Finding Hidden Treasure In Our House

We bought an old house four years ago. It was built in 1919, at the end of World War I. We spent a year and a half fixing it up and restoring what we could to it’s original charm. We love our old house.

One thing I did not know going into this project though, was all the treasure I would find along the way. You see, when you fix up a house, you’re forced to clean things up and strip things down first before you can restore things.

The attic, for example, was littered with decades of loose junk that had been lost in the rafters and insulation (such as paper trash that animals used to build nests). In cleaning out the attic, I found an old Rolling Stone magazine, some plastic game pieces from board games of the 1960s, and decapitated stuffed animals from the 1950s.

But here are the real treasures:

  • A Willie Mays baseball card from the 1966 Topps set. I found that under some floor boards in a bedroom closet.

  • A full newspaper from the day after the Pearl Harbor bombing in 1941 with the headline “War Declared.” That was folded up and tucked back on a high shelf that you could only reach by a ladder.

  • My favorite, though, was something I found in the rafters of the attic: A World War II love letter that the woman of the house wrote to her husband in October of 1943 while he was on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. I finally tracked down the descendants of the couple who lived in this house (their children lived here too, of course) and was able to transfer the letter to a friend of theirs who will in turn hand deliver it to the family this summer. The local news station even did a story on this.

In my work, I teach and lead children. I can’t help but think of the connection between finding treasures in an old house and finding the hidden treasures in the children we work with. In fact, children are priceless treasures, and they are standing right there in plain sight. But sometimes, we need to dig beneath the surface and notice the hidden gifts, talents, wonders, and stories that these children carry with them. How do we as parents, teachers, and leaders find these things? By patiently spending time with them, giving them attention, and asking them good questions that pique their curiosities about themselves and the world around them. We are surrounded by treasures called children. And with patience, love, and digging, we can discover more and more of their incredible value and grow to appreciate them for the way God made them.

Kitchen Before and After

Before and After #1
Before and After #2

Before and After #3

The rest of these pictures are of the new kitchen.  Enjoy!

If anybody has been wondering where I’ve been for the past three months, I’ve been working 3 jobs: Children’s Pastor, Traveling Juggler, and Kitchen Remodeler.  At last, I am finally down to 2 jobs, the ones I love the most.  The kitchen is done dude.

Now, I did love working on the kitchen (at times), but it was very difficult to “juggle” my schedule to make sure everything got done.  We paid for some services (counters, plumbing, wall removal, drywall) and I did some myself with the generous help of my father (demo, floors, electrical, cabinets, trim, painting, appliances).

The kitchen as we bought the house was a mess.  There was water damage, uneven cabinets, incomplete counters, and no enjoyable “feel” to it.  We put up with that for a year and a half.  Then starting in February, we gutted the kitchen to the studs.  I nearly broke my finger with a miter saw, my wife and baby and I lived with my parents for a month (during the heavy demolition and noise-making), we ate out way too much (thanks, Jason’s Deli), and a few times I worked past midnight (not recommended).

Last night, we had a birthday dinner for Sarah, and the timing was perfect.  I finished the kitchen at about 10am yesterday morning and so the birthday dinner was a great time to have family over and celebrate Sarah and the new kitchen (she was OK with that).  In fact, she is the happiest person of all that it is done and new.  I think Kezzie likes it too!

By the way, in seven years of marriage, this is the first dishwasher we have ever owned.  What a joy to have dinner and then throw those things in the magic washer and find them clean in the morning.  We’ve missed out on so much in this life 🙂

I say “done”, but there is one final piece: the floors.  We got reclaimed heart pine flooring from Caravatti’s and installed it ourselves (the same mill stamp on the bottom of this reclaimed wood matches the mill stamp on the original wood in the rest of the house).  We are having the floors sanded and refinished next week so that we will have new floors by Friday.  So try to overlook the floors in the pictures.

The builder in me wants to say, “what’s next?”, but I think I’ll take a break from large home projects for now 🙂

Thank you Jesus, for a wife, a baby, a roof, and a kitchen!

Any De-Clutter Advice?

I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about simplicity and the elimination of clutter recently – maybe because the holidays and having a new child are two events that somehow create a mass of “stuff” around the house – and we just had both events happen in our lives recently.

The holidays and our new child are events for which I am very thankful.  And I am very thankful for all the many things with which people bless us.  But with the entrance of new stuff into the house mixed with the reality of limited space, Sarah and I are confronted with the reality that we need to de-clutter old and unused stuff in order to make space for the new.

I have a goal that our net amount of things that come in and out of the house will either be zero or negative.  That means that for every article of clothing we buy or receive, we donate a piece that we haven’t worn in forever (or maybe have never even worn!).  Otherwise, when we’re 80 years old, we’ll have mounds of stuff around the house and we’ll be on the Hoarders TV shows.

I’m a big fan of recycling things, donating things to thrift stores, and re-purposing certain things.  But sometimes it feels like a part-time job just managing stuff and clutter in our own house.

So my questions to everyone out there are these: What works for you?  How do you maintain simplicity with stuff?  How do you determine what leaves the house, when, and to where?  Do you know any good websites or books about de-cluttering and organizing?