Monday, December 22, 2008


Five and a half years ago we bought our very first house. We were pretty thrilled to be home owners. We knew that as we were just starting out that we didn't want to be crazy and overextend ourselves with a massive mortgage. So we bought a fixer-upper.

And so for the last 5 and 1/2 years we've lived with painted concrete floors waiting for carpet, carpeted floors waiting for laminate, finished floors waiting for baseboards, bathrooms waiting for refinished tubs, ceilings waiting for tiles, doors waiting for casings, doors waiting to be hung, a kitchen waiting for appliances and then cupboards, and an exterior waiting for eaves et al. We are getting there. We still aren't done.

It has been, truthfully, a whole lot of fun. As much as I love the idea of an "Archetecture's Digest meets Martha Stewart" kind of dwelling, I do also love looking around and seeing my husband (and Father-in-law's!) completed handiwork and work in progress side by side. There is something immensely satisfying about living in a space for a long while trying to figure out how it ought to really be used before jumping in a making changes I may regret later.

We picked a house with a good foundation and lots of potential, then shaped and changed it and improved it to meet up with what we needed and wanted out of a house. We are making it work.

And you know what? I'm just seeing the parallel lately that my husband married a fixer-upper too.

Having grown up in a Christian home and making my "decision" at a young age, I figured I was 'always'saved. And I probably was. But my faith made precious little difference in how I lived other than making me feel guilty when I acted in a way that I knew I shouldn't. I'm not even sure I could say that, like my house, I had a good foundation. It became strikingly apparent, once I began attending my new home church while at University, that my foundation was needing some reinforcing in some areas, and some total demolishion in other areas. My hope was built on Jesus Christ, yes. But the pillars of my life were far from the plumb line of His Word and His love and His expectations.

What to do?

Worse, what to do now when I look at my life and realize I'm still a work in progress? And somedays it is hard to see any improvement at all. Somedays the facade is spotless. You know, just like the lovely, seamless wallpaper that, when you remove it, reveals chipping, moulding plaster waiting to crumble in to an impossible mess. Yes, somedays are like that.

Not to say that the Lord isn't working in me. Not to say I am a hopeless case bound to be declared condemmed and uninhabitable. Not at all. More like that horrible moment when, in the middle of a project, every surface in the house is covered in drywall dust, the table is full of painted baseboard waiting to dry, the painted plywood floor is giving you slivers and now the baby needs a diaper change and supper needs to be cooked and you wonder if these "home improvements" are really helping anything. Progress? Really?

But then the next morning when the mudded walls are painted, the baseboards are hung, and the laminate has been laid, then, well, then you could host a party for 45, including Martha Stewart, while nursing the baby and toilet training the toddler, and somehow in the middle of it, feel the weight of the world floating off into the distance. Sigh. All is right with the world.

And this is where I am lately. In my rational moments, I do see that the Lord is making progress in my heart. And in my actions. Without giving an itemized list here, suffice it to say that there are layers of sin that I have felt scraped off like so many layers of ugly vinyl floor. There are attitudes that have been chipped away like so many ugly shower tiles. I have experienced freedom in many areas that I had previously assumed impossible to unchain. That comes from time in the Word and a focus on Christ with eyes looking to the Cross.

However, the closer I get there to the Light of His Word, and the more I turn my face to His, the more clearly I see the areas still needing attention. The "Honey Do List" of my heart is still as long as it once was as I add to it new revelations of spaces that need renovation.

The "done date" of our house is in the not too distant future. We can see our list of projects shrinking, and one day our house will be ready to sell. Not to an editor from "House and Home" but to a family who does not want a fixer-upper.

I, however, will be a work in progress until I die. I often hoped that I would get slightly more perfect every day of my life until one day the Lord would look on me and say "Well, tomorrow she will be perfect so we better have her breathe her last tonight so perfection stays in Heaven only".

Pretty sure that is not how it works.

So for now, if you know me for real, allow me to put out the same disclaimer I might give if you came to my home:

"Pardon the mess. There are a few things being rearranged. I see that messy bit over there too and I'm working on it. And those items out of place? Well, I'm just trying to decide if they fit in here or if I need to put them out to the curb. I have a really excellent Craftsman working on that bit over there, and I'm sure that soon it will be a more useful, workable piece. While the work is being done and things are kind of in upheaval, I will try to keep you as safe and comfortable here as possible. If you get hurt because of some of the projects on the go here, I really am sorry. And I'm trying to get it all cleaned up as quick as possible. In the meantime, let me serve you and welcome you into my life as best as I can. I do hope you don't mind spending some time here, even if it is a fixer-upper."


halfpint said...

I love to spend time with you! It is wonderful to have a fellow sister-in-Christ (and just plain sister :) to open up to and share with. Plus to know that you love me back, even though I am a fixer upper too. You are in my thoughts and I wish..............

p.s I especially liked the paragraph post fixer upper about the visitors, nursing the baby, potty training. Very well written :)

Andrew said...

I had to re-read that last paragraph twice. It definitely hit me where I live - still processing why, but nevertheless, it hit me (in a good way)

Great example of worship through art. Keep 'em coming!

halfpint said...

That was a great song my friend! I'll get the beverages and snacks ready.......