Monday, March 31, 2014

OnFire #313 Not Everything Goes Back

OnFire Encouragement Letter
Onfire #313 Not Everything Goes Back

As I mentioned last time, we have finished our kitchen and we really enjoy it.  Our nook area is particularly enjoyable and all of us eat there at different points in the morning. We like it.

It has been interesting to plan where everything goes back. The kitchen is a different configuration, so everything needed to move. The spices are in a different place, as are most things. Some things are generally in the same area, but everything changed. 

Not only is the kitchen a different configuration; we also decided to store things differently. We wanted to reduce visible clutter, so everything goes into a cabinet, whereas before, we had rice and flour stored in large containers in plain view. It was as it needed to be at one time, but that was then and this is now. We took the opportunity to make the change and we have been very pleased with how clean and bright things look.

As we made these changes, It became apparent that not everything was going to fit back into the kitchen. We had too much stuff to fit into the available space, and so Jan started weeding and thinning – utensils, cookbooks, recipe books, large garbage containers, cookie sheets ,roasters…. It could not all go back, so we had to choose what stayed and what did not.

It was a good opportunity to make some needed changes. Likewise, there are times in our lives when we have an opportunity to pick and choose what will go back. If I may make the suggestion – not everything needs to go back.

While we look at major changes in our lives with something less than enthusiasm and usually just hope to endure long enough to get through them, we should not miss the opportunities they often create. Whether it is moving, changing jobs, depression, a health crisis, change in life stage, or some other disruption, change has a way of forcing us to make decisions about what is really important -- but only if we take advantage of it. We can coast along, accept the status quo, and slip back into old ways of doing things, or we can reorder and reorganize in ways that move us toward new or forgotten goals.

Not everything needs to go back.

How do we know what should go back? This is where I think Jesus’ simple instruction in Matthew 6:33*  is helpful: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Jesus tells us that if we make room for the big things, the little things take care of themselves. The biggest, of course, is honouring God first. Here are some of the big things:

-Actions chosen to honour God and put Him first.
-Responsibilities simplified and limited to one’s most effective areas
-Decisions reflecting a sense of calling from God

We learned a lot of lessons from redoing our kitchen. This is one of them – not everything goes back, nor does it need to. I hope this helps. Be on fire.


OnFire is a letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. This letter published Mar 31, 2014. Troy is the Pastor of Next Generations and Connections at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. *New International Version, 1984. To subscribe or reply, email Blog located at

Thursday, March 13, 2014

OnFire #312 More Stressful than I Thought

OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #312 More Stressful than I Thought

I wrote a couple weeks ago about our kitchen renovation. It is almost finished. The flooring guy comes Friday, and the parts to install our dishwasher should come any day, so we are almost finished. From start to finish, we have moved a heating pipe into a wall, upgraded our kitchen electrical circuits and moved the stove plug, repaired wall board, fixed damaged ceiling, primed and painted, and installed cabinets, counter, and over-stove microwave.

Our place is slowly getting back to normal. For a while I couldn’t tell if we were living through a renovation, or an episode of “Hoarders.” We had stuff everywhere.

We had help from a friend. It was great that Dan could come and we had a great visit as well.

Something I don’t understand after the whole experience. This was way more stressful than I thought it would be. I don’t even know why it was so stressful. It went along relatively smoothly with few surprises, good help,  etc.  But it was.

I know some of the factors. We only had our friend’s help for just so long. Little things held us up at times, like moving outlets, and that was frustrating.  Our space and routines were disturbed. We could hardly move around the house without stepping over, around, or on something. The tension of making decisions, which I knew would delay the project, but had to be done anyway. On and on.  I suppose if you’ve been through this before, there is no surprise here.  I’ve worked on other people’s renovations before, but this was my own, and it was different. Much more stressful than I thought it would be.

Well, it’s almost over, and most things are put away. Looking back, I see some actions and attitudes which helped, and some others which probably added to the stress. Let me share these things with you, as I think you’ll agree there are broader lessons for the rest of life.

This won’t last forever.
As these things go, it was a short reno;  they can last weeks and months, so I don’t want to whine too much. Even still, I found this thought a source of comfort.  Indeed, most situations don’t last forever. It won’t always be this way is another way to express this thought.

Getting snippy doesn’t help.
Apparently I get more directive under stress, and I forget my please and thank you’s. That’s the kinder version of  what Jan told me, at least. Backing off, waiting to answer, exercising patience – all these things help make stressful situations go a lot better. Its one thing to have stress, but I don’t need to be a carrier.

Pray for God’s peace.
Ironically, on the Sunday before most of the work, I preached from Philippians 4:6 -7 on God’s peace:  

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”*

I found myself reminded about my own words many times during the week, and prayed about my own stress (anxiety).  I would have been much worse without prayer.

Its probably not as big as you think.
Every reno brings problems, issues and decisions, and ours was no exception.  Taken together, they seemed huge. But  one by one, and with a little time to think about them, they were more manageable and less intimidating.  Most problems appear larger than they really are.

It’s time to call in some help.
We originally planned to put down the vinyl floor on our own. I have done some basic floors, and I thought between me and Dan we could figure it out. But when Dan wasn’t so sure, I took another look, and realized it was beyond our abilities.  That’s when we decided we needed an expert.  This was a good decision. There are times when we would do better to admit we don’t know.

There is no going back.
A few times I found myself thinking, “Maybe we could have salvaged the old cabinets.”  That wasn’t realistic. Plus, once we started the demolition, it was impossible to restore the kitchen. The only way to finish successfully was to keep going on. In the mess of things, it is easy to glorify the past, as if going back was an option. God’s best for us is in the future, not behind us.

It will be worth it in the end.
There was no way to install a new kitchen without creating a mess. But it was worth it, and thankfully we understood this from the beginning. It helped. By keeping the goal in mind, it was easier to press on.

These are some thoughts that helped us over the past few weeks. There are certainly more pressing issues in life than our temporary renovation, but perhaps you’ll agree that there are parallels to some of life’s other troubles.

Blessings, and hope this helps. Be on fire.


OnFire is a letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. This letter published Mar 13, 2014. Troy is the Pastor of Next Generations and Connections at Highfield Baptist Church, Moncton NB Canada. *New International Version, 1984. To subscribe or reply, email Blog located at