Can Prayer Help Your Family Survive a Home Makeover?
An Author Interview with Laura Jensen Walker,
This Old Dump: Renovate Without Decking Your Mate
Hendey family has been caught up in the home improvement craze for years,
but our children have gotten in on the act too since becoming fans of one
of those “home makeover” shows. So when we took our teenager to pick out
paint chips for his room last summer, we shouldn’t have been surprised
when he chose a “moon rock” green hue, embedded with grains of sand and
flecks of glitter. OK...we invited his involvement in the project, so we
were going to have to live with the results!
What we didn’t think to do was to begin
the room makeover with prayer – as it turns out we could have definitely
used the guidance of the Holy Spirit! Had I read the new book by Laura
Jensen Walker, I would have approached this project and others around our
home with a little more wisdom and a lot more patience.
This Old Dump: Renovate Without Decking Your Mate, (Revell, September 2004,
paperback, 156 pages) offers fun and humorous suggestions for surviving
your home improvement projects without destroying your marriage in the
process. Laura blends hilarious home improvement tales with practical
tips and solutions.
Laura Jensen Walker had the following
comments on her book and surviving renovation projects:
Jensen Walker, author of
This Old Dump: Renovate Without Decking Your Mate, it’s so great to have the opportunity to share your new book with
our readers! Could you please start off by telling our readers a bit about
you and your family?
A: I’m a full-time author and speaker
and have been married for over thirteen years to Michael, my wonderful
“Renaissance-man” husband (the man can do ANYthing—from sewing beautiful
quilts to reupholstering furniture to knocking down walls, putting up
fences, gardening, woodworking, cooking, painting, acting, and
singing—just to name a few.) In fact, the first time I saw him, he was
singing. Can you say smitten? I’m also a 12-year breast cancer survivor (I
was diagnosed the day after our first wedding anniversary) who knows
firsthand the healing power of humor. Michael and I live in Sacramento,
California with our “canine-daughter” Gracie.
Q: People take their
home renovations so seriously these days. What was your motivation for
writing a humorous book on the topic?
A: To get people to lighten up a
little. And to realize they’re not alone in their home improvement horror
stories. AND to give them a reality check that it’s not like what they see
on TV. Their renovation will not be complete in 60 minutes. (Something
about not having Ty Pennington and 250 Home Depot workers to help.) Most
of all, to make them laugh rather than tear their family members from limb
to limb - or head to divorce court.
Q: What are the most
important tips you’d share with families considering taking on home
A: Be aware from the very beginning
that every home improvement project will probably cost at least twice as
much as you thought and take three times as long (and most likely require
Flexibility is key. So is communication.
Don’t be so rigid in having to have your own way/the most beautiful home
on the block that you can’t adapt/adjust when things go wrong. (But along
those same lines, guys: as much as humanly possible, let her have her way
or you will pay.)
And women: Every man needs a room of his
own (with apologies to Virginia Woolf) and not just the garage. Let him
have a space of his own to decorate however he wants - whether it be
hunting/fishing chic, football frenzy, or gadgets galore. Just be sure
there’s a door you can close. (You get free rein in the rest of the house,
so don’t begrudge him his space. Besides, that way you don’t have to have
his sports trophies in the den.)
Q: Do you have any
ideas for including kids in renovation projects?
A: Our four-footed canine daughter
doesn’t like whenever we renovate/make changes around the house - she
always runs and hides under the bed. We tried to get her opinion on paint
color, but she wouldn’t tell us. With actual two-footed children who can
respond, ask their opinions, and depending on their age, give them
something to do (that doesn’t require scary power tools) so they’ll feel
part of the process too.
Q: Your book includes
wonderful scriptural references at the completion of many of the chapters.
What role should faith take in tackling projects around the house?
A: Prayer is essential. Daily. To help
you get through the stress and strain of renovation. And it helps to keep
in mind the big picture. There’s that old saying “Home is where the heart
is.” Your family is your heart and your home, given to you by God. And
they’re more important than any house. I especially love the proverb
(24:3): “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is
Q: What’s your
favorite story shared in the book?
A: That’s a tough one. It’s a toss-up
between my Wisconsin cousin racing to the bathroom and in her hurry not
realizing the carpenter was framing the window until she looked up and saw
this big smile on his face. Luckily, she had on an oversized sweatshirt,
so she figured she’d just pull her shirt down over her knees and back out
the door. Once out of his line of vision, she pulled her pants up and her
shirt down. Then she looked up and there in the bedroom window was another
carpenter with a grin on his face. He thought she was mooning him! (I told
her that gives new meaning to worker’s compensation.)
The other story is of my friends Bill
and Andrea. Andrea had a hard time choosing a paint color for their dining
room. She thought she wanted green and selected her paint chip, then
bought a quart of paint and painted a small section. Of course, the color
was never exactly the same as the chip, but she kept trying. Green after
green after green. Then after visiting a friend’s house who had a pretty
taupe (dark tan for you guys) color, she tried a couple variations of
that. When Bill got home that night, he took one look at the tan-and-green
camouflage wall and shouted “Get down!” then he made the sound of a
machine gun firing.
Q: Laura, thank you
again for your time and participation in this interview. Could you say a
word or two about your previous and future writing projects? Are there any
additional thoughts or comments you’d like to share with our readers?
A: I’ve written a total of ten
non-fiction books so far, but the one closest to my heart is Thanks for
the Mammogram: Fighting Cancer with Faith, Hope, & a Healthy Dose of
Laughter. Another one that was fun to write and came out this year is
Girl Time: A Celebration of Chick Flicks, Bad Hair Days & Good Friends.
What I’m most excited about, however, is that my first NOVEL will be
coming out in Spring 2005! It’s called Dreaming in Black & White
and is in the funny ‘chick-lit’ genre. (Like Bridget Jones’s Diary,
only if Bridget went to church. My website is
Thanks so much for the interview! The last bit of advice I want to share
is: couples should never EVER wallpaper together!
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