Saturday, May 30, 2015

Drenched in Grace

People, we are so close to moving in I can almost taste it.

Would you believe that all we have left to do this week is VARNISH OUR FLOORS!?


...and then we have to pack up the apartment, move into the house, unpack, and finish the millions of little projects we've approached and backed off, saying, "We can do that after we move in!"

It's been TWO WEEKS since my last post, and let me tell you, this renovation process has been hard. In every possible way. Each one of the projects we've taken on has been monumental in and of itself. But put them all together and you have a recipe for personal, relational, physical, and mental disaster. I can hardly believe we've survived tearing out a wall and the old kitchen, designing, purchasing, assembling, and installing an IKEA kitchen, stripping 100 years of wallpaper (Jim says it's a valuable relic... anyone want some (s)crap wallpaper shards to sell on Etsy!?), moving a ventilation pipe, rewiring a ton of outlets and installing new ones, mudding and resurfacing the walls, repairing a subfloor and installing new underlayer in the kitchen, painting the entire house, tiling the kitchen floor, stripping and sanding the old finish on the hardwood floors, and now... staining and varnishing those beautiful floors.

I'm breathless just thinking about each project! But we've made it this far and there's not much further to go.

Yesterday I stained the floors in the house! This morning, while the new stain dries (it needs 24 hours before we can varnish it), Jordan and I are finally taking an enforced and much-needed respite. And I am sitting here, exhausted beyond belief, and the only thing that I can figure is that our new house and this whole process has been simply drenched in grace.

Will you indulge me, just this one post, as I set aside the reno talk?

Whenever I've felt like I've hit bottom (and it's happened multiple times), we've either reached out to our friends for help, or they've simply shown up, bringing food, caffeine, tools, willing helping hands, smiles, and encouragement.

On Wednesday, our friend Jim had spent the morning and early afternoon helping us sand the floor. He went home in the afternoon. A couple hours later, right when we were just about overwhelmed by the task of sanding, yet again, EVERY single room, Jim phoned around 5:30pm. He said, "Marie and I are coming over. We're bringing you dinner and we're going to help with your floors."

Then they spent the next four hours belt sanding the edges and filling nail holes. Down on their hands and knees in all of our mess and dust.

And do you know what? They came BACK the very next day and worked alongside us until 5pm. They even brought a salmon salad lunch, already plated, along with drinks, bread, and cinnamon buns for dessert.

I asked J., "What did we do to deserve this? These friends!?"

And he answered, "Nothing. Absolutely nothing."

We are learning that this kind of grace arrives when we are most in need of it, and when we are most incapable of doing anything to deserve or return it. 

It's a pretty solid foundation for a home to be built on.

It would take me another dozen blog posts to tell you about our friend Nada, who brought us coffees and dinners during HER OWN exam period (can you believe she wrote 11 exams!?). Or, to tell you about our buddy Pete who just stops by on the way home from the disc golf course to see how things are going, and then jumps in to cut and mortar the tile. Or I could tell you about Megan, who taped and primed each ceiling and room with me, or about Charlotte, who then helped me paint those rooms, or Tricia, who calmly and quietly pulled up the carpet in our living room in one quick evening. And of course I'd have to tell you about Dan, who has quietly, quickly, and cheerfully done all the gross, tedious, back-breaking tasks we asked of him.

Undeserved, unreturnable grace.

My hope is that these acts of overflowing love and generosity will shape us as we move into this beautiful home. And, that this grace that we are receiving we'll be able to give to everyone who comes into our home. I want this grace to soak deeply into our newly painted walls, our refinished floors, our shiny new kitchen, the tile that we laid down ourselves. I want it to motivate all our plans for future updates to the house, so that we do everything with the goal of making the home more welcoming, more hospitable, more safe for people who need a place to be loved.

Maybe my tiredness is making me emotional and slightly sappy. But maybe, just maybe, the patient persistence required to renovate this house, and the humility to accept what I cannot possibly return is shaping and changing me as well.

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