Life Lessons & Wallpaper Removal

life lessons & wallpaper removal

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time you’ll notice a theme. I write about stuff I’m going through and/or learning. If you’d go back through my old posts you’d see those things range from time I spent on the river kayaking or passing a torn down McDonald’s. If our ears and eyes are open, there’s so much to learn in the simple, ordinary moments of life.

Like while tearing down wallpaper.

In October 2011, I moved into my apartment and immediately hated the wallpaper in my entryway. I’m not sure when this house was built, but I’m certain the wallpaper (at least the first layer) is circa the 70’s at my best estimate.

Please don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my little apartment. It’s got character much like it’s tenant. There’s tons of kitchen storage though some of it can’t be reached by a 5′ fun-sized person such as myself. It’s got brand new windows that let in the morning sun and overlooks a back yard with green grass and a bunny or two. The hardwood floors in my bedroom make me smile every single day.

My landlords/neighbors have become friends over the past 8.5+ years of me living here. Their daughters leave me the occasional hand-picked flower on my step to brighten up my day. Of all the sweet perks of this apartment (and there are many) they are by far the best part.

But it was time for the wallpaper to go….past due in fact!

One might ask, “Holly, what has taken you so long to take down the wallpaper?”

Here’s where my lessons begin.

Lesson #1: You can’t get what you don’t ask for. 

I lived with something I didn’t like for almost 9 years because I didn’t ask for anything different. I was willing to live with it.

What things have you been willing to live with?

I’m not talking about dated wallpaper here. I’m talking about toxic relationships, mental health hang-ups or jobs that leave you feeling unfulfilled.

Don’t you think it’s about time you ask for better for yourself? And not just ask for better, but DO better, which leads me to my next point.

Lesson #2: You’ve got to put in the work.

You can have a realization for a looooooooong time that things need to change, but if you don’t do anything to make some changes things are just going to stay in the same.

We don’t lose weight, get a new job or set up personal boundaries just by thinking about it. We’ve got to do something about it. We’ve got to set aside time to exercise or plan healthy meals. We’ve got to search job postings and send out our resume. You get the point I’m trying to make here.

For me that meant tearing down two layers of unruly wallpaper. If I want a renovated and beautiful entryway/office I’m going to need to put in the elbow grease.

Lesson #3: You’ve got to have the right tools.

Something you might not know about me is I’m slightly obsessive. Personally, I’d prefer if we called it driven or highly-motivated, but obsessive might fit better. If I get something in my head that I want or want to do I dive right in. So, when my landlord gave me the go-ahead to tear down the wallpaper I started immediately.

I have a small drawer of floral handled tools (Thanks, Mom!), that doesn’t seem to include a scraper. This tool is extremely helpful when trying to remove old wallpaper. Yet, in my haste and excitement to begin the task at hand I just started. I don’t need a scraper. This is fine. (It was not fine.) It made the job more tedious than it needed to be.

Thankfully, my landlord had the tools I needed and graciously shared them with me.

Sometimes I don’t have the tools. That’s ok. Others might and many are more than willing to share their knowledge/tools/gifts/skills to help you accomplish the task at hand.

Also, I’d prefer NOT to bring it up but this lesson also might also show the importance of allowing people to help you. Please don’t tell my best friend I said this. She’s always telling me it’s important I recognize I need community and other people to grow and heal and all that stuff and I simply don’t like admitting that because I like doing things myself. (cough, cough. I mentioned I tried to remove wallpaper without a scraper, right?)

Lesson #4: It’s all a process. 

I’m a bit naive when I take on projects. I’ve got the end goal in mind and the euphoria of having a beautiful updated space is at the forefront of my mind. NOT the steps I will need to take to get there.

But it is a process. After I tore down the wallpaper I needed to do some repair. The repair required it’s own steps. After taping and mudding and sanding it’ll be more sanding of trim in order to prepare for painting. Even after I get it painted and I stand to admire all of my hard work I will still have to put furniture back and get it set up the way I’d like it.

Process.

Accomplishing goals requires acknowledging there is a process and recognizing not all of the process will have linear progress. AKA ya’ll we are going to have set backs. And that is OK.

As I sit here mid-process on my project it could be easy to get discouraged. Why did I get myself involved in this anyway???

