Lessons Learned from Stripping

Lesson learned from Stripping

Well, I guess I’ve got your attention now, right?

When I moved into my home over 20 years ago, and the previous owner came to drop off the key on move in day, I noticed something which I hadn’t noticed before when viewing the house.

As I stared at the wall in the foyer I noticed some lines.  Those lines looked like wallpaper, but the walls were painted. I turned and asked the previous owner, “Did you paint the wallpaper?”  “Yes.” Was his reply.  What????   Who the heck paints wallpaper I thought.

Even judge Judy in deciding a case said, “You can’t paint wallpaper.”   Well that’s not entirely true.  You shouldn’t paint wallpaper, but it can be done.   And when painted it presents a real problem.  What I came to find out within the next couple of weeks, over twenty years ago was that not only had the previous owners painted over the wallpaper in the foyer, but also in the bathrooms and hallways and even a bedroom!  It was their way of updating the house for resale.

So, over the years, I have stripped this painted wallpaper, with the exception, of completing the stripping of one of the bathrooms.  This bathroom consists of two rooms.  Back when I started to strip the wallpaper it so adhered to the walls in the main area of the bathroom that I decided at the time to paper over the existing painted wallpaper in the adjoining room and be done with it, until now.

Over this past spring break, I looked in this bathroom and saw how outdated it had become.  I had decorated it with young kids in mind at the time.  But now those kids are grown so I decided to update this bathroom again. I started by repainting the outdated white vanity to a beautiful gray with lighter gray walls. I even convinced my husband to upgrade the tile floor.  It looked great!  But then I peered through the door toward the shower area and saw that those papered walls really looked outdated.  Still, I knew what awaited me if I tackled that room.  The stripping of the wallpaper we had hung along with the painted wallpaper hidden underneath.

Last week I bit the bullet and began stripping.

Really the first layer of wallpaper came off easily because it was strippable wallpaper. It came off so clean in fact that my husband assured me we had reached painted walls, “No more wallpaper.”  He said.  I knew this was not true.  The wallpaper was there, it was just camouflaged by the while paint.  I really did want to believe him, but I knew better.  I started to scrap and revealed paper.

And this wallpaper did not come off easily in one piece as the first layer had.  Nope, it came off in little pieces, leaving the paper backing behind. This was going to a long and arduous task.

I finally developed a strategy.  Slice the paint across the seams of the wallpaper and slide a putty knife underneath and begin to gently separate it from the wall.  The paper backing was still left but that came off easily with a wet sponge.  And so, I was on a roll, a slow roll, but a roll nonetheless.

My husband who was using a steamer on a nearby wall asked me how I was able to get the wallpaper off without the steamer.  “A new strategy.”  I said.  I explained it to him, but he continued to use the steamer.  I must admit my method was more difficult, but it yielded better results.  Because when I looked at his wall there were huge chunks of wallboard missing.  Yet another task I would have to address, wall repair.

So what lessons did I learn from stripping?

First, I learned that as each layer peeled back a new layer was revealed.

It’s like that with us as well.  We have layers that have built up in us over the years.  Some of those layers may be resentment or unforgiveness, or perhaps a callous has so hardened us that layers have built up over top of one specific area of our life. We may have layers of fear or even pride.  Each layer within us tells a story and defines our character.

So, what do we do with these layers?  It’s important first to identify them, and then to determine which layers to keep and which to shed.  Isn’t it fascinating that in nature, species shed at the appropriate time?

Instead of holding on to all these layers, we need to take a clear look at ourselves and choose the character we would like to develop and then layer that into our lives.

The second lesson I learned while stripping was to change my perspective. There was a really, difficult part of wallpaper for which my go to strategy was not working.  I took a step back and looked at it for just a minute and then I thought, well what if, instead of going at that seam from above, what if I approach it by pushing up from the bottom with the knife?  You know what?  It worked!

Lesson two:  We can’t use the same approach for everything, our approach must fit our circumstances.

Once the stripping was done the difficult task of spackling began with yet more lessons to learn.

