When We Stop Seeing the Tape

Coffee and the morning sunshine rush my senses, illuminate the laminated map on my kitchen table, and highlight a few of last night’s crumbs. I’ve been soaking in the words from the Biblical book of Nehemiah these last few months, returning to them again and again as I review for this weekend’s women’s retreat.

Photo: Chris Devers, Creative Commons, cc license

Yesterday I zipped up my youngest son’s jacket and we drove to my sister’s house. Working on an overwhelming list of home projects, she was lining up helpers all week. In between minor Lego squabbles between cousins, we prepped her kitchen for painting. Tearing green painter’s tape into strips, I carefully hid wooden counter tops from the oncoming paint.

And it’s made me smile, remembering my own strips of blue painter’s tape that gathered dust on my kitchen counters for over a year. Because sometimes if we leave the tape there long enough, the project gets forgotten. Soon enough, the blue tape strips receded out of my attention and I rarely saw them. I wiped up crumbs from the toaster near the blue tape. I screwed back in an electric wall socket plate above one blue strip. Occasionally, the tape grabbed my attention and I muttered, “Oh, I need to finish painting this!” Yet, days passed, and other projects crept in. When we moved out of that house last month, I finally tore the blue tape off the counters, that corner still unpainted.

In the book of Nehemiah, he is surrounded by people who have stopped seeing the tape. Accustomed to broken home lives, broken communities, broken cities and relationships, they assume that this is the way it is. This must just be how life is. And they stand in the rubble.

We can do that too. After several years or several decades, we tend to evaluate the broken and hurting situations around us as “This is just the way life is” or “That’s just the way things are between us.” I hear us, friends, saying things like, “He’s always been this way, Jen” or “We’ve been battling this all our lives,” or “This is just who I am.” And we stand in the rubble.

Nehemiah is an amazing true account of a man whom God called to stand up from the rubble, to stand up in the rubble, and to fight. Fight for your husbands, your wives, your sons, daughters, grandkids, friends, family, and communities. Then Nehemiah delivered the zinger: Don’t be afraid. Our God is fighting for us!

Hi friends. I have missed meeting you here like this. You may be a silent reader from email, or from rss feed, or from other places online, but I appreciate these times of sitting down face to face across our computer screens. I bring myself here to you, sipping coffee, opening up, and whispering quietly here with you. Thank you for listening in, and for going on this God-adventure together.

The rubble in your own life… do you see it? Look for the dusty blue painter’s tape in the far corners. See it? Let’s tackle it together, in our own lives, in our kids’ lives, in our deepest selves. God has been gently pointing out those areas in my life too, and I nod. The most exciting thing? The rubble doesn’t need to stay that way! Our God is fighting for us.

(If you live near the St. Cloud, MN area and are interested in attending the “Living Life on Purpose” women’s retreat, please contact Avon Community Church right away. I don’t know if they still have room for registrations, but you are welcome to try. I love meeting you all. Pray with us for God to do amazing things this weekend, will you too?) 

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  1. DaisyTea on October 9, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Amen, Jen! 😀
    This is exactly what God is speaking into MY heart, too! To not just shrug my shoulders every Fall, when my depression & struggles with the holidays usually sets in …. but to say, Hey! No more of THIS!
    I'm working through my issues by taking that break I usually WANT at this time of year, but ignore because I think I HAVE TO push through! I'm taking the break from a commitment or two & spending extra time reading, journaling & listening to the Holy Spirit, and I'm taking time to heal. If you haven't found this little book yet (anyone who might be reading this), "Finding Spiritual Whitespace" by Bonnie Gray, is being a BIG HELP for me at this time! See her beautiful promo video at You are a blessing, Jen. Thank you for your beautiful words today. ♡

  2. Jennifer Dougan on October 9, 2014 at 7:17 pm


    I haven't heard of that book. Thank you. It's so wise to listen to the promptings to step back and be renewed when you need it.

    Have a great week,
    Jennifer Dougan

  3. Jennifer Dougan on October 9, 2014 at 7:20 pm


    How do I get to your blog? I can't find you!

    Jennifer Dougan

  4. Brian Miller on October 9, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    nice…i have been mentoring a young man just about to graduate from college and we have been working through the book of nehemiah before he moves to france on a missions trip for 6 months…it is a great book on leadership….

  5. Cheryl Barker on October 10, 2014 at 5:04 am

    Jennifer, God bless as you speak at your event this weekend. I know you'll be a blessing to many, and I pray that you'll be refreshed by the fellowship. Enjoy!

  6. Kristine on October 11, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    I'm on the same journey of listening to my heart, saying no to good things so I don't get overwhelmed. … and reading "Finding Spiritual Whitespace"…. I didn't know how thirsty I was until I'm getting more filled

  7. Ceil on October 13, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Hi Jennifer! "Not seeing the tape". I like that image! i can think of plenty of household chores in the same category 🙂
    But remembering to take care of business and not settle for 'just ok' is a great lesson in the spiritual world. God wants to come closer and closer and to keep reaching. That means getting the job done so I can move forward.
    I was just in Winona Minnesota a few weeks ago. I went to college there! Hope you have a great retreat.

  8. Jayne on October 14, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    I always say Jesus excepts us just the way we are, but He doesn't mean for us to stay that way. Our excuses keep us from having a more meaningful and deeper relationship with Him. Just like redecorating our homes, He wants to redecorate our hearts.
    And if I lived closer to you I would have gladly come over and painted for you. I actually like painting. Weird, I know!

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