Room-by-Room: Bathrooms


Last year two crazy kids bought a house. They tore it open from the inside out. It did the same to them. Both the house and the people are more beautiful than they were before. This is the tour-de-blog through the before and the after, but perhaps most important: the during. 

Welcome, friend: Bathrooms.


For the first 9 years of our marriage, I never had more than one toilet to clean. It had its perks. But when we signed that Grant Deed, my toilet-bowl-cleaning-duty tripled.

Each bathroom needed some significant love. Tubs, toilets and floors all had various levels of rot, fungus, or rust to be dealt with. I’ll take you through each from the simplest to the greatest of transformations.

Bathroom 1 – we actually thought we’d get away with just some new fixtures and paint in this bathroom, but soon discovered that the tub was rusted through, and when that came out, so too all the tile had to come with it. Who knew?



I can’t say I was all that sad, though, because oh-my-gosh I’m in love with this subway tile that took its place. This bathroom is part of the back guest house so I actually rarely see it personally, but I love-love it nonetheless.

IMG_1456Some invisibles also had to be replaced, as it turns out the lower plumbing wasn’t even connected to the home’s piping. Seriously. So for who knows how long the water drained from that tub just went straight to the ground beneath the house. Thank God for a raised foundation. So, the invisibles were re-plumbed, and the visibles won my heart over when we put in a new vanity and some new paint.


Bathroom 2 – oh this room. There’s no color correction happening here – that was the real paint color. Still makes my eyes hurt even in the pictures.

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But the transformation that was about to take place – well, I’ll let the pictures do the telling.

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Except this – oh I must explain this. I knew I wanted to create a vanity from furniture and get the porcelain bowl to sit atop. I had a dresser in mind for it, but it was all-wrong. Wrong size, wrong style, wrong color. Just wrong. I was just about to set out to hunt local thrift stores when I remembered that I had picked up this random table at a yard sale just a few months prior with no particular reason. It was $15 and I liked it. Maybe, just maybe this would work, I thought. And really, could it be more perfect? I finished it with wipeable Minwax to waterproof it, and I really love my $15 bathroom vanity.





Bathroom 3­ is part of the Master Suite, so I’ll save that for its post later.

These rooms were such fun. Hundreds of decisions between tiles and grouts and fixtures and $15 vanity tables, but I couldn’t be happier with the way each of them turned out, or with my bathtub samplers: IMG_1804IMG_1812


Life in the Lunch Line


There I stood.  One of hundreds.  Standing in line to satisfy one of the most basic needs of all.  Food.  We all just wanted food.

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The lunch line.

I’d just sat through Donald Miller’s encouragement on how to handle disappointment.  I’d heard Mike Foster talk about the difference between hurt and hype, and how hope is found somewhere in between.  Randall Wallace gave insight not only into the skill of kilt-wearing, but into the soul that he brought to writing William Wallace’s “FREEDOM!!!!!” in Braveheart.  I’d just finished sharing life across texts.  Important life.  Life that includes reminders of deep truth and questions about angels cradling lost babies.

And then I got in the lunch line.  By the time 60 minutes had passed and I made my way into the cafeteria – the altar at which I had waited to bow – I found myself in wall-to-wall people and I was ready to use elbows if needed.

I can’t tell you how many days of my life go just like this lunch line.  I hear/read/think something great, something inspirational, something revolutionary, something Truly Important.  But then I get in a line – often on the freeway, sometimes on the internet, or sometimes just in my own head.  I get busy taking care of basic things and basic needs.  And I get frustrated and annoyed and ready to throw elbows.

As I sat down with a plate full of food to finally satiate the beast, my husband asked me this most obnoxious of questions:  “So, how do you apply what you just heard to this moment?”  Grrr, the bane of a pastor’s wife’s existence.  Actual application of spiritual truths.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

Well, Don just taught on facing disappointment – to list both the griefs and the blessings.  I can name a few blessings that came out of that hour in line – can you?”

“Wait, I get to list my griefs first,” I said.  Wait.  I get to list my griefs first.

While at the moment I was being snarky, I was about two minutes away from one of those deep “aha” moments.  My lists went like so:

Grief #1.   I grieve inefficiency.  Seriously, wasted minutes are like nails on a chalkboard to me, and I’d just wasted 60 in a line.

Grief #2.  I grieve feeling overlooked – all of a sudden I felt like a number instead of a person attending this conference.

Grief #3.  I grieve the loss of time with friends.  Meal-times were the breaks I’d counted on to debrief with friends at the same conference.

“Okay”, he said, “those are all valid.  Now list the blessings.”

Blessing #1.  It didn’t rain on us in line, even though it had poured all morning long.

Blessing #2.  A good friend that we hadn’t even known was at this conference stood in line with us for the full hour even though he’d already gotten his food.

Blessing #3.  I got a one on one lunch date with my husband.  These are far too far between in our daily lives.

Blessing #4.  I was looking at the ocean the whole time.  I mean, seriously, could there be a prettier campus than Point Loma?

I know, I know – it was a lunch line.  For an hour.  Epiphanies can show up in the oddest of places.

As I sat there, giving my husband snarky but real answers, I realized just how important both lists are – those of griefs and those of blessings – though blessings get more press.  “Count your blessings, count them one by one.”

