But It’ll Be Worth It

That old house smell, created from a cold, dark basement and walls that have stood for over 108 years, has been temporarily displaced. When I walk in the back door of my house in Potlatch, I breathe in fresh paint, wood shavings, and progress. The house has stood empty for almost a year now and I’m longing to walk in the back door, lay my keys on the little table – which doesn’t currently exist – and say to no one but God, “I’m home.”

Before moving back to my “happy place” I need to make a few changes. With a teeny-tiny budget and a willingness to work hard, I started on the kitchen. The cabinets and drawers are all the originals, handmade, and in really great shape, except for a few corners eaten away by a very large puppy with a bit of separation anxiety. Despite their sturdiness, the cabinets and drawers needed a face lift, so I’m adding shaker-style trim, bead board wallpaper, fresh white paint and new hardware. The backsplash and counters were beyond retro – old, old, old linoleum with a metal trim. The pattern on the linoleum was fading and thinning in small patches and long past being lovely. It’s been replaced by faux-brick hardwood primed and soon-to-be painted glossy white to look like subway tile. The flooring – an ugly, gray linoleum with a felt and tar backing – covers hardwood floors. Uncovering the hardwood is not within my skill set so I’ve opted for painting and stenciling it back to life.

There’s a limited amount of DIY experience in my skill portfolio: drilling holes, using a tile saw, tiling, hanging drywall, mudding and taping, painting, and demolition. In the last few weeks, I’ve learned how to use a jig saw, a nail gun, a random orbital hand sander, and a miter saw. The tool area of Home Depot is my new favorite place. I’ve graduated from a tool drawer to a real tool box, left behind by the previous owner of the house. Thank you, Mr. Bailey.

This project has provided lots of alone time: time for reflection and inspection. The last few months have been emotionally overwhelming and this small escape has helped me to stay sane and focused on serving God. Kitchen renovating is a lot like helping broken people. You gently tear away the old surface, wash away all the dirt and grime, sand all the rough parts, prime the surface, do some more sanding, prime again, and sand again. Cleaning, priming and sanding ensures that the new coat of paint will stick and last. If you hurry the process and don’t leave enough time for the paint to cure, or you leave out any steps, there’s a good chance you’ll have to start over or, even worse, spend years looking at peeling paint – wishing you’d done it right the first time. Hopefully, you’ll learn from your mistakes.

I’ve spent quite a few years helping to repair broken people but I’m still not an expert. Each person comes with their own set of problems and they often don’t want to remove their old surface to expose the cracks and areas that have been damaged by hurt and pain. Instead they choose to slap a smile and a new vocabulary on the surface and continue to hide behind layers of old stuff and just pretend they’re new. Life has a way of testing our durability and if you’re unwilling to be primed and sanded by a loving God, through accountability to His people, you will face some tough challenges which you won’t be strong enough to withstand.

I am thankful for Laura Storm and the Saturday afternoons she spends with me on this kitchen project. We are more than DIY buddies – I am accountable to her and she knows the best and worst of me. I am thankful to Matt Becker who always finds a way to point out the areas in my life that need to be sanded. Thank you, Bekah, for teaching me how to use the miter saw.

I sit on the kitchen floor admiring the progress. The drawers stand in a row awaiting the next step. They have new trim, the cracks are caulked and now they need to be sanded, primed, sanded, primed, sanded, painted, sanded, painted, sealed, and accessorized with new hardware. The cabinet doors lean against the wall, from biggest to smallest, awaiting new bead board and trim, layers of primer and paint, intermittent sanding, and cabinet jewelry.

Soon, very soon, my kitchen will be a more lovely place. It’s going to take more work than I once anticipated, but it’ll be worth it. Similarly, my relationship with Jesus is a huge project filled with little details and many do-overs. I can’t imagine a life without Him and I am so thankful He writes people in to my story that leave a dent, shake my foundation, and cause me to run to Him for comfort. This is life and loving people hurts. A little bit of sanding, some time to cure, and I’ll be good as new.


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