I Designed and Built a Complete Kitchen from Scratch–Now What?

Hey 2017, what am I gonna do with you? Please, don’t leave me in a funk.

You showed up just a few weeks after I completed some pretty major projects at home and the office. And so far, I’ve been twiddling my thumbs wondering, “Now what?” I need something to do. As Colonel Brandon said in Sense and Sensibility, “Give me an occupation Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad.”

Our kitchen prior to demolition

Prior to demolition

2015 was fairly ambitious. New floors were installed. I hung crown molding and repainted a couple of rooms, made custom baseboard for the entire main level. And I was just starting to build new kitchen cabinets when, on September 30th 2015, I took an ambulance ride to the emergency room. Then followed back surgery on October 2nd, and again on November 13th. And so, I spent the rest of 2016 horizontal, watching Doctor Who and reading Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea novels.

Demolition in progress

Demolition in progress

2016 was better. I stayed injury free (though I was sad to have to give up running—doctor’s orders). I worked on the kitchen from late-January to late-November. That was a very satisfying accomplishment. Along the way I also built a few Christmas gifts. More importantly, Dawn and I renewed our vows to celebrate our 30 years of marriage.

Kitchen Island

Kitchen Island

And 2017? What do you hold? Well, for starters let’s be more disciplined about my fitness. Sure, I went to the gym regularly through 2016, but I never worked hard. I was too afraid to re-injure my back. And anyway, I spent most of January and February just learning how to walk normally again. As a result my waistline is growing beyond what it should be, my cardio fitness is pretty bad and I’ve lost a ton of good, solid muscle strength. So, let’s be more ambitious. Let’s make a few reasonable fitness goals and specific workout plans to achieve them. I’ll start by taking up swimming twice a week. (I kept saying I would after the kitchen was finished. Time to put my money where my mouth is.)

Hutch and Chest with Shelves

Hutch and Chest with Shelves

Around the house, I’ll build a new pantry for Dawn. Then, I’ll remodel the half-bath with a rustic vanity made from pallet wood, and topped by a pottery vessel sink. What about the deck though? It’ll be 15 years old this year and looks pretty bad. Hmmm… there are budget considerations. The roof and gutters need some repair and I’ll have to hire someone. We’ll have to see about the deck.

What about blogging? Yeah, I had to put that off during the kitchen build epic. It’s time for a reboot. I’m amazed that, even neglected, it still had over 100,000 page views in 2016. But, I really would like to produce 20-30 new posts this year.

And your spiritual life? Yes, that’s a big deal. I plan to read through the entire Bible this year. I actually started in November and I’m up through Deuteronomy 20. (BTW, who knew that one of the best-known blessings—even non-Christians have heard of—is found in the book of Numbers of all places??

“The LORD bless you and keep you;

The LORD make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;

The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.”

—Numbers 6:22-24

Love that. Thank you Father for Your commitment to bless your people with everlasting kindness.) I also plan to start a new men’s discipleship group that will meet in my home. Oh, how I’ve missed the blessing of those deep connections.

Floating Shelves with Pottery

Floating Shelves with Pottery

Finances? Yes, the budget is planned for the year. Giving? We added two more ministries to support. Projects at the office? Still a little slow; I hope to be more engaged next week. Vacation plans? Not sure yet, but I’m hopeful. Starbucks card? Re-charged. :)

Okay 2017, let’s get things in gear! We have places to go, things to do/fix/build, people to see, and I love going, doing, and seeing.

What’s on your 2017 radar?


How to Choose Goals Wisely

Have you ever had trouble sticking with your goals?

Yeah, me too, but I came across an idea that might help you…

In The Missing Ingredient in Most Goals, Thomas Nelson Publisher, Michael Hyatt, advises that achieving your long-term goals may require more than just a clearly stated SMART goal. It may even require more than the detailed plans you made for achieving it.

English: Michael S. Hyatt, Thomas Nelson, Inc.

Michael Hyatt

You may need to remind yourself of your motives. Why was that goal was so important to you in the first place? Mr. Hyatt calls them internal motivations and advises that you write them down when you establish a new goal and review them when your passion to achieve wanes. In other words, when you know what you want to do, write down how you will do it, when you’ll do it, and don’t forget to define why you will do it.

