Winterville United Methodist Church

Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

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March 20, 2017 “This Old House”

As I flip the channels and discover This Old House, I always stop and see what the particular episode has to say about my own efforts in renovating an old house.  The first thing that I see portrayed in the show—validated in my own experience—is that things in old houses are never perfect! Corners are not plumb.  Floors are not level.  Walls have wavy imperfections. All of these present particular challenges in renovation efforts.

The second thing that I always realize as I watch episodes of the show is that I am not Tom Silva.  Neither am I Norm Abrams, Steve Thomas, or Bob Vila!  If I spend the rest of my life trying to acquire their skills and expertise I will fall miserably short! 

The third thing I learn as I watch the show is that one failed attempt at a project necessitates a little research and additional efforts in different directions.  Products, systems, and efforts that work in new houses often need adaptation when applied to century-old structures. 

The fourth thing I have learned is that it is important to seek help when needed.  There’s always another expert—another person who has spent his/her own life figuring out solutions to exactly the problem that currently needs to be addressed.

Ah, the lessons I have learned firsthand while trying to renovate my old house!  I have struggled beyond belief with overcoming my expectation that things be perfect and with my frustration when jobs turn out less than perfectly!  Take for instance the effort of hanging the first two kitchen cabinets—the walls were wavy.  The floors were not level.  I spent hours—days—in frustration about spending so much money on cabinets only to have them turn out less than perfectly hung.  It was not until exerting monumental effort to hang a few more cabinets that I stood back and concluded, “Hey, they look pretty good!”

No, I am not Tom Silva, nor Norm Abrams, nor Steve Thomas, nor Bob Vila!  I don’t have to be.  I am Shirley Wright—wife, mother, grandmother, minister—one who has devoted large segments of her life to other efforts, but at the same time I can dabble with renovating an old house, one that doesn’t have to please anyone OTHER THAN KEN AND ME!

I have learned to be patient.  I can never set a time-clock such as the professionals might use and have my projects be completed on time.  Sometimes projects extend weekend after weekend after weekend.  Yet, when I set the goal and keep the goal before me, eventually I finish and can celebrate what has been accomplished.

I have learned to make frequent trips to Habersham Hardware or to Lowes’ to ask for help.  It’s amazing how many skilled folks there are in the world who ENJOY sharing their expertise.  It is only through the sharing from many of these folks that I now have a finished downstairs bathroom in my old house!

You may have realized by now that all of these are lessons that are important to learn about life—not simply about renovating an old house.  We are not perfect, and many of us struggle our whole lives with issues about not being perfect.  God’s desire is simply that we admit our shortcomings or our downfall or our mistakes along the way and let him help us use those to promote growth in our lives.  We need learn to be patient with ourselves.  God allows us the opportunity to make mistakes and to start all over again—both in relationship with him and in relationship with others.  But God calls us to never give up—never give up on life, never give up on relationship with him and or with others, never give up on efforts to make the world a better place.  God reminds us that we all need help from time to time.  We need to learn to lean on one another, to listen to one another, and to share our areas of expertise so that we can help each other have happier, more fulfilling lives! 

Today I give thanks for my old house—for the shelter that it provides, but also for the lessons that it has taught me along the way!  I give thanks for lessons that I have learned and continue to learn about imperfection, about patience, about persisting when things get tough, and with seeking need when it is needed.

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