MAKING IT OUR OWN
After moving in, we quickly created a list of things we needed to fix or wanted to update around the house. Some tasks are quite simple, like installing window blinds or fixing the sliding glass door handle. Others on the list are major to-dos like renovating the whole kitchen (new cabinets, and layout, and lights, etc.) or replacing the flooring throughout the entire ground level (due to the damage caused by the herd of cats the previous owners had). The first, and crucial, task was to paint the whole interior of the house. Especially, the basement. That bright blue has got to go!
At this point, much of our belongings had not been moved in because we knew it would be in the way once we painted. This meant the house was bare bones for the first month or so. The girls' mattresses were on the floor, clothes were still being stowed in our travel bags, and my wife and I worked in random, quiet places around the house sitting on boxes or anything we could find.
After reviewing our budget and some quotes, we hired a small crew to paint the house. In order to save time and money on the paint job, I planned to remove all of the trim and baseboards throughout the entire house, then in the Spring I would put up the new ones. The week before the painters started, I removed all of the boards, of which I estimate at almost 1000 linear feet, that needed to be pried off. Whenever she had time, on her lunch or in the evenings, Kevyn followed behind me to pull out any nails left behind from the trim.
It took much longer than I thought or hoped it would. We just barely got it completed before the painters came to prep and paint the house.
SETBACKS ARE NOT TRAGEDIES
About ten years ago, we heard a pastor teach on attitudes when dealing with life's setbacks and disappointments. At the time, we were living rather meagerly, just had a newborn, my wife was working towards her bachelors, and I was recently laid off. It was not an easy season and the pastor's message was a relevant and much needed topic for us. However, it did not sit right with me one bit.
This pastor shared how he and his wife recently had a kitchen renovation take a day longer than expected. What was supposed to have been a two-day project turned into three days. This experience was extremely hard for the pastor and his wife to work through and to maintain godly attitudes.
He also shared that during a recent rainstorm, there was street flooding and slow moving traffic that caused him and his boys to miss a movie they had bought tickets for in advance. He described both of these events as tragedies. I could not believe what I was hearing. Needless to say, that was one of the last sermons of his I heard.
Although it left a rather sour taste in my mouth, there was one thing I got from it: Never complain about privilege. And I don't mean "privilege" in the social justice sense. That pastor had the means to improve his home for his family and he complained it took an extra day, while my wife and I weren't sure if we could pay next month's rent. He complained about missing a movie, while people in his community were experiencing water damage to their homes or possibly running late to their jobs, which could jeopardize their employment. There is more I could share about this season in our lives, the maturity of that pastor and the church we were at, but I'll leave it there for now.
It's all about perspective
All that to say, recently, that pastor's message came to mind. Now I am the one with similar means to work on house projects and enjoy outings with my kids. But after some thought, in no way have I considered the imperfections of my home, dealing with the plethora of boxes, the inconsistent pace of home projects, or changed plans due to weather as "disappointments."
There are definitely momentary frustrations, but, as I've said before in other posts and will continue to do so, I choose to be thankful above all else. It would be absurd not to.
Why would I complain about the opportunity of painting my own house, when years before I had to fight our property manager to fix the AC unit or remove the mold from our bathroom? Why would I complain about the weather when my life, and the people I love, and my house are safe through the storm?
Life isn't perfect and to complain or see things as disappointments when it doesn't work out should never be a default attitude. That mindset diminishes the truly terrible or tragic events that do eventually come in our lives, and that's not okay. Setbacks are not tragedies.
THE HOUSE WAS IN A ROUGH STATE TO LIVE IN...SORT OF
Admittedly, our house was rather chaotic during the few weeks it took to paint the house. For almost two weeks, the girls didn't even have doors for their bedrooms. Every evening, we had to pin up blankets or sheets to block the light and every morning take them down for the painters. Tools, dust, and plastic drop cloths covered every inch of the house. Our backs were hurting daily from sitting in awkward, temporary office locations throughout the house and then working on projects into the evenings. It wasn't easy when so much was in disarray, but how dare I think of it as anything to complain about.
The opportunities God has given us is something we are extremely grateful for. We're proud of the wise decisions and sacrifices we've made to get us to this point of having the means to buy a house, having the ability to work on it, being able bless our neighbors whenever we can, and to experience adventures as a family.
I'm excited for our future home projects. I do not assume they will all be easy or convenient to accomplish. Instead of complaining about house projects, I will give thanks to God for the home He has provided for us and take pride in the work I have before me as a steward of my home and my family.
SO WHAT'S NEXT?
Once the painting was finished, we got the house back in order and I began to work on a running list of electrical work. Replacing every socket, every switch, and almost every light fixture. I also created schematics of the house, so I could properly relabel the breaker box. The labels were worn, mislabeled, or vague and I need to fix that in order to quickly know what to shut off for future projects or in an emergency. Thank you, Jason for the assist in that!
Tasks next on the list are to insulate our garage, so it's more useful in the winter, putting on the new trim/baseboards, and new flooring. Chances are rather high that the priorities of these tasks will change as we move forward, but we'll be sure to keep you posted on our progress, our learning, and maybe how to avoid any mistakes we might make along the way.