Monday, June 3, 2013

Catching Up and Introducing The Great Townhouse Project of 2013

Yep. Uh huh. Well over a week.

As you can probably tell, real life has taken its toll on me lately. Thought it might be a good idea to simply summarize my life of the past month. No deep thoughts here, really. Just a good old fashioned catch-up post.

So, since school ended for me in early May, here are a few things I have done:

1. Loaded up my car a few thousand times. Bringing girls home from college, even if it is only a few blocks, is exhausting. Plus, purchasing furniture for our newest "project" means loading up my van a LOT (see explanation below).

2. Had visitors three of the past four weekends.

3. On that one weekend, drove 1,800 miles to squeeze this cutie pie and to introduce my girls to their new cousin.



Side note: Also, over the weekend, got to visit the new George Bush Presidential Library. Oh my! The section about 9/11 is incredibly moving.

A couple of pieces of the original Twin Towers.


And the name of every person who was killed that day are listed on the wall.


Amazing.

Moving on . . .

4. Had a fantastic visit from my sister, Jenn, last week. Woot! (She really doesn't get up here enough.)

(And I can't believe I didn't get a single picture of her!)

5. Took possession of our latest "project."

6. Cried over said project.

7. Felt sick about said project.

8. Dug in and started to work on said project.

9. Started feeling a wee bit better about said project.

10. Celebrated 28 years of marriage.

What I have not done much of over the past month:

1. Cooking.

2. Cleaning.

3. Resting.

4. Exercising.

*****

Now, about that "project." Oh my. Where to begin?

Last November, B and I purchased a townhouse which is really close to campus and will be used to house college students. Specifically, OUR college students, among others.


When we bought it, we knew it needed some cosmetic repairs, but not until our current tenants moved out two weeks ago and we actually took possession of the property did we actually see the extent of work that needs to be done.

Everything was covered with about a quarter inch of filth. And I do mean everything. (You might want to look away if you're squeemish.)



The day I got the keys, Julia and I walked around the place for a little bit, and then I went home and had a mini-breakdown. Or a big breakdown.

I cried.

Friends, we have an Extreme Makeover situation on our hands.

Every square inch of this place needs cleaning or repair or . . . something. It's horrendous. I wouldn't let my girls live there right now, so my task this summer is to bring this place up to Wildman standards.



So here's the deal. I'm going to be over there most of the summer. I'll be painting the place from top to bottom (I'm on a very limited budget, so I'll be doing most of the work myself). I'll be scouting estate sales for furniture (we're going to furnish the place). I'll be schlepping supplies and furniture and paint back and forth all summer.

My van will be getting a workout, even if I'm not.

What I think I might do is post pictures once a week with the progress we've made. Are you interested? At all?

What else might you want to know about cleaning up and restoring a rental property? I'm probably needing the answers to those questions myself, so feel free to ask.

So here we go: The Great Townhouse Project of 2013. Grab a paintbrush and come on over!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Good Reads

I'm away this weekend, enjoying my newest niece with our family, but thought I'd leave you some good reads for the long weekend.

When You Sort of Feel Like You're Drowning :: Ann Voskamp. Yeah, I can relate.

A Helpful Guide to Becoming Unbusy :: becoming minimalist

The Single Defining Characteristic of a Manipulator :: Storyline Blog (Donald Miller)

Suburbia Needs Jesus Too :: Her.meneutics

Distracted Parenting :: Clover Lane

Have a great weekend! Leave me a comment letting me know what you're up to this weekend--I'd love to know!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Letters to My Daughters: Choose Joy (Part 2)


Dear Daughters,

Last time I wrote this: A deep, abiding joy will serve you well in life I encourage you to find it.

Still here.

Still encouraging.

Find joy.

Joy is a people-magnet. Joy is a relationship-builder. Joy is a life-giver.

Find it.

So you re probably wondering how. How do I find joy when I am feeling so out-of-it at school? How do I find joy when I m not sure what I m going to do with my life? How do I find joy when I feel like there s a limited supply and everyone around me has my share of it?

Some days I feel like I m not the best person to answer these questions I ve asked them all myself. Some days I feel the least equipped to talk about finding joy because I let all of those Cs take over and my soul is sapped.

And on those days, I run, RUN, to my Bible.

Recently I flipped to the concordance in the back of my Bible and looked under the word joy. What I found astonished me, I m ashamed to admit. I should have known.

Nearly every reference to joy in my Bible concordance was tied to God or Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit. Yes, there s the famous verse in which Paul encourages the Philippians to make my joy complete by being of like-minded, but mostly that has to do with their dedication to Christ, their unity in Him.

Do you see where I m going with this? Joy is tied up with our relationship to God. He is the source of true joy.

I ve told you this often, but I think it bears repeating here: the only life worth living is one totally dedicated to Christ because only in Him will you find true fulfillment.

Or true joy.

Just check your concordance.

So if God is our source of true joy, lasting joy, real joy, let me be very obvious here and talk about what will not bring you joy.

Money.

Houses.

Cars.

People.

Stuff.

More stuff.

You get where I m going. Every day you probably see people trying their best to find true joy by pursuing things, but I m telling you it s fruitless. The celebrities you see on T.V. can t find it. People who look to bigger houses or flashier vacations can t find it. Even we ourselves can t find it apart from Christ.

