Castles, gratefulness and why you might kiss your carpet

Every little girl grows up dreaming about living in a castle. So as I flip through channels and find a home tour in a renovated castle I pause for a moment. It’s gorgeous–high walls, timeless floors, winding staircases. The hostess explains a local architect and his wife have brought new life to this old place. The wife nods and then replies, “Would you like to see a picture of it before we began?”

What she shows the camera next almost jolts me out of my seat. It’s nothing but ruins. No roof. No windows. Just jagged pieces of wall stretching into the sky.

I shake my head in wonder. How did they even have a vision for what that place could be?

Just seconds ago I thought, “It would be really cool to live in a place like that someday.” Now I take it all back. No way would I be willing to do that much work. I landed on the “happily after” part of that castle’s story and completely missed how arduous the process had been to get there.

I thought about how I often do the same in other ways. I look at an area of another woman’s life that I admire–maybe a talent, skill, strength or dream that has come true–and I think, “It would be really cool to live in a place like that someday.”

But I don’t see the whole picture. I don’t know how much renovation happened in her life to get her there. I don’t have the back story that shows God gets all the glory. I haven’t counted the tears or uncovered the cost along the way.

Jon Acuff shared, “Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle.”

I’d take it one step beyond that and say, “Never compare your middle to someone else’s happy ending.”

And know that if we’re longing for someone else’s “castle” we’re also asking for all the effort, energy and emotion it took for that to be built in their lives. Do we really know what we’re asking for?

Writer Kathryn Stockett received 60 rejection letters before a publisher accepted The Help, which became a runaway best-seller and popular movie.

Olympic athletes train in obscurity and make significant sacrifices just for one shot at seeing their dream come true.

The Apostle Paul experienced being beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned and more in order to fulfill his calling.

By the time the television segment on that renovated castle finished I felt ready to kiss my carpet.

I had a new appreciation for my realities.

So next time we see a “castle” in someone else’s life that’s complete let’s close our eyes for a moment and try to imagine not just what could be but what may have already been. And then take a moment to thank God for being wise enough not to give us everything we think we want–and all that comes with it.



    • Marina sebastian says

      I have to be me and not to fall for some one’s castle. I need to love and appreciate the uniqueness of my own self as God has intended for me.

  1. says

    Brilliant. Thank you for this encouragement, Holley. I am so guilty of comparing my middle to somebody else’s happy ending. And yet reading this makes me feel free to love my middle, and to thank God for it.

    • Holley says

      “makes me feel free to love my middle…” I LOVE those words and they are true for me as well. There is so much contentment to be found when we embrace the plans He has for us.

  2. says

    Thank you for opening my eyes! I am so guilty of wanting the castle and not remembering all the work it took to get there. This puts a new perspective on my own story and being satisfied with my life at this very moment and all my blessings!

  3. Marie Richards says

    I certainly enjoy receiving and reading your newsletter. Most of the time I can relate and find help and know that others are going through the same thing. However, I can really relate to “castle renovations”. My husband and I purchased a cottage – for retirement- and renovated it into a two storey home. It took time, effort, work, energy and finances to complete the project. In the same way my “personal castle renovations” came forth, i.e., time, effort, work, energy and the “renovations” were completed. Just like our home, it needed maintenance every so often and so do my “personal renovations”. “BUT GOD” is a willing partner and all we have to so is ask.

  4. Cynthia says

    Amen! What an encouragement. It is so hard not to compare and wish. Thanks for the helping me remember on who I need to focus on not on what.

  5. Warrior Child says

    What a profound reminder that all of us are work IN PROGRESS.
    All in some stage of development. Some at the “gathering materials” stage. Some at the “akward beginning” stage, and others of us at the “frustating, working it out” stage.
    But, Praises to our King! He does have a plan for each of Us. And He knows what it is. He holds the blueprints.

    Thank you for the blog today. What a reminder of how much He loves us.

  6. Sandy. says

    Came to My Attention Today.
    We Hit Silver.

