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Tension and Compression

by Mandy Blume
tension compression

A Balance of Tension and Compression

There are two types of forces involved in building. To have a great structure, which we call, “strong bones”, there must be a balance of both tension and compression. Anticipating an inspection, we cut out these holes to reveal the rebar inside. Once the inspector validates the block wall is properly constructed, we will pour concrete into the top of the blocks to solidify and thus strengthen the walls of this two-story home.

Tension and compression


The beauty of being a builder is the daily reflection of life that exists as we work. Gazing at this image of the rebar bound together, I imagine these rebar sticks holding together anticipating the liquid concrete that will soon smother all their space.

As a strange metaphor envelops my thoughts, within seconds I realize that the concrete material and steel material work together symbiotically. This unity is difficult, beautiful, organic, and unavoidable in order to have success. Yet it is the order of things. The steel is stronger when you pull it, which translates to a type of tension. Conversely, concrete is strong when it squeezes together; meaning it is in compression.

To continue this thought process, I begin to smile thinking of my marriage. It is full of a balancing act with little  “gives” and “takes”. Sometimes, it feels like I’m pulled too far and the “tension” is uncomfortable. Other times, it’s confining and stifling with too much “compression”. But as time moves through the forward motion, this friction creates something beautiful. Through all these memories and experiences, I’m proud because only in these experiences can my bond be made stronger. If there is too much tension, I will “crack” or become frustrated. Likewise, if there is too much compression I will “crack”.

All of this reminds me of how wonderful it is to be a builder. Building a good home or a good business requires a good foundation where every material has the capability to handle a specific amount of “pull” or tension. And every material  also has an ability to handle a certain amount of “squeezing together” called compression.

Tension and Compression arrows

Together, this symbiotic tension and compression creates a very good structure that will outlast the storms we face in life.

We will keep on building as long as we are allowed the privilege, and I hope that when the tough elements of life hit us, I can always remember the value and strengthening of the process, even though it is an unwelcome refinement. A little give and take or “tension and compression” is a good thing for the end product. It just means we are still living and moving forward.

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Making a Home Fun

by Mandy Blume
Fun Narnia Mural 306

Home is our Place to Relax and Have Fun

Early on we realized the need to incorporate fun in every home. No matter how the day goes; incorporating elements of fun into our home creates a spirit more than just “comfort”.

In the beginning, we had 5 children under 8 years old. We couldn’t afford a lot of places fun venues. But we could build things and make our home fun.

Incorporating Themes from a Favorite Book or Movie

Our boys loved CS Lewis’, Chronicles of Narnia, so we built the elements into their bedroom.

  • Dawn Treader took place on a ship. This allowed us to incorporate bunkbeds into this large iconic part of the book.
  • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe  is the flagship book in the series. There are so many scenes to create, but in the end, we decide to install the famous lamp post. This small element brought the story book to life.Fun Dawn Treader bunk bed
  • There are many talented artists that can paint a mural. It’s unbelievable how much a mural can transform a room.
  • The Magician’s Nephew inspired a ceiling mobile of all the worlds.

Creating a Bit of Play Into Home

  • If you have a deck, try installing a slide along with stairs, a swing or hammock in the bedroom.It’s bringing the outside in and creating fun into a child’s space.
    Fun Built-in slide off the deck
  • Decorate an area inside the house with a unique part of the home (we found an old oil chimney in this home). Discovering fun old chimneys
  • Find ways to add depth with old materials. We found some old wood underneath the ceiling drywall. Finding hidden treasures is always fun.

Fun shapes and contrasting colors

Fun ideas and designs can be incorporated on any budget. However, the key to finding what brings joy and fun to your family is to create elements and spaces that make you smile.

Finding great ways to have fun in life requires intentional thought. This effort pays off with great memories, and of course, more built-in fun at home.