Tag Archives: Remodeling

Summer Freeze Bath

Transitioning into summer has been like jumping into an ice-cold river! The universe seemed to get a signal that school was wrapping up and began to send wave upon wave of intensity at my doorstep. I thought I was ready for summer. Now I am not so sure.

I suppose my youngest said it best. We headed out to weed the front beds and she informed me, “Why did we wait so long to get to this? Look at all the weeds!” She was right. It had been too many weeks. But family and friends and family and vacations and visits came tripping into our lives day after day since before the end of May. If we had a free moment, we were either all doing laundry and putting our house back in order or not feeling well. This is the first weekend in a long time that our calendar is actually readable.

I had a lot of amazing plans for this summer. I wanted to get back into the bible study that the kids and I started last summer. I mentioned that our chef (a/k/a me) who prepares lunch and dinner would need a sous chef this summer and that each child would get a turn. I haven’t even started planning my overnight week camp for cousins and friends.

But reality is much different from plans. My focus has shifted from the “would like to’s” to the “have to’s”. I have a house to finish remodeling along with many repairs to be made. I have to take the youngest to their swim lessons and the oldest to his college classes. I have to find a way to let the children play, yet have time to get these “have to’s” done. The list keeps growing and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Although I think I am flexible and can roll with changes, I have not been handling all this very well. I got a little grumpy with God. I had to go to Confession again! Yes, I am definitely a sinner. My little plans had to shift. I should know by now that God has a bigger, better plan. But I don’t always have the faith I need. As my wise friend said, “You know what the motto in Hell is, don’t you? I did it MY way!”

I am so thankful for the Sacred Heart Sisters who shared with me and my family on a weekend retreat. They refilled my heart with good thoughts and solutions. They live their faith, and their joy is contagious. I sure needed that lift as I head into this summer. Thank you, God, for Sister Rose, Sister Teresa, Sister Adriane, and Sister Laura! Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

The Secret Multiplier

It is amazing what 5 pairs of hands can accomplish in a few hours. All of my children pitched in and helped my son and I remove old carpeting, carpet pad, tack board and staples from our dining room. When my son and I did this by ourselves in our front room, it felt like a very long, laborious process. We were glad we had each other, but it still took a long time.

Fast forward to last night. You have heard the adage, “Many hands make light work.” Well, we lived that last night. Suddenly, we had teams going with plans made for the best way to extract  staples quickly and efficiently. We also discovered “specialists” who had certain gifts. For example, my oldest daughter can yank out even the smallest nub of a broken staple, and did so with pride! And although there was some grumbling, mostly we were laughing and singing and joking.

I am thinking that when Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs of two, that was a really solid idea. They had each other to lean on or encourage when things got tough. But Jesus had an even more amazing plan than that. He established a Church. He wanted all people to experience community. Community is the great multiplier. Because when you have a solid faith community, suddenly you are able to accomplish way more for the glory of God than you could do on your own. Ten people do not equal just 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1, but more like an exponential multiplier, such as 10 to the 10th power or 10,000,000,000! Pretty awesome, I think. I felt a hint of that last night, just working on a simple project with 5 of my dearest people.



Declutter and Detach: Two Steps to Freedom

Our remodeling project is moving along swiftly. The entire kitchen is gutted and looks tremendously large now that it is just studs instead of walls. Tomorrow, we start tearing out a section that will take the roof up about 9 feet. It was a fake drop ceiling over an old bar area. Next, we will demolish a wall which was between the kitchen and bar area. I cannot wait to see the sunlight come pouring in from the giant sliding glass doors off the bar area. What felt closed off will be now airy and spacious!

Also, I have discovered the joy of clearing out old furniture. Craigslist is my new best friend. I have been selling pieces of hodge-podge furniture that we never really bought. We just were given it or it was left with us in the family home. I’ve learned that there are people who are looking for all kinds of furniture (no matter the condition) and they pay cash for it. Lovely!

All of this to say that having less is really feeling nice. Our house felt so cluttered from combining households many years ago. Freeing up space seems to free up my mind and my spirit. I’m really enjoying letting go of these “things”, detaching, and gaining some breathing room. I’m realizing that having order around you does affect you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I think I will plan my new rooms around this concept and see how it feels. So excited to see the results for me and my family.

Take Turns Doing the Hard Jobs

Today, we decided to tackle the kitchen flooring. We are removing two layers of vinyl(?) flooring that apparently were stuck on with super, gorilla glue. This is back-breaking work and progress is very slow. Our friend is planning to drop by a tool that will help make this less miserable, but in the meantime, we have discovered what works and what doesn’t.

I discovered a “shovel” of sorts in the garage corner which I thought would be dandy to use. It is thin at the end and I visualized shoveling whole tiles at one shove. Ha, ha, ha. Meanwhile, my son took the crowbar and hammer approach. When I saw the progress he was making, I dug through the tools for a sledge-hammer. I handed it to him with a big smile. One whack and we knew we found a winning combination!

