I have a confession to make:
I harbor serious baseboard envy.
Perhaps it might be more accurately described as baseboard covetousness.
To be clear, I don’t struggle that others possess better baseboards than my own. I do battle with the fact that they have baseboards at all.
I really want some.
I know it’s not right.
Four years ago, on Easter weekend, we moved into our home—a 1904 fixer-upper in the very neighborhood in which we’d prayed for God’s planting. A solid roof over our heads, floors that stand firm, doors that close against the wind and rain. Really, what do I have to complain about?
Over the last years, my husband and I, with young ones at our sides, have finished a basement, covered nearly every surface with fresh paint and our children’s art, planted vegetable gardens, refinished stairs.
When I look up from mama scattering, piecing part of a task here with a half scrap there, I see this place is not what it once was. And I see life, joy. Such good.
Yet sometimes the lack of these baseboards, simple finishing pieces of wood defining line between wall and floor, undo me.
It’s as if I believe their presence would speak completion, enough. So what do I think their absence represents?
On occasion, when I’m particularly overwhelmed with the state of our current home, I look at photographs of our first house—a sweet little 50’s ranch. Charming and finished with its black and white checkerboard kitchen floors, tidy and colorful landscaping, sparkling picture window.
And its baseboards.
Ah, the baseboards.
But how quickly I forget. For in that house, just as in our present one, baseboards crow barred from walls to make way for hardwood floors splintered apart. And it took us three years to remodel the house and replace blanks on the walls with long pieces of wood we felt best fit the little home. Just in time for its fast sale.
On this day discouragement clings, and I shuffle slippered feet and look towards the floor and to stripes of old paint that hold the place for baseboards that should be. An unsightly view. Like a slip hanging from below a skirt, a comb forgotten in a bouffant. As if I don’t know what a finished product should look like.
I pause and realize the desire to look right covers a deeper hunger to be right. Feel complete.
Then I hear words of call and blessed redirection: “Child, look up.”
I do, reluctantly at first. From slippers to ceiling. It takes a while, but my frantic settles. Then it’s as if arms begin a gradual breaststroke through blue and layer of cloud to the Holy One, The Perfecter and Finisher. Past my incomplete to His Fully Complete.
I stop inner grumbling. Stop comparing a false done to the true, good imperfect is. I rest in His adequacy. I hear Him.
Yes, you are undone, He says, and I am the One who finishes you.
These days, those ugly gaps are transformed.
I see them, but all is well in my soul. Once annoyances and triggers of not enough, now they remind me to look up.
Look up, past the undone and to the life, the beauty that surrounds me. Look up to my Perfecter, the Lifter of my Head. Look up to my God, who prepares for me an eternal Home.
To you He says the same: Look up, dear child. Look up.
By Ashley, at Draw NearLeave a Comment
Alexandra Kuykendall says
Your house without its baseboards…but so full of love. I wish I could be there today with our mountain of girls running around. Besides, look at those floors!
Thank you, dear friend. How I wish you were here! We would frolic all over those floors, us girls.
Mel @ Trailing After God says
Oh how I get this! I don’t have baseboards or molding in my home around most of the house either! And you’re right, that need to look right can really rule us. I love how you put this. So much undone but so much has been healed and made beautiful. Soooo, sooo much 🙂 Thank you for this sweet reminder!
Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God
Oh, Mel! How good to know there is another of me out there. 🙂 You are right — what beauty, what healing in Him. May our daily reminders of “undone” continue to bring us to the arms of the Finisher, renew our seeing of the One who gives every good and beautiful gift. Bless you.
Someday we will have baseboards, and they will be fabulous. I am immensely thankful that I have a wife who cherishes the beauty that lies in being present for whatever adventures He has in store for us.
I can’t wait! 🙂 I am so thankful for all the ways you walk with me on this journey, love. Thank you for commenting in this lady space — you are a brave man. 🙂
Thanks so much for the very clear illustration you’ve painted here, Ashley! Love the reminder to look up when things/people/life gets me down. 🙂
Thank you, Mags! We’ll keep looking up together.
Tonight I was so consumed looking down at the messes before me. I needed this reminder to look up. Look up and see the little messes left everywhere were (are—as all those little messes are STILL there) each one a gift from God—the loyal dog who leaves the dog hair, the playyful toddler who leaves his toys strewn all about, the hard working husband who leaves his work things scattered about-each one a great blessing-a good and perfect gift from Him. I’m choosing to “look up” this evening. Thank you for the encouragement.
You are so right, Ali! What blessings in the mess, and such joy in seeing your recounting of each one. The dog hair, the toys, the papers — all reminders of the good life that puts them there. Thank you.
