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Mr. Visionary (Prophet - Holy Spirit)

February 14, 2024

This morning I was reading in the book of Joshua where Israel was going to fight against Ai.
Joshua sent a couple of guys out to spy on Ai and see how big the city was, how many men were there, and basically how much of a fight it was going to be. The spies came back and said, full of confidence, “It’s no big deal. Don’t send everybody, just two or three thousand. We won’t have any trouble taking them out.”

So Joshua sent three thousand men, and the short story is that Israel got their behinds handed to them and wound up running like scared babies. There was more to the story (which you can read in Joshua 6–8), but the spies totally underestimated what it would take to beat Ai.

In the margin of my Bible I have written “2 weeks, 700 bucks,” and if you’ve spent any time with my family, you’ve heard us say this, laughing.

If my husband is nothing else, he is confident. I’m not sure where he got all this self-assurance, but he has it in spades, way more than one man should. He has been like this as long as I’ve known him, which is more than two-thirds of his life. Aside from the moment we met and he forgot his name, I have almost never seen him unsure of himself. He can do anything—just ask him.

When we were first married and about to have our first baby, we had only one car, which Ben drove as a field service technician, fixing bank computers all over upper-east Tennessee. He decided I should have a car too, but field service didn’t pay a lot back then and we were on a serious b u d g e t.

So Ben found a 1976 Ford Thunderbird that had some, um, issues. He decided the best way to fix all the issues would be to rebuild the motor. I had never heard of this, having come from a family that calls a mechanic when the car doesn’t work. I was doubtful and expressed my doubts to him. He replied with his now-famous line, “Two weeks, seven hundred bucks. No problem.”

We have photos of our first child in a rolling walker (remember those?) in the driveway watching his daddy tear this car apart and put it back together again. It spent many more than two weeks in the driveway with a sheet of plastic over the engine compartment, the hood lying in the grass.

In his defense, Ben worked very hard on the project, but these things always come with unforeseens, don’t they?

Six months and many more bucks later, my beautiful T-bird sort of ran. If you stopped at a light, you had to keep one foot on the brake and one on the gas to keep it going. If you slowed down too quickly, it stalled. It would cough and choke itself to the grocery store, but it was a little more than I could handle. Call me a princess, but I like my cars to run smoothly. I can’t handle panic at a busy intersection with an infant in the back seat. My driving issues started young.

After moving to New Jersey and then back to upper-east Tennessee, dragging the Bird both ways, it was parked behind a friend’s warehouse until Ben could find time (and more bucks) to fix it, when it was mercifully stolen, never to be seen again. May it rest in peace. Amen.

Somehow that did not dampen Ben’s confidence in the least.

Years later when we were an enlisted Navy family with five children and on the brink of starving (we actually qualified for WIC and food stamps, thank you Jimmy Carter), Ben told a gal at work he could remodel her bathroom for her and save her a lot of money. When he informed me of this new project, I said, “You don’t know how to lay tile . . .” and he answered, “I’ll figure it out.”

On someone else’s bathroom. With the tile someone else has bought and is paying you to install.

Now you know where my stress comes from.

Then there was the bunker on six acres we bought in the backwoods of middle Tennessee that we were going to turn into a house. It was 1200 square feet, constructed of concrete block, reinforced with rebar and poured solid, set into a hill so that all you could see was the front, which was one continuous bank of windows so you could see the "gubmint" coming and get a good shot, and I am not even kidding. That was the intended purpose of this property.

What on earth? I have been told by Ben and others that my greatest reward in heaven will be for holding it together through all of these life experiences. You, too, can have them: just marry a visionary and never say no.

Believe it or not, that bunker did eventually become a 3-bedroom, 2-bath ranch after we hired a guy with a backhoe to dig it out around three sides, then completely gutted and rebuilt it.

We won’t talk about the scorpions and brown tarantulas and the toilet that sat a full 6 inches out from the wall. It was functional, and we actually had some fun there. Then we moved away and sold it to a widow, after which a tree fell across it and put it out of its misery.

Years later we lived in a house with a lot of pine trees, and there was one dead one in the back yard that Ben decided should come down. So we all backed up to watch the proceedings. There is not much Ben loves more than cutting down trees.

When I voiced my concern about where the tree would fall, Ben stepped back with his chain saw and asked, “Where do you want it to go?”

I looked around and answered, pointing, “Right across that pampas grass.”

He said, “Okay,” and went to work cutting a notch. The tree fell right down the middle of the pampas grass and I had to be impressed. This was the same chunk of pampas grass Ben had tried to burn up by setting his pants on fire, but that’s another story for another day. Never tell the man he can’t get a fire going after a hurricane when everything in twelve states is soaked from all the rain. He will prove you wrong.

Then came the infamous cow conversation wherein I protested that we knew nothing about cows and what was he thinking, wanting to raise them for beef? I may have actually called him crazy, which I think he deserved much earlier in our marriage but I could write a whole book explaining why I never said it before this. His reply of, “You put them in the field and they eat grass. How hard can it be?” will go down in the annals of history.

You would think by now Ben’s confidence would be slightly tempered by age and experience, but at 62 he decided the last (ha) big project of his life would be building a dream house for his wife. Please believe me when I say I did not ask for this. I know better. But there we were on that sunny March day, when family and friends so graciously showed up to frame our house in one week.

While we were taking a break for lunch one day, our friend Jerry (who had just finished building his own house six months prior but who was smart enough to do it while he still had all his children at home to help) asked Ben, “When do you think you’ll be in it?”

Ben replied with all the confidence of a 20-year-old professional house-builder, “We’ll be in it in six months.”

Jerry raised an eyebrow and asked, “So, have you ever built a house before?” and Ben answered with “Pfft,” and walked away.

Sixteen months later we moved our belongings into our somewhat unfinished house and here we are. I would not say the experience has broken Ben, but at almost 64, he has begun to admit—at least privately—that he has limitations. That doesn’t mean he listens to them, but at least he acknowledges they exist. It’s progress, right?

Finally, I share this quote for every wife of a visionary out there:

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
—Eleanor Roosevelt

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