I’ll tell you why! The end result. Sometime soon (soon….that nice vague timeline) I will be typing this from my beautiful office nook with freshly painted walls, vintage white lace curtains and a small plant I will certain kill in a few weeks after getting it. I’ll be sitting at a desk the full length of my wall that my brother helped me put together from some scrap wood he had and some hairpin metal legs I bought on Etsy. It will be perfect.

While social media will surely see the finished product they won’t see everything it took to get me there. Maybe that’s lesson #5. People won’t know all it took for you to reach your goal. They just won’t.

My hope for all of us is that wherever and however the lesson comes (or wherever we are at in the process) that we would learn a few things about ourselves, about our priorities and about life.

 

The Back Story: My Writing Journey

The Back Story_ My Writing Journey

I started writing this post in 2015. It was originally titled: “My Struggle to Speak”. haha. Pretty fitting title considering it’s 5 years later and I’m just now finishing it. 😉

My blog has been on again off again since 2013. When announcing my most recent return to it on Facebook I jokingly asked, “How many times am I going to do this?” The answer? As long as it takes.

I was created to write. How’d I figure that out? Here’s my story….

I started writing in high school, which means I kept a journal filled with angsty poetry. My senior year I took on some larger writing projects and realized writing came easy(er) for me. At that point, it wasn’t a dream and I had no idea what my calling was…or, if you would have asked me, it’d have been to get married at 18 and live off love. Ya, I’m serious.

While attending Bible college a few years later, I took a Journalism class which had never been offered and would never be offered again. My first article was about the MTV generation and I got an A (in case that question ever ends up on Jeopardy). This was where my sassy tone in writing started showing–like when I mentioned in one of my pieces how I imagined my guardian angel to be the type to have tattoos, smoke cigarettes and drive wood paneled station wagons. Actually, this is still pretty accurate.

My last semester there, Ezekiel 37 became my life calling/verse. If you don’t know the story off the top of your head, it’s where God tells Ezekiel to speak to the dry bones and command them to live again. Spoiler alert: THEY DO. I felt like God was telling me that I was going to be used to speak life. I wasn’t entirely sure what that would look like then. In many ways, I’m still figuring it out.

After Bible school I moved to Kansas to be a full time youth leader. Writing became more of a hobby during that season. I started a Xanga page, which was the cool social media platform back then. This was when Facebook was still only for college kids (that makes me feel old) and Xanga was a way for me to connect with the teens in my youth group. There was still no dream just a recognition that I enjoyed writing and people enjoyed reading what I wrote.

It wasn’t until I moved back to New York that I realized there was more to this writing thing than I thought. I was now unemployed and waiting to figure out my next step when I submitted an article to an online magazine on a whim. It was accepted and published and I was ecstatic. That happened a few more times and I decided I should probably get my writing degree. And that’s what I did.

Do you need a Writing degree to write? Absolutely not. haha

Fast forward to 2015 (when I first started writing this). I’m working as an administrator at a small church. It’s not a writing gig, and it won’t be making me a millionaire, but there’s some perks to the job. The biggest perk being that it’s paying my bills so I can write when I come home at night. My small studio apartment has a writing nook, which once held a kitchen table. Now I just eat dinner at my desk.

It’s now 2020 and most of that is still true. Still no kitchen table and I’m eating meals at my desk. Seems like what a die-hard writer would do. 🙂 I’m no longer working at the aforementioned church, but work from home which allows me the same flexibility I had before in regards to my writing.

So, what’s this mean for you? Why should YOU care about this?

I don’t think I’m the only one who has struggled to do what they were made to do. Knowing IS half the battle, but doing is no easy task either. At least in my experience. My advice is going to be simple and a repeated truth from the second paragraph. Keep doing it (or attempting to do it) as long as it takes.

I’m not sure what you’re trying to do– start a new business, learn to paint or create a YouTube channel. You may have tried a dozen times. Try again. If God put something on your heart to do please do it.

We need you to do it.

 

Lessons from the Queen

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A few years ago, I was a crumpled pile on the floor of a church at a youth conference.

I was one of the chaperones that weekend, and I could easily blame my lack of sleep for all the emotions, but there was something much deeper going on in my heart. In those moments, on my knees, I was asking God a lot of “Why?” questions. The same questions I had asked Him numerous times before and would continue to ask Him numerous times after.

As I wept, someone came to me and prayed for me. I don’t remember the specifics of the prayer, but I do recall that she was praying that, like Queen Esther, I would see the experiences of my life as preparation for the amazing things that would come. There was a sense of hope in her words…there was something more for me than tears and grief.

