Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Have I told You Lately that I Love You?

“Have I Told You Lately that I love you?
Have I told you there's no one else above you?
Fill my heart with gladness
take away all my sadness,
Ease my troubles
that's what you do."

Sometimes I wonder if Rod Stewart really was thinking about God 
when he wrote that song. 
Anyways, when I listen to the song I cannot think of anyone who fits that role better than God. No one else but God comes to mind.

But anyways, just wanted to express / renew my faith and love for our Lord.

To You oh Lord, once again
I dedicate our marriage
and our future family
and our whole life
May You always be in front of our eyes
and may our eyes always be fixed on You

Your Children
Greg & Agnes

Thursday, December 12, 2013

7QT #23 : The Transformation of our First House into a Home

I promised that I'd write a post featuring the before and after pics of the renovation of our house  (our FIRST together HOME) - so here it is. I wrote a post about this wonderful news of purchasing our first house last year here. Also, I introduced you to our first home and the basic story behind our renovation journey in this post  here. We basically got a good deal on a foreclosed fixer upper. It happened over a year before our wedding, but it took us almost a year to completely renovate the house and make it the house of our dreams...the home of our future family! 

And I'm not writing this post to brag about our house - no, not at all.
I just wanted to show you all the work that my beloved husband put into making this old, crappy, smelly house into a beautiful, warm first home for us...into our own little nest where we will (hopefully) soon start a family. I am so proud of my husband Greg for putting his ALL into this house...which makes it so much more precious, memorable, and worthy in our eyes. I have so many great memories from the year-long journey of working on the house, almost entirely by ourselves...with a little bit of help from family/friends. This isn't just a random house...it now carries with it precious, nostalgic memories...memories that we will treasure forever! Oh what a journey it was: long, difficult, leaving me lonely (because Greg was constantly between working his job and working on our house)...but it was also intertwined by moments of indescribable joy and gratitude to the Lord God Almighty...who gave us all of this in the first place! And again, I don't think I can thank my husband enough for all the time, work, effort, and love he put into this house! And again, he did it for us and for our future family...and that is so precious!

Let's go from the order of the LEAST EXCITING to MOST EXCITING renovations

#1 The Transformation of the GUEST BEDROOM
(aka Bedroom #3 aka Future Baby's Room )

Before: lime green room with smelly carpet and f-bombs all over the walls. Very offensive words directed at our current president Mr. O. I guess someone got really mad at him after they lost their house.

After: peach walls, new hardwood floor, and fresh baseboards and trims. 
Hopefully our first future baby will be a girl so we don't have to repaint, haha.
#2 The Transformation of THE OFFICE
(Aka Bedroom #2 aka my Study Room)

Before: grey walls and lots of wallpaper (which took SO much work to take off)
& grey carpet with rust-colored stains and who knows what else.

During: my now husband putting in the hardwood floors.
I helped him out by arranging the pieces.
My job was to make sure the ends don't line up in a row.
Anything was a piece of cake after struggling with the wallpaper for a couple of days...
sweating and panting and yelling at the walls.

After: Wood floor done, walls painted aqua. 
Bookshelves assembled and book arranging in progess.
Bookcase was picked out and customized at Ikea. It was the cheapest we could find
for a bookcase that covers the whole wall, which is what I wanted. 

I love my books, and I wanted to finally display them and not keep them in boxes under the bed.

#3 The Transformation of OUR BEDROOM 
Before: White walls and again...the dirty/spotty grey carpet.
After: Violet walls, fresh hardwood floor, bases, trims, and new closets put in.

#4 The Transformation of our 2 BATHROOMS and HALLWAY
Upstairs Bathroom BEFORE: old vanity, cabinets, toilet and cracked tiles
Upstairs Bathroom AFTER: new cabinet, vanity, and mirror/shelf unit.
Also painted and new tiles put in.

Bathtub BEFORE: O man, don't even make me tell you about the bathtub. I don't think ANYBODY has EVER cleaned this bathtub in its entire lifetime..You only see the orange buildup in this picture...BUT, if you really looked inside the tub...you would see every color that a fungus can possible come in: green, orange, pink, brown..etc etc. I do not know how anybody could ever take a shower or bath in this bathtub...but somehow the previous owners did...without puking.

Bathtub AFTER: new tub, new tile. It's not finished in this pic yet but you get the idea.
Downstairs bathroom BEFORE
Downstairs bathroom AFTER: our purple bathroom.
Hubby pretty much replaced everything: toilet, sink, mirror, tile, baseboards.
Upstairs hallway BEFORE: dark and unwelcoming
Upstairs hallway AFTER: bright and pretty!
Again, husband redid everything: 

replaced doors, trims, bases, painted ceiling, walls, and put in a wood floor

#5 The Transformation of our LIVING ROOM

Before: white walls, dirty grey carpet

After: Walls painted coffee+milk, hardwood floor, new window trims, baseboards, blinds.
And new furniture! It is not completely finished in that picture..We have gotten window treatments, wall decorations, etc since then.

#6 The Transformation of our DINING ROOM

Fireplace before: Notice the lovely carpet. And the fireplace was non-working. And did not even pass the inspection for safety. We went through so much trouble with that fireplace. The inspector had to come back 3 times before it finally passed the inspection. And of course you have to pay him every time he comes. Go figure. Haha.

