Monday, March 14, 2011

Extreme Soul Makeover

I remember about 7 or 8 years ago, that show, Extreme Makeover, which was for humans. I always thought it was amazing how, in a 6 week span, those people could look one way, and then look like a completely different person, unrecognizable. And then there was the spin off from that show, Extreme Home Makeover, for houses.  I love that show.  We usually watch it as a family. It's such a feel good show about helping out a family in desperate need, with a new home, in just ONE week.

Lately, I've pondered a lot about "makeovers", remodels, and updates when it comes to homes, but also how some of the same principles in remodeling a house can be applied to remodeling our soul.

Right before John and I were married, we purchased our first home in Ogden, UT.  It was in VERY bad shape. It needed a complete remodel, not because it was just "outdated", but because there were many things falling apart, like, a garage door, and cat smell that needed to be gone, among other things.  John was determined to take care of it. And that he did.  At first, I wasn't too sure about this purchase, but he saw the potential that I could not see, at the time. I went home to Oregon for about a week while he remodeled the kitchen.  I came home to a bathtub full of dishes he had not cleaned.  He was waiting for me to come home to do that part. I would have to say that was the most stressful time of the remodel. We lived there for just over 2 1/2 years, cleaned it up, made it pretty and sold it.  All it needed was a little TLC.  John had plenty of it (and I contributed a pinch, too).

What did I learn about the remodel of our first home together? 1)I learned that John is a super hard worker. 2) I learned that gardening can be theraputic.  After McKenna died, I wanted to dig my hands in the dirt and watch something that was bland, our front yard walkway, turn into something that was beautiful.  I bought a bunch of purple pansies and planted them all along our walkway from our driveway to our front door. (That's about the extent of my gardening skills). I must say I was sort of pleased with how it turned out. It made such a difference to the front of our house. And 3) I learned that hard work can produce an immense amount of satisfaction and that it's okay to have pride.... pride in ownership and the desire to make something better.

Well, we ventured back to my home town, to settle down. We decided to purchase land and build a home.  The thought of having something new was dreamy. John, of course, is confident he can do this himself, with the help of some friends to do the work he doesn't want to do.  I remember sitting in the office of our loan officer as we're getting ready to sign papers to buy the land and get the loan for building the home and he tells us that building a home can be the cause of divorce in couples. Now isn't that lovely to hear.  Did he not want us to go through with the loan, I mean, isn't he getting some cut of this enormous amount of interest that will eventually be paid on this purchase? John and I could have said, "Well, we'd better not go through with this then." We shrugged it off, not worried one bit.  And he wasn't the only one that had such profound advice, either. We went to Home Depot to look at kitchen cabinets, get a kitchen layout design and the home depot "you can do it, we can help" employee asks us, "So do you want your marriage to last?"  Well, if that's their idea of "help" they need a new motto.  I guess there are couples out there who's marriages can't handle home building or remodels. I suppose the Home Depot employees weren't "helpful" enough for them.  (I don't mean to tread lightly on the subject, it can definitely be a stressful thing on marriages.)

It took about 9 months to build the house. Lots of late nights and busy Saturdays were dedicated to building our home for 3, that would grow to 5 while we resided there. But even though the house was "done", there was always something else that needed to be worked on..... landscaping, a vegetable garden, eventually a sprinkler system, finishing the bonus room, adding an AC, the list was always there, and never seemed to end.  So as I look back and discover what I learned through the process of building from scratch..... well, things never get done when they're supposed to, but when they do, it's worth the wait.  That's about all I learned on that one.

Then, the decision came to sell after living there for 5 wonderful years, and buy the home we live in now; the home I grew up in.   It wasn't John's home that he grew up in, he wanted to make it "his own", have his mark on it, and I was okay with that. My dad was in the home building industry as well as John, so they both had and have an eye for things that I cannot always see. 

We've lived in this home for 5 years, and the remodel is still going on.  I knew it wouldn't be a "quick" fix, and that parts of the home would have to be done in stages. Some wonder why we bother "fixing" things up, or changing things around, when it's perfectly fine the way it is.  Well, that's true, to an extent.  Some things we've done didn't "have" to be done, but if there's one thing I've learned about John, and all these years of building and remodeling, he loves to work, and can't sit still for a minute.

