Saul and I just bought a fixer-upper lake house. We envision long, lazy summer days filled with sounds of laughter and the splash of water as our children jump off the dock.

We knew going into this project that there would be no early morning fishing or late night marshmallows until we put in quite a few hours of sweat equity to make the place our own.

So, we loaded up the minivan with a bucket of tools and got straight to work.

The problem is, I’m no Chip and he’s no Joanna.

I am, however, a learner. While Saul used his big strong muscles to haul out old carpet, I watched every youtube video ever made on removing wallpaper. I called an army of friends and a few professionals for tricks of the trade. I was ready to make some serious headway.

But after 20 hours of staring at the same blue and yellow intersecting lines, I’ve come to a disturbing conclusion: that wallpaper isn’t budging. img_6349-2

I’m ready to throw in the towel. My nose has been pressed to the side of a bathroom wall so long I see it in my sleep.

I took a break yesterday to have breakfast with some friends. I was lamenting and second guessing and wishing for a fairy godmother when one of my wise friends said, “Why don’t you just cover it with wainscoting? Or shiplap?”

If you’re not a DIYer or an HDTVer, let me pause to explain that those are basically decorative pieces of wood that are mounted to the wall, thus covering everything underneath them!

Hallelujah! The clouds parted and suddenly I could once again hear the sounds of giggling children running barefoot through the house looking for ice cream.

So, what does this have to do with you? Maybe nothing. Maybe you can always see the forest through the trees. Maybe you can always stand back from your problems and analyze them with the a critical and creative eye. But I can’t.

This little wallpaper fiasco taught me a valuable lesson. When my nose is pressed up against the problem, it doesn’t leave any room for God to get between the mess and me. We have to back off (or perhaps seek the counsel of wise friends) long enough to keep the problem in perspective.

We weren’t created to handle every situation on our own. Sometimes it takes a little help from a higher power, a helpful friend, or a handyman with truck-full of shiplap.