How I Almost Let a Horrible Light Fixture Ruin My Life

light fixture header pic

In a perfect world, life should pause when you move your family and all of your belongings to a new house during the busiest part of the year.

But it doesn’t. We are grown-ups and therefore we carry on, even if we are not always keeping calm. People need to be fed and clothed and helped and loved, major life transition or not. And so, like many of you, I schlep around our three kids who are at three different stages of life in three different schools and with three different sports. Church and basketball practice and birthdays and invites — they all keep going.

And then there is this house, which we dearly love, patiently waiting to be settled into and cozied up so that it can love on us and the people who come through our doors.

These are all the best problems really. We have jobs! And children! Who get to receive an education and play sports and have friends!

We have a lovely house for which we prayed and waited so long, one that shelters us and felt like home from the very beginning.

tea on the screen porch

I write these things to remind myself because over the weekend I was not all, “Yay house and I’m so grateful for shelter!”

No. I was standing on top of my daughter’s bed WEEPING because of a light fixture from 1959. My bewildered husband looked at me and made the dreaded remark that husbands sometimes make when they are trying to console a crazy woman: “It’s not the end of the world.”

But in that moment, it was, in fact, the end of the world. It was so much the end of the world that I left the house and found myself in my favorite Chinese restaurant with a to-go order. Extra rice. And an egg roll for good measure. Because a gal needs nourishment when the world is ending.

This would probably be a good place to insert the backstory.

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I have a teenage daughter who cares very much about her room.

Like her mama, things like color and lighting and aesthetics affect her greatly. We are both “highly sensitive” types in these ways. And while she has HER VERY OWN ROOM on the “lower level” {as we like to call it}, her space has what the Nester refers to as “lovely limitations.” Limitations like textured cement walls, tiny windows that let in minimal natural light, and brown carpet with matching brown rubber trim.

And a light fixture with no globe that hails from 1959, when the house was built.

She’s a freshman in high school. These are the years when the world can begin to do a number on one’s angsty, adolescent, insecure soul. The years when school and activities and the social scene and pressure about the future can demand more than one’s fragile self can give. I want our home and our family to be a refuge from all of that. And because I love her more than words can say, I want to give her a space that says,

Come, child. Come lay your head and rest your cares and let it all go for a spell. Come sleep and dream and feel the love in this place that we’ve prepared for you.

I can’t give her straight A’s or a full-ride to college or protect her from a broken heart. But I can give her soft sheets and a furry comforter and an excessive amount of pillows and twinkle lights.

throw pillows

This was my motivation and my vision, a lovely and cozy sanctuary for my teenage girl who will only live here for a few more years. {Please pass the tissues.}

And then an Evil Light Fixture tried to steal everything.

An Evil Light Fixture with no globe that should have so easily detached from the ceiling and been replaced with a capiz shell chandelier that I got for $20 and had planned to fit ever so easily around the existing bulbs.

But this fixture got all 1959 on me with its sketchy wires and Houdini way of being UNREMOVABLE without the services of a professional electrician. It mocked me as it dangled from the ceiling.

dangling light fixture

It resembled the torturous lighting of an interrogation room. Which was appropriate because the sudden anger of the moment made me want to murder someone.

Let’s recall the aforementioned sensitivities to bad lighting. This room had the worst lighting in the house. Also? I had less than 48 hours to do complete the project. My daughter was away on a Young Life retreat and I had planned to surprise her when she returned. For two whole months, I’d been planning a secret re-do for this particular weekend.

But back to Friday night.

The Evil Fixture sapped my will to even launch the project. I was bone-weary from an extra busy week. I had everything I needed in place and the clock was ticking. But the perfect  paint color and cozy bedding and party of throw pillows would only make the space look like a girly version of an interrogation room if I could not remedy that fixture.

So I abandoned the cause altogether and drowned my despair in Asian vegetables + extra rice + eggroll in my bed while crying and watching a movie like a responsible grown up.

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Rest {and Chinese food} are magic. By the next day, I had a vision that came to me in bits and pieces.

A lampshade frame.

source

Yarn and fabric strips glued all Bohemian-like onto the frame.

Lamp-Makeover-Label-550x825

source

And this GLORIOUS wall-hanging that the Nester posted just last week.

diy-wall-hanging-600x906

How to make a DIY wall-hanging starting with a mop

This is why God made Pinterest.

We come across ideas that lodge themselves in our brains. And then these ideas become friends with one another and help a sister out when the pressure is on.

Here I am on Sunday afternoon with a massacred lampshade frame {from a lamp I snagged off the curb}, a hot glue gun, yarn, and whatever other Bohemian doodads I could find in my craft closet.

making a lamp

Let’s all pretend this is a flattering photo of Marian.

Again, this is the Evil Light Fixture when it was winning.

dangling light fixture

And this is the Evil Light Fixture DEFEATED and hidden by a Boho chandy.

boho chandelier

It was one of the greatest decorating victories of my life. Even more than the flipped-over rug and the dining room turned lounge of yesteryear.

