Monday, April 13, 2015

The Kitchen

The kitchen was one of the rooms that made our home seem most abnormal.  Take, for instance, the sink.  I have no memory of the kitchen sink ever working.  I'm not sure if it was a broken pipe or a clogged drain.  I just don't ever remember being able to use the kitchen sink.

Photo © Geoff Johnson

And then there was the refrigerator.  It broke early and couldn't be fixed because how could anyone come into the mess to fix appliances?  I remember on occasion my mom would let my grandpa come over to fix something, but in later years she even kept him out.  We did get a small refrigerator for a time, but it too eventually broke and we resorted to keeping things on the back porch during the winter and in a cooler during the summer.  All that made life more difficult when mom's car would break down because it meant we would have to make daily walks to the grocery store to get ice for the cooler or just enough food for dinner and breakfast so it wouldn't go bad.  I hated walking to and from the grocery store so often.  And I also hated pouring icy milk in my cereal for breakfast in the winter when it was already so cold inside the house.  

The stove didn't really work either.  The stove top may have worked, but we never used it.  The oven, however, just barely functioned.  It heated up to a low temperature and while it wasn't really useful to cook anything in, we did turn it on and would stand by it in the winter to keep warm.  

Photo © Geoff Johnson

Winter in the house was almost unbearable.  Maybe that is why I hate the cold weather.  And now that I live in Florida it is almost hard to remember how cold it really was.  But those of you who battle negative degrees in the winter can imagine how miserable it was to come in from outside to a house that was just about the same temperature on the inside.   Not to mention the misery of taking a bath.  Granted the walls blocked the wind and snow, but it was still bitterly cold.  On occasion the furnace did work, but the vents were covered with newspaper and mom was too afraid of it starting a fire so she rarely ran it.  We did have a few small space heaters, but those too were a fire hazard so they were turned off at night.  

So what did work?  The phone.  It hung on the wall, and although it wasn't there when we returned to take pictures, I remember calling friends or answering Dad's calls when he was on his way to pick us up.  I also remember making numerous phone calls to mom when she was at work and Geoff and I were fighting.   

Likewise, the microwave worked and that allowed us to eat more than our fair share of microwave dinners.  Eating fast food and microwave dinners day-in and day-out caused me to develop an unhealthy relationship with food.  If you give a child the opportunity to pick between chicken nuggets or a hamburger and french fries or Taco Bell for dinner every night, they never gain the knowledge on what healthy food choices look like.  I was overweight by the time I was a teenager and when I finally moved out and had the opportunity to take control, I found myself on the verge of a dangerous eating disorder. I later learned how much eating disorders grow out of a need for control, and with such a chaotic childhood, this became one area I could actually control.  Within about a year of moving out I had lost 50 pounds.  

Thankfully, God has redeemed so much of that!  And although I still struggle with control in other areas of my life, I now have a heightened awareness of it.  It is a learning process but the Lord has been gracious to teach me so much about resting in His sovereignty and fighting not for control, but for those things that are good and right and true.

God has done so much more than that as well!  It may not have been until I moved in with my dad that I really had a chance to experiment in the kitchen and although it wouldn't be until I got married that I built any habit of sitting down at the table for a meal, those are two things I value so much at home and eating dinner with my husband and kids around the table each night.  Not to mention having people over to my house for dinner! Maybe one day we will even live near family and get to host a holiday meal!

Read about Opening the Door here. 
Read about The Living Room here.  
Read about The Dining Room here.
Read about The Bathroom here.  
Read about Geoff's Room here. 
Read about My Bedroom here. 


  1. Jennifer - Thank you so much for sharing your story. I found your blog through a story on the photo project through Yahoo. My grandmother was a hoarder, (although my mom still doesn't really acknowledge it), and I so appreciate the way you have approached this. I also really love the ways that you have seen God's hand through the whole process. He really does love us, and gives us the small things that will make us happy (like rainbows). God bless you and your beautiful family!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. May you and your brother continue to thrive.

  3. Thank for bring light to a situation many of us live in. Unbeknownst to me I married a hoarder. It escalated after I had my daughter .He had lost his father and having to be a responsible adult when the hoarding began. I had gone part -time to raise our daughter and was getting screamed at for cleaning the house and threatened to throw us out for having a clean house. We are currently still in the situation I've gone back to work full-time to try and earn enough to get us out of the situation. There are no support or help groups for families or especially children living in the situation. They just have to try and hide it in shame. I am very ashamed of my poor choices and what it has done to my daughter .

  4. Don't we all hoard when we stuff our feelings and emotions and don't let anyone see them? Our Lord also wants us to sweep those areas clean so that He can use us in the lives of others. This really makes me think about all those areas in my heart that I have not yet given over to my Lord: pride, jealousy, resentment, unforgiveness, anger, foul language, and on and on. Anything that's good in me, is only because my Lord Jesus has cleansed me. So rather than looking only at the outside, like the hoarding we see in these pictures, let us also see what's been hoarded in our hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to sweep us clean.

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  6. Thank you for sharing such a raw and emotional story. This has brought light into a situation that more people than we know are living. It's a sad reality that there really are people out there who suffer and in turn it trickles down to the children. Thank you for being a fighter and trying to inspire others with your story!

    Caron Brennan @ ASAP Appliance Service