We have been busy at the Winquist house working on some home improvement projects lately. It’s been kind of exciting, albeit a little slow and messy. We’re switching two rooms around: the “library” will now be the “gathering room” (a.k.a. dining room). Our former dining room – at first morphed into my mom’s bedroom – is now Wayne’s office. With this switch, we’ve ripped out the dusty-pink carpeting in the soon-to-be gathering room, installed hardwood flooring, and repainted the walls with a nice shade of “cream,” which looks so nice and fresh compared with the greyish shade of blush-pink.
Our front entryway with its outdated tile, chipped or cracked in some places, lies between these two rooms. We’re in the process of ripping out the old tile (pretty much anywhere you see “we” you can insert “Wayne”) and replacing it with a fresher looking tile as a transition between the two rooms with slightly different wood floors. The entryway’s wallpaper had previously been ripped down and walls were painted the same shade of cream as the gathering room.
Wayne lost a little space when he moved his office/library from one room to the other, so he commissioned our friend Gordy to build some corner bookcases for his most frequently referenced books. They are now installed, look amazing and will serve Wayne’s needs very well.
We also had Gordy remove a relatively useless banister which divided the kitchen from the family room. In its place now stands a handsomely crafted combination bookcase and breakfast bar. (Note: You can visit Gordy’s Facebook page here. A local photographer and friend posted amazing photos and a nice article about Gordon Miller Woodworks, LLC here.)
Long story shortened, we’re at the point now where we will have to purchase a countertop for this beautiful new addition. While we’re at it, we are going to tackle a project which has been on my wish-list for 20 years – replace my very dated pink kitchen countertops (one corner is held together with clear packaging tape).
My Pinterest boards certainly are coming in very handy as I gather ideas and make choices related to flooring, tile and countertops for these myriad projects.
Or have they?
I had my heart set on quartz countertops and was delighted when we spent part of our anniversary Wednesday evening hanging out at Home Depot trying to make a final decision on which one we wanted. I had previously narrowed the choices down to two, so it shouldn’t be hard. Armed with oodles of information we obtained from an amazing sales-associate named Jason, we headed home where Wayne plugged the price-point ($80/square foot) and the rough measurements into Home Depot’s countertop estimator app. The total for our project was several thousand dollars higher than I guesstimated, which sent me into sticker shock and second thoughts. Neither one of us felt good about this number, so we decided we should get a few more prices before settling in on this commitment.
The next morning, I sat at the kitchen table sipping a cup of coffee and enjoying my traditional slice of peanut-butter ‘n jelly toast. The countertop sample piece lay on the table beside me. I ran my fingers over it, imaging how beautiful it would be on our new breakfast bar and in our kitchen, trying to convince myself that it was a good investment.
My heart didn’t buy it. Something inside of me felt very unsettled for even considering such an outrageous expenditure.
As I finished my breakfast, I picked up the latest issue of “The Voice of the Martyrs” and read through the little 16-page publication. This issue focused on the needs of persecuted believers in the Central African Republic – an area in violent turmoil where the Christians are being brutally attacked and forced to flee from their homes. I found myself praying over the details that I read and praising God for VOM as they respond to this persecution with some of the basics of life.
I pondered each photograph and read each page. I cried when I read and imagined the terror in these words:
“Many of those who fled did not even have time to put on shoes or clothes. As bullets rained down and homes went up in flames, Christian villagers ran for their lives. In one village, the only structures not burned to the ground were two churches with metal roofs. In another village, the attackers went house to house destroying Christians’ homes while leaving Muslims’ homes intact. And in some cases, those unable to flee were thrown into the buildings to be burned alive. To date, roughly 33,000 Christians have been displaced.” (The Voice of the Martyrs, July 2019 issues, page 6)
My heart caught in my throat. Quartz countertops suddenly seemed a frivolous and personally selfish investment. Now, I realize that it is not a sin to have nice things. We endeavor to use our home to bless and minister to others and our newly built breakfast bar will certainly be a help in our quest to be hospitable. But, do I really need quartz countertops? Would a nice laminate countertop serve the purpose just as well?
Turning the page, my eyes beheld a displaced family gratefully receiving basic supplies from one of VOM’s action packs. How many families could we bless and help with even a fraction of what we were thinking of spending on fancy countertops?
I believe God is speaking to my heart…and my heart knows what to do.