Tales of Black Bugs, Dented Drywall and a Squirrel-Munched Wire

I spot a black roach-like beetle foraging beneath the kitchen cabinet. I refuse to say it is a cockroach. I just won’t.

Brad tosses a pair of loafers down the stairs, and they put a dent in the drywall.

The carpet on the basement stairs is permanently stained – I know this because I rented a carpet cleaner last weekend, which despite my best efforts failed to remove said stains.

We can’t flush the downstairs toilet while the washing machine is running.

The kitchen cupboard door occasionally dangles loose from the hinge and hangs askance with one corner at rest on the floor.

The window panes are filthy because the screens and storm windows are welded into place, and I swear a blue streak in front of the neighbors every time I try to wrestle them free.

The basement leaks at the slightest drizzle, and a squirrel chewed through the Internet cable outside the house [this, perhaps, a sign from God?].

“I’ve had enough,” I yelp to Brad. “I want to move into one of those big, fancy, brand-new houses on the south side of town. I don’t care if it’s on a lot with no trees -- I want a house that’s not falling apart. I want new!”

“What? No trees? We’re moving to a house with no trees?” Noah, future botanist, is aghast. “Are you serious? Are we really moving to a house with no trees?”

No, I’m not serious; we are not moving into a house with no trees. I love my old house. I do. It’s quaint. It’s got character. But it’s also got dents and water stains and, ahem, the occasional bug.

These are the days I launch into my infamous, “I deserve more” tirade. You know the one, right? It goes something like this:

“I deserve to have a bathroom that’s not smeared in toothpaste gobs – a bathroom where I don’t have to empty my tub of plastic manta rays and puffer fish that spit when squeezed every time I want to take a bath."

"I deserve to have a closet that holds all my clothes, rather than just one season’s worth."

"I deserve a living room that can fit a sectional. New patio furniture that I don’t have to spray paint every spring. A garage that can accommodate a car and the kids’ bikes."

I want, I need, I deserve so much more.

And you thought the Shop Not Project was going well, didn’t you?

Truthfully, Shop-Not is going well. I haven’t bought anything in more than eight months; that's something, right? I’ve discovered my wardrobe is much more flexible and accommodating than I ever imagined. And I am blessed by generous friends who drop off shopping bags full of hand-me-downs.

I can even walk through Target now without feeling faint.

But still, I have moments, many moments, when I covet. Moments when I yearn and desire and want. And I am quite skilled at convincing myself that I need more, bigger, better...when the fact is, I don’t need a thing.

So I pull The Hole in Our Gospel from the shelf and scan the pages for those stats, the ones that put everything into perspective in the first place:

• More than 26,500 children died yesterday of preventable causes related to their poverty, and it will happen again today, and tomorrow and the day after that.

• Almost 10 million children will be dead in a year from preventable causes related to poverty.

• More than 1 billion people live on less than a dollar a day.

And then I look around my house, at the sun slanting in windows, at the cozy couch, at the tile backsplash and stainless steel appliances, at the faucets that shower hot water and the new roof that keeps out the rain (at least out of the first and second floor), and I know.

 It is more than enough...and then some.

Joining Jen and the sisters at Finding Heaven:

And Emily at Imperfect Prose

Jean Wise  – (April 19, 2011 at 5:18 AM)  

wow you really put things in perspective with this post. I too get caught up in the "I Deserve it" mood, so can really identify with it. When I get frustrated with my house I tell myself at least I have a house with personality!

Heidiopia  – (April 19, 2011 at 5:42 AM)  

This is a lovely, timely post, Michelle! We are dealing with a flooded basement, termite damage, and body work on a car hit by a deer... it would be so easy to wallow in the frustrations of it all, especially with graduation looming and out of town company on the horizon. Thank goodness I'm listing gifts for Lent... makes me keep my hand open. Thanks for sharing!! xo

LauraX  – (April 19, 2011 at 6:59 AM)  

I hear you Michelle...this is ALL so familiar...the falling apart house, the desire for "better," the realization that I have so MUCH not just materially-but that my life is rich in the important stuff like love, compassion, family, friendship...and gratitude fills me...and the desire subsides (until it rises again and then I have to stop and remember...because I am so blessed, how can I forget?)

Michelle  – (April 19, 2011 at 7:33 AM)  

It is something when you put it into perspective. I'm so glad you didn't buy new. I too love old houses and neighborhoods. They have character just like each of us. Praying that the beetles are just that beetles. I've lived with the unmentionable before and would not wish that on anyone!

