The God of Comfort: Words to Prepare Us for Hurricane Irma

In times where people are anxious and nervous about the oncoming events of the storm, people need comfort.

You usually hear sermons of comfort after something tragic has happened – usually, a death, at a funeral, – or after something horrible happens in the world.

But you know what?  I certainly can use comfort pretty much every day of my life, knowing that God is with me, and knowing that He is in control of all things.  Every day, one of us needs that reassurance.


Isaiah 66:13 offers an encouraging, comforting passage – where God says “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.”

This conjures up an image of a loving mother drawing her child near to her, wiping away tears and singing a soft lullaby.  God is saying that he is there for us in the same way.

In the New Testament, a word is used – the word is parakaleo – which means “called to the side of.”  God offers us comfort by calling us to walk beside Him, and He gives us the Holy Spirit to be with us.  He is with us always.

And who better to have by our side than one who is immovable, unshakeable, always constant, always there, never wavering?  Who better to have by our side who is described like this in Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

God loves His children.  And we are His children.  God is great and wonderful, and most worthy of our praise – and regardless of what may come our way, God is in control.

As we face the storm, I am reminded of scriptures throughout where God stills and calms them.  Today, I pray for God not only to still and calm the oncoming storm, but I pray He will still and calm our spirit, our wandering minds, our fears.

In Acts 27, Paul finally sails for Rome, but along the way, they ran into a storm.  Acts 27:13 describes that it started as a gentle south wind, but before long, a wind of hurricane force called the northeaster came down from the island of Crete.  The ship was caught and they threw anchor for fear they would crash into the rocks.  The bible tells us for 3 days, they threw things overboard, and didn’t see the sun nor the stars.

In verse 22 – Paul gives us the men this message that I want to leave with you this morning:  “But now I urge you to keep courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.”

After the storm, and a shipwreck, and even after being bit by a snake, he walked away and arrived at Rome.

Through this storm, I can’t promise you that things won’t be destroyed, but if they are – as Paul said – only the ship will be destroyed.  Our course is set to Heaven – and when we follow this great God of comfort, I promise you we will arrive.

Be safe everyone!

~Lane Widick


A Few New DIY Projects

So recently, I started trying to do some woodworking projects around the home.  I successfully made a loft bed for my daughter, and I made some floating shelves for our bathroom.

I had some wood leftover from the bed that I made.  I wanted to do something with it, and decided that i would make something for my daughter’s American Girl dolls.  She loves playing with them, putting them to bed, etc., so I figured this would be a great thing to do.  I didn’t do a step by step on this one – however – here’s the final product: (shout out to Kristen for sewing Josie some mattresses and blankets for the dolls, too!)

I also have been in a real bind about garage storage.  We’re not one of those families that throws everything in the garage.  We like that space to be usable instead of just a giant hot storage room.  Plus, I want to do more projects for around the house.

When we moved in to our house, the person who owned the house left behind a ton of what looked like scrap plywood.  Us being new to Florida homeownership, we had no idea what it was.  Finally the previous homeowner told us that it was custom made boards to go over the windows in case of a hurricane.  Problem is, it takes up so much space.  Second problem is that many of these boards are starting to warp and fall apart.  I moved them all to this wall, and used some bungees to get them as close to the wall as possible.  Still, they take up a ton of room.  (No, i’m not sure why they were painted.)

The plywood that had been cut out for windows in case of a storm. These take up about 18 inches of space from the wall, and the front part go from floor to ceiling. They run almost the entire length of the garage, too.

I decided that I wanted to try to find a use for them – since there is no where else to store them.  As I looked around the garage, I decided that I could use some of the wood to make some shelving for this part of the garage.

Blank wall that needed some storage.

Our garage is already on the small side.  It’s a “double” garage, but there’s no way we’d ever fit two cars in it.  So storage is a great idea.  This spot had nothing on it, so I figured it was time to be creative.

I started by grabbing one of the sheets of plywood.  It’s 3/4″ plywood, but like I stated, parts of it are warping and breaking apart.  After I found a good piece, I laid some boards on the floor, and grabbed my circular saw, and measured out what I wanted.  It was going to be about a 42″ x 42″ open cabinet.

Here’s where I learned a few things:  circular saws are a great tool, but they’re not the best for making accurate, long cuts.  After all was said and done – I ended up using some extra 2×6 boards to reinforce it.  It’s easy to mount things on the wall in the garage since it’s all cinder block walls.  I don’t have to find the studs, I just have to make sure I avoid any electrical wires!

Here’s the finished product:

Now I have a place to put my power tools, and some other odds and ends as need be.  Nothing fancy, works great.  I did all of this with just a miter saw and a circular saw — but i’m really starting to wish I had a table saw…

How to Build Your Own Floating Shelves

For the longest time, we’ve needed some shelves in our small bathroom.  Our Master Bathroom is one of those that has a small closet toilet room – and that’s where we needed shelves.

We had looked around for some shelves to add, but the walls have a funny angle to them.  Had we bought just some normal shelves from Target or Amazon, we would have had some practical shelving that just wouldn’t have looked all that good.

