Church & God

Then, God

One of the hats I wear is as an interior designer. More specifically, an interior designer for our church building’s makeover. It’s been a long process and we’re only on phase 2.

I, myself, have gone through phases…

I want to do this.
I hate doing this.
I want this to be beautiful.
I don’t care anymore- just get it finished.
No one else touch this- this is my baby.

As you can see, I’ve been through a lot of phases and, right now, I’ve kind of landed on that last one.

Now, this post may not seem very personal but, for me, it’s very personal. I have put dozens of hours (if not hundreds) into this project. I redesigned the entire 11,000sf floor plan on my computer (using a program that had no business doing space planning). I selected colors and fabrics and textures and finishes and furniture and fixtures that versatile, yet, complementary and align with the “statement” we want to make. I researched products that would be durable, washable, economical. I’ve had more conversations than I can recall about toilet paper dispensers and trash receptacles.

I vividly recall one day when I dragged my then five-year-old all over town in the cold, pouring rain just so mommy could look at carpet, tile, quartz, rock, sinks, faucets, mirrors, laminates. By the end of the day we were wet, exhausted, irritable, bleary-eyed.

For the past year, there’s been a small folding table in our house that we’ve been pushing around and relocating. It started in the kitchen, then moved to the dining room, then the guest room. Then, a guest arrived, and it moved to my husband’s office. Then, my husband got tired of it and it moved to my office, and now it’s in the guest room again… But why do we keep this table? Because it’s covered in all the design selections for this project.

You see, even though I’m just designing for our church building, it’s personal to me. And to my family. We’ve all played a role in getting this project done. I’ve even overheard my kids playing “I’m on the church design team”.  

Despite my best efforts, things haven’t always come together. I’ve sat in my fair share of design team meetings in which I walk out and feel like we’ve accomplished nothing. I’ve promised a young man a chance to have his 3-d drawings on the big screen during a design team presentation to the church only to change my mind at the last minute and then regret it ever since. I’ve literally picked out stone four times now for a small section on the coffee bar because a) initial rock selection, b) architect suggested a rock company he was familiar with, c) contractor cut a deal with a different supply company, d) I made a grievous error in my third selection.

Which leads me to why I’m writing this post.

I saw God work in a big way today. Like in a clockwork kind of way where all the cogs have to fit in their place in just the right way for the whole thing to work.

So, it’s been in the works for I don’t know how many years now that when we finally do this project, we’ll put a coffee bar in the foyer. My original idea was to have it be circular. When it came down to it, circular wasn’t functional, nor did it go well with the hard edges and lines that are present everywhere else in the building. So, we changed it to rectangular and handed it over to the architect.

When it came back to us, it had two sides- one for a coffee bar and one that seemed more like a receptionist desk. This was not what I had envisioned, but I listened to reason and was convinced that, “No. It’ll be great.” So, we went with it. Yes, I put my stamp of approval on it.

But it’s bothered me ever since.

Skip ahead several months and the millwork’s been done. The coffee bar has arrived and is assembled.

And people don’t like it. Including myself.

The reception-style welcome center isn’t what I had envisioned. It doesn’t align with the statement we’re trying to make. It’s not the desert oasis, watering-hole, gathering spot, social hub we had envisioned. It’s not us. But what can I do? Even though the coffee bar wasn’t fully finished and functional yet, I felt like my hands were tied.

Then, God.

I got a text last night at 8:59. It was from my friend and minister Dena. She wanted to talk electrical outlets. After talking with her, that old feeling of not liking the reception-style design was stirred up in me again. So, I stood in the kitchen for thirty minutes talking with my husband about, letting my feelings come out for the first time.

I DO NOT like this reception-style countertop! It’s awful! It doesn’t feel friendly or inviting or intimate or participatory! It feels like I’m arriving at a clinic to sign in for my colonoscopy! Yuck! I don’t want to stand around that thing and drink my coffee and chat with my friends at church. I hate it!

Not only was I totally dissatisfied with the design at this point, but I was dissatisfied with myself. After all, that reception-style coffee bar had my stamp of approval on it. No matter how much it wasn’t my original vision, I went along with it and, now, my entire congregation was going to have to live with that poor decision for the next thirty-five years.

I was feeling defeated.

Then, God. 

He spoke through my husband who said, “Why can’t you just chop off the upper countertop and make it all one height?”

I was like, “That would be perfect and versatile and brilliant- but the quartz countertop has already been cut.”

But, then, I remembered that, as though by providence, I had run into the contractor that morning just after church and he’d mentioned, “The countertop guys just measured on Friday.”

And then I look up at my husband and I’m like, “Hey, maybe we can chop it off.”

Of course, I could think of a million and one reasons why this plan wouldn’t work and, while I was standing in the bathroom brushing my teeth last night, I realized another insurmountable obstacle was actually piled on top of this one.

When I selected the rock for the fourth time last week, I was working under the assumption that the countertop color I’d picked was light gray. Only, it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t pick light gray- I picked white. Very sparkly, dazzling white. And what rock did I pick to go with that? Very sparkly, dazzling white rock.

Uh. Oh. Clash. City.

So, then I was seriously freaking out. Had a hard time sleeping. Also, discovered at two o’clock this morning that my daughter had not yet fallen asleep even though I’d put her in bed SIX HOURS AGO! This was going to be a rough morning and I was preparing myself for the worst. I woke up at six o’clock. Got ready as quickly as I could. Before seven, I was calling and texting people.

I arrived on the job site at 8:06 this morning. The foreman and I discussed everything. Even though he may have been silently having a heart attack, he remained perfectly calm and collected. At 8:12, he said, “Let me call the cabinet maker and see if he can send someone out today to look at this.” The cabinet maker was down the street and he arrived at 8:18.

I knew other people would balk at my idea and think it was stupid… But they loved the idea.
I knew the contractor was going to say we couldn’t cut that pony wall… But he said we could cut it.
I knew the contractor was going to say the quartz had already been cut… But he said it hadn’t.
I knew the rock had already been ordered and the colors would clash… But it had been on a two-week back order and we could cancel the order and change the color, no problem.

And the electrical outlet issue that has caused this avalanche? Turns out, it wasn’t an issue at all.

By 8:59- exactly 12 hours after Dena had texted me- we’d redesigned the coffee bar into what we had always envisioned.

I could see God’s providential hand in all of this today. And, while in the whole scheme of humanity from beginning to end, the coffee bar is a tiny, insignificant detail, to me it’s personal. And God’s working hand over it today showed me that God is in the details.

He cares about what I care about. He wants good for me. He wants good for our congregation. He wants good for our community and the people who’ll use this space. Weddings and baby showers and countless other special events will happen in this foyer. The new design of the coffee bar will exponentially increase the usability of this space. Who knows how many people it’ll bless in the years to come. I hope the number is countless. I hope people know that God fixed it when it looked like it’d be impossible to fix.

And I hope it reminds people, “Then, God.”

4 thoughts on “Then, God

  1. I love when God shows up!! I am proud of you for stepping out and changing things even in the final hour. You have so many talents and you continue to amaze me with all you do to serve our Father and others. I love you.

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  2. Rachel, I love this post. What a happy outcome! I'm enjoying the new muted colors in the foyer and restrooms. I had more written this morning but Google didn't post it. Oops! That happens to me quite often. Oh, I almost forgot, \”Great suggestion, Kent.\”

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  3. Thank you for sharing, Debbie! I'm glad you've enjoying the colors- they make the mood lighter and everything is feeling more open. And, yeah, Kent has some great ideas (maybe I should listen more often!).

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