Why you should send your kids to Trade School… “My mother has always been unhappy with what I do, She would much rather I do something nicer, like be a bricklayer.” … Mick Jagger REDBOOK MAY 1992
Andy deGruchy, the owner of LimeWorks.us, leads the nation’s top manufacturer and distributor of environmentally-friendly historic preservation and sustainable building mortars, plasters, and paints. Instead of using Portland Cement, these lime-based materials offer durability and are well-suited for time-tested historic masonry restoration projects. In addition to supporting restoration campaigns, Andy’s lime-based materials contribute to lower embodied energy in production and final recycling, making them ideal for sustainable building systems. These exceptional life-cycle materials yield significant CO2 credits, further enhancing their environmental impact.
In 1979, Andy earned a full scholarship for a three-year masonry program at the nation’s oldest private, post-secondary, free trade school, then known as The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades (now called Williamson College of the Trades) in Media, PA, founded in 1888. He received their prestigious “Key” award for advancing the school’s founding ideals. Over the past 40 years, he has maintained several specialty crews operating under the name deGruchy Masonry Restoration.
Throughout his career, deGruchy has successfully restored hundreds of historic buildings in the Delaware and Lehigh Valleys of Pennsylvania. He actively shares his expertise by conducting lectures and training workshops on historic masonry restoration and sustainable building.
Andy is active in promoting volunteerism to educate about and protect our American Institution which includes our natural and built environments. He finds that working to preserve our cultural resources as they are found and interpreted through regional vintage architecture, including our nation’s historical burial grounds, is his life’s work and his best area of service to the conservation industry.[/read]
Andy deGruchy’s “Faith Story.” This is the story of how Andy got into the masonry trade…and a whole lot more about his own personal World View: When I was in my senior year, at North Penn High School in Lansdale, PA, I began to think seriously about what direction I would take for a career. I enrolled in a Career Study program to explore “the trades” because I did not know what I would want to major in if I went to college…and I had zippo bucks. I prayed to God for direction, or bucks, or both. I found posted on the career bulletin board at the high school, a flyer for a free trade education at Williamson. I applied.
They favor kids born in Philadelphia first. I was born in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. They favor kids who have a financial need due to a hardship since the school was modeled after the Girard School of Philadelphia for orphans and the misfortunate. I was not an orphan. But like so many kids whose parents divorce and leave mom holding the bag…(the bag of kids that is)…we had no money and dad wasn’t helping. They favor kids who have good grades in high school and can produce three references for their character. I was on the honor roll most of my senior year. I was, and I guess I still am, a character. So character references were obtained.
This is key stuff: One reference was from my employer at North Penn Hospital where I washed pots and pans for two years…a job I always loved because although they didn’t pay a lot, the gray-haired lady cooks fed you cookies right-out of the oven and made a fuss over you…and they loved my pots and pans Eiffel towers and monuments that I would build out of the tinware to entertain them…so I was big on their list.
My second reference was from my pastor. I never knew what he said. He sealed the envelope. But let me mention that the whole “pastor” deal was foreign to me except for the previous year’s events..and that leads to my third reference.
My third reference was from the principal of the High School, Mr. Matusky. There is a story behind this, the over-the-top reference that most likely opened the doors of Williamson to me. In 10th and most of 11th grade I knew Mr. Matusky and his office staff quite intimately.
Going through “those years of change” caused me to become a challenge to every hierarchy including the office of the principal. However, secretly I knew I wanted to do what was right and so I tried to pursue the question…what is right? You can’t pursue that question without religion getting in there somehow. Finding “religion” is exactly what happened next. Someone broke the pattern of human nature and I witnessed it. Whereas most everyone simply follows their own selfish agenda…I met a few highschoolers that were so stable in their view of who they were that they did not need to” knock another down” to build up their own self-esteem….and they stuck out like a sore thumb on campus. However, I didn’t know what to make of them. Was this an act? What do they really want? To my amazement I found them to be completely sincere. They became my friends, (that wasn’t too hard…since I didn’t need to bring anything to the table, I needed no “front”). Fortunately I still am friends with those I’ve managed to keep up with, even though they are now scattered around the country and even the world.
Anyway, I asked myself, Who are ‘these people’? I found out they were just kids who all were affected by the late breaking…old news….the “good news” A.K.A. “the gospel”. I heard it too. I actually heard it many times before, but it did not mean anything to me. With my peers attached to the gospel message as a live example of the power God can have in someone’s life, I suddenly realized that the message was not just linked-words but a changed life. I figured it was a life-changing style. I figured “I can do that.” I’ll just mold my outward life to match the same seemingly sincere but pious exterior of these new friends.