Good, useful advice, I say.

Follow Up

So, this made me wonder if Mr. Hyatt had any plans for a follow up post on how to choose one’s goals wisely and pursue them with wise motives.

I commented to that effect on his blog, and his moderator, Justin Wise, replied to me as follows:

“Thanks for getting S.M.A.R.T. with Michael! I’m sure a post like the one you’re suggesting is in the works. Better yet, what if you wrote one yourself and posted a link to it in the comments for us all to enjoy? Thanks Lon!”

Okay, thanks for the invite Justin!

Here’s my average contribution to the conversation. (I’m sure Michael Hyatt’s will be above average if/when he posts a follow up.)


At the very least, I think choosing goals wisely requires you to be honest about the fact that every choice has consequences. And some of them may be unintended. So, don’t try to fool yourself into thinking a goal is an island in your life. It’s not. It’s part of the web that is you, your job, hobbies, family, spiritual life, circle of influence and beyond. The bigger the goal; the bigger the impact to all areas of your life.


Choices mean limitations.

You are a pie. You can slice up your life differently – more of this, less of that –  but you can’t add more pieces. Or, as Elisabeth Elliot has written somewhere, “Choices mean limitations.” In other words, every commitment you make to focus on something implies that you are willing to not focus, or even neglect, something else. Goals take time, effort and focus to achieve. So go ahead and mentally subtract that time, effort and focus from everything else in your life. Then, evaluate. You can’t do it all, have it all, be it all. (Welcome to my average life.) So choose your goals with the limitation principle in mind.


Goals and their motives impact relationships. Yes, your wife may appreciate your bigger biceps and thinner waist. But, that won’t count for much if you’re so focused on sticking to your workout routine that you neglect what’s important to her: like, her goals, for instance. Goals aren’t just about you. They’re about you in relationship to others. Be careful not to sacrifice a someone to chase a something.


Two significant and simultaneous goals are doable. Three is tough. Four is too many. Five is way too many. No one can focus on that many big heavy plates in the air without help. Something will crash. But, “I have so much to work on!” Don’t we all? – then, try staggering your goals. Believe it or not, some things can wait.

Or, if you must have multiple, simultaneous goals, prioritize them. Choose which are big plates (primary) and little plates (secondary). Primary goals should get more of your time and focus–and fewer excuses. Or, try assigning goals to different arenas of your life. I try to have one goal  (big plate or little plate) per year for each arena of life that matters to me: my spiritual growth, relationship with my wife and kids, professional life, intellectual growth, fitness, hobbies, and finances.


Remember this: Every goal has a spiritual and moral dimension. Why? – because it comes from a motive. If there is a God (I believe there is) Who has a plan for our lives (the most significant parts of which He reveals in the Bible), then our goals and especially our motives must be seen in light of His larger plan for us. What we plan to achieve and why we want to achieve it is inevitably connected, in a big or small way, to the fact that we live our lives before Him. And thus, our goals and our motives have long-term spiritual significance.


I think this raises two important questions.

First, “How can I understand God’s plan for my life?” And second, “How can I choose wise goals with wise motives that reflect God’s plan for me?”


The quick answer to the first question is this: Study the Bible – carefully, regularly, humbly with help from wise teachers. Over time, we will gain wisdom.

The answer to the second is: Pray – regularly, humbly, trusting that God is eager to instruct those who readily confess their foolishness. Over time, we will see wise motives driving our goals more and more.


But ultimately, Jesus is the wisdom God offers to us and for us. In Him, we see a wise man whose goals and motives perfectly aligned with God’s plan. By comparison, we see in ourselves wrong motives, foolish choices, and self-focused goals. But again, in Jesus, we see that perfectly wise life lived, and offered up on the cross, to God and for us. By this sacrifice, God promises that in Christ Jesus our frequent foolishness is forgiven, and a new heart (motives) is created which desires (chooses) goals that reflect His plan for us.

So, ultimately how can we choose wise goals wisely?

Through. Christ. Alone.

What are your thoughts about how to choose goals wisely?

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