 Dining Room / Fireplace in progress

After: new floor, fireplace fixed and working (yay!), painted

#7 And last but not least, I present to you 

Before: notice: not only did they have carpet in the kitchen (?!), but also the carpet that was meant to be pink/purple (?!), was now black with dirt, food, and grease stains.

Right before the demolition

Hubby putting in the tile floor

After hours and hours of assembling the cabinets (they came in pieces)
 and screwing them in

After countertop and fridge were put in

In the middle of painting and after my dream wine rack was put in!!!!

Ready to see the finished kitchen????

It turned out amazingly gorgeous!!! 
More than anything I could have ever dreamed of!

We are so proud of what we have created. I never ever imagined having such a beautiful house as our first home. Thank the Lord He blessed us with this lovely house...He helped us find this great house in a good neighborhood for very cheap, leaving us extra money for the renovations. He also found us this house very early on, giving us plenty of time before our wedding to get it all set. Yes, it was a long and hard year of tearing out cabinets, carpets, and wallpapers and making everything new and beautiful, step by step...literally inch by inch. Every inch of this house, literally, was touched and transformed by us! That is why this house means so much to us...it's the history...the blood, sweat, and tears put into making it our home!

God Bless!

UPDATE: 03/25/2014
My husband built a deck!
In the beginning, there was......nothing

Then, came my hardworking and skilled husband

Ta da!

The True Meaning of Love / Marriage Part 2

This is a follow-up post to The True Meaning of Love / Marriage, where I wrote about what love and marriage really are all about (what God intended them for) and what they require (not just feelings of love, but purposeful choices to care for your spouse, to sacrifice, and suffer when life gets tough). I specifically referred to our young marriage, which was going through our first ever marital trial or "valley." In that post, I shared my experience and my reflections on marriage. In today's post, however, I will write about what I learned from those experiences in the dark valley...about the lessons God wanted to teach me by testing my faith, love, and patience. 

When we reached the lowest, darkest, scariest part of the valley...and I felt like I wanted to give up, it was then that I learned the most. Satan was constantly feeding my soul with lies such as "life isn't fair. Your husband doesn't love you. He doesn't think about you, care about you, he won't sacrifice for you. He is selfish and only cares about himself etc etc..." It was at those darkest moments that I realized that I CANNOT overcome this by arguaing with myself, or arguing with the devil's lies - I cannot achieve victory with my own strength. I am nothing. I am dust. I MUST RELY ON GOD COMPLETELY. I CANNOT MAKE ANOTHER STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION WITHOUT HIM - WITHOUT HIS ASSISTANCE, HIS PROVIDENCE, HIS WISDOM, HIS LOVE.

So on the Lord I leaned. God is all I had left. The only never-changing entity. Life, love, marriage - their circumstances change - up and down, up and down, up and down....constant roller coaster...until we get so fed up that we run to the only constant, non-changing, ever-loving GOD. No matter what happens, no matter what we do....He STILL accepts us as we are, He STILL loves us with the SAME, UNCHANGING unconditional love, and He FORGIVES us and LIFTS UP our spirit every.single.time. He is the only one upon Whom we can rely on. He is the only one Who we can be sure that will not disappoint us 100% of the time. 

After realizing that, I truly lifted my eyes toward the heavens. Not only my eyes, but also my hands. I lifted them up, pleading for help, pleading for forgiveness for not trusting Him.  I imagined myself resting in His Fatherly embrace... And that was so comforting, so uplifting. Suddenly, peace overcame my soul and I knew everything was going to be okay. 

In Summary:

Through all this suffering and the silence between the husband and I:
  • I called upon God's name all the more
  • I prayed, prayed, prayed
  • I suffered in silence and prayer
  • I relied and depended on God with EVERYTHING
  • I leaned on Him
  • I rested in Him
  • I cried to Him
  • I trusted in His Love and Mercy
I decided that God is the Only One that:
  • Listens to the confessions and cries of my fearful heart
  • Understands me better than I understand myself
  • Does not judge me although I speak and act foolishness
  • Loves me unconditionally, no matter what
  • Is ALWAYS there for me
  • Picks me up when I am crawling on the ground, dirty and desperate for love
  • Never fails to fill my heart with love and peace
And through this particular experience of suffering I learned that:
  • In marriage, sometimes we must sacrifice for our loved one, just as Jesus sacrificed for us. And just like with Jesus, in marriage, there is a Resurrection for every Crucifixion. 
  • Without God, I CANNOT, I will not, get ANYWHERE!
  • I must rely on Him completely
  • I must trust in Him 100%...with my actions and not just the words of my mouth
  • I must give myself and my whole life over to Him completely
  • If I do not abandon myself to His Care, Will, and Providence  completely, all my suffering will be for nothing...but if I surrender myself and my suffering to Him, I can suffer with JOY and with peace, because I know I am not suffering in vain. And I know that God sees every worry and every tear and that He is in control.
  • I must detach myself from the world, and attach myself even more to GOD

    Because He is the ONLY ONE that looks out for what is best for us and protects us from evil and showers us with love CONSTANTLY and CONSISTENTLY...no matter how crazy, stupid, and unfaithful we are. 

 Oh, and He also reminded me that I have the best husband in the world. Because I do!
Thank You God!

I hope this helps someone.