Soon I found out that I needed a complete overhaul not just a paint job…and I realized that the flow of anything good that can come from me cannot come solely from my own effort but from something greater… that was soon to be within me. I made room in my Inn, the “Inn” of my heart, for Jesus the savior.
I understood that I was a sinner. I understood I needed a savior. With these two acknowledgments I was now equally tied with Satan in mental affirmation of spiritual position. He too is a sinner who needs a savior. Big whoop. The next chess piece to move was actually my forfeiture of the game.
I gave up. I gave it up…to God. I said, “I know I’m a sinner, I know I need a savior. I cannot save myself and I don’t know how…so I don’t want to try to calculate these chess moves anymore…I want you to do the bidding for me.
I turn my will over to you. Jesus, please enter into my dark, dingy, unworthy and cluttered heart and do some of that fancy redecorating…It needs sprucing up in here.” He said, “OK”. Now I heard no audible voice. I saw no apparition. I only had a 6th sense button in my heart initialized….and it was there that I knew that God was real.
I knew He ordered the events of my life so that I could have this revelation. I knew I might now be hosting the most impressive guest my humble fleshly abode might ever encounter…yes, the God of the universe resided, in-part, in Andy deGruchy. But when He finds out how messed-up it is in here maybe He’ll pack up and go back to Zion! 44 years later, trust me, I still do not feel worthy. But I have to acknowledge that the 6th sense button is still “on” after 44 years, despite my own short-comings. God has ordered my life in magnificent ways and I believe has called me to both attempt great things and to live a life worthy of his calling and to tell my story in hope that it may give hope to one who hears it and they too would stop calculating and start trusting Jesus for meeting all of their needs… up to and including their most pressing need: the salvation of their soul. Well, I was in…hook, line and sinker.
Back to Mr. Matusky. I had such a violent and immediate change in personality that for two more years of school I had him scratching his head and asking…”what got into that kid?” I thought that if he knew I became a christian it would cause him to write me off as just “going through a phase”, that for his sake would fortunately require less maintenance of my behavior.
So, instead of ever admitting my new-found relationship with Jesus, I just tried to prove it with doing what was right. It worked. For a year and half later, when I asked him for a reference to the Williamson School, he grinned and began to order me into his office, (a familiar, but confusingly distant gesture), where he intercoms his secretary for the phone number of the Williamson School.
After he finished dialing the number and as the phone was ringing, he put the handset to his shoulder and said quickly and coyly…“did I mention that the Director of Education/Admissions at Williamson was my bunk-mate in the service?” I sat there paralyzed. If ever a flush feeling of absolutely not doubting the presence of God came to me after my original conversion…it was then.
Again, I felt the hand of God confirming to me that my giving him the game would only result in giving Him opportunity to prove that He is in control and that He would order events far better than I could have manipulated them on my own accord.
I was accepted to the Williamson Free School Of Mechanical Trades. Praise God! I lived there three years to study only the masonry trade. Thanks to my instructor, the late Stacey Cartledge, I had the love of the trade, (p.s.- which is key to actually getting a good job from any craftsman), transferred to me and to many of my fellow classmates from him. I thank God that the current instructor also has a love for the trade…and the young men now attending will soon catch the fire from him and carry it to many applications that will affect the future quality of our built environment.
Finally, I thank Timothy Sharadin, the volunteer staff leader of Young Life International, North Penn High School Club, (the youth organization which presented to me the gospel for my consideration during my high school years). Without having heard the Word, I would not have had opportunity to receive the Word, or change the course of my life. Now you have heard the Word. It’s in my own words…but “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” Romans 10:17. “The Lord has called me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to prisoners” Isaiah 61:1.
Are you a prisoner of your own selfishness, captive by the base things of this world? Let me tell you then: “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him”, Hebrews 11:6.
Psalm 37:5 says: “Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him, and He will do it.” Do what? He will give you the faith required in order to believe Him. Psalm 37:4 says “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” In case you don’t know, the desires of your heart is to love and to be loved, to know and to be fully known…and except for God’s example of what pure love is, we do not have the ability to truly love outside of Him, for God is love, (1John 4:8). But He sacrificed everything to prove His love toward us, (Romans 8:32), “Since He did not spare even His own Son for us, but gave Him up for us all, won’t He also surely give us everything else? What is ‘everything else’? Everything else is relief from guilt, dropping the baggage of past sins, freedom to live victoriously, fighting the good fight that spirals upward and ends up in eternal salvation.
Everything else is having the opportunity to be God’s hands, God’s eyes, God’s feet, God’s mind, God’s mouth in continuing the people-ministry of Jesus. Psalm 147:3 says “He heals the brokenhearted, binding up their wounds“…You can pick up on what He started and be focused outward instead of inward…that is the gift of “everything else”. Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” and Psalm 51:17 “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not ignore.”
