Why I Am Not Building My Dream Kitchen

This is what my kitchen looks like now- before the renovation. Eleven years ago we moved into our home in Texas. After moving 11 times in 20 years with the Air Force, we were finally settling down. This home appealed to us with its one-story, Texas hill country look, cozily set on 8 acres. Unfortunately it also had vibes of the Brady Bunch with its dark wood paneling and 70's light fixtures, but those could be fixed. Having enough bedrooms for our family of nine and an extra room for homeschooling sold us. This was the house to make our home.

I did have to overlook a few minor items- like the bathrooms and the kitchen. But I figured in a few years we could renovate those and it would be great. If your life is anything like mine though, you will understand when renovation dreams collide with small realities like budget and opportunity.

I am happy to report that eventually both bathrooms were greatly improved.

And now, over a decade later, we are on to the kitchen. This is an exciting, terrifying, messy, terrific, ridiculous project. Through it I am learning a great deal and some of it even has to do with renovation and kitchens. Most of it, however, has to do with life.

When renovating a kitchen in this day of HGTV and Pinterest it is easy to dream big. But dreams eventually have to run up against reality. Either that or dreams have to run to the bank and take out a loan that could run a small country for several months.

First thing I have learned: dreams are expensive.

So are kitchen cabinets. Like really, really expensive. And farm sinks are expensive, and countertops are expensive, and labor, flooring, and lighting. It is all expensive.

So what's a girl to do?

Well the first thing is to answer the question, "Are you building your dream kitchen?" No. No I am not building my dream kitchen.

What I am doing (and honestly this is more of a consultant role, because I am not that great with power tools) is building a wonderful space that will work well for my family and friends and allow us to practice hospitality and is a vast improvement to my current kitchen.

My current kitchen has linoleum floor that is chipping, drawers that are falling apart, and a mustard yellow countertop that runs twelve inches up the wall as the backsplash. There is not a lot of counter space or storage. But that being said, this kitchen has allowed me to cook dinners for parties of 2-250, has been filled with laughter, has always been where guests gather, and has served admirably as the heart of our home. A magnificent dream kitchen, that is never used, could never do that.

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.   ~I Timothy 6:6-8

Second thing I have learned: enough is as good as a feast.

I love this old saying. It isn't heard so much any more, but it says a lot to my heart about how much it should take to satisfy me.

Let me give you a kitchen example. My "dream" sink is a farmhouse sink. I love the retro look with the white apron on the front and the huge bowl to wash massive amounts of large dishes. I assumed that, of course, I would have that in our new kitchen. It was one of my "have to haves." Until I priced it, that is.  A lower end farmhouse sink is a minimum of 4 times the price of a decent undermount stainless steel sink.

Seriously? Yep, seriously.

So what did I go with? I went with the undermount stainless steal sink that is wonderful. It is a single sink so I can wash my big pans with ease and when I have grandbabies it can serve as a kiddie pool. It will be fantastic and I am super excited about it. It is as good as a feast, maybe even better. Even if it is not my dream.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. Philippians 4:11

I am going to spend my dreams well.

Instead of going deep into debt to have things "just right" and "picture perfect" I am going to be extremely grateful and supremely pleased with my wonderful new kitchen.

I am going to cook big meals for lots of people and I am going to serve coffee and gluten-free cookies, or cook massive pots of chili, or whip up a batch of pancakes, or make the stand-by Alfredo sauce to go on, well, anything. Because everything is better with Alfredo on it.

I am going to make my kids their favorite birthday meals or cook something to take to a sick friend.

I am going to spend my dreams on something eternal.

And I am going to be very content.

Contentment is a far better accomplishment than a dream kitchen.



Finding Freedom- Laying Down My Dreams

Laying down my dreams? Are you kidding me?That sounds defeatist and melancholy. That sounds like giving up and settling for mediocrity. That doesn't sound like freedom- it sounds like failure.

So let me explain myself.

I am a goal setter, a planner, and a list writer. I am also a dreamer and a story teller- so I have, through the years, tried to give God ideas of how things should work out. Because I have really good dreams and plans and I always think He might want to use them.

But the truth is that God often seems to have other plans. And sometimes, when things are not turning out at all like I thought....well....

It happens to everyone. The dreams and plans of the young 20 something, when you really believe you can change the world by 30,  run head-on into the brick wall of the pesky realities of budget, school loans, illnesses, broken hearts, and all the other little adult issues that fall squarely and unavoidably into your life.

Maybe your dream job never materializes. Maybe a child is born with complications you never imagined. Maybe your marriage is not what you had hoped for. Maybe your salary is insufficient to fund your plans. Maybe your salary exceeds your hopes, but you have found your material possessions unsatisfying.

I have dreams that have never materialized too. I thought there were things I would do, books I would write, and places I would go, but they haven't occurred. I had assumptions and expectations and theories and intentions that have fallen flat on their face.

And that can be hard. Proverbs 13:12 says, "Hope deferred makes the heart sick."

But while I want the freedom from the disappointed hopes, I don't want to find that freedom by quietly accepting defeat and calling it reality.

I want to find freedom by laying down my dreams and stepping with blind faith and wild abandon into God's plans. I want to find freedom as I quit trying to write my own story and live with hope and confidence in the one He has written for me. I want to find freedom by trusting what He has allowed to happen and what He has not allowed to happen in my life.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," declares the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."         Is. 55:8

My dreams and goals and aspirations can't even touch the value of the treasure of the ways of God. What a waste if I keep dragging around the dead weight of shattered hopes when all I really need to do is abandon them to the rubbish heap and run headlong into the abundance He has prepared.

 "... no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him."  1 Cor 2:9

Why would I ever substitute my tinfoil plans for the solid gold of what God has prepared for me? He is the greatest Creator, Storyteller, and Craftsman imaginable. Why would I want to be in charge of my dreams, when He is willing to be?

His plans + His thoughts + His will = My freedom from false hope and shallow dreams.

That is some freedom I can live with.