Tuesday, January 31, 2006

New paint Posted by Picasa

Love those stripes! Posted by Picasa

Construction Zone

In an attempt to bring a fresh look to my kitchen and an upstairs bathroom, things got worse before they got better. Clutter and chaos defined my world for over three weeks. Ladders, drop cloths, painter’s tape, wallpaper scraps, paint brushes, rollers. Shades down from windows. Furniture moved and covered.

What I thought would be a relatively simple project turned into hours of grueling work. First, the wallpaper in the kitchen and eating area came down inch by inch—literally. It seemed everyone had some idea on what would make it come down more easily: spray enzyme, steamer, etc. Nothing helped all that much.

After spending more than 60 hours at this task, I called in the “professionals” to help me finish. They got the wallpaper off all right! They took it down to the bare drywall! So now the walls needed retexturing. On top of this their precious enzyme had messed up some of the wood work.

In order to buy some time while the kitchen walls were fixed, the painting began in the laundry room which is right next to the kitchen Once the soft grapefruit yellow covered the laundry room walls, my painter, Kaki, and I moved to the upstairs bathroom. I painted the ceiling in the front part and the back section with two coats of pink. The color was out of same paint can, but because the lighting was different, the back part looked more like a fresh bottle of Pepto-Bismol. The ceiling in the front looked like soft pink flannel. Kaki used a white wash to tone the back half down.

Then when she started on the sage green, off-white, and pink stripes in the sink area, I moved to the kitchen to put primer on the fresh texture. Day after day I worked from morning until night. Even with some help, this project was far more than I had bargained for. I kept trying to envision the end product, telling myself that the grueling labor and aching bones would eventually be rewarded with pretty rooms.

Finally, we were rolling paint in the kitchen, and I was pleased with the light yellow and French blue accents. The end was in sight. On the morning Kaki and I put on the finishing touches, I breathed a sigh of relief! We were finished. Now the workmen just needed to come back and spray lacquer on the woodwork.

They did. However, when they pulled the tape around the wood off, they took paint off along with it. I was close to tears! More work! The next morning, I got the paint back out again to do the touch up. Now I am really finished, I thought.

I still need to frame some pictures and hang towel rods, but it feels great to have the mess behind me. As I reflect on the process from the inception of the ideas to completion, I know that I don’t like what happens between those two points. I don’t like the mess. I don’t like the hard work. Isn’t this the way we often feel in our journey through life?

My youngest daughter has a baby under construction, due in about one month. She would attest that the process from conception through birth isn’t easy either. Yet I know she and her husband will be filled with awe and delight when this little miracle is placed in their arms.

We all encounter numerous times in our lives when we enter a construction zone of some type and hard work precedes the goal. College degrees, a solid marriage, careers, personal growth, raising children all require trememddous energy and effort. As we pursue the things that matter to us, we must hold on to hope in the midst of the mess and the chaos, trusting that the end result will be worth our aching bones or our aching brains or our aching hearts.

(c) 2006 Marlene Depler

Monday, January 09, 2006

A look in my rear view mirror! Posted by Picasa

A Backwards Glance

“Look where you are going!”

We have all been told that from time to time. It’s important to keep our eyes focused on what is right ahead of us, especially when walking or driving. Otherwise, we may walk into a wall or step out in front of a car. Or we just may drive off the side of a cliff. It’s also prudent to look ahead and make plans for our lives. However, once in awhile it is wise to pause and take a look backwards—to reflect on where we have come from and where we have been. Most of us are easily consumed by forging ahead into the future, failing to pause and reflect on the journey thus far.

In the Old Testament, God told the Israelites to build a memorial of stones to help them and their children look back and remember God’s faithfulness in parting the Jordon River for their safe passage. (Read Joshua 4:4-7.) It may not be necessary for each of us to build a literal memorial or to make sure others understand our passage through the past year. Nevertheless, before we attempt to move forward, we would all do well to remember where we’ve been in the past twelve months.

What challenges have we overcome?
What difficulties and losses did we face?
What prayers were answered?
What relationships were strengthened?
What new friendships were forged?
What books were read? Was one of them a particular blessing?
What new things did we try?
What lessons did we learn?
What memories were made?
What guests passed through our doors?
Who befriended or encouraged us?
What projects were started? Completed?
Where there unexpected blessings or kindnesses that came our way?
As I look back on my year, I am grateful that I finally got over a cough that lasted nearly two months. I remember the scare with my dad’s heart attack and subsequent quadruple heart by-pass. I’m thankful he survived and regained his overall health. I recall the heart-wrenching good-byes to a daughter, her husband, and three little grandchildren as they left for Bosnia. Somehow I survived. I especially remember the handful of friends who mourned my loss with me. How I treasure their comfort and support!

I learned how to use a digital camera and write a blog. I delight in the memory of the extraordinary wild flowers near Steamboat Springs. I reflect on my joy over the announcement that a new grandbaby was on its way. I think of the few articles that were published and the exciting opportunity to write devotionals for a Bible that will be out later this year. I recall with joy the trip my husband and I made to Bosnia to see our far-away family and celebrate two birthdays while there. I think of the time Alicia and I spent on a couple sewing projects. How fun to pass on what I know about the art of sewing to another generation.

Yes, memory by memory, I figuratively build my own memorial of where I’ve been. I attest to God’s faithfulness, affirm my resilience and growth, and extend compassion to myself for the difficult days. In doing this, I am then ready to look forward—to anticipate the journey of a new year.

Have you taken the time to look in the rear-view mirror or glance over your shoulder at the past 365 days? Take a few moments to ponder the past year before pushing full steam ahead into the coming year.

*Note: Yes, I suppose this should have come before my last post! But I guess I am a little backwards in my thought processes of late.

(c) 2006 Marlene Depler