hammer and nails

Constructing a Monster

As a ten-year-old kid, I was an avid collector. My bedroom closet was full of things I had found, which included animal skulls, empty bottles, various insects pinned to a Styrofoam board, and every Star Wars trading card they ever made. I was proud of my collections and added to them whenever I got the chance. I knew my playthings were different from other girls my age who had closets full of dolls and stuffed animals, but having tea parties wasn’t in my realm of interest…being a scientist or pioneer was.

One rainy day when I was trapped inside, I found that my trading cards were great for building massive card houses. I spent hours meticulously stacking each one up to build a paper empire. The thick rough edges made the cards much better building blocks for strong, sturdy structures than the slick Bicycle playing cards I had tried previously. My fortress was as high as I could reach while standing on my toes and it covered the span of the floor in my playroom. I even set up action figures like GI Joe, the Bionic Woman, and the Lone Ranger around the perimeter to guard it from enemies…like my little brother.

I also had thousands of bottle caps, which I collected by walking around construction lots. I loved spreading them out on the floor for counting, which I did quite often. First, I found each different type of soda or beer cap and put them into a horizontal row. Then each of those caps got a column underneath it of all the duplicate caps–with the best conditioned ones placed at the top and the most rusted or bent ones at the bottom. Yes, I was a little obsessed.

During one of my expeditions to search for insects, pebbles, and other random objects to add to my collections, I explored a house that was under construction since the workers weren’t present. I found an abundance of nails, wood, and carpet just sitting there unattended. I thought, “I could build an amazing treehouse with this.” So, I ran to find a spot in the woods behind my house to build a fort, where I could pile up the building materials I needed.

Transferring materials to my secret location was too much work to handle alone, so I persuaded my little brother to help. We took my father’s wheelbarrow and headed back to the construction site to gather as many supplies as we could before it got dark. Our newfound treasure was so heavy and bulky we could only carry a few items at a time, so we made numerous trips back and forth. It was exhausting work, but I was determined to get whatever we could while we had the chance. We took two-by-fours, roofing shingles, nails and even cut off a square of red carpet and smuggled it back to our hiding place.

We spent the next several weeks building our secret fort. My brother was surprisingly talented with a hammer so it didn’t take long before we were able to climb into our makeshift house. I spent a lot of time there, often reflecting on the sins I had committed to make it possible. I knew that stealing was wrong, but I hoped nobody would notice. I worried at times about getting caught, but never did. Unfortunately that led me to believe I was crafty and clever, which only led to doing even more stupid things.

My hobby for collecting things grew into a hideous monster that took whatever it wanted. Fun became sin. I became consumed with greed when my focus was aimed at protecting my false idols. This is a potential danger we all need to be aware of.

We can teach our children how to overcome materialism, selfishness and pride by demonstrating a heart of gratitude and generosity towards others, as well as openly worshipping the one true God. We must also be intentional in training them for battle with the hideous monster called sin. It’s on the prowl and waiting to consume them when they least expect it. We should teach them to fight as warriors for truth, with honestly and integrity. But the best weapon for victory lies a relationship with Jesus Christ, who has already defeated sin.


  1. I’m the little brother that Skinny Jenny is referring to. It’s sad to admit, but so far big sis has only scratched the surface of all our little(and some not so little) secret sins. Some if them are pretty funny to reflect on…some of them however led us down a path of destructive behavior that dug a hole so deep that only a merciful God could save us from.

    It’s amusing to see your perspective on our rambunctious childhood. Even decades after the fact, you’re still a big tattle tale:). I’ll just keep holding my breath hoping that there were a few things you have forgotten.

    1. Little brother…I have MANY MANY more of our stories to tell. But don’t worry, since you aren’t on facebook I won’t be tagging your handsome face for the world to see. I doubt there’s many of our shenanigans I have forgotten, I just hope Mom doesn’t have a cow…now that she’s finally finding out.

  2. Your creative mind shined from an early age. What an amazing God we serve who shined His light on our sins and poured on us His mercy and grace to transform us. Thank You Jesus and thank you Jen for taking us into your childhood playroom closet. Ps. 139:23-24 came to mind: Search me, O LORD, and know my heart. Try me and know my anxious thoughts. Show me if there is any hurtful, offensive or wicked way in me and lead me in the everlasting way.

  3. Thank you for sharing. I loved having time “away” from my family to talk to my dog and just sit. It is nice to realize in hind sight your feelings, thoughts, desires and sins. Do you wonder if the tree house is still there? I also was different as a child collecting “odd things” like my rock collections, etc. but I am grateful to parents who allowed me to do so without being critical. Plesant memories for me returned as I read your article. Thank you.

    1. I OFTEN wonder if that treehouse is still there, and would love to explore those woods again one day. Thank you so much for reading my article and leaving me feedback. I have a lot more stories like this one. 🙂

  4. You do not how much you have inspired me. Thank you, so much. It was like you knew, but didn’t know, just as I had.

    Now, I KNOW and this KNOWING is really hard to share because it is so deep, yet simple. Thanks God & His Son. Amen

    1. Wow, Thank you SO much. Before I ever started this blog I prayed and asked God to help me find the right words to share all my crazy stories so people like you could find encouragement or inspiration. You have made me so excited!!! God is awesome and I’m grateful He led you my way. Thanks for sharing and I hope He continues to blow you away.

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