“I met with a contractor while you and the boys were gone,” my husband mentions casually. Not sure I’ve heard him right, I respond: “You did what?” He reiterates: “I got the name of a guy from someone in my lunch group. We drew out a plan to change the front of the house. Do you want to see it?” Honestly, I can hardly believe what I’m hearing. I’m delighted, I’m dismayed; I’m completely conflicted emotionally. I want to get excited, I really do. But frankly, I’m scared to death.
My fear arises mainly from a failed attempt to start a remodel in 2008. After years of debating adding on versus moving, we finally decide to meet with some contractors and get real numbers. Our kids are growing and if we’re going to
expand, we need to do it while they’re still around to benefit from it.
That spring, my husband dusts off his graph paper and we start sketching out designs. The dreams we’ve held at bay start trickling out on the paper, little by little. Before we know it, we’ve designed a house that seems to have everything we’ve ever wanted and more: a large kitchen/ family room, a dining room, garage and laundry room. We’ve even splurged at the idea of adding an upstairs master suite that will allow our old bedroom to become a bonus room/ guest room. We start to let ourselves imagine living in the space and we get
Then, we meet with contractors. Each one sees flaws with the plans and points
out the huge cost we’ll incur by adding a second story. Numbers are quoted that exceed the price we paid for the house.
Probably our biggest mistake is that we’ve been talking about our ideas with family and friends. I’ve let down my guard and have risked sharing more than I usually would. Verbalizing my dreams and hopes makes them seem even more real. Now, with the splash of cold reality thrown in our faces, we’re crushed. I feel discouraged and angry for letting myself get excited. I’ve prayed for
contentment for so long, but now that I’ve let myself dream about what could
be, peace eludes me.
Worst of all, we now have friends and family members inquiring about how things are progressing with our plans to remodel. Every time someone asks it feels as if I’m getting a tooth drilled without anesthesia. I’m like one big walking raw nerve.
In May of 2008 we host a party for a friend on an unseasonably chilly Memorial Day weekend. The cold weather prompts us to rearrange and move out furniture to create more space. We need to accommodate the 30 guests who are supposed to be relaxing at a backyard barbeque. After the party, we enjoy the reclaimed space so much we decide leave the new arrangement as it is. We reason that people all around the world live in much smaller spaces than ours without having problems. With an attitude adjustment, we hope we can too.
In our quest for contentment, we tend to some of the smaller things that have bothered us for years. Until now, we’ve held off on making changes in hopes of one day doing a big remodel. We're not giving up hope, but also not waiting indefinitely for wholesale change. I buy a new lamp for the living room and get rid of the one I’ve had from childhood that I never liked. My husband installs a hook for dishtowels. I hang decorations above the kitchen sink and stop staring at a blank wall. We buy a bench and a shelf to store backpacks and school gear so they won’t clutter the kitchen floor. Surprisingly, our elusive pursuit of contentment has given us new eyes to see what we have and to make the best of it. It’s also enabled us to let God shape our plans instead of doing things our way in our time frame.
There are, however, some valid physical changes needed that even a new attitude can’t overcome. Cautiously we re-engage in discussions about simpler solutions to our space problem that don’t involve bonus rooms and lavish second story master suites. We realize that our “all or nothing” approach has not served us well. From out of the discouragement, small dreams re-emerge with new life. We stop trying to fit in everything we want and just focus on what we really need. Ever so cautiously, our minds begin churning with the possibilities.
We have done nothing but talk, so two years later in the spring of 2010, my husband’s surprising meeting with a contractor catches me off guard. He shows me a sketch of a plan for a new front porch and a re-positioned front door that will expand our space inside by a few square feet. A modest bump out of our one car garage and a new driveway will give our house a bit more storage space and some updated curb appeal. I’ve dreamed of a front porch for our whole
marriage and appreciate my husband for remembering and incorporating it into
Best of all, the contractor gives us a bid that is actually reasonable. Slowly and cautiously we proceed with having plans drawn and permits approved. I’m so gun shy about the whole project that I remain at a cool and apathetic distance from it. I never ask when it will start, I don’t even think about what it will look like. I refuse to become emotionally attached to it in case something goes wrong
The contractor tells us the project will begin when we return from vacation in July. On the designated date, he calls mid-morning to say they won’t be coming until the following day. I’m glad I didn’t get excited. I’ve had enough disappointment by now to keep my expectations low. Despite these
emotional precautions, I have no idea of the wild ride we’re about to take.