Think about the travels we ve taken as a family. Some of the most joyful people we ve met have been people who have barely anything that this world would consider significant or important. But they have Jesus, and that makes their lives rich.

Remember Iris in Brazil? This single mom had one son of her own and was hoping to adopt two Brazilian children so that they wouldn t have to live on the streets. She didn t have much, but she had a roof over her head that she longed to share with others.

Iris was also a fantastic baker, and she shared her skill with us when she baked Kate s birthday cake that year. I still remember the smile on her face when she brought the cake over to help celebrate her birthday. Even though Iris had very little in the way of earthly possessions, that woman knew real joy.

You know this lesson in your heads we ve preached it to you your entire lives but take it into your hearts and know this for certain: true joy can only be found in one place.

Seek it. Pursue it. Find it.

Choose it.

I love you,

Mom

Monday, May 20, 2013

Letters to My Daughters: Choose Joy (Part 1)



Dear Daughters,

Remember this? Make a good choice, my friend!

It rings in our ears, makes us smile, and sometimes even makes us roll our eyes. This phrase became a joke in our family, even though it was no joke to the teacher who repeated this phrase over and over again in elementary school.

But, you know, she was right.

The choices you make today will affect how well you live later on.

Today I want to talk to you about a choice you can make right now that will affect your relationships both today and in the future. This choice will help guide the way you live both now and tomorrow and it will affect every relationship you have.

Choose joy.


Yes, this might sound like a cliché, but I tell you as one who did not make this choice for many years: choosing joy brings life to you and to those around you. A deep, abiding joy will serve you well in life I encourage you to find it.

First, though, I want to warn you about three joy-suckers that will kill your soul . Watch out for them. Flee any temptation to give in to them. Your life will not be rich and full if you allow these joy-suckers into it.

What are they? Comparison. Criticism. Contempt.

Comparison. This one sucks the joy out of you because it makes you feel less-than. When we look around at what others have or what others have achieved, thinking that we should have the same or better, we assume God has slighted us, dealt us a bad hand.

This is a lie because the Bible tells us that we are His beloved and that He watches over our coming and our going. God also asks us to trust Him to lead us. Why should we want what others have when God has our own best interest at heart?

Criticism. This one sucks the joy out of those around us, hurting our own hearts in the process. It s a subtle form of comparison that, rather than making us feel less-than, makes us feel superior to others.

This is a lie, too, because the Bible says that no one is perfect, that all have sinned. When we criticize, we act as judge a job we have not been given.

Contempt. Contempt can be a two-pronged problem because we can view either ourselves or others in this way. Contempt says that God made a mistake when He made us or those around us.

What a lie! God says that His creation was good and that His people are His delight.

So how do we find joy?

Joy comes, I think, when, rather than compare ourselves to others, we join with others , seeing the good in them, seeing potential for a bigger life and a greater adventure.

Joy comes when, instead of criticizing, we choose to build someone up in love.

Joy comes when, instead of treating someone with contempt, we choose to treat them with kindness and that kindness is returned.

Joy comes when, rather than sneering with contempt at what God has made, we choose to rejoice in His blessings . Even something as simple as the weather (which I do tend to complain about sometimes) can be a good indication of where we are with God. Are we saying, This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it ? Or are we grumbling and complaining, when all that really does is tell God that we think he could do better?

My dear girls, today I encourage you to choose the path of joy because this is a path that leads to contentment and peace. Trust me, your life will be richer and the lives of those around you will be blessed if you choose joy over comparison, criticism, or contempt.

I love you,

Mom

P.S. I have more to say about joy, but I ll share it later this week.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Grace at 2:15


She steps toward the car and reaches for the door, sunlight splashing over her shoulders and across her wavy brown hair. I look, smile, then look again.

She s changed.


School s almost over for this one, and I see, in that brief moment, a full year s growth.

Her face, more mature (goodbye, babyface!).

Her legs, definitely longer.

Her hair, styled rather than simply cut.

Her clothes, carefully selected, reflecting her sense of herself.

Her gait, assured.

All of this just in a quick glimpse as she ducks her head into the car.

She smiles from outside the window--a slight upturn of her lips, that quick connection that says, I m so glad you re here.

(O.K., if I m really honest, she was glad I was there to drive her home so she didn t have to walk. But still, she seemed glad to see me.)

It was a smile that said, I m good.

I noticed today that my baby girl is growing up. Oh, sure, I notice it most days, especially as she very nearly reaches my height, but today it took me by surprise.

The end of the school year makes you take note of the changes, doesn t it? With all three back under my roof for the summer, I ve been thinking a lot about the past year and how it has changed them. Changed us.

It s been a good year. Not without its challenges, this year, but good, overall.

And while the physical changes aren t as pronounced in my girls anymore (I still remember the years of amazing stringbean growth, the too-short pants), the character changes are still coming, probably faster than ever before. Lifetime prayers for my girls are being answered.

And I like what I see.

I see confidence .

I see intelligence .

I see curiosity .

I see humor .

I see wisdom .

I see discernment .

I see girls who are ready to follow wherever He leads and to lead wherever He wants.

I see young women who are growing, changing, accepting, even though it s painful at times.

I look, I see, and I wonder, How did we get here?

Only grace.