Isaiah 66:2 “I will look with pity on the man who has a humbled and a contrite heart, who trembles at my word.” Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t wait until we got our act together. He doesn’t want you to clean yourself up first and then come to him. He takes you just as you are at this present moment and says in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
The truth is: Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever should believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
Who gives you the right to say you are akin to Jesus? God does! Because guess what? “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. The verse basically says that He made Jesus become sin so we could go free and be examples of God’s righteousness.
If you are thinking… “It would be great to dump all my sin baggage on Jesus and go free but I am not the kind of person who can live up to the standard of living for God”, then the bible says this to you in Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” He will help you.
Psalm 34:7 says “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and rescues them.” and Ephesians 3:20:”Now to him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” You couldn’t ask or even think so many advantageous chess moves ahead towards your advancement than God could for you!! Isaiah 58:8 says what will suddenly happen to you: “Then your light will break out like the dawn, and your recovery will speedily spring forth: and your righteousness will go before you; the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.” Romans 8:31 challenges every possible fear with the rhetorical question: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” because… “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world”, (1 John 1:4).
So 1 John 4:18-19 sums up why there should be no fear in trusting God and giving up your life to him: “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us.” So, He is love. He and His love can live in you. He will cast out the fears you have. He will protect and defend you. He will allow you the freedom to love and to be loved.
This is the challenge of 1 John: 7-8…Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and every one who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”…you need his power to be able to love … “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
You and I and Williamson and Masonry for that matter will not last forever…“but the word of our God shall stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8. And I just quoted that eternal word of God to you. Here is the conclusion. Receive Him as Savior…Luke 12:7 says He knows the number of hairs on your head! No one cares for you more than God.
Jesus himself invites all in Matthew 11:28-30 to “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for you souls. For my yoke is easy and my load is light.” God’s word says in 1 John 5:12 ” He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” Do you want to have the Son? If you do, it is as simple as asking him to forgive you of your sin and asking him to come in and live in your heart and perform all that I just quoted from scripture. He will do this because he is not a liar. He will do more as is cited in Romans 8:11: “And if the Spirit of God, who raised up Jesus from the dead, lives in you, he will make your dying bodies live again after you die, by means of this same Holy Spirit living within you.” You will also be raised eternal like Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 “Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” Jesus said in John 14:6 “I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me. The bible says it : “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4: 12). Jesus is it. My advice to all who have read this far is to go quickly then and make peace with Jesus while you are still on the way through your journey in life, for if you spurn the gift of forgiveness that He offers you now, you will find that He will return wearing a robe of judgment instead of the gentle shepherd’s garb that he first came in. In the lesson of reconciliation recorded in Luke 12: 58-59, He refers to your own future judgment as your opponent and that you must settle with that fate quickly. If you don’t, your sin will turn you over to the judge and the judge to the constable and the constable will throw your soul into eternal condemnation and remain there until you have paid back every last cent. I hate to have to say it so bluntly, but the Bible as well, does not mince words when referring to eternal damnation. It is forever. Jesus acknowledges it in Matthew 25: 41-46. And yes, I think it is pretty extreme and when I wonder if we deserve such punishment I am met with the fact that we also are not meant to deserve such grace and goodness such as the forgiveness first offered and that God the Father is not taking lightly the payment of His Son, (via death), for something He, Jesus, didn’t do. Please consider to allow Jesus to be the Rock of your salvation, the cornerstone of your own life by receiving God’s free gift of forgiveness found by Jesus’ payment for your sin. If your loved one asked you for something you would try to do what you can to accommodate the request. If you ask God for forgiveness, he will forgive you and He has already made provision to do so awaiting your move. I hope this message moves you and I ask you to please e-mail me and tell me the wonderful news of your new found belief or encouragement from what I have written from my heart to yours. Science now unequivocally determines through DNA proof that we all come from a common first mother. The answer to the ever looming remaining question, (Who is the father?), is simply answered through this quiet still voice: http://www.fathersloveletter.com/text.html
In my mind I believe that the root of all our troubles and any expenditure of unproductive energy is greed and its partner, Fear. I think we are all familiar with this part of human nature and I hear this theme going on in the following recorded speeches:
The restoration of a building begins with a desire to bring things back to what they were for our own enjoyment and for the enjoyment of future generations. The preservation of the founding ideals in the United States Declaration of Independence and The Constitution also starts with each citizen’s desire to serve the common good over self. I have found encouragement understanding these verses from scripture:
1. We don’t have to hoard anything: Luke 12:15 “And He, (Jesus), said to them, ‘Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions'” 2. God is in control: John 16:33 “These things I, (Jesus), have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” 3. So we can go free to love from a pure heart and be part of the solution to the dilemmas in the world that cause so much pain: 2 Corinthians 13:11 “Finally, brothers, Good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.” Colossians 3:14 “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”