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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Fragrance (10/24/05)

TITLE: The Best Fragrance
By Venice Kichura


I appreciate a sweet-smelling house. As a guest in someoneís home I love the fragrance of fresh-cut flowers, homemade bread, scented candles, and potpourri.

But when it comes to my own house, I feel inferior. Ever since I set up housekeeping years ago, Iíve panicked when people visit. I just know my house doesnít smell as good as theirs.

It doesnít help being the only female in a house where even the pets are male. Only hours before dinner guests arrive, my teenage sons would fry bologna sandwiches for lunch or my husband would burn popcorn. There isnít an air freshener on the market to cancel a burnt bologna or popcorn smell. Or just before my guests arrived, my Boy Scouts would return from their weekend campout, scattering their filthy socks throughout the house.

Then thereís Hercules, our smelly 75-lb boxer. No matter how much Carpet Fresh I sprinkle on the carpet, Iím sure guests still smell ďdoggie BOĒ when they walk through our front door.

I also appreciate how many hostesses have green thumbs and grow fragrant flowers in their front yards. When you walk up their driveway you smell the sweet blossoms---not dogs.

After planting half a dozen flowerbeds that died, I finally gave up and converted my front flower bed into a rock garden.

And, as for the backyard, Iím sure the former owner of our house would probably cry if she could see whatís left of her old flower garden. This woman had a green thumb, growing various sweet-smelling flowers. Now, after six years in my care, itís more like a weed garden. Iím sure Iíve fertilized the weeds and wild flowers, while digging up the real ones. There is one hardy rose that reappears almost every summer, but itís probably because thatís where we toss Herculesí dog crap.

When we first saw this house I was impressed with the stunning, fragrant hanging flower baskets in the sunroom and couldnít wait to move in and show off my own hanging flower baskets. But after tossing half a dozen dead plants in the garbage, Iíve finally settled for artificial ones. No maintenance, no dead leaves, but no fragrant smells either.

After years of trying to be somebody I wasnít created to be, Iíd finally accepted who I am---Iím not even close to Martha Stewart.

But, recently, I found myself getting back into panic over my house. As weíre moving next year, this old house will soon be for sale. Now Iím back to using all the tricks of making my house smell good.

Unfortunately, Iíd also started snapping at my husband, again, who continues to burn the popcorn and throwing the dog back in his doghouse when he throws up on our new carpet. But even giving Hercules weekly baths and washing his blankets still doesnít keep me ahead of dog BO. Iíve stocked up on home fragrance oils, and have planned to fake the smells of freshly baked bread and vanilla cookies. Iíll also sprinkle potpourri in every room and vacuum baking soda on my carpets.

Getting caught up in frenzy, I recently took a substitute teaching job just to get out of my house. On the agenda was a birthday party for a little eight-year-old with cerebral palsy. Her mother visited our classroom to help with the party. Handicapped herself, she struggled with muscular dystrophy as well as an active toddler and newborn baby.

Thinking how I would have lost my mind if I were her, I was awed how this special mother handled her special children with such patience and love. There was something so refreshingly different about her. She even smelled good. When I asked her about her perfume, she said she only used a body wash.

Then I noticed a cross around her neck and I realized she was a believer. Maybe her body smelled good, but it was the fragrance of Jesus that drew me to her. She had the best fragrance.

Sure, a sweet-smelling house is a ďgood thingĒ as Martha Stewart says. But the fruit of the Holy Spirit --- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control---operating daily in my life smells sweeter to my houseguests than any bowl of aromatic potpourri.

ĒBut thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spread everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.Ē 2 Corinthians 2:14 (NIV)

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 11/02/05
Oh, you are a person after my own heart! I felt like you were describing my own chaotic household!

This almost reads like two separate essays: the humor piece on house smells, and the devotional on the mother who blessed you. The moods didn't quite mesh, although both pieces had considerable merit. Maybe rework them as two articles?

Nicely done; you're a good writer.
dub W11/02/05
I agree with above, although I think a good transitional paragraph would have melded the two halves. I was raised with boxers...the stories we could share. Thanks for posting.
Garnet Miller 11/02/05
The sweetest aroma a house can have is that of hospitality for all who enter born of a deep love for God! I used to fret over my home until I stumbled upon this realization. Now, I think more about my service than the one dirty dish left in the sink:) Good article.
Nina Phillips11/02/05
Wow, how do I relate! I also have a sharpei, similarity. I enjoyed reading your story, I like humor--that's like tacky glue (LOL) in family life. I also learned a lesson..I agree. God bless ya, littlelight