Our Next (Hard) Project

By Katie Helmreich

Ben and I are project people. We’ve been building things together since our early dating days (some twenty years ago) and haven’t really stopped since! Our next project is a big one by necessity. And we’re already exhausted. Too overwhelmed and too busy to start…

We love projects! We have the necessary experience. We’re all longing to use the updated space. So why can’t we get this one off the ground?

Projects are hard. The memories of the long hours, stress, disagreements, aching backs, and parenting from the top of a ladder are poignant… 

Sometimes the next step is familiar. Too familiar. 

We’re not afraid we’re taking a step into the unknown; instead, we aren’t sure we’re up for going through that again.

So Jesus, in His perfect wisdom, blessed us with a side project. A bit of a scenic overlook. A little jog off the main trail, as the Holy Spirit encouraged us to get our bearings and recall the many ways the Father provides. 

A Christian camp near us needed help with some renovations before summer programming begins. The way we got involved is so random it can only have been a God thing. But suddenly we were all in: taking pictures of the project needs, making plans, writing lists, filling shopping carts, inviting others to join us, and packing for a work weekend! 

We had big goals for such a short amount of time, but we accomplished all the things we set out to do while we were there this past weekend. We even had time for a couple extra side projects! 

I was really struck by how quickly I forgot what things at the camp looked like at the beginning of our weekend. It was only two days earlier, but when you’re working and staying focused on what’s next, it’s easy to lose track of just how far you’ve come, and how you got there! 

If my memory of how far we’d come in a two day camp project is sketchy, chances are good my memories of our past family project experiences are even less complete.

For example, the first thing that comes to mind when I think back to our major house rebuild? “I was never more exhausted. Never more stressed. Never more out of my depth. Never hit rock bottom like I did near the end of that project…” 

Hang on! How is that the headline?!

If my memory of the steps we took back then is affecting my ability to take our next steps now, then it’s time to revisit.

If I page through those memories in more detail, I recall laughter and bonding experiences with all who helped us! I remember the exhilaration of turning on the lights for the first time. I notice how many new skills we picked up during that year. I appreciate all over again the advice of experts during that time. I remember the encouragement from unexpected places. I can see the incredible foundation of support we had from our family. I marvel at God’s steadfast love and faithful provision throughout! 

Even more incredible? The deeply challenging circumstances of our most difficult projects gradually equipped us for service in ways we’d never have been able to undertake before! 

Sure, projects are hard. But the Holy Spirit transforms us in those moments. 

If a can of paint can have a magical effect on a dingy bathroom, how much more miraculous is the way our Wonderful Counselor grants us endurance, character, and hope as we seek to “keep in step with the Spirit” (Gal. 5:25)?

The memories of hardship are easy to hold onto. But with a little effort, the memories of God’s faithfulness in every circumstance come flooding back. When we recall how Jesus has kept His promise to sustain us and to equip us for service in the Kingdom, it’s easier to face the next step.

Sometimes the next step is familiar. Too familiar. 

But God was with us then; God’s steadfast love got us through the last time. Jesus is with us now; He’ll be with us every step of the way!

Our family and friends are with us, too. This past weekend wouldn’t have been possible without them! Serving alongside them was a precious gift and a vivid reminder of the many times we’ve been able to help one another.

Familiar next steps can be tough; but, as always, they’re easier when we take them together!

Ben and I will tackle this next renovation soon. Not because we’re all sunshine and optimism about how fun it will be, but because it needs to be done. We can do hard things, even when we realize going into them just how much it will take. 

Growth isn’t easy. But, as I learned again this weekend working at that camp, the opportunity to see how far we’ve come is amazing! 

This morning I’m still sore from sanding drywall on the ceiling of a bunkhouse, so I was surprised to find that I think of our work weekend as a “scenic overlook.” But maybe it’s fitting: the best views are often at the top of challenging trails! 

It is a blessing to look back over our family projects and marvel at all God has done to prepare us for service in the Kingdom: we would never have been able to serve at that camp without all the skills we learned with others as we worked together on our own family projects.

But what really excites me is seeing how much more there is to discover. Sure, projects are hard. And your next step may be all too familiar. But how many more opportunities will we have to serve because of the ways we are growing now? What a gift to know that the Holy Spirit transforms us in those moments! 


  1. Great article. I took on a whole house project 10 years ago when I purchased a 1965 ranch. I did learn new skills and could not have done it without family and friends…. Some days were treacherous and exhausting. God give us that extra energy and strength to make it through. PS Still have a couple of projects left.

  2. Amen! And my friends who are going through cancer… again, or through losing someone… again, or through marriage trouble or teen parenting or financial stress… again, they also learned God’s faithfulness. And we know he will carry us when we can’t go on.

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