The thicker you put the spackle on the more sanding you will have to do to smooth and remove a portion of it.

In some places I needed that thick spackle to fix and fill the deeply damaged areas.  In other spots there were just a few indentations where a lighter thinner application was more appropriate and required less sanding. Each type of spackle was unique and served a different purpose.

Lesson learned: Don’t allow thick layers of unresolved feelings to build up inside of you because soon those feelings will begin to bulge and become unsightly.  Until you’ve resolved what’s underneath you can’t put on an appropriate finish layer.  Each if us is created with a specific purpose.  Make sure you are using your God given talents for your purpose.

And then came the sanding.  Sometimes the sanding was too abrasive and removed the work I had done so that I had to spackle again and use a lighter hand.  I soon learned that a slow steady hand in a circular motion produced better results as I saw a gradual disappearance of the thickened lines, yielding a freshly prepared wall ready to have a new finish applied.

Lesson learned:  Sometimes we need to sand away our own rough spots so that we do not judge only according to appearances.  A harshly spoken word may have a lasting impact but a soft response is healing for the soul and the more we polish and refine ourselves the more useful we will be to others.

Next came priming of the walls.  I felt each wall for its smoothness and then applied the primer.  Funny thing about primer, it reveals what lies underneath, so that in some spots the remaining flaws which I hadn’t seen before, immediately appeared.

Lesson learned:  You can’t hide a bad foundation for it will be shown for what it is.  We must start with a firm foundation to produce good and lasting results.  Yes, more sanding, more spackling and then more priming. We do need to prime ourselves before we can be useful.

We need to be primed with God’s word so that we can reflect his truth and goodness to others.  If we’ve primed ourselves with the word of God, good words and actions will follow.This goodness is imparted to us by God when we yield our hearts to Him.

Finally, the day came when I was able to pick out the paint for the walls.  Yeah!

The trick was to pick out the paint that would complement the walls and the fixtures in the bathroom.  Really this ended up being the most difficult task of all!  How did I want this room to look?  What did I want the room to reflect?  It took some time and several trips to the paint store, but I finally found the perfect color to compliment both rooms.

So, I now ask myself, “How to I want to look?”  “What do I want to reflect to others?”

I want to reflect love, kindness, gentleness, goodness and patience to others.  I want to complement God not clash with Him.  I want to reflect humility not pride, joy, not sorrow, and peace, not discord.

I want to grow in the knowledge of God who created me exactly for this purpose.

I want to strip my unproductive layers and lay a firm foundation to develop a character of perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.  I want to be what God wants me to be, a reflection of his goodness by extending grace to others.  Who knew I could learn so many lessons from stripping a couple of walls!

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.  Hebrews 4:12-13

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This entry was posted on July 15, 2018. 1 Comment

Parting with your Best Friend

Parting with your Best Friend

I just sat down at my patio table, the sun is shining, a sharp contrast from the rainstorms of yesterday afternoon.  The difference today is that I’m alone at the table without my beloved dog Buddy for company.

Yesterday morning Buddy couldn’t eat his breakfast.   Although his appetite had been good up until yesterday, for some reason I decided to make him some homemade oatmeal treats the day before, and he was able to eat those treats for his last meal.

Shortly afterward he couldn’t seem to get comfortable.  I called my husband and told him I would be calling the vet.  He asked me to get an afternoon appointment which I did.  I called my son so that he could come home early from work to say goodbye because technically Buddy was his dog.

However, by noon Buddy’s breathing became labored and he looked at me for help.  I again called the vet and asked if they could see him sooner.  They told me to bring him right over.

On the way Buddy tried to get on the backseat but he just couldn’t manage it, I reached back and pet him to calm him and he rested his head on the raised floor of the car, his breathing improved somewhat during the ride.

When we reached the vet’s office it began to rain just as we exited the car.   A lady walked past and talked sweetly to Buddy, urging him to walk faster to get out of the rain.  I smiled and thought, he’s moving as fast as he can, toward his final, destination.

He stopped just outside the door and let the rain fall on him.  At that moment I felt that God was crying tears from heaven along with me.

