Of Zeppelin, tomato cages and wristwatches

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, March 10, 2021

What do a Led Zeppelin poster, tomato cages and a wristwatch on the wrong wrist have in common?

They are all indicators, in some way, that we are completely out of our old apartment and into our new house.

Thanks to God and the help of some wonderful friends, we have moved finally from our approximately 800-square-foot 1-bedroom/1-bath apartment into an approximately 1,800-square-foot 3-bedroom/2-full-bath double-wide mobile home next to a beautiful, peaceful lake. It was a long process in a lot of ways, but we are finally completely here and my wife, adult daughter and I are all grateful to not be sharing such a small space anymore.

Having lived temporarily in a 30×8’ RV before the apartment, the three of us spent more than 5 and 1/2 years trying to “socially distance.”

Yesterday, I hung my large, framed Led Zeppelin poster in my office/guest room. Using tape and a yellow level (awesomely adorned with phrases from my nieces like “We love you, Uncle Brett!”) I measured, marked, drilled and hung the poster. When I checked it again after hanging, it was just slightly off level, but definitely not noticeable.

As soon as I thought to myself, “I can live with that,” I wondered how many times I’ve said something similar to myself when I had missed the mark (literally what the word “sin” means) in life, thinking no one else would notice and hoping God himself would not. Surely God is OK with “close enough,” right? No, not really. That’s why we have Jesus for salvation and the Holy Spirit to give us guidance and reminders — we can’t do it on our own.

Later in the day, my wife and I drove to the large home improvement store down the road a bit and went shopping for herbs and vegetable plants. We finally have a place for a garden and we were itching to get things started. A few potted purchases, soil, plant food and tomato cages later, we headed home.

We got the cages for a couple of reasons. One, we have plenty of rabbits, deer, armadillos and other such plant-eating wildlife around us, and we would like to keep a few ’maters for ourselves. That’s also why our raised garden will be surrounded by metal fencing. The other reason is similar to the purpose of the level — we want them to grow “straight.” Anyone with tomato plants will tell you they’ll never be straight, but I’m talking about vertical growth.

The cages take some of the weight burden off the stalks as the fruits produce, and both fruits and unnecessary growth can be plucked and pruned. As I do both this spring, I hope I can remember that part of the reason God saved me from myself was to do good works that He’d prepared for me to do. He expects me to produce good fruit, and He will pluck and trim away the parts that don’t need to be in my life, in order to make me grow better and be a more pleasing plant.

Then there’s the wristwatch. It’s a FitBit Versa 2, a late Christmas/early Valentine’s Day gift from my wife. Though it’s normally worn on my left wrist to monitor my physical activity, heart rate, etc. as I try to live a more healthy life, today it’s on my right wrist and it’s driving me batty. Here’s why it’s not in its normal wearing location.

Friday night was our last night to get our stuff completely moved out of the apartment building. The new prospective tenants had an appointment to see the place the next day. So with just a couple of trash bags and a half-dozen small items left to be carted out, I plopped my tool kit and myself on the kitchen floor and began to remove the nice faucet I had installed a year ago and replace it with the original bar sink faucet that had come with the apartment.

All went well, though a little tedious and tight-fitting, until I was disconnecting the final part — the water line to the hot water cut-off valve. When the nut came off, the valve broke, releasing a geyser of scalding water that would have made Old Faithful envious. Within moments, the metal sink was too hot to touch, the cabinet and floor were flooded and I was on the phone yelling over the sound of a rushing river that I needed the building’s manager right then.

A half-hour later, I bid adieu to the manager as he knelt in the swimming pool that used to be our kitchen, waiting for the metal to cool off enough so he could replace the valve, took my stuff downstairs in the elevator and listened to the water fall that used to be the back stairwell.

It wasn’t until I got home after 2 a.m. that I realized the scalding water had burned my arm, specifically under where my watch’s strap was. Thus the reason the watch is on the other wrist. But it could have been worse. God was protecting me throughout all of it and — in the apartment manager’s words — I went out with a bang.

Every time I see the scar that is already taking shape I will be reminded of lots of things, but I think mainly that I can’t always do things on my own. I should embrace the help that is available, in God and my fellow human.

I have learned through much experience that God moves us to and through places and situations that are not always comfortable or what we would perceive as “best” or even “better,” teaching us things along the way if we pay attention and listen.

I’m grateful today for all God is doing in my life, even the parts I don’t necessarily enjoy. And I’m praying I don’t forget the lessons He’s trying to teach me.

Brett Campbell can be reached at brett.campbell@dailyleader.com.