run I wanted to use (to make them easy for the kids). Once it was all together Wendi and I spent an afternoon staining it to get ready for the porch.
Wendi’s brother Jarad in his pre-pastoral days was a master carpenter so the screen porch was his design and the plan originally called for him to build the whole thing - framing, roof, and finish work - in a short 3 day visit from Memphis! When that plan began to look a little ambitious God showed us that He had a better one in mind. My dad had a friend, Jim, who was a framing carpenter and was in need of some transmission work. Dad fixed his transmission in exchange for the framing and roof work! The scary part first: cutting into the old roof.
Jim got all the framing and the first half of the roof knocked out in a day and half. Terry and I finished up the second half of the roof the next day. Jarad came into town just a few days later and started the finish carpentry. We had another great crew of friends and family show up that day to help with trim work, doors, and electrical. Wendi’s uncle Steve asked a contractor friend if he’d be willing to donate the labor necessary to put shingles on the roof. That friend just happened to be a friend of ours from church, Dave and Ashley Healy, who’d heard Judah’s story and was already looking for a way to help out! Dad had some left over shingles from his roof replacement. Blessings on top of blessings!
Terry and Kathy had a painter friend who donated his time and effort to put a beautiful coat of paint on the porch. Both the screen and gutter guys came out on short notice and installed everything quickly and beautifully and we were done! This entire project has been a huge blessing on our family. So many people sacrificed their time, money, and talents and God moved so many obstacles to make it possible, it really is a miracle porch! We’re so thankful to everyone involved. This porch is our favorite place to be in the whole house.
Here are some more pictures from the build.