We joke about being done with this house one day and then saying to each other, "Well, it's time to update".  I'm hoping that won't happen.  But through all the mud, grime, studs, paint, drywall dust, plumbing leaks, an enormous amount of recessed lights that anyone could ask for, there have been some worthwhile lessons along the way that have, at least for me, given my soul a makeover.

1) As I've watched John do the majority of the work on these 3 homes, I've never heard him complain... yes, maybe there's been a gripe about something not working right, but never have I heard him moan or groan about what needed to be done. Me?  I can't say the same thing... I complain too much about things of little significance. And what does it solve?  Not a whole lot I've come to realize.

2)  When things break, you fix it.  Don't whine about it; rather, make a plan and get it fixed. Me? After I whine, I THINK I'll feel better, but never has it solved any situation. There is always a plan, a way to make the situation better, and it's a choice I have to make.

3) Painting.... oh how I dislike painting, especially the prep work for it. I admire all painters who choose that for their livelihood. I could never do it. How does that apply to me? Well, walls (or objects, such as furniture) are usually painted, because we don't like the surface on which needs to be painted. Applying that paint covers all the blemishes, the marks, the ugly colors, and turns it into something pleasant to look at. I LOVE a freshly painted room. I "freshly paint my soul" by trying new things, broadening my horizons, reaching out of my comfort zone. Sometimes, there is a meeting I may not want to go to, and go back and forth thinking, 'should I go, should I stay home?' over and over in my mind. I'll end up going, and walking away in the end so happy that I went, and didn't miss out on the opportunity to have my soul painted with words of wisdom, love and
the fellowship of good friends.

4) Sometimes walls and studs need to be knocked down and replaced, or gone forever.  Okay, I could go on and on about this one. Recently, we knocked down several walls in our home to open up the space, and in one area, we put up studs to prepare for a new wall.  As I think about my own soul, I think about what needs to be "taken down" or restructured.  There may be habits that need to be knocked down, and kicked out and never brought back, to allow more space in my soul for the good things.  And there may be some areas that just need to be tweeked, or adjusted to improve upon what's already there. This can be a hard area of our character to change.  It's not easy to remove a "bad habit" or character trait (one's that aren't pleasing to us, or others) and be totally rid of it.  It takes time.

5)  Floods are good for you.  This past December, between Christmas and New Year's, John woke up at 2 a.m. to a flooded basement, (and of course, in our newly remodeled basement). The flood affected our entry and 5 rooms. It was not fun sweeping water out our front door, vacuuming buckets of water from the carpet.  But, we learned some valuable lessons from this.  John had prayed, the night before, that he could become more organized. Wha-la!!! Nothing like a flood to get you more organized.  It forced us to have to do some things that DID make him more organized... it was a blessing in disguise, and has kept us on this drive to stay organized.  Being organized with the business, with our closets (I had no closets before in some of the rooms, but after the flood, I got my closets!!) has made me ponder about how to be more organized in other areas of my life, my soul in particular.  (Sorry for the over use of the word "organized") Am I reading my scriptures daily, saying my prayers daily, fulfilling my church calling to the best of my ability and preparing for it like I should.  Those things, in particular, help my soul, more than a closet with shelves and rods.

One of my all time favorite quotes by CS Lewis:

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace!”

I couldn't have said it better myself.  When I think about this house we're in, and someday finally being done with the remodel and updating, I wonder what we'll do with our time? Somehow, I don't think the "honey do" list will ever go away.  And I don't think the pruning and tweeking of my soul will ever be finished either.  But that's okay, because as I see how my home is being improved and updated... my soul is getting a makeover too. And no 6 weeks, or one week, as in Extreme Home Makeover, can complete the transformation God has intended. It is a lifetime of "soul improvement" that I need, and I'm ready for it. How 'bout you?


  1. That's great. I really need to get blogging again. Maybe when we've moved and settled I'll have thing's "organized" and ready to blog again.

    Thanks for sharing

  2. I love that you are blogging! I loved reading this!