Ashley, this is so transparent and beautiful. Thanks for the encouragement to look up despite the mess around me and put unfinished projects out of my mind for a bit so I can focus on what’s really important, serving Him. When I look down at those things- my missing “baseboards” (really it’s my missing paint and a never-ending pile of papers to sort through) it only leads to discouragement, so I must follow your example and use those things as reminders to look up at our everlasting Encourager.
Thank you, Karissa. Yes, we all have our “baseboards,” don’t we? 🙂 Bless you as you serve Him through and in the mess. Be encouraged today, friend!
Staci Williams says
…and just as we lift the chins of our children and peer into those beautiful little faces that melt our hearts….so does He!! So very well written, Ashley! Thank you. What a gift He has given you. I love reading these!
Thank you, Staci. I so appreciate that picture you paint. God lifting up our chins and peering into our little faces, telling us all is well with His eyes, His love, His presence. Aaahh. I’m breathing better now. 🙂
Love this encouragement as I start my day. Great post!
Thanks so much, KH.
Such a beautiful post. We’re wanting to buy a house. We may be just in an apartment, but it’s full of my family and our love. Sometimes I forget that. Thanks for the reminder.
Also, it has beautiful white baseboards throughout. I can’t stand them. 🙂 They get so dirty and scuffed and are a pain to clean. Thanks for helping me to look at them through different eyes.
Haha. I love that about your baseboards, Kristi. Two different pictures of the same heart. 🙂 Blessings on you and your family in your journey. May you find peace and delight in the love of your family & your home, wherever that may be. Thanks for your comment.
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Kara @ Just1Step says
This is awesome – thanks so much for sharing. 🙂
Thank you so much, Kara.
So well written and such a wonderful reminder to live in what is. Lots. Why our minds and our eyes focus on the undone as if, somehow, it is a reflection of ourselves, when really it just a “baseboard” or so many other things. Thanks for the morning love through your words.
Thank you so much for your comment, Joanna. I wonder if it’s partly our fear of judgment that causes us to fixate on those things that we think will cause others to think badly of us. Instead, we judge ourselves. May Love follow you through your day.
This made me smile, well ok it was more of a one eyebrow raised with a smirk! I totally understand ~ 5 years in a fixer-upper, majority complete ~ but still no baseboards!
Another kindred spirit! Thank you, Cindy. 🙂
Julie Sunne says
“Once annoyances and triggers of not enough, now they remind me to look up.” Your reminder to look up is just what I need on a daily basis. After all, I must do something with those annoyances and complaints, and looking at them through the Lord’s eyes is a sure way to be humbled and find perspective. Thank you, Ashley.
Thank you, Julie. A decision continually before us to look around with “broken” human eyes or to seek God’s perspective, as you say. I’m so thankful for His eyes.
and think of this……if you had baseboards, you would have to dust them……..enjoy that sweet freedom!!
Yes to freedom! 🙂
pete clemente says
Indeed the smallest of imperfections will call us to question ourselves. A beautiful and insightful look at yourself, whimsical. I really enjoyed your approach and uniquely expressed observations as they apply to you both within and without. Delightfully written!
Thank you so much! Yes, aren’t we a critical bunch?
Ashley, I love the way you draw spiritual lessons from life’s seemingly mundane – hear God ‘s exquisite voice through the clamor of life’s everyday noise. You see and hear deeply, with such heart-sight, and then you write, and you love, and we are blessed. Thank you for such a beautiful reminder this morning to raise our eyes and lift our thankful hearts.
Ah, I love that idea of “heart-sight.” May that –and His exquisite voice, as you say — be with us in abundance today. Thank you so much for your comment, Spree.
Thank you for writing words so simple and true and pointing us to Jesus through the experience of everyday, busy woman life filled with joy, simple pleasure, disappointment and desiring for more. Jesus is the “more” that we need.
Thank you, Rebs. Yes! With ALL that fills our days, we can be deceived into thinking the answer lies with more filling up with all that is around us. Rather, the joy is in recognizing JESUS is with us!
thank you. Our home in heaven will have incredible baseboards and we won’t even care, seeing his presence will be so strong. Don’t we all long for that completeness???
Isn’t that true? 🙂 Thank you, Robin.
Thank you for reminding me to look up….how easy to get distracted in this life with the small details of human yearnings……i love the unkempt places in life for this very reason, it helps me settle into the old recliner of life’s mess and settle down in God’s grace. I love your glimpse of this in your life.
I love that picture of settling into the unkempt places in an old recliner, and grace — not judgment — being there waiting. Thank you, Angela.
Beth Williams says
Thanks for reminding us to look up to God the author and finisher of all messes–including us human beings! We neen’t complain about things undone, but pray that God will help us finish them in His perfect timing!
Great post & reminder!
Thank you, Beth! Yes, we are an unfinished and messy bunch in all kinds of ways, aren’t we? So thankful for Our Finisher.
What a great perspective. It is so easy to fixate on flaws, whether our own or the one’s in others. What is good, what is true, being thankful and full of joy is what I will pursue today.