Inside they helped us to a room and prepared Buddy for his final journey.  A shot of sedation, still Buddy looked at me with his big brown eyes, while I stroked him and told him it was okay.

I had read that if you are upset you will only upset your pet.  So by God’s grace I managed to hold it together during the simple procedure and was able to comfort Buddy until he took his last breath.

He was a trooper right up until the end.

After he was at peace I brought him home and now he is resting in his own backyard with his two favorite toys, a ball,  oh, how he loved to play ball, and his squeaky bone which he would rest his head on when waiting for someone to come play with him.

It’s not easy to make the decision to let your dog go, but his immediate decline made the decision for me.  I wasn’t sure I would be able to do this, but God knew.  God knew that I needed to be the one to be with Buddy when he passed, because that’s what you do for your best friend, you love him until the end and beyond.

And as we drove out of the parking lot the heavens opened once again, and between the raindrops on my windshield and the tears in my eyes, I was barely able to see where I was going, but you know what? Just as suddenly as the rain had come, the sun appeared to accompany us on the car ride home to his final resting place.

It was as if God cried with us during the sad goodbye but rejoiced with us in the peace of that moment.

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord,
make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living with a Dying Dog

When I had my first dying dog and he turned 14 he began to have trouble breathing.  I thought it was age related.  When he reached the point that he couldn’t walk further than down the driveway and one house over I took him to the vet.   X-rays revealed either a tumor or heart failure.  They sent him home with pills for his heart.   He died the next day watching his family wash the family car.  Sad, but a peaceful passing.

Right now, I’m living with my second dying dog.  As much as I would like him to be able to pass away peacefully at home, I’m not sure that is going to be happen.

In January one morning when I took him out his urine was blood red.  The dog had been drooling a bit and the vet said he could no longer drink enough water to support his kidneys. She said this was what was causing the drooling.  She sent my husband home with a saline solution for subcutaneous fluid administration, and the dog rallied.

Three weeks later when the dog went for a blood test a perceptive vet tech noticed swelling around one side of the dog’s mouth.  A different vet this time looked in the dog’s mouth and found a growth at the base of his tongue and said it was cancer.  She chose not to complete the blood work, said to keep giving him the subcutaneous fluids and that when the dog could no longer eat, we should bring him in to have him put down.

This dog is a fighter and he is also my best friend.  I know that sounds a little cliché.   But this dog has seen me through several of life’s trials.  Deaths in the family, children moving away, new jobs with harsh co-workers that I thought would be the end of me, and he has always been there by my side, literally.   When I get up, he gets up and follows.  When I go up or down the stairs he is right in step with me, if I stop on a step, he stops, and waits.

I’ve had three dogs, this one is by far the most special.  All three of my dogs came from rescue situations as adults.  The first dog didn’t pan out too well, he was a biter.  The second dog was a good and loyal dog, but this dog is different, a true member of the family, attached to me like a shadow, and my Buddy.

That’s why I want to do what’s best for him and it’s so hard to let him go.

So, when he started to have problems swallowing I modified his food because that’s what you do for your best friend.  You love your best friend and you take care of them. And it has worked so far.  He has his good days and he has his bad days.  He’s out of breath a lot and he’s moving slower now.

I’ve read so many accounts of people with dying dogs.  Some have had their dog die peacefully in their lap, other’s have had the dog put down the day of the cancer diagnosis.  I don’t really think there is a right or wrong answer to this, I just don’t know what my answer is, yet.

My plan was to keep him comfortable, hoping he would pass naturally at home.   But this hasn’t happened, and I see him struggling a bit more each day.  Yet each morning there he is, waiting for his breakfast and following me around the house again.  Yes, he’s still eating,  and with each food modification he is able to rally and get a little pep back in his step.

And I think what do we do with old folks when they can’t swallow?  Being that I am an SLP, I know what we do.  We make diet modifications and those sweet old folks eventually pass away when they bodily functions cease.

But animals are different. My husband says the dog doesn’t appear to be in any pain and he’s not ready to have him put down. But since I’ve been home from work this last week I see more that my husband sees.

