For before-and-after addicts only

Nothing satisfies one’s desire to close the circle like a few good before-and-after photos. Let’s be honest: It’s why HGTV is even a thing and the only reason Biggest Loser was worth following for 12 episodes a season.

If you followed this blog from the beginning, you’ve enjoyed a lot of before-and-after photos. But if you tried to describe the experience to someone with less fortitude (or interest), it was hard to get to the good stuff. With that in mind, I’ve created a new page on the blog with just the “good stuff”: A page with only before-and-after photos of our project.

If that’s your thing (or you’re trying to show someone what that crazy 50something couple in Wisconsin accomplished), check out the Before & Afters page. You can click here or just go to the Home Page and look for “Before & Afters” tab.

Have a great weekend!

The circus arrives without warning

Announcements, announcements, announcements:
A horrible way to die,
A horrible way to die,
A horrible way to talk to death,
A horrible way to die.
Announcements, announcements, announcements.

I think I learned this cheerful song at summer camp, but it might have been the Girl Scouts who taught it, I’m not sure. I also learned “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” in Girl Scouts, and now I know it’s not a song about ears. Trustworthy, indeed.

In any case, I have a couple of announcements. You may be dismissed if you’re not interested in talking to death.

First of all, our open house. I have told more than one visitor to the church we hoped to host an open house for former members of the church, our contractors and our neighbors on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

snowy church
Not a snowpocalypse. Yet.
Well, it’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and we’re not hosting an open house. In fact, we’re hosting a blizzard. Heavy flakes began falling just before 1 o’clock, and I would have been sick if I had tempted people out in this weather to see our church home. So, God was watching over our little project today, too, just as He has been all along.

We just aren’t ready to show off yet. The garage isn’t sided. Our entryway is unfinished. We haven’t even chosen cabinets for the walls on either side of the fireplace let alone installed them. I’ve hung only a handful of pictures. Pieces of furniture and our showplace rug are on order and probably won’t even arrive for entertaining at Christmas. Speaking of Christmas, I’m only half decorated for the holiday; we’re trying to locate a 12-foot tree that won’t cost us an arm and a leg.

And, of course, you saw the basement. Uff-da.

We still hope to host an open house, but probably not until spring (after the mud—can you imagine? On my white carpeting?). I’ll keep you posted, faithful readers.

And that brings us to announcement No. 2.

Exactly 361 days ago, I began this blog the day we closed our deal to buy the 126-year-old Methodist church. I have posted something—sometimes just a picture of my clever church sign—every day since then. In the blogging world, we call that dedication. I’ve impressed even myself.

But ever since we’ve moved in, I feel like I’m dragging out the memoir part of the story. At one time, I thought the open house would be the end of the story. But now I think move-in day is the end. Fortunately, with hundreds of blog entries, I have a lot of raw material to work with, and I’m going to have to do the hard work of crafting a satisfying ending. (I’ve done it three times before; I can do it again.)

So the memoir-in-progress is done.

But the story isn’t.

Church Sweet Home—the blog—will continue. Only I’m not going to write it in past tense, and the posts won’t be serialized anymore. No more “our story so far” and “tomorrow” teasers. Each entry will stand alone. I’ll show you our new thresholds, and the Hall of History photos and all our cool antique finds, and anything else having to do with Church Sweet Home.

But probably not a new post every day. If you’ve gotten this far in the horrible-way-to-die announcements, you’re what we call an avid fan. Thank goodness for you—your kind words and encouragement is what kept me going—and Tyler, too, some days. It’s nice to know someone cares. But I think most of my friends, or acquaintances anyway (Facebook lumps everyone together into the title “friend”), have long since hidden my posts about every last development at Church Sweet Home. Since we’ve rested on our laurels six weeks ago, there isn’t new news every day.

I should really get back to my other blogs anyway. There’s my blog about life in general as a Minnesota Transplant, my author blog and my blog about organizing photos; they deserve some love, too. I’ll still try to write something every day (because I’m a writer like that), it just won’t always appear here (feel free to subscribe to my other blogs, though—I love readers).

That brings us to the end of our announcements today. You’re a trooper, and I appreciate you. You are hereby dismissed.

# # #

Today’s headline is a line from Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus.” If you haven’t read it, you really should. It’s a magical story. Check out my book review here. In any case, here’s the full quote: “The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”

And so it begins: A real-time memoir about renovating a 126-year-old church into a home

Well, we’re committed now.

Or should be.

We bought a 126-year-old Methodist church that’s been vacant for sixteen months, looks like it’s had water in the basement on a regular basis and has holes in the roof of the belfry. The pews are gone. The altar has been removed. The pulpit? Gone. (But if you need a cassette tape of an old sermon or a print of Jesus, we can hook you up.)

The church is going to be an awesome sanctuary of warmth and family at some point, but first we have to demolish the paneling, fix the leaks, install miles of PEX and wiring, and redecorate.

And I’m going to write about every last up and down. Right here. Beginning right now.

If you’re addicted to HGTV, you’re gonna love this. If you think an afternoon of “First-Time Flippers” is high entertainment, you absolutely need to subscribe. Right now. Right there–on the right. Click the “Follow Blog via Email” button.

If you think we’re nuts, we’re either going to prove you wrong, or you’re right and you’ll find this whole story amusing.

Here’s how it’s going to go down: I’m writing this blog like a memoir. It’s going to be an odyssey, no doubt about it, so someone ought to benefit from our one-way journey to house heaven or hell, I figure. But I’m doing it in more-or-less real-time. So unlike most memoirs, where the protagonist thinks about all the things she’s learned and benefits from some perspective before finishing her story, this tale will be written as it happens. Because it’s a blog afterall, and rubberneckers love a good accident. My goal is to write at least a few sentences every day.

You’re in the right place today, because the first paragraphs of Chapter 1 will be published tomorrow, and the rest of the story will unfold in serialized fashion. Future subscribers might want to begin at the beginning, but I’ll try to make that easy.

I’ve already invested in work boots, and I’m putting on my work gloves. Join me for the ride.