Sunday, September 24, 2017

Gee, where have I been all month???

What a crazy busy couple of weeks it has been.  My last blog talked about all kinds of decisions that we had to make regarding the updating of our house.  Nothing is ever easy when you are trying to do as much as you can yourself (or think Ken is doing as much as he can).  Even just getting a delivery of our cabinet order was an ordeal!  The delivery service promised us a delivery between 1-3pm and by 4:30 we figured something must be wrong.  Then they said they would deliver between 6-8pm.  But at 5:45 we got a call that the delivery truck had been in an accident.  Several phone calls later, we managed to arrange to still get our cabinets that day.  They arrived at 8:15pm and all the cabinets were safely in our garage.  Sigh.

The biggest ordeal for me (the floor was the biggest for Ken) has been the removal of a tile backsplash we had in the kitchen.  It took me three full days to scrape off the tile.  And then three more days to totally remove the tile backing from the wall.  My hands (knuckles) and thumbs have many blisters and scrapes.  But the job is done.   The best part is feeling like I actually participated in the kitchen redo!

On Saturday those long awaited cabinets were finally installed.  Ken and I both know that without the help of these two amazing young men, Tim and Doug,  it would have been a LONG process!
Our entire family (all 11 of us) spent all day Saturday together while Tim, Doug, and Ken worked on the kitchen.  Now that alone, is an amazing adventure when everything from your kitchen is in your livingroom - stacked on the chairs, in boxes and totes filling the space. Susie and Grace and Gwen, Lia, Ellie, Zeke, Anna and I mostly stayed upstairs in the master bedroom!  It made for a really cozy time.  The kids spent most of the time looking at my scrapbooks and playing with Grace. We also turned on the television - something that we rarely do when we are together.  But desperate times call for desperate measures!   Normally we would have been outside.... but that is the rest of the story of Saturday.  Doug and Tim were a powerhouse team and they got those cabinets in with only a brief stop for lunch.  We had a deadline of 4pm and with just a few minor things left to finish, we have new cabinets!

The reason for the 4pm deadline is that Gwen, Susie, Lia, Ellie, Zeke and I were all running a 5K race (first time for all of us - except Gwen who has run many races) that started at 5pm.  The real killer of the day is that it was 94 degrees - on September 23rd!  And there was an air quality warning making it difficult to breathe - and really nasty to run.  There was an announcement at the start of the race urging everyone to slow down and take it easy, and to drink lots of water.  I was the tail end of the pack.  Lia was the fastest (with Tim running and pushing Anna in a stroller - and Tim ran a Marathon last Sunday in this 90 degree weather), followed by Susie and Ellie, then Zeke and Gwen (who ran with Zeke and Ellie),  and then - finally - me.  I was just very grateful to walk - yes WALK across that finish line.  Somewhere around mile two, I wasn't so sure I would make it.  The cup of ice that I got certainly helped, but it was hard to press on while being passed by so many people.  Even a blind guy passed me!  This picture sort of sums up this blog.  I am hot and tired - but I  finished the race and got that medal!  And notice those lovely bruises and scrapes on my knuckles?  See the paragraph above about the tile scrapping.  

Because of all this house stuff, and this race, I missed a long awaited conference with many wonderful speakers.  I had registered for the event and even reserved a hotel room, long before I knew that this would be the week for kitchen work.  I decided last weekend (after spending three days working on the tile, with more work ahead), that it just didn't make sense to go to the conference.   Sometimes you have to make hard choices.  And it was the right decision.  Having a working kitchen again, after two weeks with no sink, no stove and no cabinets, feels so good tonight. 

Yes, this month has been about pressing on towards a goal (home remodel) and finishing the race.  Even when the process is long and hard and slow and very, very hot.   I can see God's hand in the timing of the race.   I had plenty of time to be with Jesus on that walk (notice I didn't say run).  I was so thankful for our family, who came together and helped us during this process.  I was encouraged, remembering these verses.....

"So we must let go of every wound that has pierced us and the sin we so easily fall into.  Then we will be able to run life's marathon race with passion and determination, for the path has been already marked out before us."  Hebrews 12:1b - The Passion Translation

Jesus reminded me that I can do difficult things.  It is easy to begin thinking that since you are now a "senior citizen" you have lost your strength.   But the joy of the Lord is my strength!  And that is ageless!  I was able to finish the race - and that is what mattered.  Not how fast I finished, but that I finished.  The last mile or so, I was determined to finish!  It felt great to get that medal around my neck.  

