Sunday, January 15, 2012

From the Inside Out

by C.J. Chase

I’m giving my kitchen a makeover this month. Notice I said a makeover, not a remodeling. Much as I’d love to throw out the cabinets, counters, flooring, and everything else so I could start fresh, I don’t have that kind of money. Maybe someday… but in the meantime, we’re just freshening up what we have.

Let me give you a bit of backstory. Our first house was a Victorian-with-potential that we bought in a burst of youthful insanity. When we re-did the vintage 1930’s kitchen (just one of many countless projects, and not even the biggest), we pretty much started from scratch—as in, pull-down-the-walls-and-run-new-electrical-wires from scratch. 

We didn’t keep much because, quite frankly, there wasn’t much worth keeping. Okay, to be honest, I think the only thing we kept was the original heart pine floor that we uncovered and refinished. We put in cabinets (there were no cabinets in the original, just open shelves) and covered them with a ceramic tile countertop that we later replaced with Corian when the bank account permitted. The picture below is the same corner after we finished. Notice the difference? Needless to say, after all that work, I wasn’t exactly happy about having to sell my baby, er, home when we moved to a another area some years back. 

My very first day in the new house, I killed the countertop. Who knew Yankee candles got so hot on the bottom they could melt a laminate counter? That just wasn’t a problem for ceramic tile. Nor did I appreciate the laminate’s plain white color that showed every grape juice and Kool-Aid spill. Sometimes an application of bleach removed the stain. Sometimes not.

So, as you might imagine, I was thrilled when I learned there are now paints you can get to turn your laminate counters into “granite” for a fraction of the cost of replacing them. I diligently read every online review to see which products have the best results. Then I went shopping and set to work. We even repaired the candle burn. 

Here's a picture of the island with the primer coat half applied:

And here's the finished version:

Looks pretty cool, huh?

But here’s the thing: no amount of paint can change the fact that my counter is still laminate, not granite. I didn’t change the composition. While it looks great on the outside, I still can’t put a hot pan—or even a Yankee candle—on the surface or I will damage it as surely as I did the first time. The “granite” is only a paint veneer.

In Matthew  23:25-28, Jesus warned about the dangers of focusing on the outward appearance and not on the inside:

25-26"You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You burnish the surface of your cups and bowls so they sparkle in the sun, while the insides are maggoty with your greed and gluttony. Stupid Pharisee! Scour the insides, and then the gleaming surface will mean something.
 27-28"You're hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You're like manicured grave plots, grass clipped and the flowers bright, but six feet down it's all rotting bones and worm-eaten flesh. People look at you and think you're saints, but beneath the skin you're total frauds.(MSG)

Ouch. Did you notice Jesus directed these comments to the religious leaders of his day, not the prostitutes, tax collectors, and other undesirable?

This year, I hope I spend more time improving the inside of me and less worrying about how the outside looks to others. And that's a New Year's Resolution we should all be making--every year!

 Do you have any makeovers planned for this year? Better yet, please share tips for spiritual makeovers that help you keep the inside of your cup clean.

After leaving the corporate world to stay home with her children, C.J. Chase quickly learned she did not possess the housekeeping gene. She decided writing might provide the perfect excuse for letting the dust bunnies accumulate under the furniture. Her procrastination, er, hard work paid off in 2010 when she won the Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Manuscript and sold the novel to Love Inspired Historicals. Redeeming the Rogue was an August, 2011 release. You can visit C.J.'s cyber-home (where the floors are always clean) at


  1. If I had the cash, I'd be doing makeovers all the time. I love it. Okay, not as much as writing and there is only a certain amount of free time...

    but I love your counter makeover and the photos of your old house - very nice!
    We see this so often and of course judge people all the time for what we think they are like on the inside. But just having that awareness, C.J., like you've described today is the biggest step.

    Humility is beautiful and we CAN see that on someone when it's real. Lovely way to start the week!

    1. Deb, if I had cash, I'd probably do makeovers all the time too. But I'd need lots and lots of cash so I wouldn't have to do the work myself. I'll just be the rich boss telling everyone else what I want done.

      Yes, we make assumptions about people all the time based on what we see outside -- it's so easy to assume someone who SEEMS to have it all together has no problems in life.

  2. The excellent point of your devo notwithstanding, you need to tell me more about this paint on countertop. I might seriously want to do that.

    Let's get together for lunch soon. We're overdue.

    1. Yes, let's do lunch.

      The paint is the easy and fun part. The clear finish takes a bit more work because it's not as forgiving.

  3. Wonderful post, CJ. There are a lot of areas in my life where I put a metaphoric paint job over something scarred and try to move on.

    That said, your counter looks awesome.

    I would love to do a few makeovers in my house. $$$ But maybe I can do something with my office. We painted it, now I'd like to get cream slipcovers for the couch and chair in here. Maybe a window treatment.

    1. "A metaphoric paint job" -- perfect way to describe the disguises we wear.

      I love the idea of cream slipcovers, but being the only woman in the house, I shudder to think what they would look like after a couple guys sat in them!

  4. I'm totally intrigued by the counter paint. I must see if hubby will do that to our 1970s counter tops. Funny thing about marrying a carpenter...nothing gets done. LOL. I could tell you stories....

    Love this devo, CJ.

    1. Suzie, I think there are a couple companies that make a countertop paint. I did some research and decided to go with the Giani. If you do a search on them, you'll find their website with info about the product and locations you buy it.

      I can understand why a carpenter wouldn't want to do home repairs in his own house. Kind of like when I was a computer programmer and didn't even have a computer at home. Last thing I wanted to do after staring at a screen all day was spend more time on a computer. Oh, and back when I had a job wrapping Christmas gifts, guess whose gifts never got wrapped?

  5. Great devotion, CJ. I really like redecorating and making things purty. But it's a whole lot easier to do with the outside than the inside. That stuff's hard!

  6. Wow. What a great analogy.

    And you're brave to tackle that kind of project! :D

  7. AWESOME analogy, CJ! Love the comparison!


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