I hated to see it go. I thought of it as kind of historic, that old outhouse which had become a shed long before our time here. 


But he said it had to go. It just wasn’t worth trying to fix up. The  the siding was shot, the roof crumbling, and the poor thing listed a bit to the right. 



A little paint wasn’t going to help this sad relic.

So he set to it.

And his words proved even truer  than he knew—once he got beneath the surface…

I took some photos when he started in.  First he peeled off crumbling roof tiles. Bit by bit.


Then the siding, piece by piece.


This was going to take a while, I thought. So I didn’t hang around long by the window. 

had other things to do, I could check back later…

When I did…

It was gone!

IMG_8757_2 “How did it go down so fast?” I asked.

Seems it had no bona fide framework! Just two rectangles of two-by-fours, at base and top, with everything else just stuck on. All he had to do was hook up the tractor and pull. Down it went like a collapsing cardboard box—because it wasn’t much more than that!


The wonder is that it stood there all those years. No foundation. No upright studs. Just a couple little flimsy outlines of existence.

Kinda like the faith life of some of us. Held together by the grace of God alone.

We need a foundation. Dug deep is best. Most of us know that. (Luke 6:47-49)

But we also need some practical structure to our spiritual lives, fastened tight to that foundation…

My last post spoke of our need to let God be God in our lives and do the transforming work on our souls that only He can do. But that doesn’t mean pray a flippant, “Jesus, it’s all Yours,” and then folderol our way through our days, years, and lives—flying off with every wind of whim, impression, or earthy trend that happens to blow by.

We need to allow Him to work, not only by taking our hands off what’s His job alone, but also by “preparing the way” for Him to do it. 

Which brings me to the dirty word I was thinking of adopting as this year’s theme word:


Wait, stop! Don’t click off! This is important!

It’s not everything. Not what should take the place of God’s work. But it is essential to Him having room to do that work. 

For example, His holy Spirit settles His word into our hearts, illumines it, brings it to pulsing life. But only if we take the time to read or listen to that word, take it in so He has something there to illumine and enliven. He works through prayer—but only if we take the time and effort to pray supplications, give thanks and praise, fellowship with Him, and intercede for others! And the same is true in many areas. Thus the value of allotting times, adequate times, for things like Bible reading and reflection on it, and prayer in all its multi-dimensions. 

For me, my big spiritual need and desire right now is increasing discernment. Discernment of His presence with me, of what pleases Him and keeps me in sync with Him, connected, empowered, and guided—of what hinders or alienates me from that kind of ongoing relationship, of the difference between the good and the best, most eternally blest.

So, in a coming post,  “A Framework for Spiritual Discernment.”

Meanwhile, may God bless you with a well-built new year!


Linked to

Tell Me a Story 

11 thoughts on “On the Destruction of Outhouses—and Other Things of Inadequate Framework

  1. Sorry to see it go! Wow what an ancient relic, We had one at my parents cabin in the woods, and Until I was five years old, we had one in a small California town. They did serve their purpose thought. May we all find our purpose and fulfill it.
    Your word discipline is something I need at night – I stay up too late and always did like to do so, but I need to change. Thank you for sharing with us here at “Tell Me a Story.”

    1. Hm, Hazel, I replied to this already, but my comment seems to have disappeared. Yep, I have struggled with the night owl syndrome myself. Been making progress the last couple of years. Thanks for visiting and commenting, and providing your link up.

  2. Love the outhouse…I am sorry it had to come down too. What a reminder to the past and how far we have come to our comfortable bathrooms. I think seeing the pictures of it coming down reminded me how God wants to take down our old building and erect a new one…we are new creatures, old things have passed away. Then I thought about my friend and his brother who look for old buildings site, like an outhouse and dig underneath them to find treasure. Many times in older days people buried their treasure in the least likely place anyone would look. Just a thought to maybe dig a little deeper to see if you have a buried treasure under your outhouse. Happy New Year.

    1. What a good analogy, Betty! As for digging for treasure, I’m not sure I want to pass that suggestion on to my husband. He has always liked to read about sunken ships and their treasure… But I really don’t think any of the former inhabitants of our place had treasure to bury and leave behind when they moved on. Simple farmers, all. Thanks for this enjoyable comment.

  3. Beautifully tied together… no pun intended. 🙂 Love how God speaks in these simple things of our everyday lives.

    1. Yep, Pam, even outhouses, I guess! Not as lyrically as with your fragrances, but still with a message. Happy new year to you!

      1. Just read what you wrote to Laura, and just want to encourage you… You have a gift for words Sylvia and your words bless me here…many times lyrically too 🙂 I encourage you not to give it up…

  4. Amen to this, Sylvia. We need a sure foundation. I’m grateful for you and your sylver pen :). Praying blessings over your new year.

    1. Laura, you have no idea how much this blesses and encourages me. I have great respect for your writing and the depth of thought you express in it. I get ambivalent about my blogging, and sometimes wonder whether to just let it go. But it seems God has just brought several rays of light that say, “Don’t do that,” and yours is one of them, a bright–and SHINING one! (smile).
      God bless your new year now with increasing light and joy!

  5. Sylvia, I am amazed again at our parallel thoughts. Yesterday, instead of putting God at the top of my sorting priorities list, I sketched a “foundation” labeled with Faith in God. Later when trying to reduce the number of books in one of our bookcases, I found a slim volume on discipline that I didn’t remember having, and may even have on my wish list, and thought how timely to find that now. How timely indeed.

  6. Laurie,
    I. am. amazed. too! Especially, in this case, because in the last month or two I read much of “a slim volume” on discipline that I’d “happened upon” online, and thought about buying in its bound, printed form. But since I reset my browser and cleared by cache to get rid of a PDF reader bug, now I can’t find it! I search online in general and CBD.com in particular, and all I’m coming up with are books about different areas of spiritual disciplineS or about “disciplining” your children and teens! And now I read your comment and think, “Could it be the same book?” (Tell me more about it.)

    God is repeatedly amazing about things like that, isn’t He?

    Happy, happy new year to you!

Comments are now closed.