    “You are my refuge and my shield;
    I have put my hope in your word.”

  7. says

    thank you, Holley! I LOVE the quote that you shared. I have really struggled with comparison in my walk with the Lord. It’s so hard, though, because even if we can see what looks like a castle in someone else’s life, we have no way of seeing deep into them! They could just LOOK like an awesome castle on the outside and be all crumbly and roofless on the inside.

    We look at super amazing heroes of the faith and desire to be like them, but we don’t realize the cost that they paid — the obedience, the sacrifice, the pain. Are we really willing to count the cost and go after Christ? so great! thanks for your post :)

  8. says

    Dear Holley! Thank YOU!!! This was just what I needed to hear, because like many, I am in the “middle” somewhere… and even though I may feel like loads of friends are in their “happy endings” stage of life, you have encouraged me to be so thankful for where the Lord has me, and to trust that He has a master building plan for every aspect of my life, AND that there is a beautiful story, from beginning to end, that is written and played out BEAUTIFULLY in every child of Christ. No matter where your story may be, it’s all Good. Thank you Holley, and may fill your heart to overflowing!

  9. Ana says

    Often times we see things that “might” be better or we “want” things to make us feel better. Always expecting that “one day” I will have this or that. I am all into seeing what others have done and are still doing, but I have learned to look inwardly at myself and ask “what do others see about me that’s different”? What I was and what I am now in having Jesus in my life has been a complete “overhaul” and “reconstruction” of myself.

    I have learned to accept the things I cannot change and live with the things that I have and in all that I do I just want to glorify Him.

    Bottom line _ I’d rather have Jesus than riches and gold.

  10. Janice Salisbury says

    Good blog, Holley. And I will go one step further. Sometimes when you think your castle is finished & you’ve reached perfection or @ least the end, you find termites!! Then you have a LOT more work. Never envy!!!

  11. says


  12. Terre says

    I love this post today. I have figured out that if I pray for Gods will in these situations, he meets my needs in ways that Far exceed my hopes & dreams. He knows our hearts better than we do ourselves. Also, in a little different context, it reminds me of the song Alabaster Box.

  13. Wendy says

    It’s amazing how often we do the unthinkable and judge someone….how their life is….how they seem to us. We put people in boxes. Like the “castle” article, we don’t see the entire picture. We can’t fathom the sacrifices people make for their dreams and visions and we don’t entirely know the process. However, we can all be better at just being happy for people and their dreams. I know several friends who made decisions that altered their lives. They wonder sometimes “what if”…but they know that they were the authors of their own castles…crumbling walls and all, and chose to make those dreams of theirs wonderful castles. I learned something today. Thank you.

  14. Paulette says

    Profound words and message. With a horrific transition in lifestyle and houses due to a divorce, this post reminds me that GOD is my architect and provider. Bless you for your Heart and insight.

  15. KelliLea says

    Tears today. I’m in a place where I struggle with being patient enough for my ruins to be neatened up. The renovation is hard work. And waiting for someone else to renovate their own ruins is heart-wrenching when you wish they could be part of your kingdom. Your post today reminded me that it is in God’s timing, not mine. I will pray for patience as I move forward and wait for God to create exactly what he wants in me.

    • Pat Ball says

      God will give you the most amazing castle, more wonderful that you can imagine as long as you wait on Him. He knows what you are going through and you can only make choices for you…Trust in Him and wait on Him.

  16. Dolores E. Green says

    Tears here to. Grateful, thankful, scattered /mixed emotions..needed this today..thank you Holly..well stated.


  17. maria says

    This is soooo true…I need to file this in the back of my mind to be able to remember next time I am tempted to think this way about someone else’s situation vs. mine at the moment. Also, I think we are called to share what we have learned through our own situations, humbly, with others as we have opportunity. Thank you, Holley, for being so very practical and down to earth…you have such a gift, and you are such a gift!!