Today Buddy and I are on the patio enjoying the day.  He still loves his ball, his time in the sun, and drinking from the pond.

So, for one more day at least I don’t have to cross this bridge of decision.  But when the time to cross that bridge comes, I hope I can make the most loving decision possible, because that’s what you do for your best friend.

A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.  Proverbs 27:9

 

 

This entry was posted on May 16, 2018. 2 Comments

Perspective

I was sitting in my front yard the other day, reading when I started to look around at the trees.

The tree next to me was beautifully filled out on the front side, however the back side of the tree was completely bare because it faced the house and received no sun.  Interesting I thought. Well at least it looks good from the front, you know the side that folks can see.

I then looked at a tree on the front lawn.  Now this tree had been damaged in a storm.  Several top branches had been broken off on one side.  Because of this we had some arborists come and clean it up a bit.  What they did was to take off several branches to balance the tree in case of future storms.  Then they cleaned up the broken edges of the damaged branches by cutting them flush with the trunk of the tree.  It didn’t look so good to me from behind, but a walk out to the sidewalk showed the tree looked immensely better from the front.  How lucky was that?

Next I looked at some bushes that had been newly planted to replace a tree that had been removed.  I had been a little disappointed after we planted them because there was such an awkward space behind them.  Yet from this angle while sitting on my front porch area, they actually looked pretty nice.

It got me thinking about perspective.

The way we see things.

From one angle each of these plantings looked fine.  But from another angle they didn’t.

It got me thinking about how often I judge things by their appearance.   I don’t purchase something if I don’t like its appearance.  Likewise I don’t buy clothes that don’t flatter my appearance.  Truthfully as I age those type of clothes are getting more difficult to find.

But the whole perspective issue really made me stop and think.

What do I look like to others?

More often than not I feel that I am not very appealing to others.  I’m not talking so much about how I look but what I reflect.  Years ago a colleague wrote a reference letter for me in which she stated that I was, “kind, soft spoken and exhibited a sense of warmth”.  Those were kind words from her and I never forgot them.  She was someone that I did not know well.  I had simply been in the right place at the right time and had completed a short term substitute teaching assignment for her after having spent several years at home raising my children.

Following my assignment she sent me a bouquet of flowers.  I really felt appreciated.  From my perspective I didn’t do much, but from her perspective I had filled a need at a dire time for their district.  I had come in with the right qualifications and had saved the day for them, at least that’s what they told me.

I had a different perspective.  My perspective was that they had taken a chance on me since I had been out of the workforce for so long and in my eyes, they had blessed me.

One situation, two different perspectives.

What I reflect will be a determiner of another’s perspective about me which in turn determines how they react toward me.

If I am timid I may be ignored or taken advantage of, while if I am bold I may be liked by some but not by others.

A good example I have is of an experience I once had with a colleague.  She had been domineering and condescending but she was the coordinator of the clinic in which I worked so I accepted my lot and just tried to avoid confrontation.

One day she stormed into the clinic.  She looked directly at me and said, “Do you trust me?”

Wow!  Should I speak the truth or say what she wanted to hear?

I wimped out and said, “Yes.”

“Well”, she continued.  “Apparently nobody else does!”

She had just returned from a meeting in which she had expected to be assigned a program coordinator position for our department only to find out that her other colleagues did not trust her in the position.  She was stunned.  She had always thought that she was admired and respected due to her credentials.  I knew otherwise because I had heard the talk from folks.  It blindsided her.  She only saw things from her perspective and not from what she actually reflected to others.

Lessons to be learned for sure, but the biggest lesson learned is to recognize that it’s not our perspective that truly matters.  It’s God’s perspective.  God sees us all the same.  He sees the front of us with our outward adornment and he sees us from behind with our tattered souls and because he loves us we can reflect that love to others.

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5 Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

 

 

 

 

Auto Pilot

Auto Pilot

I’m not really big on automated things.  For instance I really don’t like using cruise control when I’m driving.  I’d rather just put my foot on the pedal and drive, braking under my own speed when necessary.   I can’t even imagine being in an automated hands free car.  Truthfully I think I’d have a heart attack in one of those vehicles.

