Monday, August 31, 2020

A Mess Exchanged

Can you believe that tomorrow is the first day of September, 2020?  This year has gone nothing like any of us expected.  In fact, some of it has been a real MESS!

Take for example the scene I found in my very own dining room this morning:

Who Did This??!!

Can you imagine stumbling out of your bedroom, slippers scrapping, nasty breath proceeding, bed hair waving and finding that someone attacked your kitchen in the middle of the night leaving you this MESS??!!  You rub your eyes a couple more times in disbelief and suddenly remember, "Oh, wait a minute.  I made this mess."

No, I wasn't sleep walking when this disaster occurred.  What you see here is the contents of almost all my cabinets.  Frank bravely took on the challenge of removing our old counter tops before the new ones were to arrive.

The first two little counters were a breeze once he located the screws holding them in place.  He waited to remove the counter over our sink because it meant my kitchen would be completely useless once he cut the power and uninstalled the sink itself.  Hence, the contents cautiously corralled on our dining room table.

Here's the final result of countertop removal by my own handsome handy dandy handy man.

Is it still a kitchen if it has no sink?

I've been washing any dishes we might dirty in our bathroom sink.  (Deep DIS-contented sigh!)  Fortunately, our friend Ed who has been helping us with this remodel (and several others) had the foresight to place a temporary board over our new set of cabinets.  That way, they were at least useful.  Here you see our make-shift coffee bar.  (Please don't judge.  Martha Stewart I'm NOT.)

Cream?  Sugar?  Power drill?
I've dreamed of this kitchen transformation for quite a number of years. My dreaming has a way of eventually working itself into reality and Frank is gracious to dream with me.  Take for example the dining room which was originally our back patio.  Two windows I stumbled upon at Lowe's started that journey.  Someone had refused order so they were 80% off.  What woman can pass up an 80% off sticker?  Certainly not me!

Those sat in our garage for 2 years while we saved and dreamed about different possibilities.  Finally, our dear friend Ed stepped up and said, "Time to stop dreaming and start creating!"

Now, we have plenty of room for family dinners with all seventeen of us around a couple of tables.  We can invite friends from church and spread out comfortably.  We've even hosted neighbors with plenty of space for all. Voila!

When we received an unexpected financial gift this year, Frank knew exactly what was coming.  "Honey, if we add this to our other savings, we'll have just enough to do those new counters in the kitchen."

Game On!  How I love that man!

Can't you see my face giddy with joy when the knock came on the door this morning?  "We're here to install you new counters, Ma'am."  They were much earlier than I had been told but no matter, my dream was happening.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could tell you it all went off without a hitch?  Well, that wouldn't be normal life then, would it?

The three young men were very polite and started carrying in the heavy pieces of granite.  Suddenly everything came to a screeching halt.  The sink was NOT what I had ordered.  Frank had graciously opted to remove the counters himself which saved us enough money to secure one of their sinks.  But instead of sending the sink with the large side on the right and the smaller side on the left, they sent the complete opposite.

The leader of the install team remained calm.  "Let me see if they've already cut the granite for this sink.  Maybe they cut it for the opposite."  I held my breath.

Antonio came right back in, "I'm sorry, Ma'am.  It's already cut for this sink."  What to do??!!

Frank was on a hospital visit.  (Which actually means a parking lot visit with the person going in for surgery because we still aren't allowed to go inside the hospital.)

I caught him on the phone and he said call the salesman.  Paul was very apologetic.  He never tried to make it my fault in any way; a willingness to take responsibility for one's mistakes goes a long way with me.  "Let me see what we can do."  And the waiting began.

Eventually, Frank was able to swing back home and look over the situation with me.  Paul offered a couple of options that would have corrected the problem but would have also left me without a working kitchen for a week to ten days.  He even offered to remove the cost of the sink if that would help me like it better.

I wrestled with the options for a long time.  The kitchen is the heart of every home and I didn't want to dislike this sink every time I looked at it.  Paul assured me they wanted to make it right.  That is called excellent customer service.

Together, Frank and I decided to go with the sink they had sent so we could move toward wrapping up this project. I feel confident that I'll be able to like it just fine.  Staying calm also gave us the opportunity to pray for the installers (Antonio, Raymond and Gabriel) before they left.  We've found that people seldom refuse our offer to pray blessing for them these days.  Try it sometime.  You'll probably be surprised, too.

So, here are a couple of pictures at the close of day.

Such a Lovely Flow

Beautiful, Blank Palette

My table is still covered with everything to restock these cabinets. There is touch up painting to do as well as some electrical work for extra lights.  But I know that by Christmas, all the MESS will be exchanged for a kitchen that welcomes the many guests we look forward to hosting.

Eventually this year will shift as all things do.  May I encourage you to remind yourself of this.  The Mess will be Exchanged for what we can shape into a better day.  I'm still holding to Romans 15:13 "I pray that God, the source of hope will fill you completely with all Joy and Peace because you trust in Him.  Then you will overflow with confident Hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."

May that be your exchange as well, dear Reader.  Blessings!

How about you?  Have you successfully navigated the MESS that proceeds every home improvement?  Tell us about it in the comment section.

Monday, August 10, 2020


The Five Oldest & Watermelon

Doesn't this picture just epitomize summer?  The screened porch.  Papa totally relaxed.  Watermelon juice dribbling on the chins of small people.  Humidity, humming bees, heavy flower fragrances and happy voices.

(Insert Deep Contented Sigh!)

There has been so much negative to read and see lately that I wanted to share a little joy with you today.  I hope you can take a minute and "refresh" with me.

Last weekend, Meagan and Nathan traveled to NC for the memorial of his beloved grandfather, Ken Smith.  Grandpa Smith was such a stabilizing person for Nathan during the time that his family dealt with the life-threatening illness of his younger sister, Sarah.  (She recovered, thank God and continues to flourish as a young adult.)  