Thanks, Ashley for this gentle reminder.
Thank you, Karen. I love that verse you refer to. A great reminder to me. Gratitude — how it transforms.
Kaitlin @ Perceptions & Passions says
OH how I can relate!!!!
My struggles are that my family life doesn’t quite look like “the picture on the box.”
For some reason I have associated “family dinners” with being this “perfect family.”
When my reality looks like a toddler eating frozen waffles (at least I cooked them) while watching “Elmo” while I run around 8 months pregnant trying to get laundry done while my husband is finishing up his evening shift and before I literally collapse in exhaustion after my 8 hours at work.
In these moments too when I feel like a “failure” I look up to God to create me as a good parent…not some sort of psuedo-stepford-wife/mom ideal.
Oh, Kaitlin. I so hear you! You are doing the good work, and I am glad you are looking to God to make you into who He has you to be. His work in you and in the life of your family is beautiful.
Your comment made me think of something Mother Theresa said. I’ve seen several versions of the quote but the idea is “We cannot do all great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Bless you in the small things you pour out each day, Kaitlin, and may God’s joy be your strength in these last weeks as you await your new baby’s arrival!
Kaitlin @ Perceptions & Passions says
Thank you for your kind words. God bless and have a blessed Thursday! 🙂
Thank you. This spoke to me today. The Lord can take something that ministers to one entirely different than it does to another. God is awesome…and bless you!! 🙂
I love how God does that! Bless you, Barbie.
Jacqueline Bay says
Smiling through your blog because the baseboard envy hit home. I like clean, organized, finished things and my house is not one of those. I am not one of those. I am in process along with our home. I was promised baseboards in the spring and he (my amazing husband) assures me that one spring I will have them. 😉 In the meantime, I do look up. I look up so I don’t see the baseboards, I look up so I don’t wallow in my envy and I look up to see Him more clearly and more in focus to bring my life into perspective. Only through our gaze into the face of Jesus Christ can we see the world most clearly.
Thank you so much, Jacqueline. I sure resonate with your desire for DONE — both in my physical space and in my growth as a person. I am so thankful to hear of your experience that has caused you to look up to gaze upon Jesus’ face. I’m so glad that He completes us and continues to complete us.
Liz Gauthier says
We all have perfect baseboards in our family and extended family but a (very loving, affectionate and amazing family) that has broken up into pieces of pain, grudges and hurt and have forgotten that “love covers all sins” and to not cast stones, judge and condemn but to share, encourage and love with respectfulness…. thus we are incomplete and unhappy when we do not remember to look up to our maker and redeemer….
I’d take your baseboards from where I stand anyday.
Liz, I can only imagine the pain you are experiencing in your family — I am so, so sorry. May you be daily strengthened by our Maker and Redeemer. My prayers are with you and your family for healing and wholeness.
hi buddy. this is an everyday struggle for me. sometimes i wish i could snap my fingers & wiggle my nose and home projects would be complete. i have a vision for what i want this home to be….on a budget of only creativity 🙂 i too have looked back at my first home and adored the completed projects….but there was no little feet running around in that house, you & i are so rich with little girls who decorate our homes! let’s keep looking into their eyes and enjoy that our Heavenly Father so perfectly knows every detail of what our dream home would be …..and is working on it right now! beautiful writing sister!
You are so right, my friend. How I love our little people and all their visions of beauty spilling out everywhere! Bless you with contentment to go along with all that amazing vision of yours. And I love what you say about that perfect heavenly home. Aahhh.
I just love your perspective! Why do we so often find ourselves comparing instead of really enjoying what we have right before us. God has blessed us so much! And don’t worry, someday your home will be completely done but that usually doesn’t happen until it’s time to move on. Enjoy the imperfect little annoyances that remind us that we are all just cracked pots but those cracks let God’s light shine!
Thank you, Annie. Yes, that comparison trap — ugh. Amen to cracked pots!
This hit home. I have been in my old “new” house for nearly 10 years and the lack of baseboards has prevented me from opening my home up to others outside my inner circle. I have allowed this to hold me back. I needed your input. Thank you!
Thank you so much for your honest comment, tj. I’ve been amazed to see today how many of us baseboard-less sisters are out there. 🙂
I would encourage you to go for it and invite people in! (I know I always feel so much more comfortable entering into an imperfect space.) I truly believe you and your home will be such a blessing when you release perfection and invite his presence. Bless you in this journey!
(By the way, I wrote a post about inviting people into our imperfection back in October — http://ashleymlarkin.com/2011/10/17/whats-inside.)
So beautifully written and encouraging! Thank you for opening your heart and inspiring us to “look up”!
Thank you, Darcy!
I love the line, “yes, you are undone, He says, and I am the One who finishes you”. Oh, how that gives me room to breathe deeply and let go in the craziness of this life and have it be okay. Thank you.