But one automated feature that I do like on my car is the automatic lights turning on at dawn or dusk.  I’ve really gotten very accustomed to this feature, so much so that I don’t even think about it.  I’ve got it turned on and I rely on it.  It’s there for me right?

Well, it was until a few weeks ago when I was returning from an evening event that my husband and I attended. My husband left first in his car and I followed.  He quickly pulled over to tell me my lights were off.

I looked at the steering wheel console and sure enough!  They were off!   Well you can bet I hadn’t been the one to turn the off!  Over the past couple of weeks both my husband and son had driven my car.

I had assumed they wouldn’t touch my settings beyond that of the seat position.  Turns out I was wrong.  I assumed something that was inaccurate.  Now I have no idea why anyone would want to disable the automatic feature for the headlights, but apparently one of them did.

But there I was driving with a false sense of security.   Eventually, I guess I would have noticed my lights weren’t on, but it may have been after I received a ticket!

It showed me that I really do need to check everything and make sure my security systems are in place whenever I get in my car and not take anything for granted.

It’s that way with life too.  I take a lot of things for granted.  For instance just this morning I expected first, that I would wake up, secondly that I would get to work safely and later today that I will get home safely as well.  Of course I take for granted that I will be safe in my workplace all day today.

But you know, none of this is guaranteed.  I could be here one minute and gone the next.  Just in the news of the past several days we’ve seen this happen to unsuspecting folks.  We assume what our day will be but we never assume the worst case scenario.

Now I’m not saying we should assume the worst case scenario.  Although I have on occasion calculated the risks in various situations, and chosen alternatives in those situations.  I think that’s just being prudent.

I remember the best advice my father ever gave me when I was learning to drive.  “Always drive defensively, because you never know what the other guy is going to do, expect the unexpected.” My dad said.   And to this day I still drive that way.

I think in life we need to have a defensive line, a way to protect ourselves when it is within our ability to do so.  But of course we can’t protect against everything because everything is not under our control.  Not too much really is under our control, or not as much as we may think it is.

For instance I do need to plan my day.  Since I work a very long day I also generally need to plan what I’m having for dinner, in the morning and make preparations.  That’s a good plan as long as everything else works out and I actually make it home in the evening.

So that’s when I have to delegate the minutes of my day to the one who knows where I will be at the end of it.   And that’s where trust comes in, trusting that whatever happens during my day is exactly in line with the plan God has for me.

Life has its twists and turns and sometimes somebody may even turn the lights off.  This happens a lot to me when I’m in the basement of our house.  Someone will walk by the door, turn the light off and slam the door and I’m left fumbling my way through the dark to the nearest light switch.

But you know there is one who will never turn the light off.  He offers His light to everyone.  And when you walk on his path. even though darkness may push in from many sides, the path directly in front of you is always illuminated and the darkness cannot touch you.   He gives you just what you need, when you need it.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:5

So make your preparations when you can, but trust that God prepares the road ahead of you if you put your faith and trust in Him.

When Jesus spoke to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

 

 

Do you believe in that?

I didn’t write this but it was so funny when I came upon it that I just had to share!

There was a religious woman Samantha who had to do a lot of traveling for her business. Air travel made her very nervous, so she always took her Bible along with her.

One day on a trip, she was sitting next to a man. When the guy saw Samantha pull out her Bible, he gave a little chuckle and smirk and went back to what he was doing.

After a few minutes, he turned to religious woman and asked, “You don’t really believe all that stuff in there do you?”

Samantha answered, “Of course I do. It is the Bible.”

He said, “Well, what about that guy that was swallowed by that whale?”

She replied, “Jonah. Yes, I believe that, it is in the Bible.”

He asked, “Well, how do you suppose he survived all that time inside the whale?”

Samantha said, “Well, I don’t really know. When I get to heaven, I will ask him.”

“What if he isn’t in heaven?” the man asked sarcastically.