So I decided that I was going to have build some on my own.

I started off by buying a few supplies –

  • a couple of sheets of 1/4 inch Birch plywood sheets 2×4
  • 2 8-foot lengths of 2x2s

Some 2x2s and some 1/4″ birch plywood sheets.

To do this build, I simply needed a circular saw, some clamps, a drill, and some glue, screws, and I used some small panel nails since I don’t have a brad/finish nailer.

My simple tools of choice – Irwin clamps and a Black and Decker Cordless Circular Saw.

I wanted to use 2x4s, since I had some of those left over from the bed I built earlier, but the simple fact is that it would have made some giant shelves that wouldn’t have looked good in our small area.

After measuring the angle of the wall, I cut the plywood pieces.  I then clamped them together, and sanded the rough edges.  I used my handy Rockwell Jawhorse to hold them together.

Clamping and sanding the shelves.

After that, I assembled the 2x2s into the shape I needed.

Assembling the bracket for the shelf. I would have put these on the outside too, but the studs in the wall were on the outside.

It was time to assemble the shelf cover – I decided to put in some extra 2×2 pieces on the outside to help the structure/support of the shelf.

Using an extra piece of 2×2 to support the shelf. I forgot to take a picture of the front edge during assembly, but I used panel board nails and screws (on the underside).

It was now time to put the brackets into the bathroom.  You can see now the strange angle, and how a straight shelf would have looked awkward.

The brackets installed. Like I stated earlier, I would have put the brackets on the outside, but that’s the only place there was a stud to attach to the wall.

Now that the bracket is installed, the moment of truth was to see if the cover fit…and it did!  Now you can see the nails I used across the front.

Shelf cover installed, you can see the angle now.

You can see the panel board nails here.

Thoughts from the build:

I wish I had stuck to my 2x4s instead.  It would have offered more stability, however, they were just too large.  The shelves are not what we would call “Super Stable” but they are good enough for what we’re using them for – toilet paper…

Both shelves done. Hoping to finish them with a stain or paint soon. I will secure them to the brackets when we are done.

I’m very pleased with how they ended up looking.  Kristen is going to probably put some sort of finish on them at some point soon, just haven’t decided yet on a stain or a paint.

My First Woodworking Project: A Loft Bed for My Daughter

When we began looking for a house here in Tampa, FL, one of the things that we noticed almost right away was that in our price range, the secondary bedrooms in most of the newer homes were tiny.  In the apartment we stayed in for two years, Josie’s bedroom was about 12′ x 13′.  In Nashville, her bedroom was about 14′ x 14′.  Now, her room is roughly 10’x10′.  She’s never complained about the size of her room – except that she wished there was more room to play and stretch out.

Her bedroom used to have a daybed given to us by some good friends – the Bybee Family – a long, long time ago.  After several moves, the thing finally just fell apart.  So unfortunately, since we moved in to our house in December, Josie has been sleeping on two twin mattresses stacked on top of each other in her room.  Needless to say, we needed to remedy that.

I wanted to surprise her, so last week, when my wife’s parents came in to town to stay at the beach for a week, I stayed behind a few days to get something done: A loft bed for Josie.

Understand this:  I’ve never worked with wood in any way.  I have never fancied myself as a DIY guy.  I like to watch DIY videos, dream about doing DIY things, but never had the tools or skill level needed to do much.  So why not start with a gigantic loft bed to place in your daughter’s room, right?

I scoured the internet for plans – and finally settled on about 3 different ones.  I ended up sort of merging some ideas together to get the final product.

I also had to buy a few things in order for me to get started.  I had a $300 Amazon Gift Card from a promotion from my internet/cable provider, so I used that to buy these two things:

A Rockwell Jawhorse Sheetmaster

Rockwell Jawhorse Sheetmaster. Could NOT have done this job by myself without this.

An inexpensive Hitachi Miter Saw

Once these came in, and after I got going, I realized my tool box was rather dry.  I had a few things, but not nearly what I needed to make this project go smoothly.  I figured I’d spend a few dollars and make an investment into what I hoped would become a hobby down the road.

So I also added:

A Black and Decker Orbital Sander

A cordless Black and Decker Circular Saw (went with this one because I already had 4 batteries from previous purchases that were interchangeable)

Irwin Clamps

Titebond II Wood Glue

I had a buddy from church that was going to help me with the build, and we were all set to go, but at the last hour, he texted me telling me his wife was going in to labor.  Can’t get mad about that!!  (By the way, the baby is doing well…)  The only problem was that he is very skilled at woodworking, and he also had a vehicle to put the lumber in!

I drive a 2006 Honda Civic, not a car known for it’s lumber hauling ability.  My wife’s car might could have handled it, but she had taken her car to the beach to haul all the vacation items.  So I rented a cargo van from Uhaul for $19.99 a day, a $10 collision waver, and 59 cents a mile.  I ended up paying about $50 total for the rental.  But it was worth it.

