Posts tagged fixer upper


For we are God’s masterpiece.

He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

Ephesian 2:10

Dear girls,

Today I thought I’d give you an update on the house we’re remodeling.  We had hoped to be in by Christmas but, like all remodels, this one is taking longer than we’d planned. And maybe it has something to do with the fact that I keep changing the plan. Every time I say, “I have an idea…” I see Phil shudder a little and sigh.

Because it’s nestled in a grove of fir trees and because the name of the street is Firwood, I’ve fallen into calling this house Firwood Cottage.

Which is really much too poetic a name for what is still a pitifully plain 1960’s box. But it encapsulates my dreams for what this home will someday be: a darling little cottage on the edge of a clearing down a bumpy lane from the village called Lake Grove.

(Still ugly on the outside.)

(Wood floors and new windows, moved walls and rewiring, pipes and panels and can lights… our little house is getting a complete make-over.)

Just as my name for the fixer-upper we’re remodeling is a bit grander than reality, it would seem that God’s name for me is almost embarrassingly boastful.

He calls me His masterpiece. 

And you, too! Just because He’s taken ownership of our lives and He knows the beauty He has planned.

In the same way that I see what my ugly little house will someday be, God sees who you are becoming. He can overlook the ugliness because He’s sketched out a plan and He’s crafting and carving and recreating the way He wants you to be.

That, my dear friends, is what redemption is all about. Beauty.

God taking my sorry mess and revisioning, recreating, reimagining who He knows I really am.

Sometimes the process is painful— ripping out the old wiring hurts.

Sometimes the process is messy— sweeping away the debris we’ve accumulated isn’t pretty.

Sometimes the process of creating beauty in our lives seems to stall— that’s when He’s doing a deeper work, down underneath where no one sees.

He knows all about the pain and the messiness and the delays and He isn’t in the least bit worried.

He loves you.

He loves working with you, loves coming close, loves who He knows you are becoming.

He’s not comparing you to the big house down the street because He loves cozy cottages where He is welcome and brought in, where He is wanted.

And He sees you.

He sees the nooks and crannies that add character, delights in the way you’re made. He knows how it all fits together and how you will turn out in the end.

And I think He just can’t stop smiling your way. I think He’s surrounded by that great crowd of witnesses and He’s pointing you out and telling all those redeemed ones exactly how you’ll look when He’s done.

I think He’s proud of you.

And that He’s got a new name just for you. A name that tells the truth about who you are.

From my heart,


Read about who you are and how He feels about you in the first 3 chapters of Ephesians. And about your name in Revelation 2:17 and 22:4.



 Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated).

You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God;

believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me.


In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places (homes).

If it were not so, I would have told you;

for I am going away to prepare a place for you.


John 14:1-2

Amplified Bible


I sit, like I have on so many days, overlooking the roofs of my near neighbors to the countryside a few miles away. A line of trees marks the Tualatin River in the distance where fog rises from the dampness of the marshes and rich planting fields that follow it’s winding way.

My mornings on the back deck are numbered now. Summer is burning itself out in a final blaze of over-heated days. Rain is coming.

And we’re moving.

We have lived in this home for 11 years. Through Matt’s teenage years and my daughter’s weddings. It’s the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. We chose this particular house because of its basement— light filled and spacious, it seemed the perfect place for Phil’s widowed mom to come live with us.

But that didn’t last all that long. After several months she decided to move back to California, her home of half a century. And now she’s gone, waiting in the presence of Jesus for when He comes back with that perfect city and all the houses He’s been preparing for each of us.

We’ve rattled around in this big house, just the two of us, for the past year, talking about moving, wondering where and how in the world to pack two decades of stuff and too many decades of memories saved. With all the nooks and crannies and extra rooms in this behemoth I’ve simply boxed everything neatly and not thrown much of anything away.

My day of reckoning is here.

We’ve bought what is nicely named a “fixer-upper” in a quaint suburban town on the outskirts of the city. One-third the size of this house… but with a big backyard and the small town feel I long for. It’s a cottage- or will be when we get through changing and rearranging and adding charm to what actually is an ugly house with not much built-in potential.

And girls, I keep comparing myself to that house. It’s ugly and so am I. Run down, with no inherent charm. Tight and cramped, dark and plain.

And then Jesus bought us back from the owner who’d treated us badly.  And He stepped back and saw beauty in us— saw how our contrariness could be turned into something quaint and cozy… saw what no one else could see.

So He got out His toolbox and went to work.

Changing us.

Sometimes hammering hard, other times sawing off areas that stick out too far and hurt innocent people passing by. He sands and smoothes, rearranges and repaints. Making a beautiful place to come home to, a place of welcome and respite.

And we don’t much like the process, do we? We complain and worry and wonder what in the world He’s doing. We don’t like our ugly places but we’ve grown used to them. We’re comfortable in our cramped quarters, threatened by change.

But dear girls, just like I see something possible in this ugly little house we’re buying, He sees beauty in who He knows you almost are.

He sees a welcoming cottage He can use to welcome weary souls, a place of refuge and delight. He sees the beauty of who you could be, of who He can make you.

In the months ahead I’ll send you pictures of our new/old home. I’ll invite you in for tea once the smells of cat food and over-use go away. This is a project, for sure, but so are you and I. And though part of me dreads the hard work, there’s this other part of me that sees potential… in the house… and in each of us as well.

From my heart,