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The Nail

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Story by Laurie Grathen


In a land far away, at a time that seems like long ago, Randy retired from the Air Force, and we moved to Stevens Point, Wisconsin. In retrospect, that was a good decision for us because it enabled us to help care for his dad in the last few years of his life. After he died though, we settled into corporate America and the drudgery that folks slog through in their 40s. We were unsatisfied with our lives. We had a lot of stuff, were outwardly thriving, but something inside was missing. Randy was convinced it was spiritual. I didn’t know or care what it was, I just knew that the success I’d had in the workplace was not only not fulfilling, it frustrated the daylights out of me…so much duplicity, pettiness and negativism. I wanted something different, something I had more control over.


We decided to escape corporate America, start a small-home based business and move to a location where we could semi-retire. We picked Lake of the Ozarks off the internet, loaded up a U-Haul, and made a bold but deliberate move to Missouri. In the fall of 1998, with All American PowerClean starting to take off, it looked like we were headed in the right direction.


We’d been away from church for about 14 years, living our life just fine without His help--or so we thought. As we settled into the community Randy found a church he loved, and I went with him as a good wife should. I hated it. It was long. An hour and a half to two hours. We were used to One and Done. It was not terribly interesting. The people were actually kind of weird—sort of fanatical. I was there under duress. One day the preacher asked the rhetorical question: “What are you doing here?” I’d had it. Feeling like a hypocrite in church most of the time, I simply quit going.


About 2 weeks later, a voice in my head said, “You know, Laurie, you’re not going to figure this out sitting at home.” Good point I thought so I went back to church—still pretty much hating it. The pastor was preaching that week out of Deut 8:17-18. He said (I’m paraphrasing) “You think you have it so good, where do you think it all came from in the first place?” Now that’s a really good point, I thought. And that thought dogged me because, being intellectually honest, I am, and have always been, overwhelmed by gratitude for the excellent life I have.


The next week the voice in my head said, “You know Laurie, what is it with you? Every time you want to learn about something, you take a class, do some research, talk to people about it, jump in with both feet. Why aren’t you doing that with Me?”


Well, that, too, was a good point so I signed up for a Bible study on prayer. I loved that study on prayer. The subject itself, prayer, is communication. Usually thought of in a religious context, I especially loved the aspect of it being an expression of gratitude and thanks more than a wish list. And I am, always have been, grateful for the blessings showered on me. The prayer study delved deep into that well of gratitude and pointed directly to the Creator where, as Deuteronomy pointed out, it all came from in the first place. Still, I wasn’t making a head to heart connection, fully accepting that I needed to become a Jesus Freak like Randy.


One day, as I was preparing for family to arrive for the Thanksgiving holiday, I thought about the Bible study from the day before. We’d learned that God would give us whatever we needed or asked for if our heart was right. I was thinking about that as I was dusting, with a feather duster, an open backed wood staircase we had leading down to our walk-out basement. We hadn’t lived in our house long and that 30” feather duster didn’t have a permanent home yet. As I went to get it, I thought, “when I finish dusting these stairs, I’m going to get a nail to hang it behind the pantry door.”


I started sweeping back and forth with the duster at the top of the stairs, working my way left to right on each step, until I got to the bottom. I started up the steps again, intending to go right to the garage for a nail. As my eyes came level with the top step, one I had just dusted, there, laying right in the middle of the step, was a nail, exactly the nail I needed to hang the feather duster behind the pantry door.


I burst into tears. My head and my heart connected in that moment. And I said, “OK, God, I get it. You provide ALL needs I have, even those as simple as a nail.”


Nothing’s been the same since.



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