Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Write an INSPIRATIONAL or DEVOTIONAL piece (04/26/07)
TITLE: It's Just a House
By Venice Kichura
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“Please excuse the guest bathroom,” my friend, Margie, cautioned me as I cracked open the door. “We’re painting.”
This bathroom needs painting? I chuckled, admiring what was already a flawless bathroom. Her house was always impeccable. I’d never seen it when it didn’t look like a “For Sale” sign could planted on her lawn. She and her husband are “project folks”. They actually enjoy devoting their weekends to house projects. Whether it’s tiling a floor, wallpapering, painting a room, or remodeling, house projects actually energize these people.
Then there was our old house up north…We are not project people.
I remember the first time Margie saw our house. I almost fainted when she called only seconds after I’d knocked over a glass of chocolate milk. She asked if it was a good to time to pop over and drop off a package.
“Uh…sure,” I lied. “Come on over.”
I hung up, scrubbed the milk stain from my carpet, then hurled a mountain of junk in a closet, as well as crated Fido (who despite $400 personal dog obedience classes still jumps on guests.)
Why does it always seem like the most organized people you know ring your doorbell when your house is a mess and you’ve just spilt something?
My husband (who can tell you the date of most world events, who even bathes reading his Wall Street Journal) is what the kids calls a “dork”. Not a project man.
As for me, I bury myself in craft and writing challenges—-not house projects. But since we had to move and put our house on the market last year, we were forced to make home improvements.
Just when we finished re-staining our deck, thinking, we're gettin’ there, we got a reality check.
Driving home from church one Sunday last spring, we noted two homes on our cul-de-sac advertising Open Houses. “Great!” We said. “We can see what they’re asking for their houses before we put ours on the market..”
Waiting for the owners to drive off, we hiked all the way next door (and down the street), embarrassed we didn’t know our neighbors after all these years. When we learned that the woman next door had just given birth, our faces flushed red. She was right next door, but we didn’t even know she’d been pregnant. Then, we remembered that folks up north don’t venture outdoors until April. We were even more stunned when we saw their house. Shiny hardwood floors, white crown moulding in every room, and realtor-approved sparklingly white walls made us squirm, comparing their house to ours.
Amazingly, they had a three year old and an infant, while we only had a spoiled-rotten fur baby who made more racket than their entire family. And more mess. Every time it rained, we were on our hands and knees scrubbing paw prints out of our white shag carpet.
Discouraged, we trudged home. We walked through each room, shaking our heads. “We’ve got work to do,” we sighed, rolling up our sleeves.
We spent the rest of the spring and summer painting our walls white, replacing flooring, re-staining all the baseboards and doors.
Finally, I folded my arms, thinking, Good job, time to call a realtor. I sauntered downstairs to the basement bathroom.
I stared in horror at something dark and blotchy behind the toilet. We’d been invaded—-mildew!
I grabbed a brush and started scrubbing——right through the wall, into the garage.
“Idiot!” I kicked myself.
Seizing some chocolate for comfort food, I took a computer break. After Goggling “mildew cleanup”, I checked my email. There I found half-a-dozen prayer requests from our church prayer chain. Fellow church members were struggling with serious health problems, family and financial issues. Suddenly my mildew disaster and less-than-perfect house didn’t seem that important.
I fell on my knees in prayer.
It’s just a house, the Holy Spirit whispered.
Of far greater value, is the house inside of you, where I dwell. My temple. And stop calling yourself an idiot. You’re made in God’s image.
I tossed out my chocolate stash, promising to take better care of my “house.”
And as for my physical dwelling, “it’s just a house.”
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