Drink water. Don’t buy juice, coke, wine, beer, lemonade, tea. I know, I know. It sounds cray, but this is one of the biggest ways I have saved at the grocery store. Drink water. Not only is it healthy, it’s cheap.
But in my pouting about DOING EVERYTHING (even though, I do very short of everything) I missed the Lord whispering, “Look around you. This is your earthly reward. Is this not enough?”
MY CLOTHES. I can’t wear an outfit for 5 seconds before something is spit up on it or spilled on it or wiped on it. Can my Target clothes stand up to this kind of laundering? The answer is no.
I am a sucker for Before and Afters. Whether it be home remodels or weight losses or What Not to Wear, I get all giddy about transformations. And SO, why NOT buy a really ugly house?? Where’s the fun in buying an already-beautiful home? Nowhere.
Last April, Clark and I bought a fixer-upper. Last week, we (And by we, I mean my dad. Thanks Pops.) finally got enough done to show some of the progress we’ve made so far. Only took a year .. **pat myself on the back**. We got most of the big stuff done before we moved in, but it was the little stuff, the we-can-live-with-it-like-this stuff that took forever to tend to. We still have some items on the To-Do list, but the To-Done list is suddenly much longer. Phew.
This house was QUITE the project, but we saw potential and I’m so thankful we went with it. If I could take this house with me to every town I live in for the rest of my life, I would. Except I would leave the bathrooms.
As the projects were quite extensive, today’s focus will be:
The Kitchen. Dun Dun Dun…
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am so not anti-wood paneling. Typically, we would just paint it. We have painted it before. But this stuff?? This stuff was not your average wood paneling. I’ve never seen or touched anything like it. It had a plastic-y sheen to it and a three-dimensional grain. We agreed that painting it would not be a good solution because it was so shiny so we ripped that mother out.
We also enclosed the bookshelf on the end of the wall so that our pantry area is now inside the laundry area, a decision I regret. Originally, I thought I would use some of the shelving for laundry stuff AND that I didn’t want the pantry to be in a traffic area. If I could go back, I would had just added doors to the front of those bookshelves to make a pantry. Ya live, ya learn.
Then there were the 8 million doors on the wall, one of which opened to a brick wall. We decided that wasn’t necessary, so we consolidated the doors and covered the laundry area with a barn door. In the first after shot, you will notice the barn door is yet to be hung. It didn’t happen for, oh… 10 months. Until we found out we needed to move and put our house on the market. Nothin’ like a For Sale sign to put a fire under your butt.
Now let’s get to the actual kitchen area. Thanks to a teensy HGTV addiction, I had a vision as soon as we saw it. We knew we wanted to rip out the peninsula and add an island, extend the cabinets to the door, and replace the existing cabinet doors with shaker style. We replaced all the moldings, the 1950’s push-button cooktop, the vent, and the backdoor. We also decided that we wanted to paint for the rest of our lives.
We lucked out and found the tile used for the floor to replace the 3×4 section that was under the peninsula. After looking online and contacting every tile store in the world, the flooring store in Sweetwater had it the whole time. Duh. I got brave and painted the garage-entry door a red-orange to brighten up the place. We bought the butcher block counter tops and cabinet hardware from IKEA. We also installed a new sink and faucet, subway tile backsplash, and a new light fixture above the sink. If our pockets were a little deeper, I would have added all new lighting…. someday…
If you will look carefully, to the left of the upper cabinets you will see a blank space of gray wall. Eventually, that will be open shelving. But for now, use your imagination or come put it up for us.
We usually don’t make our children sit on top of their table.
We did this on a very tight budget (under $6,000) and if you would like an itemized list of what we spent, I would love to scrounge through it al. We were lucky we didn’t have to completely tear out cabinets or get new floors and realized pretty quickly that new appliances were out of the question (other than the cooktop and vent). Stainless steel is overrated anyways, right? Right? No? Oh.
