Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)
TITLE: The Perfect Home
By Micheline Murray
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Once again, stillness echoes all around me. I have raised two generations of children
from two different families, experiencing both incredible joy and sorrow throughout the years. As I stand tall, proudly lining our lazy suburban street along with my twenty-six fellow turn of the century Victorian homes on our avenue, accurately named “Maple Avenue” for it’s majestic shade trees, I reflect with much sentimentality on all that has taken place. I am especially amazed by my own transformation.
Originally a proud two-story home, my beams were charred by fire when I was only nine. Thankfully, my family escaped safely, but my entire second floor was lost to the cruel flames. Because my foundation was strong and sure, it withstood the fire. My family never knew that their decision not to rebuild my upstairs devastated me. As the only one-story home, I was the scorn of the neighborhood, and felt painfully inadequate. Stairs that once led to busy rooms were sealed off, a reminder to all of my incompleteness.
When this family moved, I was alone for over a year. Oh, people came by occasionally to look, but no one bought. No one wanted to pay the asking price for such a small house. My loneliness was overwhelming. Just as I was about to lose hope, a newly married couple decided that my two bedrooms and spacious backyard were, “just perfect!” No one had considered me perfect in a long time; we fell in love with each other immediately.
They gave me fresh paint or new wallpaper in every room. I welcomed their first dog, then their first baby. When the second baby came, there was talk of moving to a bigger house. My relief at their decision to stay was tempered when I heard the word “c-o-n-s-t-r-u-c-t-i-o-n.” Deep down I longed to be whole again, to have children running up and down my stairs. But construction would be painful. My roof would need to come off. My interior would be exposed for all to see, with nothing to cover my flaws, for who knows how long?
Fear overtook me and I willed them to move. I may have been incomplete, but I was used to it. I was comfortable, and that was better than all this change. Then, as my family pored over something called “house plans,” I thought, Plans? I know about plans! I’d often heard the children’s mother speak of “plans.” She taught them that God had plans for each of their lives, plans to prosper them and not to harm them, plans to give them a hope and a future. *
Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad after all. If my wonderful family trusted God with His plans for their lives, surely I could trust them to have good plans for mine. When our third child was on the way, the work began.
After a few weeks my exterior was finished. Maintenance-free siding, a wider front porch with a comfy swing, and beautiful landscaping were all very much noticed by the neighboring homes. The more detailed changes, however, took a great deal longer, as my family painstakingly worked through each room of my interior. They taped, spackled, sanded, primed and painted until every room was just as they planned it. The sanding wasn’t easy to endure; many times it was quite uncomfortable, and the dust it caused covered my new windows. But my walls had never been so smooth, and of course the windows were washed, allowing the sun to shine into my soul. Each of my rooms was truly complete because of their perseverance.
Who would have guessed that the fire which made me feel incomplete would make me perfect in my family’s eyes? Who would have dreamed that the pain of construction would allow me to be made whole again, with room for six children, two dogs, three frogs, two (pet) rats, an iguana and a turtle?
Now, these children are grown and gone, and their parents have moved to a smaller place. This time as people walk through my rooms, deciding whether or not to buy me, I am not lonely. For this time, I know that just the right family will see what they need to see in me, and they will have good plans for me!
*Paraphrased from Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
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