Living Simply | March 1, 2015

Room for redemption

Photo by Linnaea Mallette

There is a tiny room that sits just off my kitchen. It has a very old hardwood floor, and dark wood trim around two big windows that make up the entire south-facing wall. It’s furnished with a round wooden table and four chairs, and a narrow bookcase made of refurbished wood and filled with cookbooks and canisters of loose-leaf tea. Above the door frames are thin shelves that stretch the length of two walls, which I use to store jars of summer produce put up between April and October.

This room is my favorite place to sit in the morning, with a hot cup of coffee and a book (or a notebook, as is the case this morning). The sun reflects off the snow and warms the whole space, which is likely why the cat has graced me with her presence.

But the thing that amazes me about this room is that the previous owners of our house used it to kennel their dogs. When we moved in it smelled like animals and was covered in a layer of grime. The wood floor was scratched and painted red, and the windows were covered with broken shades.

I’ll never forget returning home from Annual Conference a few summers ago to the surprise that my husband had spent the week on his hands and knees, working in our little room. He had stripped the floor, pulled out dozens of staples, and oiled it into the beautiful (albeit rustic) floor that it is today. After that initial push, the rest came more easily. Together we washed and painted the walls, and we uncovered the beautiful wood trim around the windows. He built the shelves, and we replaced the broken shades with ones that let the sunshine through. Now here it is, our cozy nook off the kitchen and my favorite morning spot.

Like many relationships, churches, lives, and so many other broken and often mistreated things, the redemption of this room took a little vision, hard work, and perseverance. I like to think that it also took time on our knees, stripping away layers of dirty, dead things, and anointing with blessed wood oil. It was worth every effort, and has become more than we could’ve ever made it on our own.

Now, instead of pets, this room regularly holds friends from near and far, meals of all kinds, and conversations that spark new ideas and deep-seated joy. It’s a very simple room—four walls and two big windows—but it is lived in deeply, and has been a blessing born of renewal.

Amanda J. Garcia is a freelance writer living in Elgin, Ill. Visit her online at