Here are the paint colors for those interested:
Trim/Cabinets – White Dove, BM
Walls – Brushed Aluminum, BM
Island – Kendall Charcoal, BM
Garage-Entry Door – Steelhead Red, Clark and Kensington
Next time, let’s discuss the living room. Until then, I’ll whet your appetite with these beauts:
I am one of those rare, lucky ones that can claim to have had a wonderful father. Mine really is. He is genuinely the most loving, compassionate, patient dad/person alive. Now or ever. And the smartest man I know. Any talent I have as a writer, pales in comparison to that of my father.
Anyway. This weekend, he and I had a conversation that weaved its way from racism to American culture to entitlement to missions to poverty. After making a comment that must have been very profound, as I do not remember at all what I said, he casually remarked, “Sometimes we’re just more American than we are Christian.”
Let’s say it again for dramatic emphasis: Sometimes we’re just more American than we are Christian.
That’s good stuff, right? (And surely the title of a blog.)
I haven’t been able to get that phrase out of my head. Am I more American than I am Christian? But then I began thinking being a Christian and being American (and by American, I mean a product of our American culture) are basically the exact opposite of each other.
Let’s just flesh this out.
Being American means you want more of everything, always insatiable.
Being a Christian means earthly wealth and possessions are empty and meaningless. (Matt 6:19-21; Col. 3:1-4)
Being American means you obsess about being accepted, cool, beautiful.
Being a Christian means you understand that externals are fleeting and shallow. (1 Sam. 16:7; Prov. 31:30)
Being American means you aren’t good enough.
Being a Christian means you are washed clean, perfect daily. (1 Cor. 6:11)
Being American means you are your own first priority, el numero uno.
Being a Christian means your first priority is to honor God, second is to serve others. (Matt. 22:37-39)
Being American means you are highly important and people should pay attention to you.
Being a Christian means you are meek and poor in spirit. (Matt. 5:3; Matt. 5:5)
Being American means you embrace the pursuit of happiness.
Being a Christian means that you embrace the pursuit of holiness. (2 Pet. 3:14-18)
Being American means you are entitled.
Being a Christian means you realize all good things comes from above and are therefore thankful. (James 1:17)
Being American means you are proud, because, duh, you’re American.
Being a Christian means you are humble. (Phil. 2:3-11)
Are we all living, breathing oxymorons? It’s as if being an American and being a Christian AT THE SAME TIME is virtually impossible.
And by “Christian” I mean someone who desires nothing of this world but longs only for the things of God, someone whose sole motivation is bringing His kingdom down to Earth, someone who is consumed by His spirit and lives purposefully to reach and show compassion to others, who could care less what people think because her eyes are on eternity. Because it seems like Jesus was kinda like that.
American culture lends itself to busy schedules and bigger homes and higher incomes and the American Dream and life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. All in the name of God. Praise Jesus for blessing us. We deserve it. Because we were born here doggone-it.
We are enculturated to believe that living for ourselves is our right, our patriotic pursuit, our blessing.
So here’s the question… How do we live a life unadulterated by our culture?
How can I be an un-American (yet still American) Christ follower ?
I’m not going to pretend like I know all the answers, but I will share a few thoughts.
First off, we’ve got to admit we have a problem. (Hi, I’m Jordan, and I’ve been brainwashed by my culture.) We’ve got to admit that this life of consumerism and immorality and over-consumption and busyness and self-importance is unbiblical at the very least and spiritually suffocating at most.
Secondly, we must stop comparing ourselves to other Americans, thinking to ourselves how sacrificial we are because we don’t live THAT extravagantly. Well that’s fantastic… because just about 99.8% of the world don’t live that extravagantly. Let’s all pat ourselves on the back for that achievement.
Thirdly, learn what humility means. Read about Jesus — he knows. Humility is one of those really important words. It will redefine your purpose. But move fast, there’s not a lot to go around here in the U.S. of A.