Ah yes — breathe deeply, let go and let it be ok. Good words. Thanks, Jenni.
I am so proud of you my sister friend….you always manage to write about a place we all know well, but are reluctant to speak up about . Such a brave one you are. And look where your courage and transparency and His giftings and delight have put you today! Out there for the world to read and be encouraged! love you xxoo
Thank you, Christy. I so appreciate your words, sister friend. Love you.
Thanks for sharing Ashley! Oh how I can relate. I often feel my house says something about me personally–a symbol of beauty perhaps (or lack of). We bought a foreclosure 3 years ago, and the unsightly pops loudly out at me sometimes. What a great reminder of life’s important and unimportant. I’m going to look up today! 🙂
I think you hit on something so key to women, Tami — that we feel our homes say SOMETHING about us. Sometimes we delight in that expression of what we want to say, and then we sometimes wonder what that something is and get lost in the performance & package of it all. Thanks so much for your comment.
Ahhh… the challenges of contentment. It always does reside in looking up, doesn’t it? I so relate with you here today!
Yes, Anna! Thank you so much for your comment.
Lisa E says
8 years ago we lost our beautiful home (baseboards and all) due to the economy. What I learned is that what really matters is HOW we live, not where we live. We are still renting and plan to move across the state in June to start over. One day we WILL have our own home again, and I’ll think of you as I paint the baseboards! For now may I find completeness in God, and His plans for us.
Lisa, thank you for sharing the beauty from your struggle. Complete only in Him.
I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who gets disturbed about such things as no molding or baseboards. We have new (2 yrs. old) super deluxe windows with no molding to keep the breezes at bay. Not one room in the house is complete with reasonably recent paint on ceilings and walls, molding and baseboards, etc. and it really is annoying, especially since I’m disabled (so’s hubs) so we look at it all day every day and can’t fix it. But I do look up and thank God for having this to grumble about. Thanks for sharing.
So true, Janet. The fact that we even have this to grumble about shows our privilege. May you find beauty in the undone, and may you know the depths of His love.
Rachelle Butler says
A good call to stop comparing a false done to the true, good imperfect is. I’m workin’ on it. Thanks for the reminder, and the encouragement as you note your habit turning to Look Up.
I’m working on it, too, my friend. 🙂 Thanks for your comment.
Dearest Ashley, I cried as I read your post…it’s so easy for me to get caught up in frustration over the dirty carpets and kitchen floor, the daily stream of artwork and toys from Aubrey, the piles of papers from Troy, the moss and weeds filling the yard, and my own “never-ending” To Do List rather then looking up for my fulfillment in Christ and His blessing of my sweet little family! Your post is a beautiful reminder…thank you friend!
Thank you, honey, and God bless you. May you know His peace and all the ways He completes you this day.
Thanks for reminding me to look up. Too many times I look at what is undone instead of
what has been completed.
Thank you for your comment!
A beautiful reminder. Thank you!
Thank you, Rita!
When you are kneeling in prayer and bent down low, thank God for those gorgeous wood floors. 😉
Haha! Yes, Lisa, SO much to be thankful for — including those floors we were able to have installed when we moved in (they’re re-claimed whiskey barrels, by the way). Ironically, they’re the reason we don’t have baseboards. 🙂
Hi ash. I identify with the undone baseboards like low hanging slip metaphor. Those mornings I leave the house with my baseboard showing I feel particularly undone 🙂
Haha! Nothing more embarrassing than that, Saima. 🙂
Cheryl Doerr says
Ashley, Darcy Hume Wise sent me this link to your Blog today.. I read it and re-read it.. and then read every post sent to you. My heart rejoiced.. your writing touched me so much. My mind went back to our sweet group in High School. Such special girls.. and all walking with God in such major significant ways. I am now an official fan of AshleyM Larkin..!! I did try to find your Blog .. Draw Near.. but can’t seem to log on to it.. can you direct me to your writings? I loved the Blue House.. ! Well honey, keep writing.. and encouraging.. you are a double blessing to me.. and a huge Blessing to God!!! So very proud of who you are, who you have become.. and who you are becoming… Maybe you’ll come and visit Rolling Hills and I can see your whole family. love, Cheryl
Thank you, Cheryl, so much for your dear, encouraging comments. I think we should be FB friends now, so we’re good to go. I’ll message you there. 🙂 I’m thankful to connect here and for the opportunity to write. Bless you, Cheryl.
so good!!!! Thank you!
Thanks for commenting, Deb!
What encouragement this post was. Thank you for your sweet encouragement and willingness to share what God has spoken to you. I have appreciated your insight since being in your core group at CBS. Glad to hear it still here. Blessings to you friend.
Thank you so much, Holly. Right now I imagine your loving face and tender words, touched by grace and truth, experience. So happy to “see” you here, friend.