You won’t find this fixture in a magazine. It looks more crafty than couture. I hope to add more yarn and beads to make it a bit more substantial. But it worked. Resourcefulness and perseverance WON. And even though she would have picked a tiered chandelier from PB Teen in a perfect world, she actually said she wouldn’t change her one-of-a-kind chandy, pieced together with love. And a lamp shade from a stranger’s curb. And a lot of anger and unbalanced hormones if I’m being honest.

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I know this post appears to be about a DIY chandelier. But it’s not.

I needed that small victory something fierce.

Life today is more of a balancing act than it’s after been. From morning until I fall into bed, I spend most of my time doing what I have to do {because I’m trying to be a responsible grown-up} and have precious little time to partake of pursuits that make me come alive. Pursuits like writing and pondering and creating. I’ve started some meaningful projects in recent months and been unable to finish them.

There are four unfinished posts in my drafts folder as we speak.

A book proposal that I’ve recently restarted but had to put on hold. Again.

An entire house that’s waiting to be cozied up.

These are hardly tragedies. But Discouragement and Guilt and Frustration and Weariness have been my constant companions. I walk around with a low-grade grief because certain projects that I dearly love have either died or are still waiting to be born. Things that cannot have life unless I breathe it into them.

And so the bullies that live in my brain taunt me with thoughts like:

Maybe you should just give up. 

You don’t have what it takes.

You have to manage your time perfectly.

Just be grateful and quit dreaming.

You don’t have the resources or know-how to make this work.

So when I finished this room all by my big self AND defeated the Evil Light Fixture that felt like an impossible foe, I cried. And also did some high kicks.

It felt like the first win I’ve had in a long time. It gave me courage and confidence. It showed me that the worthwhile endeavors which make us come alive are indeed work and sometimes work is anything but fun. I gutted this one out, y’all.

And it was so worth it.

Most of all it reminded me that there is almost always possibility lurking beneath the impossible.

Maybe this applies to your marriage or maybe it applies to a room in your house with bad fixtures.

Regardless, it’s inspired me to think outside the box about how I can make regular writing a possibility. And finishing my proposal a possibility. And completing one room at a time a possibility. And working through hard relationships a possibility.

And most importantly, thinking about how I might take certain things off my plate so that some of these life-giving possibilities might become real.

Sometimes we just need the smallest of victories to keep us going.

Reminders that redemption awaits us in the most everyday of challenges. Even if it’s just an Evil Light Fixture.

 


 

P.S. I know y’all love a good BEFORE and AFTER as much as I do.

BEFORE

room before

AFTER

room after

She told me she never knew this room could look so pretty. Honestly, I didn’t know it could either. It’s been a gift to us both.

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If you’d like to DIY your own Bohemian chandelier, here are my very lazy instructions:

1. Find an old lamp shade and rip off the actual shade so that you’re only left with the skeleton of the shade.

2. Decide the shape of your fixture. I just needed one round oval piece. But you may choose to keep both the top and bottom parts of the shade plus the vertical pieces that connect the two. If you turn it upside down, you could have a beautiful tiered chandy.

3. Choose your yarn, ribbon, fabric strips, strings of beads, pom-pom fringe, or whatever materials you want to use. Cut strips of varying lengths.

4. Wrap the end of each length of yarn or ribbon over the frame and hot-glue it to the inside of the frame. Keep cutting strips and gluing. Do this 5,000 times or whenever you like what you’re seeing.

5. Attach the fixture to the ceiling with little hooks that you hang coffee mugs on. {I don’t know the real name of them but they screw into the ceiling.} I only needed two. Lightweight metal frames dangling with yarn don’t weigh very much so this shouldn’t fall from your ceiling. If it does I am not responsible.

In case you’re wondering, I spent two-ish hours making mine.

Here’s a view from inside the chandy:

inside the chandy

I replaced the swirly CFL bulbs that give off murderous lighting with two spectrum halogen bulbs that give off more of a natural daylight. It’s so much lovelier, plus nobody gets killed.

{This post is linked up at my friend Richella’s “Grace at Home” series.}

SUCH a heartfelt thank you to Emily Freeman and Myquillyn Smith for featuring this post on your “Weekend Links.” Your blogs were the first two I started reading way back when and they remain my two favorites. {All the cheeks-blushing / heart-eyes emojis.}

 


 

Need more possibility in your life?

I’m beginning a mini-series {4 posts or so} on the blog that’s all about moving forward with hope and possibility. Though this current post is about doing that in our homes, I want to talk about how we do that in our work.

Because maybe your right-now work isn’t your hoped-for work?

And you want to know how to receive your “right-now life,” even as you move forward with possibility into your “hoped-for life.” If that sounds like some encouragement you need, subscribe in the box below and you’ll have each post from the series delivered to your inbox when it’s published. You may unsubscribe anytime you like. 

 

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{Click here to read the first post in the series.}

 

Comments

  1. says

    Oh friend. Your words are so timely.

    “…there is almost always possibility lurking beneath the impossible.”