And don’t get me wrong – counting our blessings can be crucial to mental and spiritual health.  But permission to list my griefs gave my list of blessings context. 

Here’s what I mean.  If I’d had to start with a list of blessings, I can guarantee you that they would have come out of my mouth with an undertone of resentment, because I was upset.  But not totally clear yet on what I was upset about.  So I would have shrugged and sighed my way through the blessings, and felt like because there were blessings, I wasn’t allowed to be upset.  I’ve done that a lot in my life – the “resentful blessings” list.

The two-list method is far healthier.  It’s like getting to exhale before I inhale. 

And sometimes the lists are small and take minutes – like griefs from a lunch line.  Other lists are much bigger and take much more time – like dealing with death and loss and major-life-disappointment.

I’d call Infertility my First Great Grief.  I started out to fill a need almost as basic as food.  I mean, let’s be honest, making babies is about as simple as it comes – until it’s not.  And I found myself in a seven-year line that has no end in sight.

For a long time, I didn’t give myself permission to list my griefs in this.  Because I knew my life had blessings, and I knew I was supposed to count them, and I had this unhealthy sense of equating grieving with whining.

But then.  Oh then.  God called me out.  A couple of years ago, He told me it was time to go INTO my grief, to stare it in the face, to dare to see what I could find by looking at it instead of stifling it.  He told me to air my griefs to Him, to list them one by one.  He can handle it.

And I’ve learned so much.  So.  Much.  About myself, my God, my grief, and yes, my blessings too.  See, when I tried to see only my blessings, my griefs were in the way and blocked the view.  But the interesting thing about looking at grief is that it’s a window, not a wall – it allows you to see through to the other side.   And yes, even infertility has its blessings.  Would I have chosen to learn them this way?  No.  But can I count them? Yes.  My life is so full despite my womb remaining empty. 

So let me encourage you in this today, friend – if you have griefs, small or large, on the lunch-line or life-loss scale, count them.  Count them one by one.  And then your blessings, too.  One rarely exists without the other.

P.S. I’m now rather passionate about encouraging others to “go there” with God – to dig into their grief and be willing to be surprised by what they might find.  If you or someone you know is walking through the grief of infertility or infant loss, share this link: – yours truly will be talking about choosing joy even when you want to punch it in the face.


The Quest for the Perfect Egg: And other messy problems


Six months ago, we set out on our craziest idea yet:  to renovate and remodel our first home.  I love that we are crazy enough to take on crazy projects.  And we’re talking crazy.  Move a wall here, build a wall there, not to mention gutting two kitchens and three bathrooms.   And don’t even get me started on the invisible stuff.

And I love the results. I am over-the-moon for our new kitchen, our new bathrooms, and the Air Conditioning that has saved our sanity this summer.  Our new house is slowly becoming a home.  One of my love languages is having our living room, kitchen, and yard filled with faces, and soon we’ll have guest rooms ready and the door will officially be opened wide!

And yes, before and after pictures will definitely be in order.

But before the after, there’s the messy.   The crazy.  The dust.  The just-one-more-thing-to-do.

This remodel project has taught me a lot about myself, and about being messy.  I’m a big fan of before-and-after, and sometimes I wait to share stories until I have the “after” figured out.  But messy is where life happens.

Having now lived through six months of a remodel, this is how I would describe it:  Remodeling is like issuing an invitation to all first-world problems to come through your front door.

Enter: the Story of a Stove.  Yes, a stove.  The Stove that has been bought twice and delivered thrice.

We grinned as we made grown-up purchases to replace our once-upon-a-college-student’s appliance collection of the past.  Our smiles faded when problem after problem arose.  It shouldn’t be so hard.  But it has been.  Countless obstacles have attacked this one part of our home, despite our best research, consumer-reporting, and careful purchasing.

Let me tell you, nothing makes you hate the first world more than fighting with a stove company about delivery, damage, broken promises, bad service, and all the requisite cash that comes from those issues.  I mean, it’s just a stove.  The classic first-world problem.  It’s not like I’m scouring to find food in the first place.

But also, it’s a stove.  My stove.  Where pancakes and spaghetti and cookies and over-easy eggs are destined to be made.  Where onions are sizzled and peppers are stir-fried and bacon sizzles.  A critical ingredient to a house becoming a home.

The Story of the Stove – with its grueling hours, mind-numbing delays, and costly detours – ended this week.  This week I got my stove.  I got to turn on my burner and see the beautiful blue of burning gas.  This, after driving like a bat out of hell to meet the handyman for installation.  Bat-out–of-hell, people.

The first night I made a beautiful egg with a golden yolk and celebrated the end of this particular first-world problem.  But I won’t pretend it wasn’t one heckofa messy road to get this “simple” thing done, and I’ll have an extra dose of grace for the next time a friend faces a first-world problem.

I think a lot of us face this – we come up against things that “shouldn’t be this hard.”  But sometimes they are.    Sometimes the things that should be the simplest can end up being the hardest.  Sometimes the things that should take minutes take hours.  Sometimes the things that seem so easy for someone (everyone?) else are your personal nemesis.

That’s life.  It gets messy.  But then again, the messy is what makes you appreciate the beauty all the more – like the golden hue of a perfect egg.