Gaby  – (April 19, 2011 at 7:39 AM)  

Sobering statistics. While we have poor in this country, one has never seen poor until one has in a third world country. I'll check out this project you write about.

Kendal  – (April 19, 2011 at 7:41 AM)  

right there with you. on all of it. only our basemane tdoesn;t flood. but our spring water messes up oh so much. and i accidentally brought a nest of mice into our basement with some old furniture. i also complain about our vehicles. did you know that only 8% of the world's population owns a car?

gabe  – (April 19, 2011 at 7:56 AM)  

Oh, Michelle...thanks for your honesty!

I so desperately want new patio furniture too...a table big enough for all of us, with matching chairs...i even found one I love...and they were all sold out...sign from God???

Mrs. M.  – (April 19, 2011 at 8:43 AM)  

I went through something similar last week, when replacing our old windows, one of them was infested with carpenter ants.

Not a pretty sight to see a nest living right in my kitchen - aghh!

But old houses are a blessing...they teach you patience and perseverance.

I live in one that is over 200yrs old...yes, sometimes, I covet, but then I look out the window and see the mountains and chuckle...no, I don't think so :-)

Mrs. M.

The Farmer Files  – (April 19, 2011 at 9:13 AM)  

This made me laugh. When we lived in Hawaii my neighbors all insisted that we had cockroaches in our car if we let our kids eat in the car. I said NO. We have never ever seen one. I never did see one the whole time we lived there in our cars. I still refuse to believe we ever had them in our cars. They are very common in Hawaii. I struggle between what I deserve on the worst days here. We are living in a 1928 craftsman that has leaked gallons in several rooms thanks to the excessive and unpredictable snow. We moved from a home with 5 full baths in CA to a home with only one full bath with pink and black tiles. And I whine on days when I have not slept well on the furnished uncomfortable bed in this house.I am off to the link Hole in our Gospel. I obviously need it!

Duane Scott  – (April 19, 2011 at 10:06 AM)  

I love the vivid words!

And I love how you put things into perspective.

We just bought our first house today.

I'm nervous. And excited. And it has trees. ;)

GLENDA CHILDERS  – (April 19, 2011 at 10:24 AM)  

Finding that perfect balance is hard . . . enjoying the good and perfect gifts and being sacrificial. I grew up with parents that did both well. And you, too, are modelling great things to your kids.

I love your writing style.


Fonda  – (April 19, 2011 at 10:47 AM)  

Are you sure your not here in Texas peeking in on my life? I've been fighting the "I Deserves" lately too. Thanks for your honesty. Sometimes I think I am the only one.

deb colarossi  – (April 19, 2011 at 11:57 AM)  

It's hard.
I get you.
I have cycles of this.. and sometimes it depends on the company I'm in you know?

your heart is always in the right place. that's the key thing. you know. you get it. you are human that's all.

I remember for years I went through this because of the discrepancy in salary and disposable income and cost of living with my many of my husbands co-workers living in the states vs here in Canada. We had a little cute life... go to meeting , see all the big big homes, stuff stuff stuff, trips...

life is so often so much about the conversations going on in our heads, no?

Jen  – (April 19, 2011 at 12:08 PM)  

I love that last line...

"more than enough...and then some."

It's so easy to see what isn't there instead of what is, which boggles my mind sometimes. Taking the time to appreciate what I do have is like taking one of those deep cleansing breaths...exhaling with gratitude.

Courtney  – (April 19, 2011 at 12:51 PM)  

Oh my, you are so right. I need these constant reminders to slow down and count my blessings. They are plentiful . . . even when the laundry piles up, the back door won't shut right and there is yet another "beetle" - these are all blessing. Thank you.

Big Fat Mama!  – (April 19, 2011 at 1:16 PM)  

It's all in perspective, isn't it? I enjoyed reading your post...we could all use this reminder daily.

Julie Gillies  – (April 19, 2011 at 2:00 PM)  

Hi Michelle,

Oh, I hear you on this one! But I appreciate your turn of perspective. We have so much more (here in America) than anywhere else on earth. We are blessed, occasional bugs and all. :-)

Deidra  – (April 19, 2011 at 5:50 PM)  

You wrote about the squirrel! :)

One day my sister and I were talking and my sister said that so-and-so deserved a new car. That word "deserve" stuck out to me in that conversation. I still mull it over from time to time. I wonder what we'd think if we ever really got what we deserve...

