Monday, January 30, 2012

Unexpected Visitor

Last week, I had an unexpected visitor.  The former owner of our new home stopped by.  I am thankful that she didn't stop by sooner.  I had been planning on being gone, but was unexpectedly here and I am thankful for this so that my mom didn't have to field her visit.

She came in with her little dog and of course our golden retriever went crazy.  It was difficult.  Then, I took her around and showed her what we'd done with the house.  She liked the changes--especially the french blue paint in the dining room.  I was glad for this.  It was a short visit and then she was off on her way.

I have struggled with my feelings towards this woman over the past month.  Often I have been upset with her that the work she had done wasn't fully done.  The workers she employed wouldn't do the clean up for their projects and the finishing work.  So, we had to come in and do that.  I've also been upset as I learned that there were problems she knew about and chose not to fix (like the drainage in the back yard).

But, a friend of ours stopped by this week and made a wise comment to me.  He said that much of the work we've done didn't have to be done right away.  When I paused, I realized that he was right.  Some of it really did have to be done--like replacing the water shut off valve that didn't shut off completely, fixing the water leak from the hot water baseboards, unjamming the garbage disposal, removing the window screens and cleaning the rims...  But, many of the projects I've seen as needs--like painting the maroon bedroom (with gold crown molding and pink ceiling), putting blinds in the den, finishing the dining room doors, painting the bedrooms--were not immediate needs.  Some projects could even be considered a gray area--needed to be done but not necessarily right now--removing all the leaves from the yard and ditches, removing the water heater that was being heated (but was turned off and had stagnant water in it), replacing the shutters in the den with mini-blinds (to get air circulation to the windows and cut down on mold/mildew)...

After the comment, I stopped to think and began looking for signs of all the things she'd done.  It also helped that I went next door to take our neighbor some chili and saw his completely unupdated home.  It gave me a bit of perspective.  So, what did she do to this house?

Well, she had the bay window put in the living room.  She put in the french doors in the living room and dining room.  She remodeled the kitchen (including the stove, wall oven, and dishwasher).  She replaced the boiler and hot water heater.  She replaced the sump pumps.  She refinished the wood floors in all the rooms but one.  She replaced the front door. She put in a patio and planter in the back as well as a small shed on the back side of the house.  She had mirror doors installed in the hallway.  She put in new vanities in the bathrooms.  It was good for me to think about what she'd done and put it in perspective.  Yes, most of these need or have needed some extra work, but she did do a lot.

There are a lot of reasons that people don't fix things that are broken or in disrepair on their houses.  Sometimes it's because they don't want to.  But, sometimes it's because of priorities (wanting some things to get fixed before others).  Sometimes there simply isn't the money to fix them.  Sometimes people are overwhelmed or unable to do it.  Sometimes there just isn't time and the only affordable way is to fix it themselves.

Should I be upset with this woman?  Is that really what I think God would want for me?  By being upset with her am I acting more like a spoiled, ungrateful child than a thankful one?  Ungratefulness is a yucky thing.  It's a yucky thing to see in myself.  I remember one of the lessons that I learned about in Growing Grateful Kids.  We have to cultivate thankfulness.  We also can't give our kids something we ourselves don't have.  Focusing on what is wrong feeds discontent.  Focusing on blessings--however large or small--feeds contentment.  We choose what we see, talk about, and think about.  I choose what I see, talk about, and think about.  I think I need to change what I've been seeing, thinking about, and talking about...

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