I got the van, and proceeded to my local Home Depot.  Mind you, I’ve never purchased lumber before, but I knew I needed good quality straight boards.  The bed would be built out of 2x4s, 2x6s, and a sheet of plywood.  I went through the boards, picked out the straightest pieces I could, and moved on to hardware.

For the build, I needed about 60 4″ hex bolts, and Home Depot didn’t have those.  They only about 20.  So instead I bought the 3 1/2″ wood screws I needed, the 2″ wood screws, the flat washers, the lock washers, and the hex nuts.  Then I loaded everything up, and went to Lowes.  They had the bolts I needed.  I also picked up a 3 pack of chisels.

I got home, unloaded, and then returned the van.  I finally got the project started around 1pm on Tuesday.

My stack of 2x6x8 boards, and my Hitachi Miter Saw.

My stack of 2x4x8 boards.

The first thing I did was start measuring out the wood for cuts and for drill holes.  Since I’m not very sure of what I’m doing, and since i had never done this before, I took careful steps to measure often, and cut once.  Same thing with the drill holes.

Remember, I live in Tampa.  It’s summer.  I’m working in my garage.  It’s probably 150% humidity and the temp was high as well.  It took me the better part of the day to get the cuts made and the holes drilled.

Stacks of my cut and drilled pieces.

Stacks of my cut and drilled pieces.

At the end of that night, I was able to assemble the tall side legs.  I used the glue, a 1/8″ drill bit to pre drill for the wood screws, and then clamped them together to assemble.

Assembling the legs. I glued them, clamped them, pre-drilled, and screwed them together with 3 1/2″ wood screws.

I then took these inside to Josie’s room, and crossed my fingers…and they fit!  The pieces fit!  I had already notched out the thin side of the mattress support rails, using that same 3/4″ circular saw depth, I went around the 2″ side of the 4 2×6 boards used for the support rails.  The plywood would set inside these notches.

Tall side legs before cross brace.

What I had to do next was temporarily put the cross brace on, so I could measure where I needed to make the cross lap joint.  I did this by using the circular saw set to a 3/4″ depth, and notching out the space for the joint, and then using a hammer and chisel to knock the pieces out.  I went back in, and the cross lap joint worked!  I joined it together.

Put the cross brace in place, marked, and notched out a cross lap joint.

I got those done, and promptly went to bed at about 1:30am.

I woke up in the morning early, and proceeded to put the other end of the bed together, the short side.  This side would house the ladder steps.  I was able to get that assembled, and put the 4 bed rails up, and then I left to go to work at about 9am.  I got back home after church that night about 9pm – and immediately began assembling the rest of it.  I was joining my family at the beach the next day, and didn’t have time to spare!

Short side of the bed assembled, with ladder steps, and the mattress rails in place as well.

Shot of the notched area for the mattress. A sheet of plywood will go here.

I put together the cross piece for the middle of the bed to support the plywood.  I also put together the back cross brace the same way I did the side cross brace.

The center brace for the bed, the plywood will sit on top of this, and in the notched area of the mattress rails.

Here you can see the back cross brace, done in the same manner as the short cross brace at the head of the bed.

After that, even though I wasn’t completely done, I realized the only thing I had left to do was cut the plywood, and make the shelf for the top of the bed.  I couldn’t make the shelf until I cut the plywood, so I decided that I would finish all that after Josie saw her surprise.

We came in on Saturday after vacation – and Josie saw her bed – she was stoked!  She was so excited (since it’s taken us nearly 7 months to get to it!  However, there was still some work to be done.

I got the plywood measured and cut with the help of my lovely wife, and then started work on the shelf.  The shelf went together perfectly.  I went ahead and sanded the shelf pieces, and then the final steps were underway.  We got the mattress plywood support on (which was actually the hardest part, since it was one of  the last pieces to fit in) and then put the shelf on.

Assembling the shelf to go on the top of the bed.

We positioned the bed, and put the mattress on, and Josie made inaugural climb to the top of the bed.  We realized as she was doing this she needed some handles for the bed (more on that later).  She made it, and was elated!  She was so happy!  Kristen climbed up there as well, and the bed was as sturdy as a rock.

Josie on her bed for the first time! It didn’t fall!

Kristen wanted to get in on the fun too!

On Sunday, I sanded the whole bed down, and then bought some handles for the bed.  I bought two bathroom wall handles that were 16″ long, and put them at the top of the step side.  I also bought two smaller handles for support.

So here’s the final product in all it’s glory!

Final product! Note the handles on the end.

Here’s a close up shot of the shelf at the top for Josie to put her clock on, and other knick knacks.

This was such a fun project to work on.  All said and done, it took parts of 3 days to finish.  I have already ordered her a clip on light, a clip on fan, and some lighting to go underneath the bed, so when I get around to making the desk to go on the bed, she’ll be able to see!

At this point, she did not want to paint it, she just wanted to leave it as is.  I think that’s because we told her it would take a few days to paint, and she was ready to sleep on it right away!  The only thing I have left to do now is take the ceiling and down and replace it with a simple flush mount light – until then the ceiling fan stays off!