Do Hard Things … as a Family

Working together Just as Nehemiah saw the work that needed to be done on the wall that surrounded Jerusalem, we began to see after six years here in West Virginia that serious refinishing work needed to be done on the porch that surrounds our house.

October 10September 18September 7





Often we began with the railing since it was the most intricate workBy dividing the work among ourselves we were able to coordinate everyone’s schedules for maximum efficiency and duration over a long period of time. The project spanned two months from August 29 to October 29 and No mildew could stand against Diligent Dave That came from our porch?! took about 200 man hours, including the two “Blitz Days”.

On Wednesday, September 2nd, after some experimenting, David and I made a discovery. Before By soaking the boards first and giving each face a few more strokes with the brush, the color of the wood would dramatically change. Rinsing immediately then took away the mildew and dirt in rivers of green and black scum. It After was spectacular. We always  looked forward to the final rinse when the color of the wood would shine through. “Soak, scrub, rinse” was the three-step process we used for the remainder of the time, first, by hand, on the banister, then Starting the power washer  Changing for the better requires the right effort at the right timewith a friend’s power washer on the larger posts, facing boards and floors.

Pre-washing is what took so long. It was the real work. It  Power washing was so much fun we had to take turns was at this point that I realized how impossible it would have been to do the job alone and I especially appreciated David’s cheerful servant spirit during this time. Once we did a major section of the front rail early in the morning when it was still cold. I was encouraged when   Dad spraying from a different angle At David's manhood ceremony joyfulness was one of the character qualities for which we praised him (and with which we are often encouraged by the Wilkes!). Here he is pictured with Kenan on that memorable day.I saw that he worked with endurance and joyfulness anyway. Overall, the Lord provided many cloudy days while at the same time holding off the rain. On one or two One picket at a time, a test of resolveoccasions the temperature reached 38 degrees–but not 35, the minimum drying temperature for the stain.

On September 19 Dad declared a Blitz Day. We opened the five gallon container of stain Responsibility passes from one generation to the next for the first time. It turned the light brown oak to an even more beautiful cedar color that looked to us like gold when illuminated by the sun. Even Daniel took some time off that day from studying for the National Bible Bee. (Seven days before we stood on the porch   Did you say this was work? Blitz!listening to his good report that he had passed the Local Competition.) On another Saturday afternoon Mom and Michael took over the staining so that Jonathan, David and I Jonathan and Davidcould work on the  church  float for the Apple Butter Festival. What an encouragement! Even with so many things going on, the porch work would not stop!

On another Blitz Day Jonathan, David and I  The picnic table didn't escape a thorough coating were able to take out an entire floor section in  one five- or six-hour period that made the rest of floor look more do-able from that point on. We also did the porch swing, picnic table and walkway railing, then the posts behind the garage, and the sandbox and the mailbox!

The project took six gallons of stainWinter is comingBut by this time it was October. And “playing games of chance” with the weather in West Virginia is dangerous! On the 41st day of the project a second coat was applied to the The section by the chimney after scrubbingfloor by the front door. The leftover stain was just enough for touching up the doghouse. I thought we were finally finished.

Then on Monday, October 26th, a terrible discovery was made. In our haste we had  The section by the door after staining missed four small–but rather noticeable–places.


“Yes”, the Lord would say. “Let it remind you not to identify yourself with your works only! It IS finished Your perfection is in Me.”

The next morning as we were taking out the garbage as we always do on Tuesday, we happened to look into the five gallon can that we had used first. Lo and behold a few drops were left in the bottom of it! It was just enough to finish off where we had missed. The Lord was merciful!

That Tuesday was the 60th day. Nehemiah’s wall was finished in 52 days. Now we can identify with his feeling of accomplishment a little better. I also learned that what we work on as a team we tend to appreciate as a team. And the more difficult and complex the task is the Ahhh, this is what we were aiming for more grateful we become for the part that each member plays. Don’t let anything become a chore. Assignments from God are not chores merely but character-builders for the Lord, and team-builders for the family.


  1. Robert November 11, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    Wow! What an amazing difference! It was so encouraging to see everyone working together as a team. I will look forward to seeing the difference in person over Thanksgiving!

  2. Crystal November 11, 2009 at 11:55 am #

    I’ve never been to y’alls house, but from the “before & after” pictures it looks like y’all got a brand new porch! 🙂
    I appreciate the parrels throughout the article & picture captions.

  3. Matthew November 11, 2009 at 5:25 pm #

    Now that’s an awesome looking porch. I look forward to close up observations in a couple weeks.

  4. Kenan, Sarah, Mark, & Joshua November 11, 2009 at 5:26 pm #

    What an inspiration! ‘Do Hard Things’ brings back memories from Life Focus – way to go Staddon Team – can’t wait to see the finished project soon!

  5. James November 11, 2009 at 7:02 pm #

    I absolutely can’t wait to be there to see it!! What you said at the end about what you work on as a team you tend to enjoy as a team is very true. It’s much better to do things together; and if you think about it, that project would have taken one person the entire two months working full time! Great job, and I wish I could have been there to help.

  6. Mrs. Gunn November 11, 2009 at 10:25 pm #

    Perseverance pays. It’s gorgeous!
    Mrs. Gunn

  7. Emily November 14, 2009 at 9:17 am #

    Great post, Donald! It’s good to see what’s going on in the Staddon family home. This project reminds me of when we had to power wash our whole driveway. It’s a very tiring task, and you go through a LOT of gas, don’t you?

  8. Mom November 18, 2009 at 7:58 pm #

    The porch really looks nice. I appreciate all your hard work and the others willingness to help you.

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