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A year ago, my husband Casey and I were in the process of closing on our very first home. What a year it has been! I could attack this subject from so many different angles, and I could truly ramble on-and-on about each subject, but I’ll try not to bounce around… too much.

To recap, we offered on two homes before we offered on what is our home now — talk about third time’s a charm! We went back and forth about wanting new construction that would allow less wiggle room in our budget, or if we wanted to take an older house and make it our own.

Of course, our hearts wanted an older home because, time after time, when we looked at newly constructed homes, they lacked the character we wanted. Finally, on a day much like this past week in Oklahoma that was full of ice and downright awful weather, we gave a home a chance that we had scrolled past many times on our house-hunting apps.

I am so glad we decided to just take a look at that house because here we are a year later, and it is the place we call home. We started the home-owner process with a large list of “must-dos” in the few weeks we had before we had to be out of our apartment and moved into the home.

This long list included two things that both Casey and I agreed must happen as soon as possible: painting all 1,600 square feet of our home and Casey removing the popcorn ceilings (why was this ever a thing?).

To some, painting might not seem like a big undertaking, but it absolutely was. When we had the house inspected, we also had a contractor come give us a quote on all of the things we wanted updated. We asked him to give us a quote to paint the whole house, tear down two half walls, remove popcorn ceilings and install about 450 square feet of new floor. After he told us everything we wanted would cost more than $20,000, we decided to do it all ourselves.

Our living room, my favorite room in our house, had a custom, dark-brown wood paneling job. Dark-brown, word paneling that I sanded every square inch of and we painted, which now looks incredible. Let it be known that we couldn’t have done it without our families that drove 90 miles or so for a “paint party” on Saturday. That was perhaps the most noticeable change in the house, along with all of the other rooms that had odd colors on their walls, which we painted grey.

Also, removing the popcorn ceilings was a big change. Casey did an incredible job with the help of a few close friends, and you wouldn’t be able to tell now that popcorn ever coated any ceiling in our house.

There were so many other seemingly small changes that took hours upon hours of labor. This is where I got to first-hand see that I married one of the hardest working men in the world. I have always known Casey was a hard worker, but until I saw him staying up until 1 a.m. or later working on replacing all the light covers and plug-ins the house, I didn’t fully grasp how amazing he really is.

Here we are a year later and our house looks incredible thanks to Casey and his hard work. Many times before beginning a project, I asked him if he didn’t think we should just hire someone, and he would say with confidence that he could figure it out.

He never hesitated to ask for help from others more experienced than he, but in the end, he has saved us an incredible amount of money and truly poured some meaningful sweat-equity into our home. He has torn down walls, broken up old tile and installed new floors, built furniture, replaced all of the old blinds and countless other things.

His work ethic and the way he has served me and our marriage constantly reminds me of how the Lord calls us as Christ followers to not be served but to serve. However, it isn’t just in one area of his life that Casey serves like this, he serves like this in every area of his life.

Whether it is through the college ministry and loving students, or just being there for them, Casey is there. If it is doing a last-minute job that isn’t necessarily fun but needs to be done, Casey is there. There are so many things that I admire about my husband, but how he serves and loves others are at the top of the list.

I say all this to challenge you in several ways. First, if you’re currently in the house-hunting process, don’t be afraid to take on a manageable fixer-upper of your own. We have never regretted ours! Second, ladies, look for a man who serves others, especially when no one is watching. He is the type of man who will lead your marriage along the God-honoring path that it should go. Third, never hesitate to acknowledge the hard work you see someone else accomplish. Chances are, if they are anything like my Casey, they won’t expect the praise, but it is welcomed.