    I am, just today, discovering possibility beneath scars and grief and hurt and confusion that, when all added together, seem to equal impossible.

    And this room is DYNAMITE. I love it! And I’m wondering if husband would notice if I replaced the ceiling fan with a boho chandy. Ha! Positively lovely.

    • Marian says

      Always brings a smile to my face to see you here. : ) I’m so sorry for whatever suffering the day has brought. Please know I will pray.

      Maybe a hula hoop boho chandy would be big enough to hide the ceiling fan!

  2. Susan says

    “It showed me that the worthwhile endeavors which make us come alive are indeed work and sometimes work is anything but fun.”

    Well said! Love the room!! Your daughter must have been thrilled!

  3. Anna says

    Was just thinking I would have to leave a comment asking to see the room and then ta da there it was. So fun. So often the horror is really quite short lived against all the hours of pleasure that follow but we don’t tend to see that in the moment – a great reminder of things working together for good.

    • Marian says

      A good before and after is always so rewarding. And yes, a good reminder that the drudgery really is short-lived compared to the pleasure!

  4. says

    Oooooohhhh, you know I am RIGHT here with you. MOVING… my goodness no one tells you all that you will learn from the process. It was good to read it from a fresh perspective.

  5. Melissa says

    So pretty! I was wondering if u might share where you found the comforter for the bed? I am looking for something similar for my master bedroom.

    • Marian says

      The main comforter is just a white duvet cover from Ikea. The furry comforter folded up at the end of the bed is a queen-size comforter from Kmart, purchased in early February.

  6. says

    Darling friend, it’s been too long since I’ve said hello! One day last week I read this post, then another, then another. . .but I never left a comment. I’m ashamed! You are important to me.

    I do love your new house, and I am so happy for you to have found just the right one. What lessons in patience you learned in that whole process! And your daughter’s room, light fixture and all, is wonderful. But oh I love the lessons you draw even more than the pretty spaces you create.

    You are a light, Marian.

    • Marian says

      Thank you my sweet friend. Such kind words! I always light up when I see your name here. Also? No need to be ashamed! Life is FULL. You are always welcome here, just as I know I’m always welcome at your place. Still hoping for a day when we might sit on that lovely porch of yours in real life and sip tea. : )

  7. Debra says

    Totally a teen room win! Thanks for your encouraging post, as we all are at one time or another approaching the doorway to NO and need the courage just to open that door to YesYou Can.

  8. Charis says

    Such a great post-thank you! I am a SAHM with a 3 yr old daughter and a 7 month old son. My hubby is in school, and we are very happy and very broke. I’ve been feeling frustration and sadness at being stalled creatively since all my time is consumed by the (very worthwhile!) tasks of changing diapers, mashing bananas and reading Curious George. Such a well-timed post! Thanks for the encouragement and wonderful honesty. PS I was right-clicking open new tabs on your blog like a crazy woman! :)

  9. CynthiaJo says

    Lovely! The room looks amazing, and I completely understand your feelings about the light fixture. I’ve never known what that feeling is when it all seems that it’s falling apart and there is no way things are going as they should. It’s defeat. Knowing what that feeling is now makes it seem more manageable. Thank you!

    • Marian says

      Thanks CynthiaJo! You’re so right. Sometimes naming the feeling helps us deal with it more specifically.

  10. Clarissa says

    I’m not sure how I stumbled to this article but it saved me from a nervous breakdown last week. : )

    Thanks for sharing. We never know how our experiences will affect others. I’m in the process of selling my home and at least I was able to clean my house, for yet another showing, with a smile on my face while remembering your article.

    • Marian says

      Clarissa, I’m so glad for your comment. Listen, showing a house is its own brand of crazy. I still feel like I’m in recovery. {We should start a support group.} Hang in there, my friend. Cling to hope and possibility, no matter how much of a flicker they may be in any given moment. I’m so glad the light fixture post made you smile. : )

  11. says

    “…a low-grade grief.” What an apt way to articulate what it’s like to carry around dreams not-yet-flourishing! And I adore that room- can I come visit and just hang out in there? That’s not weird, right? Also, I think we’re all glad to not be alone in crying over things like heinous light fixtures, and/or other stubborn aesthetic challenges.

  12. Jessica Turner says

    I am a newcomer to your blog and it was truly God’s timing that I found it last night. My husband and I are about to move to a new city where a new job is not yet established for me and moving away from a city I adore and friends whom I cherish. I have been all emotions and nothing sane. And then I found your blog (which I had been encouraged to search out from a relative of yours). And I laughed and cried and remembered that God has made us beautifully human and it’s okay to not have it together. He’s got our backs and we just need to find the beauty in the journey and trust the rest to Him. Thank you for reminding me of that with your terrific sense of humor. You are such a blessing.

    • says

      Jessica, it’s lovely to have you here. {It’s August and I’m just seeing your comment, somehow, from June!} Anyway, blessings to you in all of the transition. It is so okay not to have it all together. That’s what grace is for. : )

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