Samantha calmly answered; “Then you can ask him.”

Good Friday and Easter

 

Easter, a joyful celebration of life and resurrection is preceded two days earlier by a day of mourning and often self, reflection, Good Friday.

When I was a child I wondered “Why do they call it Good Friday?”  “What’s good about it?”

What’s good about an execution?   What’s good about suffering?  What’s good about the innocent suffering?

Seems like these questions are the same questions that can be asked today, in the light of the atrocities committed in this world against innocent people in the name of religion.

Religion, a belief system based upon, what others have taught us, or what we have chosen to believe that “fits” with our thinking and understanding of the world.

Religion may be what we choose to fit our beliefs.   But what if it wasn’t?  What if instead of following a religion we chose to see others in the light of Christ’s teachings?   That would present a completely different picture to us because instead of starting from a basis of different opinions we would simple start from the basis of love for others.

That’s what Jesus did.  He started with love and ended with love.

That’s what the cross is all about.  Love.  When Jesus stretched out his arms, he didn’t do it under duress, he did it out of love.   Everything Jesus did was out of love.  He sought out the unloved and brought love to them.

He wasn’t interested in sitting in the best seat at the banquet looking for honor and recognition.  He sat by a well and when a woman tired and outcast came to draw water, he spoke to her.   He knew her past.  Five husbands and now living with a man who had taken her in but was not her husband.  Still Jesus did not judge her.  Instead he told her the way to receive living water that would sustain her forever, and she in turn ran to the village to share this good news with others.

“Come she said, and see a man who told me everything I ever did and then she

decided, to follow Jesus….

I have decided, to follow Jesus….  Image result for music notes images

Then there were the two Jewish leaders of the Sanhedrin.  They were not looking for interpretation of Jewish law, for they knew the interpretation.  They studied it daily, and just as the other scholars of the time, they sought to write more laws to interpret God’s law for the people.  They simply wanted to know God’s plan.  So, Jesus told them.  He told Nicodemus that he must be “born again” not of the will of a man and a woman, but a spiritual rebirth through faith and confession before God and they too followed Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus…..Image result for music notes images

 

And the woman who was abhorred by society for her acts of prostitution.  Jesus reached out to her too.  She felt his love, and compassion.  He cared for her as no one before had ever cared and she too refrained the words.

I have decided to follow Jesus……Image result for music notes images

 

Then his adopted family of sorts.  The family of  Lazarus, Martha and Mary who offered him a home, a place to rest from his journeys.  They welcomed him not as a stranger but as a beloved teacher and friend.  And Martha declared that she believed in the last days there would be a resurrection of life, only to see it first hand in the resurrection of her dead brother, Lazarus brought back to life.

And the refrain went on; I have decided to follow Jesus…….Image result for music notes images

 

Why did these people follow Jesus?  Because he showed them love.   Did he know they were sinners?  Of course!  But it didn’t matter because that was his mission, to save sinners.

But back to Good Friday.  What’s good about an innocent man dying in the most horrible manner of that time.  Brutally beaten, nailed to a cross and stabbed with a spear by a Roman soldier?  Why was that necessary?  Wasn’t the cross enough?

The cross was enough, but God sought to show the depravity of man throughout.  The suffering of Jesus at the hands of those who chose to be ruthless.  It was their choice to be ruthless, and to lack compassion.  It was their choice to have hardened hearts.

But not all chose this route.  There was the Roman soldier who looked at how Jesus died, how Jesus asked for forgiveness for those who knew not what they were doing, and this soldier said, “Surely, this man was the son of God!”

There was the thief on the cross who asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom, and Jesus in his dying moments reached out to the thief in love and said, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”

JESUS BODY MAY HAVE DIED, BUT HIS LOVE NEVER DID!

His love remains, so if today you hear his voice, harden not your heart against the love he offers.

Easter is the celebration of his love, but Good Friday is the demonstration of his love.

That’s what’s good about Good Friday.

 

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13  Image result for music notes images

 

 

This entry was posted on March 30, 2018. 2 Comments