Remodeling is messy. Living through the destruction of what was, on the way to something better, is hard. Sharing the journey creates memories, inspires discussion, and strengthens (or weakens) relationship with our companions in the debris field. Life leads to one fork in the road after another. Sometimes the choice is between laughter and annoyance. I recommend laughter.

The bathroom was chaotic. Our house was largely gutted, with the only remaining water source in the hall bathroom. The countertop is appointed with toothbrushes, hairdryer, dish drain rack, dog bowls for seven, and drinking glasses. We shower, wash dishes, and rinse clothes in the tub.

The microwave sits conveniently on a fold-up table outside the bathroom, strategically shrouded by a bed sheet to limit the depth of drywall dust collecting on its top. The garage refrigerator stands bravely in the center of what will become the open-concept living area.

Aged is Only Good for Cheese and Fine Wine

People crave new things because new seems easier. (Unless it arrives with assembly instructions.) The grass is always greener, easier to maintain, or spiffier on the other side of imaginary fences. Face it, in today’s culture, aged is only good for cheese and fine wine.

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The standard remodeling lament goes something like this. (It sings reasonably well to the tune of “What a friend we have in Jesus.”)

“Will we ever get this done?”

“I didn’t think it would take this long.”

“What were we thinking?”

“I wish we’d never started”

“I didn’t think it would be this hard.”

Or worse,

“This was your idea and this mess is your fault.”

Eliminate spats accusations spark by clearly identifying the reason for the chaos – in advance. If you’re doing the work and spending the (always more than budgeted) cash, just to have something different, be sure everyone agrees on the goal and purpose.

Remodeling and the Laws of Physics

After seven years in ministry I became an independent author, facing the task of marketing and book promotion. I’m great with horses, proficient at solving problems, and gave up guilt and stress years ago.

Six months into full-immersion in the author business I was clicking along well. Book sales were steady and growing. Two titles achieved best-seller status. The technology and landscape of the business was becoming familiar, and my once-endless list of platform remodeling tasks was largely finished.

When the major changes went into effect something unexpected happened. Everything stopped. I don’t mean book sales hit a slump, I mean they stopped. Cold. Then I remembered, remodeling always begins with demolition. Always.

How often do you reflect on the Laws of Physics? Every few years I ponder inertia: something in motion tends to remain in motion and something at rest tends to remain at rest. It takes lots more energy to get out of an easy chair than stay in one, and you gotta stomp the brakes hard to quickly stop a car going 80 mph.

Inertia also applies to business, book sales, faith, and life in general.

Inertia and habit are kissing cousins. Change requires replacing old habits with new ones. The process starts with breaking down or discarding the old to make room for something new. Stuff tends to work better when used regularly. True for lawnmowers, plumbing, muscles, memory, and prayer. Life is the sum of habits.

It’s easier to replace something that’s broken, ugly, or painful than what’s still serviceable or comfortable. My author platform was doing well with the new coat of paint and grease I’d painstakingly applied over six challenging (and rewarding) months. And then I demolished it. Right down to the studs.

Now I’m fighting back. Not from failure, but through the remodeling process. I’m living in the dust and debris of what was, looking forward to what’s ahead. I could have done things a bit differently and saved a lot of what was. But I didn’t know then what I know now. Necessity and Experience are great teachers.

Change is Hard – Making is Through the Tough Times

It’s hard kicking the old man to the curb when the Holy Spirit moves in, and requires prayerful decisions. It’s hard to trash what’s comfortable or still works, but you can’t get rid of what’s broken, ugly, or painful without committing to the remodeling process. Demolish and discard what must go, but save what can be transformed for use in the new design. Finished home remodels are solid, beautiful, and functional, but hidden beneath new plaster and paint are scars from the transition.

Every improvement, whether education, rebuilt auto, or revitalized relationship has a cost: time, energy, or pain. Applying wisdom is key. I can be a klutz, so a good ol’ hammer is more my speed than a loaded nail gun. Pain comes in the form of unexpected costs as well as misdirected power tools.

When things crash down around us, inertia tempts us to quit. It’s easier to sit in our misery than find enough energy to climb the next hill. It’s a struggle when every reserve is depleted. But once moving again, it gets progressively easier to keep going.

“But I’m all used up. The well is dry. I can’t.”

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” – John 7:37-38

[Fascinating  article on Jesus as Living Water in the Old and New Testaments]

We’re not meant for life in the clouds. Every hill is followed by either a higher hill or a valley. God didn’t design us for oxygen-poor mountain peaks, but for earthly pursuits. Whether ascending or descending, joy must be found in the journey itself.

My author platform will recover when the remodeling process is complete. It will be worth the effort and commitment. (And everything I learned I’m willing to share.) Our home remodel finished behind schedule and over-budget, but the result was worth it.

Stewardship requires maintenance and you won’t find a reference to retirement in God’s Word. The hills and valleys stretch as far as our mortal eyes can see. But we don’t walk alone. The well of Living Water has no bottom.

That remodel was seventeen years ago. Since then we built two new properties and now live in our forever barn. We’ve been here six years (how did time pass so quickly?) and starting the inevitable remodel list. Nothing major, but a little maintenance here and facelift there.

In other words, I don’t think my husband will ever agree to live out of a bathroom again.


Lyrics to What a Friend We Have in Jesus:

Have you trials and temptations,

Is there trouble anywhere?

Jesus knows your every weakness,

Take it to the Lord in Prayer…

You will find your solace there.

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