Lastly, surround yourself with people that challenge you to live less normal. We inevitably, naturally assimilate to the culture in which we live — so change that culture as much as possible.
Lastly again, be genuinely burdened for someone other than yourself. Practice compassion and social justice in Jesus’ name.
Satan wields his evil hand in a different way here than he does in other places. He convinces us that our lifestyles are normal, okay, good even. Because our lifestyles are just… American. And that’s what we are after all. Wrong. We are followers of Christ first and foremost. Before we were born into affluence, we were claimed by God and commissioned to live differently, sacrificially, counter-culturally. The very definition of counter-cultural defies the existence of American Christians. The bottom line is we aren’t called to be American Christians.
We are called to be Christian Americans.
Clark and I, like most engaged couples with responsible parents, were encouraged to go to pre-marital counseling before our big day. I remember taking that test that diagnoses problem areas within the relationship — a way to pinpoint what needs to be discussed during each session. We had one problem area: that we had no problem areas.
Our counselor told us that we had something of a utopian complex, a “rose-colored glasses” syndrome. He feared we might naively skip into our marriage thinking it would be a lot easier than it actually would be. We assured him that we were prepared, that we knew this was going to be very hard, that just because we got along really well right now didn’t mean we always would. We weren’t unrealistic about the difficulty of marriage. We understood. Seriously. We were good.
But it ended up actually being perfect. We never had any problems.
“Stop. Just stop. Shut the H up. No you don’t.” Surely that would have been the appropriate thing for the counselor to say to us in that moment. Surely that’s what he wanted to say. Why didn’t he say that?
Because it wouldn’t have mattered. It is impossible to understand marriage before you are married. It is impossible to watch funny YouTube parodies on what couples fight about, to experience the ebbs and flow of your parents’ relationship, to walk through divorce with friends or family members, to see the tears of desperation from an unhappy spouse, and understand. Because no matter what, “We are different.” Or so you think.
I remember when we were dating, thinking, “Oh my gosh. We are SO similar. It’s crazy how alike we are.”
Then we got married, and I was like, “Um. He tricked me.”
Here’s the truth. When you get married, you are entering a battlefield. But you are up against an adversary much greater than your spouse.
Satan hates marriage. If he can destroy a healthy marriage, all the collateral damage is his to watch and smirk at. The effects of a failed marriage are much more far-reaching than just the spouses, or even the children. Its crumbled ruins tumble onto communities and schools and friends and faiths. From its ashes rise the lesser known Fruits of the Serpent: resentment, discontentment, anger, bitterness. It destroys faith in people, faith in marriage, faith in healthy relationships, and most importantly, faith in God.
This marriage deal sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? That’s the kicker. It totally is. All The Hard — the not-getting-your-own-way, the “intense discussions,” the crying, the pit in your stomach — it’s worth it. Because The Hard ends up being the heartbeat of your marriage. It’s the part that restores your faith in changed hearts and transformed people — and I’m not talking about my spouse, I’m talking about me. God turns The Hard into grace, compassion, patience, understanding. He turns “This is impossible” into “I am so thankful for him.”
So it’s hard. Don’t do it if you aren’t determined to make it work from the beginning. Because, did I mention it’s hard? But there are ways to help it function a little better. These are a few principles I wish I’d realized a long time ago.
You have to care more about your spouse (and your spouse’s needs) than you do about yourself (and your own needs). Deny yourself. Deny yourself. Deny yourself. This works really well when you both put this into practice.
Your spouse is not your enemy. So stick it to the real enemy by not giving up on your spouse.
If you keep complaining about what he/she is or is not doing, check yo self before you wreck yo self. Maybe you could change a few habits or do a few nice things first.
He wants respect. She wants to be taken care of. If there’s a vicious cycle of not offering respect because he won’t show affection (or vice versa) … find a way out. Quickly.
Prioritize. Your relationship with your spouse should be numero dos, only behind that with your heavenly father. Not your kids, not your parents, not your friends. Did I mention, not your kids? Your honey always, always comes first.
