Change Takes Longer Than You Think

And so the renovation begins.... It has taken longer than I thought!

Lessons From The Renovation

I am finally beginning to resurface to my regular life after it turned upside down and inside out.

What caused such a havoc?

A renovation. And not just any renovation- a kitchen renovation. There are dishes in the closets and a microwave in the living room.

The answer to the question, “Where is the …?” receives the immediate answer, “I. Don’t. Know.” It doesn’t matter what it is. Even as the Mom, I am no longer the encyclopedic index on the location of each piece of minutia in our home. I don’t know where anything is anymore.

And I am pretty sure that is what renovations always do. The whole “out with the old, in with the new” process is just a mess. Going through a remodel has taught me a lot. Besides learning that I have too many glasses and 9x13 pans, I have also learned some things about the whole Romans 12 passage.

Romans 12:1-2- “…offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)

To “be transformed” - a personal renovation. A renovation of the heart.

I want to “be transformed.” I have wanted that since the day I started following Christ. I want to be less of me and more of Him. I look at the processes of sanctification in the lives of the saints and think, “I want that.”

But I don’t think I ever accounted for how… honestly…painful it would be.

As I have seen parallels between my kitchen renovation and my personal remodel I started calling them my “Lessons From the Renovation.” But, since I can’t ever learn something without desiring to share it with someone, I am sharing my lessons here.

Lesson One: It Takes Longer Than You Think It Will

Any change takes time, and often a lot of time. Home renovations are notorious for stretching past their prospective completion date. We started ours the week after Thanksgiving. Two and a half months later we are finally close to done, but that is much longer than we thought it would take. The timeline kept getting delayed as walls were removed to reveal problems lurking underneath. Or there have been more mundane delays like trying to configure the creative financing of a big remodel on a limited budget.

Even now that we are closing in on completion, there are still minor and some major details that are not finished.

Transformation takes a long time, whether a kitchen or a heart.

I started walking with the Lord over 30 years ago. There have been starts and stops. There have been hot and cold periods. There have been times of rapture and times of despair.

Each experience has transformed me in different ways. They have wrenched me away from the “world’s pattern” which kept drawing me in. But I have to be very honest here: I am not near as “transformed” as I think I should be or could be. Those pesky, besetting sins are still around. I still struggle with being impatient, moody, frustrated. I easily get hangry (if I am in a bad mood it is almost always a good idea to eat something and see if that improves the situation.) I say yes to too many opportunities and then get frustrated that there does not seem to be enough time for all my commitments. I fall into ingratitude as I compare my situations with other ones which seem easier or better.

I believe God is transforming me, but after three decades I think I should be further down the road than I am.

My heart renovation is taking exponentially longer than my kitchen renovation.

How Do I Keep Going?

One of my other besetting sins is to get easily discouraged. But when I do, God reminds me of a truth from parenting. When my kids were little and we would need to walk for a long time, they would become weary and start to lag and whine, so I would often just take their hand.

There was something about taking their hand that added my strength to theirs.

As I get weary with the lengthy heart renovation process, and begin to lag and whine, my best bet is to reach up and take the Lord’s hand. Because as God’s unlimited strength gets added to my minimal supply I am able to keep going.

“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong, because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24



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.