Monday, July 12, 2010

While the Children are Away...

...their parents will play!

And stay up late and eat out, or better yet, have popcorn and twizzlers for dinner. They will have long conversations, and feel odd the entire time, for lack of being interrupted. The house will stay clean, the beds made, the laundry room empty, and there will be no crumbs on the floor. And they will marvel at what they can accomplish.

All kidding aside, T's parents graciously kept all three children for an entire week and it was wonderful. I don't remember the last time T and I had a week together at home. It was bliss. By about the third day, sans the kids, I became giddy. It was like I finally felt the relief from being responsible for three children...and it was wonderful. I had forgotten just how much I really like my husband. Like, I really like my husband. It's easy to forget that marriage is a bigger priority than children. A priority that was there before they were born, and will continue after they fly the nest. Even though T went to work each day, a week at home, just the two of us, was very good for our marriage.

By the end of our time apart, we were thrilled to see the children! When Sister and I embraced, she burst into tears. (And melted my heart.)

So, while they were away, my main goal was to slipcover an old hand-me-down sofa, to re-upholster the settee for Sister's room, and to paint the living room.

As for the sofa, she was beautiful in her day. I can still here my grandmother fussing at me for sitting on the arm. However, time has taken its toll on the fabric. It's worn completely through in many areas and was quite stained.

Originally, I thought I wanted to go white. However, I couldn't find white fabric thick enough to hide the chintz. So I opted for linen, but wanted to slip the frame itself in a charcoal color and leave the cushion a natural color. I couldn't find charcoal linen. So I bought some dye.

But their was too much fabric to fit it all in the washer at once, and I wanted my scraps to be the original linen color. And I wasn't sure where to cut. So I started draping and pining and cutting.

For three days I draped and pinned and cut and sewed.

And I did a little seam ripping. And finally I had what I was looking for.

But it wasn't the color I wanted. Everything in the living room was beige and with trembling hands, I loaded the washer and poured in the dye. And then like a wide-eyed child, I squatted down with my face pressed against the washing machine window, watching. And sweating.

Eventually I broke away. I worked on the cushion cover. And kept running back to the washer...and then the dryer. Finally, the moment of truth. I put her on the sofa...and COMPLETELY FREAKED OUT. The dye didn't take on the thread...and the color wasn't charcoal gray. It was DENIM BLUE. (Nothing wrong with a denim blue sofa - it's just that I'd spent three days and some hard earned money and did NOT have what I'd envisioned, which, as you can imagine, is rather disappointing.) I fretted and wrung my hands.

My sweet husband, who'd suggested I run a test dye batch, never gave me the "I told you so" look. He agreed wholeheartedly that it looked like denim and that he also would prefer a charcoal color. He assured me that in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't that big of a deal. He suggested I try re-dying it.

So we went to the fabric store and I bought every packet of brown dye they had. Because the brand dye they carried wasn't made for use in a washer, I mixed it in a wheelbarrow...and spilled it on my tennis shoes, so I threw them in, too. (They came out looking much better than before.)

For an hour I hand "swished" that fabric, hoping against hope that my knowledge of the color wheel would prove useful.

I wrung it out the best I could and stuffed it all in a garbage bag and carried it inside to put in the washer. But there was a lot of liquid I hadn't wrung out, and I tipped the bag wrong, and sloshed brown dye water all over a rug. Thankfully the rug was already dark colors and I was able to quickly rinse the dye out. Finally, I got the fabric in the washer, and then the dryer.

While it didn't come out as envisioned, I do like it.

It went from this:

to this:

(In case it reads denim on your screen - it's not. It's a brownish-dark gray.) I also re-arranged the room and painted and did a bit of re-purposing.

All in all, I am pleased. There is a part of me that wishes I'd never messed with the dye...that I'd left it the original linen color. Live and learn, right?

At the end of the week we'd accomplished much. I am ashamed to admit that I'd fully anticipated getting to the end of my to-do list and having a great sense of accomplishment, of rest, of worth, from doing all we'd done.

However, that was not the case. I got lots done, but I felt no different. No better. No more worthy. I do believe the Holy Spirit is teaching me that while I often (failingly) seek my worth and significance in what I can do or in the way my home looks, it's not there. I may find it there temporarily, but we all know the new rush fades fast. No, my worth and significance are to be found in my Redeemer. If only I didn't run from Him and look elsewhere so often.


  1. Oh J I am with you on the "to do list" not getting all done and the feeling of self worth coming from the LORD ~ NOT what *I* can do or get DONE!! It is a process of sanctification. And although we cannot turn back the clock and redo, we can learn and grow and it feels good to let some things go! Oh, actually, LOTS of things go!! :)

    I recently had the house ALL TO MYSELF (for nearly THREE days) and I got LOTS done, but not the WHOLE list. It used to be that I would be upset with what there was still left to do, but this time, by God's GRACE, I actually focused on what HAD been DONE and enjoyed the homecoming of the children and their Daddy! Oh, I am thankful for the process of learning and growing the LORD has me on. I would NEVER go back unless I could take the new growth with me! :)

    Have a lovely, busy, fun-filled week with those lovely children of yours!

    With Love,

  2. I love it! And, I truly understand what you are talking about with the getting things done and putting things before your marriage! :D I know you appreciated every second though of just you and T. :D

  3. I love it! And, I truly understand what you are talking about with the getting things done and putting things before your marriage! :D I know you appreciated every second though of just you and T. :D

  4. Okay, I am WAY impressed, and I think it looks just grand with all of your other things. FABULOUS job. I have two things to slipcover, and I have never known how to do it. I know that I can pin. I know I can sew. How I take these two into a slipcover, I will have to ask my talented friend! So glad you enjoyed your week - and, maybe WE need to do that...say it's good for a marriage, right? :-)

  5. You are wise friend. The rush indeed fades so quickly. :) David was looking with me and saw the pictures of the couch and said it looked like the Grand Hotel. :)

  6. love the sofa! glad you guys enjoyed a week alone!

  7. You are so gifted at this kind of stuff! I would go NUTS! I wouldn't even attempt to dye anything.

    How wonderful that you were able to spend a week alone with hubby. I remember our six days and still love the feelings it brings out.

    God is good!

  8. Ah, yes. That's a lesson that I'm not very good at learning, which means that instead of being subtle, God has to hit me over the head with it.

    I'm very impressed with your reupholstering. The thought of reupholstering something simultaneously intrigues me and terrifies me!

  9. Girl, you are fearless, FEARLESS! Wow, I'm amazed by how you just dove in a reupholstered a WHOLE couch. Good job!

    I'm so happy that you and T had that time together. Bliss!

    God's tender, patient mercy with us is a treasure, isn't it? It's so easy to get distracted and to run the other way -- by His grace He reels us back in, over and over again.

  10. I am a little behind on reading/ replying but I have to say that I admire your thriftiness, ambition, husband-loving, and at the end looking right back at the cross. You do a great job of not saying "look at what I did!", but at what Christ does for you.

  11. Wow that was a lot to accomplish in a short weekend! I love the finished couch project. Amazing.