Tuesday, April 16, 2013

This Old House

To the many many people who have been and will be traipsing through my parents' house over the next few weeks:

You need to know that this is not just a house. This was my very first home.

This was the place that my sisters and brothers ate a cake that said "8 is enough", but God knew that 8 was not enough.

That pool is where I learned how to swim, fully clothed, as a 1 year old. And I hated it.
It's the pool that I slipped into as a very small child, and one of my few memories of my oldest brother was him jumping in to get me, with all of his clothes on. I still remember the way his wallet looked, drying in the sun. And thinking how he must have loved me.

It's the pool that I spent many summers playing Marco Polo and Toothpaste and Colored Eggs in with my siblings and friends. The same patio where I read all of those library books out in the sun. And where I dipped both of my newborn sons' feet into wet concrete stepping stones...which are out on the grass by the swing next to their cousins', who endured the same rite of passage.

In the living room is where all of my friends would come to hang out in high school. Because my parents never minded the noise or the chaos or the mess (or at least did a really good job pretending they didn't). It was a place where we could be ourselves even when the world had so many other agendas for us. A place of 24 hour "parties", board games, and foosball tournaments.

You're noticing the outdated wood paneling, but all I see are the senior pictures of all 9 of us, side by side.
And all I remember is the laughter and the noise and the knowing that I was a part of something really special.

Of course you'll notice the narrow hallway, and you won't be able to miss the hundreds and hundreds of pictures from the past 30 years. But you'll never capture the feeling of my feet not touching the ground as I ran down it to tell my parents that my twin sister wanted to ask Jesus to come into her heart.

You'll never hear the bizarre mix of middle school clarinet, trumpet and (just as often as not) trombone floating down it.

You might just see a bedroom, but I see the place where I sat close to my mother, late one night at about 8 years old when she had cancer, and told her I was afraid she was going to die. And I can still hear her saying: "Don't you think I'd tell you if I was going to die? I am going to be ok."

I believed her, and she was right.

All you see is a big driveway, with plenty of room for your fancy cars, but I see the day that my family's lives changed forever when I was a preschooler. I see a policeman with no hair who wouldn't let me see my mom, and all of my brothers and sisters crying. I see my older sister P, letting me in her room and hugging me and telling me that everything was going to be ok, and thinking for the first time that it might not really be true. I see my big brother never coming home again.

But mostly, I see roller skates, and impromptu reunions, and hosing off after the beach. I see my boys growing up from the baby swing to the big one. See Noni and Papa, Mom and Dad, and the security of their love that showed me that no matter what changes, some things always stay the same.

I know you think you're just buying a house, but you're not. You're not just buying 4 walls and a big yard and a screened in patio. You're buying the place where we made a million memories. A place that is a part of all of us, somewhere deep inside that we can't always get to.

It is the place where we laughed and cried and dreamed and agonized. Sometimes by ourselves, but mostly together. It is the place where I learned that it is ok to be weak. And that in our weakness, God comes through stronger than ever. My family isn't perfect, and that is the greatest gift they could ever have given me. Because I've learned that I don't have to be perfect either. And that it is in our imperfections that our hearts are tenderized, humbled, and made ready to do more. To be more.

I'm sure you'll take out those old vinyl floors that have been tracked on by countless dogs, cats, toddlers and teenagers. But I hope you never forget that new tile and upgraded cabinets are only very temporary. The things that last forever aren't things at all. They're love and life and giving of ourselves.


It's the biggest thing I've learned here.
I've learned that if you let God lead you, you might have one (or two!) surprises. And your stuff might not always be nice. And you might get tired...a lot.
But when it's time to leave, when you're there where my parents are now, you'll be able to say, without any question: I'd do it all over again. You'll be able to believe that your life here in this house mattered. That you made a world of difference to so many many lives.

Somehow,  I don't think that this is the last I'll be seeing of this house. I have a feeling that one of those mansions Jesus said He was preparing for us, is going to look an awful lot like my childhood home. And we'll have the best reunion yet there. D will be there. And mom will be running circles around us like she always did. And all those things that never made sense before will be crystal clear.

But, for now, as you walk through a drawn out moment in time, I hope you smile at the possibilities. I hope that you don't let this house- or life- pass you by. Hope that you open your hand and let God fill it with all the wonderful, impossible plans that He has for you.

Thanks for stopping by.

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