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Project RESTORE: Fixer-upper

(This piece was originally published in the 12.16.15 edition of the Hillsboro Free Press, for my column, Lipstick & Pearls. The fun part about reading it here? PHOTOS!)
Since summer, our family has been trying out a new subscription service available for streaming select cable networks over the internet. Signing up for Sling TV hasn’t been life-altering, but it has given me access to one of my favorite shows.
“Fixer Upper” is a relatively new show on HGTV, featuring Chip and Joanna Gaines, a Texas couple who works to restore old and sometimes dilapidated houses into beautiful homes.
The Gaines’ clients pick from a series of home showings and then Chip and his crew set to work demo-ing and restoring, while Joanna designs and decorates. Transformation is obvious in every episode, but my favorites by far are the people who take big chances on total messes.
The beauty hiding behind holes in the floors, missing portions of ceiling, trash everywhere...those are the houses I’m rooting for, and the ones I would pick every time.
When given a chance, those rough beginnings, when paired with the Gaines’ vision and work-ethic, always have the most dramatic transformation.
It’s easy for me to see potential in run-down or dated homes. I enjoy transformational projects in our home as well. With the exception of our first rental (we lived in a tiny home before it was a movement), we have renovated, painted and decorated three homes.

And although we’ve lost momentum from our pre-kid maintenence, I still enjoy projects and decorating. What can I say? I like pretty things.
Over this last year, I’ve made a lot of personal connection with projects around our home.
First, there was the cistern that collapsed under our back porch. It hadn’t been filled in properly, and over the span of multiple years, the dirt sifted out as through a funnel. On the surface, everything looked fine...until a piece of our back patio dropped out, revealing a deep hole.
Enter the largest-scaled sermon illustration of my life. And this revelation happened only a few short weeks into my 2015 resolution, Project: RESTORE.

It wasn’t beyond me that on the surface, I looked fine. And then a piece dropped out at Women’s Encounter at the end of 2013. Some investigation showed lots of missing structure hiding underneath. It took demo and lots of hard work to start that foundational work. And like our backyard, I’m still waiting to build until the dirt has settled.
Several years ago, I purchased a mustard-colored sewing table to use as a decor piece. I’ve never really gotten into the mustard craze, but I loved the shape of the table. Last spring, I finally set to work changing it up.
I decided to strip and stain the tabletop, and paint the rest of it a creamy white. While methodical, the sanding process contained several steps.
First, I used a paint remover. It bubbled up the paint so that my scraper could get underneath. I scraped what I could get, and then started the process again in the hopes of removing more. These steps worked well, except for a couple stubborn stains. For those, I needed an electric sander.

This Project: RESTORE has not been painless. I’ve bubbled and been scraped. I’ve been raw, honest and exposed. Some stubborn issues are still in the process of being removed. But then comes the fun part right? The part where the freshly sanded tabletop is stained, sealed and finished. It still takes work, but the end result is beautiful. The grain is protected, but yet exposed, and the table works great in my living room.

Over the summer, I started another paint project that I’d wanted to do for almost four years. I selected paint, hand-sanded spindles and seats, and dutifully set to work painting. Of six chairs, I have finished two. Other things have come up. I’ve lost momentum. I see the unfinished project, and I’m disappointed with myself and constantly see the work left to do.

When I set to work on this year of restoration, I had this idea that it was a goal to work toward. And by golly, it would be accomplished in a year. But when I started, I had absolutely no idea how deep this would all go. How many depression cycles I would work through. How many deep-rooted emotions would be uncovered. How many different lessons I would learn. And how many more are still there, waiting for a Healer’s touch.
As this year wraps up whether I’m ready or not, I find myself learning to own my emotions, rather than them owning me. I’m admitting disappointment that restoration isn’t complete, but I’m not admitting defeat. There’s work left to do, and I’m committed to seeing it through.

What was run-down...broken...before? It’s in the process of being transformed. And I’m excited and ready to see how this fixer-upper turns out.


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