Pray like your marriage is ending, even before it is. Like, right now.
Marriage counseling is not a last-ditch effort. There is no marriage that is too healthy or too dysfunctional for a third-party. Best thing we ever did.
I hesitate to even post this because it might lead you to believe that I know a lot (or THINK I know a lot) about this topic. Trust me, I know I don’t. I’m still a rookie.
Obviously, we haven’t been married for 50 years, and we probably haven’t hit the biggest bumps in our road. The only think I know is that the warfare against marriage is unrelenting. BUT, “…BUT thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:57-58.
You can do anything you set your mind to.
I hate that phrase.
What does that mean? It’s so generic. So broad. So cliché. It’s the exact opposite of inspiring, because every time I hear it, I think, “Really? ANYTHING? Let’s get real.”
Let’s revamp that phrase into something specific, something a little more practical, something that makes sense.
You are more capable than you realize.
… We can do better than that …
You can do things outside your realm of normal.
… Truth … but there’s more …
Don’t limit yourself to who you THINK you are or what you THINK you can do. MOREOVER, don’t limit yourself to what others believe you can do. (A) Because they probably don’t think what you think they think (follow me?) and (B) because they are who the enemy uses to keep you from being amazing.
Those doubts you have? They are, in fact, confirmation that your ambition could turn into something incredible. Satan hates incredible.
Several years ago, I was having a conversation with an acquaintance. He didn’t know me, just knew of me. He knew what I did, not who I was. However, he’d apparently already formed an opinion on me based on that. He was explaining to me that his brother was writing a book. At an attempt at lighthearted conversation I laughed and said, “When I was younger, I used to always write books. I bet I started ten books that I never finished,” to which he replied, “Oh yea? What did you write about? Shopping and cheerleaders?”
(secretly… okay obviously not so secretly… I hope he’s reading this)
The fact that I can remember this conversation after two pregnancies is proof that this struck a very deep nerve. I have never been so offended, so (excuse me but…) pissed off in my life. I am SO passive aggressive, but that’s the closest I’ve ever been to exclusively being aggressive. I hate to call him Satan, but it is what it is. Because I had always had this idea of what others thought about me — and in that moment, he spoke over me what the enemy had been whispering for years.
Somewhere in my life I started listening to voices, confirming my roles. “This is who you are. Know your role. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Others will know you’re a fake. Don’t try to drive outside your lane.” And at some point I’d turned God’s gifts into my own twisted list of faults. I had turned Academic into Not Smart Enough, Athletic into Butch, Low-Maintenance into Plain, Laid Back into Irresponsible and Lighthearted into Silly and Shallow.
I have lived in this identity my whole adult life. While I think I hid it well, I hated myself every time I locked my keys in my car, every time I forgot my homework, every time I misplaced the nipple shield (shout out to all you breastfeeders), every time I did something that would allow someone to say, “Typical.” Because what that translated to me was, “That is who you are. And you can never be more than who you are.”
Well. There is more to me than Athlete. Mom. Wife. Teacher. Goofball. Just because those are my expected roles, doesn’t mean they are my only roles. They don’t define me. I can live outside of them. I can be more than them. Because God made me more than just them.
And humility doesn’t mean I can’t be proud of that fact. I love this quote by C.S Lewis: “Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” I’ve totally had that backwards. for. ev. er. I have coupled ambition and boldness and purposefulness with pride and arrogance and “taking yourself too seriously”ness. And I have mistaken humility for sheepishness and self-mockery. Confidence is not cockiness, it’s a commitment to God to take advantage of what he formed in you, an admission that what he created is pretty dadgum awesome, a determination to thank him by actually putting it to good use.
Here’s the bottom line. We can allow God to use us in ways outside of our normal, our realm of “okay.” We don’t have to just be who we’re expected to be. We only have one life, so we might as well squeeze the life out of this one that we have.