  18. Pat Ball says

    I live in my castle right now, it still needs repairs from time to time, but it took a lot work a lot of sweat and a lot of tears to see God’s blessing in my life. I was for all intents and purposes technically homeless for two weeks and one point after my divorce 12 years ago and now I have an amazing husbands who loves and honors me and wonderful, funny 2 1/2 year old that was not a part of my plan (but that is a whole different story) and a home to call my own. Those two years after my ex left me were the hardest in my life but I would not change them for anything becuase I learned then that GOD LOVED ME and I knew both in my head and my heart. I look around me and I thank God every moment for that time in my life and I think wow Lord you knew the end result even when I didn’t, thanks that it is soooo much better than I could have ever imagined.

  19. says

    Thank you Holley for your emails. They are always a blessing. The one I read this afternoon on August 1 is especial the case. However, I always ready your postings. They are uplifting.
    Thanks you.

  20. Carolyne says

    I am 50 years old & I am a broken castle. My living nightmare of being married to an abuser of children is now out in the open. I am still with him at this stage waiting to see repentance. I am trying to to work through the many years of hurt in this broken down castle. I feel like the castle will never be repaired this side of 100 years and there will be no living left to be in a renovated state. Love is hard to receive right now. Love is painful.
    PS. Sorry my reply takes so long down under in this country but thanks Holly for your words of encouragement.

  21. toni says

    this resonated loud and clear and thank you for your awesome words. in my 32nd year i find myself going to a lot of showers and weddings…coming home at the end of a long day to my dog…my dinner date is my tv….i go through peaks and valleys of discouragement and to be honest it’s a little lonely…i’m a chronic third wheel…lately i’ve been praying…like on my hands and knees praying…not for a mate but just to have faith that God has this plan and to just enjoy Him and the awesome life He’s given me… sometimes i have to be actively engaged in having faith because i tend to doubt and start living life according to my plan which always seems to have a bad outcome…anyway..i just loved what you wrote today because you are so right…the prayer is working…i’ve let go and cared less about meeting a dude…enjoying the here and now…looking less at what my friends have…i feel like the fog surrounding me for so long is finally starting to lift… “So next time we see a “castle” in someone else’s life that’s complete let’s close our eyes for a moment and try to imagine not just what could be but what may have already been. And then take a moment to thank God for being wise enough not to give us everything we think we want–and all that comes with it.” thank you for your words !amen sister!

  22. Andrea says

    Thank you Holley! What a great point of view. I just had such a moment yesterday, where I compared my middle to someone´s ending. So your newsletter arrived at the right time and I will keep it in mind for sure!

  23. Anne says

    Thanks Holley

    My colleague and I love reading your posts. I’m sure many of us read, and are encouraged by your words, but don’t take the time to feed back to you – to thank you. Be blessed x

  24. Carolyn Oehler says

    Dear Holley, that really touched my heart and spoke to me. I’ve had problems all my life with comparing. I did missionary work for over 40 years in Latin America, and now I find myself in a very quiet place living with my Mother in Albuquerque, N.M. I feel pretty useless to the Lord, but I know the Lord has a plan and purpose for my life, although I cannot see it right now.

    I am walking by “faith” not by “sight” and trying not to compare myself with some of my friends on foreign mission fields like Africa. I know the Lord loves me as I am and He is preparing Me for something ahead. thank you for all of your blogs. I love to read them. God bless and keep you always. Carolyn

    • Audrey says

      Thank you for your post I have been feeling pretty useless myself. I live in Egypt surrounded by Muslims but I just don’t know how to open their hearts and eyes to see Jesus as He is. Perhaps God is using us without our realizing just by the way we live. You are doing God’s work just by obeying Him. Obedience is better than sacrifice! Moses was 40 years in the wilderness tending sheep preparing him for the task ahead and Abraham had to wait over 90 before he had Isaac, the son of promise.
      Thank you Holley for always making us think and encouraging us.

  25. says

    Just a simple thank you for this post – it really spoke to me. I stopped in amazement and just realizing how much I find myself doing this wishing I was in someone else’s shoes.

