A broken promise

When we got married, my wife and I made a couple promises in addition to the vows we took in the church. One was that we would never do home improvement projects ourselves. We firmly committed to hire experts to do everything except the routine maintenance. We both felt fully competent to change lightbulbs and filters in the furnace. Beyond that, it was time to call in people who knew what they were doing.

Over the years circumstances changed. When we made that promise, she was practicing law, and together we operated a real estate title insurance company. Even if we wanted to, we did not have the time to tackle do-it-yourself projects. Neither of us wanted to tackle them, and we had enough income that neither of us needed to tackle them.

The other circumstance that changed was the popularity of home improvement shows. When we were first married, our only glimpse into DIY was what we had seen friends and family go through. We watched one couple in horror as their frustration built, and a less than desirable outcome was produced. Eventually they called a contractor to fix the mistakes they had made. We weren’t going to be those people.

Certain home improvement shows gave us a new glimpse. In less than an hour, you can have a like-new home. We knew it would take more than an hour, but if a couple with little experience could update their kitchen in a couple weeks, so could we. If a couple with no experience could paint three rooms in a day, what was stopping us?

We decided to give it a try, and remodel my daughter’s bathroom. The tiles had started to come loose from the wall, and our choice was to hire someone, or do it ourselves. We quickly discovered the first principle of DIY home improvement. Life is always easier on television. Counter tops on television are made of wood and attached to the wall with a few screws. My daughter’s countertop was constructed with the strength of a driveway. Tile had been set into mortar on top of layers of steel mesh and concrete. Days of labor went into the demolition that took 15 minutes on television.

The second principle of DIY home improvement is you will eventually reach a comfort level with your house the way it is. This comfort level will prevent projects from going forward. None of us liked the color of our living room. There were two solutions. The first, we could paint. The second was easier. We could avoid spending time in that room. Five years after moving in, we have finally painted the living room.

The third, and most important principle we learned was, with all of the information available, we really could do it ourselves. It has taken patience and hard work, but we are getting it done. Most of the time, we’ve had fun, especially when we get to work together. I’m not sure we would ever do it again, but we’re both glad we did it this time.

RJ Johnson

I have been a priest for 16 years.  I spent the first four years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before becoming the pastor at Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake in 2010.  If anyone would find it interesting I have a son and daughter, which I refer to as a matched set, a wife, a dog, and a cat.

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Volume 7, Issue 19, Posted 8:59 AM, 10.06.2015