on redeeming a house

our house, though certainly not the worst one we looked at before choosing, is still a mess.

we got the keys on monday afternoon, and after the owner had left, and it was only me and t walking through that wasteland of a house, i sorta wanted to turn around and walk away. filthy, ugly carpet everywhere. filthy everything — the insides of the vents, the cabinets, the walls, and the door frames. the storm doors are trashed, a window pane is broken on the porch, the walls in the smallest bedroom have huge holes in them from the pounding fists of a little girl who used to get locked up in there, there are no lightbulbs in any of the fixtures, and the fence gate is held in place by extension cords. on the front porch railing, a child has written in colored sidewalk chalk, “don’t buy this house. stoopid [sic] landlord.” and, we discovered that someone had stolen the water meter and the copper piping from the water heater. in other words, there’s no water in the house.

the dream of moving in by the end of this week slipped away in light of the fact that the water cannot be restored until the middle of next week, and the revelation of lots of insect residents stirred up when we tore up the carpet and padding. to walk through a house in which EVERY room needs repairs and renovations… to have this enormous to-do list running through your head… stuff that needs doing before you can even move in… it feels heavy.

and it was me and t. only us.

t began to pray aloud for jesus to guard our emotions, to help us to see straight. and, as he went out to the dumpster with the first arm-load of torn-up carpeting, he heard the Spirit whisper, “redemption. you are doing it right now.” this is what the Father’s heart is for us, through jesus, who comes to make all things new. even houses.

we had all the downstairs carpeting up within 45 minutes. and then sarah jayne showed up. cheerful and ready to work, she went to town on the tack strips that had held the carpeting in place, and talked out loud about how beautiful it would be when it was finished. a bit later, crystal showed up, also ready to work. she helped me scrape the residue of  carpet glue from the exposed wood floors, and pull up some carpet staples. oh, what a heartening thing to have these two beautiful-souled women work alongside us, these same women who will LIVE with us in the house, once it’s ready for us all. our morale went up significantly. then justin came, bearing more work gloves, and bottles of water for us to drink. he and tim got up all the carpet from the upstairs and the stair case. our neighbor jeremy came by, too, and lent us some scrapers, and assured me that the sense of pride and accomplishment that follows in the wake of such projects makes it all worth it. carry on.

and the floors are good. they are solid. they are also painted red, which has gotta go. but we can sand them (and will do so this weekend). the staircase… it’ll be gorgeous, after a little rehab. we begin to see the potential and believe that it will come to pass.

today, when i was near tears and absolutely frustrated as i tried to pull up the zillion carpet tacks from the hardwood floors with a pair of needle-nose pliers and all the strength of my being, encouragement came in the good news of a tool that greatly eases the difficult task. tony told me about fencing pliers, and then lent me his, which made the task of pulling staples go from hellish to satisfying in minutes.

today, as we worked, and i was tempted with the same overwhelmed feelings of day one, i turned my thoughts to my jesus. and to His perseverance in redeeming and restoring ME, and in restoring His church. He never gives up. even when there are layers and layers of grime and facade to pull up before He gets to our hearts. He keeps on working. and i want to work like He does, first on this old house, and later on the hearts of my neighbors.

i am wimpy, delicate, easily dismayed, and lazy. these tendencies are brought to the surface as i look ahead to a long week of intensive projects, but i know that i want to choose the higher things: dedication, persistence, hard work, hope, and vision. i suspect that this whole home-renovation thing could be good for my character, if i’ll allow it.

before we even moved here, indeed before we even had a house selected, my friend e got a picture for me in prayer one day of a barn raising. you know about barn raisings? the amish people, who use no power tools or construction equipment, rely on one another to put up their barns. so there would be huge gatherings, in which the men would construct and erect the walls of the barn, and the women, i imagine, would prepare good food to strengthen and nourish all the laborers. and there would be this tremendous together-ness. so that by the time the barn was raised, the bonds between the members of the community would be reinforced by co-laboring and cooperation. i have a feeling that as we work on this house, we’ll have days when the projects feel like barn-raising  — with many friends around to lend their expertise, their grunt work, their tools, and even their food. what a beautiful thing. then, down the road, we’ll help our friends raise their barns, too. this is what the body of christ is meant for, in part.

so, yes, we ARE accepting help. give a holler if you want to pitch in, in any way, big or small.

awaiting the unveiled glory…

ps: i really wanted to put a before-and-after photo of the floors in here, but wordpress is malfunctioning. boo.

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5 thoughts on “on redeeming a house

  1. such a great word…redemption. Imagine all the dirty-house-people Jesus has worked on and never given up. I think this is a good way for you to enter the neighborhood, with a rough, hard-earned beginning that will draw on the strengths of many. xo

  2. brooke. i love this. it made me cry from joy and the rock solid hope that i feel communicated through your words.. .hope for us all! what a good and amazing and grace filled thing that is.

    thanks for writing. i wish i was there to see it. you are both amazing!

    I LOVE YOU SO MUCH

  3. brooke, you have a “God-sized dream” and I pray that you and Tim will be used by God in your neighborhood! Cannot wait to see you guys again and the home where you will live and make a difference in this “needy” world.

  4. And I love this, too!

    It reminds me of Lewis House, where I lived before we got married. I didn’t see it in it’s earliest, messiest stages, but even when I moved in (a couple years into the process of restoring it), it was incredible to see the transformation happen, room by room, and to hear stories of how many people told them they were crazy for taking on a project like that. But George and Sarah (the couple who own the house) talked about how it became a constant visual reminder of the transformation they want to see in the lives of their neighbors.

    So I’m praying that as you work through the hard, gritty process of making your house into a beautiful home, that God will continue to encourage you and fill you with vision for the beautiful transformation He’ll work in people’s lives through it and through you. It will be worth it!

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