Renovation Realities and Remembering What Matters

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Have you ever been in a renovation project? Sometimes I think I AM a renovation project.

Feel familiar? The bottom dropped out of your world perhaps?

This is ACTUAL footage of what our floor looks like at this moment. It won’t always look this way but we had to get to the bottom of the issue. For years another family tried to cover the issues by adding more and more layers of cover.

Have you ever covered up an issue in your family life? It’s so easy to try to ignore what is happening and not be in relationship with one another in this world of screens, busy days and too much to do.

It works pretty well at first, you lay down that new flooring, you pretend it doesn’t matter, but one day, you’re likely to put a foot through the floor joist and hit the dirt. Relationships are the same way. If not fed, nurtured and engaged, pretty soon, they decay.

Even in the middle of the gosh awful messes, we’ve moved a table for meals together in the middle of the mess.  Just that moment together eating whatever we’ve brought or can put together (sandwich anyone?) makes it all stay glued together.

Relationships take work and sound joists of support… Trust. Faith. Forgiveness. Covering up problems and issues doesn’t cure the issues.

What is your house built on? Currently our new cottage is built on a lot of former wishful thinking on repairs and joists that were a former feast for termites. We knew that going in, and no amount of cover can cure that issue, so we’re going down the root of the problem and removing the debris of what was eaten long ago.

We’re a blended family. That means that we have raised four children, had 8 sets of adult grandparents to coordinate between the two families and step families, and there’s lots of room for calendar mistakes, holiday confusion and children who are now grown, having to choose.

We didn’t choose to engage the popular myth that step and blended families have to be at war consistently over holidays. We decided holidays were hard enough for our blended family, so we chose a different time to do our gathering and celebrating. In those early days it was so different to be a blended family. In those days I tried so very hard to pretend we were just a traditional family. (look at those poor guys, they had to suffer matching outfits, after all matching meant normal right?)

Most stories about stepfamilies then included a wicked witch step mother…not the scene I wanted to portray or be!

We decided that children and love mattered more than fighting other families. It wasn’t always smooth, but it by and large was a peaceful process as our 5,8,11, and 16 year olds navigated being in two families growing up (now 24, 27, 30 and 36) Time has a way of telling the truth of what matters when it is all said and done. What matters is that children feel both families love, respect, and nurture. Our truth we wanted them all to know was “We love you” and “you have a place to come home to, to be heard, when you’re ready” We didn’t want to exclude the others parents, or make them choose.

Rebuilding a cottage and a creative center in Covid times is an adventure. It’s so very different from our “in town” home that was built a year ago. We are choosing this mini-farm. Like our blended family, there are probably those who think it’s not a good bet. It’s  hard work, it’s going to be labor intensive for a bit. But it is also our dream to be on a mini farm. It’s something we’ve thought about for decades.

The only way you get to live dreams is to move past wishful thinking and do the work. Some days that means you paint a door, not even the final door, to give yourself a reminder of the hope of a day that will some day be…the one in which you did the work and the cottage of your imagination came true. It’s perhaps not the smartest thing, or the priority thing, but sometimes visual reminders are the energizing thing. Madison knows this truth.

Les’s role at his work went away. We surely didn’t pray for that to happen. We moved here for that job. We’ve moved to Oklahoma to be nearer to our grown children and our families. Our home is in the Oklahoma Ozarks, which means we are close to Bentonville, Arkansas, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Joplin Missouri. We are working differently, but in ways that enliven our hearts and spirits. This is the one and only life we have…and we made the choice to brave it.

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