But that’s how Esther’s story began– with her own set of trials and obstacles. Esther was an orphan and had been taken care of by her cousin, Mordecai. Esther was not only an orphan, but a Jew, during a season when the Jews were being targeted for persecution.

At this same time, King Xerxes was in search of a new queen. He had just banished his wife for her refusal to come when he had summoned her and now needed a replacement. His men went on a  search for the most beautiful virgins to bring to the king. Esther was chosen (as in– she didn’t have a choice) to be one of the candidates.

Esther, pulled from her home, now must go through a rigorous 6-month beauty regiment in order to prepare her for her meeting with King Xerxes. She is soaked, shaved, perfumed, primped, primed, lathered, moisturized and plucked for MONTHS. As much as I’d love some pampering, this sounds like a bit too much maintenance for me, but the king wants what the king wants.

We’ll get to more of her story in a few minutes, but now back to me.

I find myself in a very similar place to where I was a few years ago. Actually, that’s exactly what has me so discouraged. I feel like I’m in the same exact place as I was then. With a birthday coming up this month and many unmaterialized dreams, it seems like I am getting no where. Yet again, I find myself broken, but God continues to speak to me while reaffirming these truths to my heart using Esther.

Preparation is not wasted time.

I imagine in those months of preparation, Esther wondered if all of the work was worth it. There were after all numerous women going through similar treatments and the king would only select one to be queen. How many times did she think, “What are the chances he’d pick me?”

My season of preparation has been long and as time continues to tick away it becomes easier and easier to wonder if all of my hard work will actually pay off in the end.

While God is working on you– cleansing, purifying, sanding, stretching and repairing–take comfort that all of that preparation is not wasted time. There is purpose in this season. You may not see it now, and Lord knows it sure doesn’t feel like “real” progress, but rest assured it is necessary.

You’d never go into battle without being trained and outfitted as a soldier, and the same goes for whatever it is that God has called you specifically to do. There are lessons to be learned, muscles to be strengthened and hurts to be healed.

If you don’t do it, someone else will.

Let me share a little more from Esther’s life. After all the treatments and her meeting with King Xerxes, we are told the king loved her more than any other woman and made her queen. Her preparation hadn’t been in vain!

Although, it seemed like things were going well for Esther, it was not going well for the Jewish people. King Xerxes had signed a decree that said all the Jews needed to be destroyed. The king still unaware that his new wife, Esther, was a Jew as well.

Mordecai is obviously distraught. Wouldn’t you be?! He tells Esther she must convince Xerxes to withdraw this death sentence, but she knows if she approaches the king without his bidding she would be killed! Things aren’t looking good– and Mordecai responds to Esther’s fear with this:

“If you persist in staying silent at a time like this, help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews from someplace else; but you and your family will be wiped out. Who knows? Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.”

I can’t get that phrase out of my head– maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this.

Fear keeps trying to muzzle me: just stay silent– don’t cause any waves.

But then I hear that voice say, “This is YOUR time. Speak.” There’s risk involved. I’ve received backlash for articles. People telling me I’ve lost all biblical morals while others still are convinced I’m on the wide road to hell. All I know is I’m doing my best to be obedient to the call of God on my life and keep a humble heart while doing it.

Go to the King.

In the end, Esther did go before the king and she ends up saving her people. Her actions required not only courage, but intimacy. If she didn’t have favor and relationship with Xerxes, she wouldn’t have had a chance.

Be bold in your requests to the King. We have found favor with God because of Jesus. We don’t have to tip-toe to the throne, but can approach with confidence. You don’t have to be afraid that He will somehow be offended or will want to strike you down like some worthless peon. You’ve got royal status, friends.

Intimacy is key. If I didn’t have a living, interactive relationship with God there’s no way I’d continue on this path. It is through His urging, encouragement and prodding that I keep speaking. I can tell you though, if I wasn’t convinced it was His leading I would have abandoned this ship long ago. I would have etched out a much easier, more pleasant path.

Esther made a choice to be obedient. In her obedience, she was a conduit of salvation and a reflector of the glory of God. May that be our testimony as well– that we would allow God to use us in this season and for this time.

Allow God to prepare you. Let Him use you. And because He has prepared you and because He has called you– you can do what you were called to do BOLDY.