One of my favorite children’s stories is Laura Numeroff’s If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. In the story, one gift is never enough for the little fellow. Instead, it just reminds him of something else he wants, and leads to an endless chain of desire. The cookie makes him want milk; the milk makes him want a napkin; the napkin causes him to ask for a mirror to check his appearance, which makes him want a haircut . . . and on and on until he’s tired and hungry again and wants a cookie, which makes him want some milk . . .

I have become that mouse. Which is ironic, considering my less-than-stellar history with that particular species.

Recently Superman asked what I’d like for Christmas. I’d already thought about my answer; the wallpaper in my kitchen is dated, and I decided I wanted it to go away. No new wallpaper needed; I just want to paint the walls a nice, calm, serene color.

“Okay,” he said. Easy as that.

But then, as I thought about what color I’d like on my kitchen walls, I realized I really don’t care for our dated countertops. They’re hunter green laminate. That severely limits my paint color options.

“You want new countertops too?” Superman looked at me like a hound dog eyeing a new pet kitten, wondering if he should bark, growl, or just surrender.

I looked back at him with cartoon-kitten eyes.

He surrendered.

As we looked at different countertop options online, it occurred to me that a tile backsplash could really take our kitchen to the next level. And why not just do it all at once, since we’ll be without a kitchen for a couple of weeks, anyway?

“A tile backsplash?” Superman’s voice tightened, reminding me of a stretched-thin rubber bound, about to pop any minute.

I purred and did the kitten eyes again. Works every time.

If you’re waiting for a box of Christmas cookies from me, you may have to wait until next year. The holiday bakery will be out of commission while Santa works his magic.

Funny; I’d grown used to my dated kitchen. It wasn’t until I really examined things that I realized how much work was needed in there. The countertops weren’t noticeable to me until I thought about new paint. The backsplash didn’t bother me until I considered new countertops.

I wonder how many things in my life need an overhaul. Have I let bad habits and undesirable traits creep in? Like my kitchen, have they become so comfortable I don’t even notice them any more? I don’t want my spirit to become dated and ugly.

God wants to create in us clean hearts; he wants to renew our spirits. He tells us His mercies are new every morning. When we spend time with our Creator each day, He shows us what we need to change. And one change often leads to another and another, until our lives move from stagnant, ugly and insignificant to clean and beautiful and relevant.

I’m excited about my updated kitchen. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. As for the updates in my spirit, those will require a little more work on my part, but the results will be far more life changing.

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly-perfect children, and far too many animals. Connect with Renae at