  26. Audrey says

    How true just like when Jesus asked James & John when they asked to sit on His right hand and left in His Kingdom if they could drink the cup He was about to drink. We should always think deeply before we ask for something because God does answer prayers!!!
    A number of years ago I offered to teach a lesson for a higher level class at the BC for my friend afterwards I regretted saying I would so I prayed God would intervene so I wouldn’t have to teach that lesson. He certainly did! I ended up in hospital with concussion and a badly broken leg the very next day, after being knocked down by a mini bus. God DID answer my prayer but since them I’m much more careful what I ask for. God is so wonderful, so full of grace but He does have a sense of humour!

  27. says

    I know exactly how you feel. We all look at others and think and feel that way somedays.
    I am a single, full time working mother of 5, who has been divorced for 6 years now, and
    was happily married for 23 years, until my ex started to take drugs, drink, and became
    physically aggressive. I do feel better in many ways, as do my children, but financially,
    it has been very very difficult, and also he has not seen the kidz for about 3 years now.
    So,they have not had a father in their lives, and this has hurt them. Somedays I feel like
    I “should be” further along than I am, but pray all of the time. Thank you for sharing
    this, you have been a Godsend to me. KL

  28. says

    Dearest Holley,

    It’s been a while since I’ve you a comment. I wanted to share an incredible blessing with you. My husband is 64 and I’m 62. We had finally come to a time when we were able to lay down the dream of becoming grandparents (for a number of reasons). But God is faithful no matter the circumstances or time. We have just become grandparents to a most beautiful little boy named, Theodore Ezra John Lessard. How’s that for a biggie name!? He’s Teddy to us. God sized dreams do happen — when we least expect it. It is our prayer that Teddy will have a like heart like David and a love for God’s people like Samuel. May he grow in wisdom and knowledge and become the boy and man that God has created him to be.

  29. Becky Jones says

    My home is our castle. t may not look like to a lot of people but when we get home and are doing things that keep us happy it is our castle. Enjoy your blog.

  30. margaret says

    Yes Holley,
    Thank you so much for sharing this with, for letting us know that were all works in progress in the hand of the master craftman. And that with Him we can be rest assured that our end is a gloriuos one, just as He had said that His thoughts are not our thoughts, and that what He has in store for us is glorious one! It is just that when going through somethings, its just His grace that is sufficient. God bless you real good.

  31. Alan Brown says

    I thank God for his gift of friendship to me that allows me to welcome others at church and tell of his goodness that has blessed me throughout the week. I belong to avery small community church where the members are very much in tune with each other.

  32. says

    Wow. You have no idea how much I needed to hear this today. God’s timing is amazing, you wrote this many days ago, but God knew when you did that it would be speaking to my heart *today*.
    Lately God has slowly, gently been laying the mantel of His plan for my future upon my shoulders, and frankly, it has been a bit too much. I’m reading books and articles, blogs and stories to get a better grasp on what and where it is He is leading me. As I have read other people’s stories and experiences, it excites and terrifies me– I see where they are now and the fruit that issues from their lives, all amazing things, but it discourages me because I’m SOOO not there. I catch a glimpse of the vision He has, but, like the castle, all I see is the pile of rubble I have to work with.
    Your words brought peace back to my frustrated and anxious heart. I see now that I can’t be discouraged when I look at the ‘castles’ of other people’s efforts. He is always at work, He is the Author and Finisher.
    Thank you so much Holley!

  33. Tyler Henrichs says

    I think the post is great in pointing out how castles don’t fix our problems. I think we each have our own castles some peoples castles are castles. Its just a shame that our history is obsessed with castles and the life they seem to posses. If more people chose a castle for them selves we would hopfully have much more happy people.

  34. Tyler Henrichs says

    And who builds a castle for themselves. Thinking abou this; a castle is a like a monument. It was a house for kibgs nd queens; who the people adored. These people were suppose to be people that othesr wanted to be around and gave trust in and would have built castles for. These people are building a monument to themselves and their money. Probably not someone who has the best interests of others in mind.

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