We started out with great spirits. My son, using the crowbar/sledge-hammer combo, and myself using the crowbar/hammer combo. After about 15 minutes, I was really done. My back hurt and my arms felt like noodles. I decided to do the final vacuum and tamping of the staple ends in our front room. My son stuck with the floor removal for another 30 minutes. Then he needed a break. So I took over the floor removal and sent him to the garage to work on preparing the cabinetry we will be selling.

All day long, we took turns doing the hardest job (floor removal) and finding other smaller, easier jobs that needed doing (removing baseboard, fixing cabinetry). If one of us found a better way to do something, we shared it. For example, I discovered a super easy way to remove staples from the front of our old cabinetry. I turned that job over to my son and headed back to the floor removal.

I share all of this to say that I think in every part of life, we should take turns doing the hard jobs. I am not sure that I have done this for most of my life, but it just makes sense. Working on a project is so much nicer when everyone involved is willing to do the hard stuff and not just push it onto the “new” guy or the lowest paid worker. I also think we should always share with others any information that is helpful or makes things easier. I know that not everyone does this in life, but we should.

Well, we still have about half the kitchen to go, but the great news is that my husband just got home. Oh, the fun he will have learning the crowbar/sledge-hammer combo!


I Found the Hidden Treasure

Remodeling is hard work! My son and I just finished ripping out most of our kitchen. We also pulled up carpeting in our front room. In my earlier post, “What Lies Hidden Beneath?” I was sharing that I was a bit afraid of what I might find underneath the carpeting. I found myself comparing the carpet removal process to our spiritual lives.

To recap:
Pristine carpeting yet full of dust = our souls  partially clean, partially murky
Carpet pad (with crumbling sections) = our hardness of heart/unforgiveness
Hardwood floor = beauty of ourselves (body and soul) made in God’s image
Staples (brittle, stuck deep) = sin that needs to be removed

So, we started working on the staple removal process. And let me tell you, it is S-L-O-W going! You cannot stand to do very much at a time because it overwhelms you. For every few staples we can easily remove, the next few break in half, right at the wood floor. Our knees and elbows hurt and are bruised (and we are even using knee pads!)

This was the most mentally demanding work of all because it was no fun and felt like progress was at a snail’s pace. This is much like getting rid of those long festering sins in our lives. When we finally decide to work on them, we think it will be easy. It is not. It can definitely be discouraging at first. Perseverance becomes a real word that means something more than you ever realized before in your life!

As you can imagine, my son and I were high-fiving each other when we pulled the last staple and swept up the final, horrible remains of the crumbling, chalk-like carpet pad. We were so proud of persevering and finishing the job. That’s when our friend arrived and pointed out to us that when they sand and refinish these hardwood floors, all those little holes from the staples will show right back up. We will have to use a special tool to tap the tiny staples that we could not extract back down into the wood. I suppose these small, unextractable “sins” are like what St. Paul refers to in 2 Corinthians 12 when he says, “Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

But that’s not all! After tapping these down, we have to carefully find each single hole created by the staples or nails along the edges and fill them with a special filler. Aha! Now this is exciting and makes tremendous sense. I feel like I found the hidden treasure! It just came to me that once we are cleansed of sin, we must always remember to ask the Holy Spirit to fill those places we have emptied. I think St. Paul says it best: “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.” I think we’ll keep that as our prayer in mind as we are on our knees slowing filling each little hole…

What Lies Hidden Beneath?

I’m in the midst of a remodeling project. Because I am thrifty, my family is doing as much of the work as we can. This means tearing things apart which my sons find quite wonderful. We have pretty much redone this entire house except for the kitchen and two bathrooms. This week, we are dismantling the kitchen and pulling up carpeting. It was our hope and prayer that the hardwood floors would still be in good shape. The question we all were wondering as we began the ripping out process is “What lies hidden beneath?”

Okay, you may find this odd, but I am constantly finding that God speaks to me even through carpet that is 40+ years old! Think of a green from the 1960s…not avacado but a more of a classic light green. This carpet looks pristine because it is wool and apparently no one was allowed to “play” in this area. However, as we rip into the carpet, layers of dust come at us as we choke . This is like our souls. We may look fresh and clean and well-kept on the outside, but beneath this “surface” is some pretty awful stuff.

Next, we get to the carpet pad. It is thick and red. “Wow, this was nice stuff when they bought it,” I say to my son. However, some portions of this thick, red padding have become hard as rock! Crumbling, chunks of substance like chalk. “Huh,” I think to myself, “this is like parts of our hearts where we sealed off ourselves because of unforgiveness. There’s nothing left to work with here. It’s just crumbling away into dust.”

Finally, we get to the floor. It’s hardwood and it is beautiful. Oops. I forgot. There are rows and rows and rows of large carpeting staples that need removing. I try my usual method (pliers), only to find that these staples have been in here so long, they are brittle and just break, leaving me to wrestle the tiny nubs out of the hard, hard wood. These are like our sins that have gone deep into the depths of us. They have become us, and we must work hard to ply them out of the beauty that God made us.

I cannot wait to see what the rest of this remodeling job has in store for me. I must admit though I’m a bit afraid of what lies hidden beneath.