The Reno

People say that when you have a baby everything changes.  Before you could be living life with changes at the leisurely pace you desire. You schedule your change for this Tuesday or that Friday in your iPhone Calendar. Your changes come with a terrycloth robe and LLBean slippers and a steaming cup of coffee in their hand. "Would you like to change your life now?" they ask in a sexy European voice.  

The reality? A baby changes change itself. You are never ready and you are shocked at how much time you spent preparing for the change, but how inadequate those preparations turn out to be. 

We bought a house. Five years ago, Tim and I turned the key to a 1930's sky blue two-story with maroon shutters and an overambitious garden in West Dayton.  Like many old houses, it contains odd quirks, breakfast nooks and built-ins, arches and a horror movie basement. Joanna Gaines would eat her heart out. The problem is that we are not Joanna Gaines, and the many "selling points" are inoperable at best, mice inhabited at worst.

Over the course of the first year with Titus we remodeled our house as we remodeled our life. So much changes inside of you that you think everything outside should join the chaos. Well adjusted moms just cut off their hair. We sledge hammer our home in the middle of an Ohio winter.

Tim took off two weeks of work after Titus was born. My blessed mother Mary ruined us. She stayed with us for two weeks. Mom did everything.  She cooked, cleaned, organized baby things, tupperware, underwear. She put our forks in the dishwasher before we finished using them. She tricked us into thinking we had time. Tim was positively bored. Left with space for his brain and hands, he started the reno.

Tim began with the kitchen floor. And good riddance! I hated that linoleum. It's chipped seventies orange flower pattern gave me nightmares the whole first year. We couldn't afford to make the change when we moved in. We were poor newlyweds trying to put ourselves through graduate school. Over time, I didn't hate it anymore. Linoleum and I just coexisted. Most days Linoleum and I didn't even acknowledge each other's presence.

Rest in Peace Linoleum! And hello Champ!

Rest in Peace Linoleum! And hello Champ!

But suddenly you have a baby and you think if it is possible for life to change this much, than maybe you could also tear up the linoleum while you're at it. And surprise! Hello Hardwood! Buddy old pal! When Titus was twelve weeks old, I packed him in the Prius to go stay with my parents for two weeks while Tim stained and polyeurthaned into a new Dark Walnut. That was just the beginning.

Hardwood peaking up out of the remnants of the old nasty floor!

Hardwood peaking up out of the remnants of the old nasty floor!

Over the next year, we replaced our robin's egg blue kitchen countertops for cashmere white granite. We swapped out our small steel sink for a ceramic white farmer's dream. We repainted the harvest yellow walls to a calmer tranquil bay.

Painting during baby's naps!

Painting during baby's naps!

Farmer's sink!

Farmer's sink!

Like an echo of its pre-transformation, a strip of yellow between the cabinets and the countertop remains unfinished where we plan to eventually install white subway tile. But alas! I don't know when because it ceased to be a priority after Tim began his PhD. (Yes. You read that right. Tim also started his PhD the same year we had a baby and decided to remodel our home.) That yellow strip has become the new linoleum, blaring"YOU ARE UNFINISHED! YOU ARE RUINING EVERTHING!" After a time, it quieted a annoying whisper, then to silently coexisting, until most days I didn't even see it in my life as a problem. It still lays unfinished, waiting for its maybe someday transformation.

Change comes in shades of yellow! Finished paint and counters, but no back splash to cover the clashing wall strip!

Change comes in shades of yellow! Finished paint and counters, but no back splash to cover the clashing wall strip!

Sin is often the coexisting orange linoleum, the harvest yellow strip that we have come to ignore, glaze over. It starts blending in and mixing with your life and suddenly you don't even notice it anymore. In the midst of our life's renovation, sin arrives and we either make time and space to deal with it, or it stalls our remodel, makes it so-so, leaves it with some missing pieces. It disguises and covers the hardwood underneath. It scares you, immobile, frozen, so you never venture to discover what beauty may be hiding just beneath the surface. I don't want to get used to sin, feel comfortable with it living on the walls of my home. It's the gross floor I don't want to rip up because my fear tells me it might be better than what is lying underneath.  

It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.
— C. S. Lewis

Parenting woke me up. I had to reevaluate my home, and life, by looking through Titus' brand new baby eyes. It made me see everything that had just been hiding in plain sight, made the once comfortable lifestyle seem not so baby-proof. Now, I can spot uncovered outlets from two rooms away. I look at a bobby pin on the floor as a choking hazard. I hear words in my favorite movies and I cover my sons ears. I also think twice before lashing out at Tim in front of him. I try to interact with him more and my phone less.

I want to be an example for my son and I see all of my old ugliness magnified. I see my sin anew. I'm grieved by it in a fresh way. And my longing for heaven is tenfold.

Pride is my biggest lineoleum. I'm floored if I'm at church and my baby is crying or if he won't smile when a neighbor comes to see him. I'm ashamed when I have spit up down the front of my dress while I'm out to dinner with friends. I'm flushed when the mailman comes to the door and there are dozens of toys on the floor behind me. I'm crushed when my dog barks at my friends. I'm annoyed when a gal pal thinks of an idea before me or seems to "have it all together" when I don't. I'm horrified when I don't have a dress that fits my postpartum body to go to the bridal shower. Pride. Its ugly. It clashes. And I've been living comfortably with it for most of my life.

My hope for the future!

My hope for the future!

This year God has been renovating my hard prideful heart. This blog is an invitation to witness this renovation. It's messy and untimely. It's got mice, it's not so insulated, and the location isn't ideal. It's full of linoleum floors and harvest yellow paint. But watch as it gets sanded down and restained white in the blood of the Lamb. Although I know I will never be "revealed" this side of heaven, I realized I'm changed, but still changing. But I'm done resisting the restoration. Hands up to the ultimate interior designer! Come in. You are welcome in this old house.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, (s)he is a new creation. The old has passed away. The new has come!
— 2 Corinthians 5:17