Nancy  – (April 19, 2011 at 6:10 PM)  

Oh my heavens! The sheer horror Mr. Future Botanist must have felt! I like what Deb said about the internal conversations in our heads. The temptation is always there, isn't it? Thanks be to God when He gives us the grace to swat temptation away like some big old (ahem) black bug!

S. Etole  – (April 19, 2011 at 9:37 PM)  

Having had water in the basement for the first time ever I understand the wanting to have a "worry-free" home ... if such a thing exists.

Thelma  – (April 20, 2011 at 8:49 AM)  

This is stunning and painful all at once. Thank you for this. I'm hosting Easter dinner in our cramped, less-than-perfect, old-and-slanted home, and I've been wishing and hankering for more all week.

Thank you for this.

happygirl  – (April 20, 2011 at 1:50 PM)  

This is sooooooooo what I needed to read. I'm striving to develop an attitude of constant gratitude. And, God keeps showing it to me in a BIG way. And I find your prose. <3

alicia  – (April 20, 2011 at 1:55 PM)  

Amen! Thanks for the much needed perspective! I get so caught up in the 'But, I want..." that I fail to see all that I do have... and then some.

Brian Miller  – (April 20, 2011 at 2:40 PM)  

its all about perspective eh...i can get that way thank for the humbling...smiles.

Laura@OutnumberedMom  – (April 20, 2011 at 3:42 PM)  

I LOVE your future botanist! Trees are a necessity, no matter how much trouble they are.

You should see my garage door. If I leaned against it, insurance might pay for a new one...

Ultimately, though, you're right. It's more than enough, and then some.

Jennifer  – (April 20, 2011 at 7:54 PM)  

I'm guilty, too. Thank you for those statistics to remind me how I will never have reason to complain.

Joybird  – (April 20, 2011 at 8:13 PM)  

I bounce around in this tension between gratitude and pouty panick that I don't have enough. Get's old. I love that you fight for your perspective, too. And not a roach, weird black bug, but definitely not a roach.

Cathy  – (April 21, 2011 at 2:28 AM)  

Thanks for the reminder to be grateful...

Janis@Open My Ears Lord  – (April 21, 2011 at 2:31 AM)  

Oh, I'd like some squishy rubber things in my tub again! And the energy to bath the little ones and clean the tub afterward.
I loved listening to your ranting. I feel so much more normal now! But it was great how the Lord showed you the balance, and you accepted it.
WOW! Eight months without buying something. I've gotten better about saying, "no" to wants but I'm not sure I could make it 8 months without buying something. I could go into shock!
Hope you'll stop by Michelle. I joined up with Emily today.

Good to talk with you again.

Have a Blessed Easter.


Leslie  – (April 21, 2011 at 8:42 AM)  

"I refuse to say it is a cockroach. I just won’t."

Well, here in the cockroach center of the world (or so it seems sometimes) we find it hard to ignore the truth : )

I love the way you make me laugh at the same time you are gently reminding me of the truth... we are so blessed.

emily wierenga  – (April 21, 2011 at 11:17 AM)  

oh michelle, those stats, they stunned me. i'm going to be shaken for the rest of the day in a good way. you move me, always, with your words, with your photos... i love the way the light shines through your lens, friend. xo

Julie Gillies  – (April 27, 2011 at 10:54 AM)  

Hi Michelle,

Oh, I hear you on this one! But I appreciate your turn of perspective. We have so much more (here in America) than anywhere else on earth. We are blessed, occasional bugs and all. :-)

Heidiopia  – (April 27, 2011 at 10:54 AM)  

This is a lovely, timely post, Michelle! We are dealing with a flooded basement, termite damage, and body work on a car hit by a deer... it would be so easy to wallow in the frustrations of it all, especially with graduation looming and out of town company on the horizon. Thank goodness I'm listing gifts for Lent... makes me keep my hand open. Thanks for sharing!! xo

Dana –   – (April 27, 2011 at 6:31 PM)  

Ok, I get it...this post is not about the carpet stain. But, if you have lighter colored carpet (meaning, not dark green/blue, etc) then mix 1 part water with 1 part hydrogen peroxide and SOAK the spot. I had puppy stains that would not come out with a carpet cleaner machine and they not only came out with this mixture, but because I drenched the spot, it all came out of the carpet pad underneath as well. I totally realize this isn't the point of your message, but figured you might be interested in this tidbit.

Michelle DeRusha  – (April 27, 2011 at 7:48 PM)  

Dana -- thank you for this much-need suggestion. And in some ways it IS about the carpet stain...because every time I go up and down those stairs it just eats away at me! So thank you...I'm going to try that solution this weekend.

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