By Karen Treharne
Beside the door was the weather-beaten "Bless this House" plaque. They had obviously missed it when they cleaned up after the estate sale last month. Sarah tucked it under her arm remembering how their Aunt Betty had bought it as a house-warming gift when Mom and Dad first moved in over 50 years ago.
Sarah was here for closure, with one last look around. But how would she be able to say good-bye? When their father died, they couldn’t get their Mom to sell the house and move in with one of them. She wouldn’t hear of it. Now that she was gone – the time had come.
It is only a house after all, Sarah told herself. A building with walls meant to shelter and protect. Why then was it … well … so tangible? How could a person feel emotional about a wood and stone dwelling?
Unlocking the door, she was again reminded of her Aunt Betty and her words of wisdom: "Always remember that God is in you, Bev. He is the heartbeat of the Home." Sarah smiled to herself at the thought of how her mother and her twin sister shared everything – especially advice.
In the hallway next to where the wooden coat tree used to stand, she envisioned the framed scripture, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Embroidered by her grandmother Johnson as a gift for Dad and Mom’s first Christmas, it was a treasured picture that was the motto of the entire family circle – except of course for Uncle George, a professed atheist.
As she wandered from room to room, more images appeared. Furnishings in their familiar locations and special occasions involving friends and family. Sarah smiled at the round doorknob hole in the kitchen wall and how her mother said she would never fix it because she always wanted "to remember the day your father" pushed the back door open (a little too hard) to announce his first bonus with its promise of a family vacation to the Grand Canyon.
The fireplace in the living room was empty now, but many a fire had glowed late into the night providing warmth from drafty windows and adding charm to worn rugs. Grooves in the stairs stood witness to the thousands of steps that had left their traveler’s mark. Through the upstairs bathroom window, Sarah saw the old apple tree – oh the tummy aches she had endured – and she would never forget the time her brother, Bill, attempted to rescue Whiskers! That had ended in a broken arm, cat screams and her tearful laughter. Her father let her know with no uncertain words that he didn’t think it was at all funny.
Although this began as a sad day, it gradually turned into a source of joy as her mind filled with memories of blessings that stayed her threatening tears. She clung to thoughts of the love that had been shared through the years and had spilled over to touch the lives of others. Love that warmed every room and the hearts of all who entered them. Her mother took God’s calling to be hospitable very seriously, and whoever stood at their door and knocked was invited to enter – friend and stranger alike. "Kick off you shoes and make yourself at home," was a familiar greeting heard by many a visitor.
As Sarah closed the door behind her and descended the porch steps, she imagined the sounds of one of the numerous music fests that had been held within; guitar playing and vocal renditions of rock ‘n roll favorites by her cousins, brother and herself. Such happy times… now gone forever.
Backing out of the driveway, she took one last look in the rearview mirror at the home of her youth, and God’s word came to mind as she rounded the corner, "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." (Proverbs 24:3-4 NIV)
Even though it was the end of a lifetime for her, she prayed that the new owners would build many rare and beautiful treasures of their own. Memories built around a guest room offering refuge and comfort; a cup of tea given at a time of need; heart cookies they would taste and feel that the Lord is good; rooms filled with flowers reflecting Christ’s beauty; and the Good Book.
Her thoughts turned to John and how they were finally settled into their own house. Her first husband, Ted, had died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart defect three years ago, leaving her to carry on without him. But until she had met John, there had been no starting over. Now that her farewell visit was behind her, she felt ready to move ahead. And she determined that very moment, that their home would be a reflection of the one she grew up in… filled with blessings to share and remember.
Family Prayer for February
Thank You, heavenly Father, for always being near. Your presence in our home is such a blessing. Even when loved ones are far away, and earthly stress prevails, we praise your Holy Name, Lord, for being our refuge and strength. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. We praise you, God, and thank you for family. Amen.
Karen is a Pacific Northwest resident with strong ties to family. Although she is a relatively new writer, having been published in a local newspaper, a Faith Writer’s quarterly book recently released and in this online magazine, she is a longtime, faithful follower of Christ. Karen deems it an honor to write about the Lord’s impact on her life.
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