We each have a life story, penned without ink, read by the people around us. Who's writing your story?

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A New Thing - Part 3

Dirt . . . Grime . . . Stains . . .

Have you ever considered how much time you spend cleaning? We wash dishes, scrub floors, power-wash siding, scour sinks, tubs, and toilets, dust furniture, sweep garages, vacuum floors and hard-to-reach corners, steam-clean and shampoo carpets . . .

And what a difference it makes . . . for a while, anyway!

This past week my bedroom carpet underwent a transformation. Some dear friends came to help me do a "few things" in the house. The top priority on the list? Shampoo my 25+ year old carpet. They worked their magic with a rented machine from a local grocer, and in a matter of hours the rug looked bright and clean. I could hardly believe the difference.

In contrast, the water turned black! To be honest, I felt a little embarrassed. How could my upstairs carpet accumulate so much dirt.? I vacuumed it regularly. I kept it picked up. But the honest truth showed up in the water.

I'm so very grateful for my friends--not just because they accomplished what my limitations won't allow me to do but also for the sweet fellowship we enjoyed. We chatted about many topics, not the least of which centered around God's goodness as we looked back over many years. 

They headed home Friday morning, leaving me with wonderful memories of our time together along with a now-finished bedroom (See Part 1 and 2.), a new medicine cabinet and light in the bathroom, a few new hinges in the kitchen, steam-cleaned kitchen and basement floors, and a number of surprise repairs that weren't on my original list. Saying "thank you" seems like such a meager way to express my appreciation.

Over the past few days I've been thinking . . . My limitations kept me from deep-cleaning my carpet. My methods, noble as they appeared, could not do what my friends did to get rid of the dirt. The same is true in a higher realm. No matter how much I try to clean up my life, I cannot do it on my own. Just as I relied on my friends to deep-clean my rug, so we are dependent on Jesus to deep-clean our hearts (1 John 1:9).

And in the process, He does much more than forgive us. He brings new life to our routines. He surprises us with His goodness and ever-present grace and guides us through those problem areas that surface along the way.

So the next time your cleaning efforts yield a bucket or two of dirty water, remember that we have a God who not only offers His cleaning services but desires a loving relationship with us . . . now and forever.

Monday, October 16, 2017

A New Thing - Part 2

Up and down, up and down the stairs again and again with boxes of ceiling tiles, cans of paint, tools, a shop vac, more tools, long strips of molding, and more.

The man who remodeled my upstairs bedroom got his exercise . . . 

I, on the other hand, held the front door open.

It took less than thirty hours for my helper to work his magic. Every day he decreased the old and increased the new. From the tidy ceiling to the freshly painted woodwork to the crisp updated look of the walls to the transformed radiator cover to the curtain rods, he changed my early 1990s bedroom into a modern inviting retreat. I took photos every evening to send to my daughters.

After the contractor left, I just sat on the bed for a while, enjoying my new nighttime surroundings and thanking God for providing another of His good gifts. I couldn't help but think of the verse in Ecclesiastes 3:11: "He has made everything beautiful in its time." Well, as "beautiful" as possible for a 1940s house with few, if any, square corners!
As I've been slowly moving my belongings back into closets and drawers, it's dawning on me that 25 years ago my husband and I felt the same satisfaction after doing this room over the first time. Back then the shabby wallpaper was bright, the chipped woodwork uniform, the carpet new, and the faded quilt vivid with color. We never thought all of our hard work would someday look dated and dingy. 

But new has a habit of aging . . . whether it's a room, a home, a car . . . a life.

Kinda puts it all in perspective, doesn't it? We try to maintain what God has given us, and at the same time, how essential to evaluate how we're investing our time and talents. "For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18).

I still need to put some finishing touches on my room . . . shampoo the carpet, hang a few pictures, organize the closets. I plan to enjoy the newness and also use my remodel job as a reminder of Jesus' words: "Let not your hearts be troubled. . . . In my Father's house are many rooms. . . . I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:1, 2).

Someday, we will enjoy our new heavenly home, grander than any earthbound remodeling job could ever be!

"Behold, I am making all things new" (Revelation 21:5).

Top photo by Julie Manwarren

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A New Thing - Part 1

"Just let me know if you want to pull the trigger."

He descended the stairs from my second story bedroom, legal pad and a tape measure in hand. I didn't need much convincing. I'd been planning and saving up for months. 

"I'm ready to begin any time," I answered. "Thanks for your good ideas. I never thought of these options."

I always liked our spacious room. We had wallpapered over dark paneling in the late '80s or early '90s, and I pieced and hand-quilted the quilt, creating a cozy B & B look.  

But after Barry passed away and I began to feel the full responsibility of caring for our home, I was advised to let the wallpaper go. It might be a deal-breaker when it came time to sell (NOT anytime soon!) . . . and I may as well enjoy the updated look in the meantime.

So how does one go about making wallpaper disappear? Steam if off the walls? Wallboard over the top? Gut the room? And what about the textured ceiling paint that was slowly giving way to gravity? I pondered the options, asked advice, and . . .  still didn't have a satisfactory plan.

Do you ever feel like there's no good answer? And you really want to get the job done and go back to the important things in life?

I finally mustered up the courage to call a recommended contractor, who came in, looked around, and right off the bat presented a plan I hadn't considered. "We can put in a new ceiling like the ones you have downstairs and paint over the wallpaper. It's on there pretty tight." He laid out a few more details, and I began to smile.

It look a while to empty out the room (although he is graciously working around the furniture). My sweet dad unscrewed all the hardware, and a few more-than-willing friends helped me remove the heavier items. 
As of today, the new ceiling is up . . . what a difference! And the old wallpaper? Well it's shabbier than I realized. It'll be painted over by the end of Monday. If the layers underneath could talk . . . wallpaper covering liner covering paneling covering the brightest 1970s orange you can imagine . . . All of this will be hiding beneath my new neutral light gray walls and white trim!
Like me, do you find yourself satisfied with the statue quo? Sometimes we don't realize how dingy our joy has become or how yellowed our outlook is . . . until we muster up the courage to try something new, to make a few changes, and to let God's Word give us a fresh perspective.

"Behold I am doing a new thing . . .
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert."
Isaiah 43:19, ESV

Top photo by Julie Manwarren