Nathan's love for him is deep.  Meagan, who has been part of the family for over a decade now, also grew to love and respect Grandpa.  So John and Joy took on the four Smith babies while our Smiths flew to join the other Smiths in Charlotte to celebrate the life of this dear man.  

[Side Note:  Ava Schreck fell on the trampoline and broke her leg last Monday.  Kristin and I were gearing up to take the Smiths when Joy said, "Why?!"  She explained that as soon as Ava's leg was cast, the tough part would be over.  (Joy's perspective, not mine!) So, of course the Smith children should stay with her four as well as the two extras she nannies during the day.  Yes, Joy IS Superwoman!]

On Saturday, Frank and I invited the five oldest grands to our house for lunch and some play time.  It also provided a break for John and Joy.  The picture on our back porch was taken after lunch.  Watermelon was the reward for no arguing and prompt obedience during our time together.  Then there was the Lincoln Log building....

Papa and Madison's Cabin

Abby and Noah built first

The Lincoln Log kit we brought right after Spencer was born has become a popular item when the little babies aren't around.  (Yes, we DID buy it eight years ago.  No, he wasn't big enough to play with it then.  But if you're a grandparent, you understand.)

Papa helped Abby and Noah build a cabin first.  Then Madi needed her own.  The next picture won't make sense unless you have little boys in your world.  It's certainly not an experience I ever had while raising our three little girls.  (Oh, No!  It won't download.)

Well, imagine all five grandchildren filling their fat fists full of the tiniest blocks.  Then hear them counting down, "Five, Four, Three, Two, One!!"  Now cue your imagination to hear blocks whistle through the air and crash squarely against the newly constructed cabin.  Yes, as soon as it was built, they threw blocks at it until it was demolished.  

Who knew destroying was half the fun of constructing?

Kitty Loves her Papa
This picture of refreshing is included for those of you who are pet lovers.  (Like us.)  While the Schrecks were on vacation a few weeks ago, Noni and Papa took care of their great dane who happens to be named, Kitty.  (Yes, my children have an odd sense of humor like their mother.)

Every morning when Frank went by to let her out of her kennel, she was pretty eager to get outdoors.  But in the evenings it was a different story.  She would make a mad dash for the house, galloping in like the monster puppy she is.  She would then circle the living room and dining room several times with her massive tail beating against any furniture, cabinets or human legs that got in her way.

At that point she would plop down beside the couch and look up at us with those huge chocolate eyes as if to say, "Please love on me, now."  Papa and I just couldn't resist.  So, every evening we had to allow extra time to pet and talk to our monster grand dog, Kitty.  There's research that shows petting an animal is a restoring action.  You don't have to convince me.  

Also, I just realized Frank is wearing the same t-shirt in those three pictures.  Trust me, he has others.  But like most men, he hits phases where one shirt and a particular pair of shorts are his favorites.  He says it saves time not having to decide what to wear.  My job is just keeping them clean. (Insert serious eye roll here.)

Here's another picture of refreshing even though everyone in the picture is sweating and working hard.  

Help When You Need it Most
I've long dreamed of adding another bank of cabinets in our kitchen.  A few weeks ago, I found some online that had been removed from an upscale home in Orlando.  Imagine my delight at finding cabinets with nearly the same finish as the originals that would fit perfectly on the open wall all at only a fraction of the normal cost.

Ed Collins is a dear friend who helps Frank with all sorts of renovation jobs around our house.  He scheduled an entire day to come put the cabinets on the wall.  I woke early that morning and realized we would be covering the only electrical outlet on that side.  Panic!  

Frank called our neighbor, Richard who said he'd be happy to come put in a couple of outlets ahead of the cabinets going in.  Richard got so involved, he ended up staying until the job was completed.  Isn't such generosity of time refreshing?

Finally, I want to share this picture with you.

Together Again
Many of you may not know but I have only one sister.  She lives near Charlotte, NC and we only get to see one another once or twice a year.  (We also have a brother we love who lives near Atlanta.)  With all the craziness, I got an overwhelming urge to go see Vonnie.  So I donned a mask, hopped on a plane and flew up to Charlotte last month.  

We laughed and cried and ate good food (she is an amazing cook) and stayed up too late and and took long walks and talked until we needed naps.  It was a resplendent visit, indeed.  (My favorite word is reserved for most impact.  This visit was definitely resplendent.)

The first picture was taken in the gardens of the Billy Graham museum.  I've wanted to visit there so we made that part of our itinerary.  If you get to that part of the country, it's a wonderful and encouraging museum to tour.  

Only Sisters!
We laughed when we got home and took off our shoes.  Can you guess why?  My foot is on the left and hers is on the right.  Although we had gotten pedicures 500 miles apart, we had chosen almost the exact same color polish.  Sisters!

I have more pictures and stories to share from that visit but I'll save them for another post.

My objective today was to give you a smile and a bit of encouragement in the middle of all the crazy.  So, let me close with a scripture that has taken on new significance for me.  Paul wrote to some of his friends who were living in Rome.  They were experiencing a difficult time similar to the one we're living through.

Here's what he said to them, "I pray that God, the source of hope will fill you completely with Joy and Peace because you trust in Him.  Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."

I've written this out and put it on my refrigerator as a reminder.  Our only source for truly refreshing Hope is God but He is more than able to fill us with joy and peace when we trust in Him.  This is my prayer for you today, Dear Reader. 

May your heart be refreshed!  Blessings!

Have you experienced a moment of refreshing this summer?  We'd love to hear about it.  Perhaps some reader can relate or even recreate the moment for themselves.  Please share in the comment section below.