Today our home redo project seems much smaller than it did.  I have a confidence that we will finish it and we will finish it well.   It doesn't matter how long it takes, it will get done.  And I feel so blessed, so thankful and so glad to be done with this part of my "Life's Marathon"!

Jesus, thank you for always being with us - no matter where we are.  Whether it is at a large gathering, or on a solitary walk - you are speaking to us.  Holy Spirit, remind us that we can do hard things when we know that Jesus is our strength.  Thank you Jesus for giving us passion and determination to take on all that life throws at us.  Amen 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Life is making decisions

This was certainly one of the highlights of the last couple of weeks for me!  We had all the kids and grandkids over on Labor Day weekend to celebrate my birthday!   We spent the entire day outside on our back patio.  It was really quite lovely.  We grilled some wonderful smoked pork tenderloin, made by Doug.  The kids had fun and Grace even took a nap! The adults actually got to talk to each other!  It was such a great day.   Here is a bonus picture of Grace with Grandpa....

We were especially thankful for the great weather that day BECAUSE of what has made these past weeks so interesting!  Ken and I have decided to finally bite the bullet and do some very much needed home improvement projects.  And the biggest project (so far) is to replace all of the flooring on the first floor.  This required us (and by us, I mean mostly Ken) to remove several layers of tile from the last 39 years!  What a big mess!  Complicating this process is the fact that we have a very small home and very little room to move things around.  I just have to keep reminding myself that it will be so nice when it is completed!  And since we are redoing the flooring, it makes sense to remove our very nasty kitchen cabinets at the same time and finally have an updated kitchen.

I thought that I was prepared for this project - but I had no idea how many decisions we would have to make!  Picking out the flooring was actually the easiest part.  We had to figure out how to remove the old tile.  How to dispose of all the garbage (a special plug for the Bagster Dumpster - it was simply amazing for us.  After purchasing the bag we decided to set it up inside our garage.  It worked great.  There is no time limit on the disposal so we could take as long as  needed to fill it up.  And just a couple days ago, we dragged it to the curb (with the help of the car) and they picked it up and hauled it away.  We will soon be starting on bag number two!)  Then suddenly we were talking about replacing all of the interior doors in our house.  And changing the doors to the laundry area.  Then it was figuring out if it made sense to replace our cabinets and then finding ones that would fit the space.  Each time we seemed to have things decided, one more thing would come up.

As of right now, we have a concrete floor in half of our downstairs and are close to actually starting to install the new floor.  We are still "in process" of preparing the floor (removing all of the adhesive and cleaning and sealing the concrete) but it finally feels like this new floor will get done! And then it will be on the kitchen cabinets!  Of course we need  a new counter top and back splash.  More decisions.  It would be nice to think that this would be the end of the project, but then it will be on to the other half of our downstairs and then drywall repairs and paint!  Have you noticed just how many colors of paint there are these days?  There is an entire aisle of paint chips to choose from.  My head is spinning just thinking about it.

I was thinking about how many times one decision you make ends up leading to more and more decisions.  You know what I mean - you decide to buy a car but then WHICH car?  And then what options and what color.  Even deciding on a vacation..... when, where - fly or drive.  It just never seems to end.  So many decisions.   If you were to stop and really think about all of the decisions you make in an average day, you would be astounded.  When to get out of bed, what to wear, what to eat, what route to take to work.  You get the idea.  Life is making decisions!

I was thinking about this song I Have Decided to Follow Jesus, by Elevation Worship.  The most important decision anyone can make.  I am personally so thankful for that decision that has changed everything about my life.  After listening to that song, all of the decisions we have to make about our home improvement project, every decision I make during the day - well, they all seem rather small and not nearly worth the worry that I have been putting into them.  It will not really matter, in the long run, what color flooring we use.  Or what cabinets we choose.  All of these are just THINGS.  Things that are here today but could be gone tomorrow.  With the current events - hurricanes, fires, floods, earthquakes - it is especially good to remember that.  Today I heard the Governor of Florida reminding the people that material things can be replaced.  Stay safe and keep your family safe.  Yes, tomorrow, as Ken and I are making yet another decision for this project, I will remind myself that this really doesn't matter in the long run.  And tonight, because I made that decision to follow Jesus, I will be thanking Him for all that He has provided for me - my family, my home my life.  

Jesus, thank you.  Thank you for your presence with me that brings peace, even during times of tough decisions.  Holy Spirit, continue to draw people into your great love and to know and follow Jesus.  Thank you for a renewed perspective on decision making.  Jesus, please keep all those in the midst of these disasters close to you.  Thank you for your great love.  Amen