Over Christmas, we made a little film of our life here and it includes an abbreviated tour of our house. We are very excited about it and we hope it will give our supporters a better idea of what they are supporting. I used to complain about my house and our inability to make it the home of my dreams, but now I know better. If I bless my house, it will bless me. I also read a book recently by a woman who gets visions of heaven. She reports that we will have the house of our dreams to enjoy for eternity, (and has cool testimonies to back it up,) so I am no longer worked up about where I live for just 30-40 more short years!
But back to our theme, it seems that in the last couple of months, God has been using my house to communicate deeper things with me, and there’s nothing like a secret message to liven up a housewife’s day! Let’s start with the trash…
I have 15 wastebaskets in my house, thanks in part to all the recycling we have to do. Ten years ago, during our time in Germany, this new idea took a huge amount of mental and physical energy. Now it is second nature. In my kitchen alone, I have a trash can for non-recyclables, a pedal bin for biodegradables, and a bag for collecting paper, plastics, and aluminum. Under my stairs, I store the bags until pick-up day and have a bigger bin in which to collect my little cornstarch bags of biodegradables. In another small closet nearby, I collect my glass in a cardboard box and toss regular trash bags into a normal trash bin. But to encourage better recycling and make collection fees more fair, we will be given a new bin next month with an electronic chip. On collection day, it will be weighed and we will be charged accordingly. And what message is coming from all of this?
Well, January has been a quieter month, so I’m taking advantage of it and feeding a lot of good books that are making me hungry for more of God. If I’m serious about pursuing that, I have to look at how I spend my time. Having my trash weighed every week is a good reminder for me to weigh in where my time was wasted. A line from a favorite worship album is my new mantra: “I’m makin’ plans to waste my life on You…” And God seems to be using all the bottles in my house as a visual aid right now. It seems they are all getting empty at the same time: the oils and vinegars in my kitchen, the laundry detergent and softener, my shampoo, my astringent and face cream, the hand soap. Having this many nearly empty bottles make me a little nuts because I need to buy the replacements, but have no convenient storage for them while waiting to finish those last drops. So my house feels cluttered for a few weeks until the switch is made. God has done a lot of work in me in the last year, but compared to what I’m reading in these books, I feel like one of those bottles, and I am restless to get filled up with more of Him.
In stark contrast to the trash cans, I have only 6 windows in my house, and 3 of them need to be replaced. 2 of them are the front windows right on the street, so they let in lots of noise and cold air. The French literally shutter themselves in at night for privacy, but I like to keep the shutters open so that passers by can see the life going on inside. (But in the winter, there is so much condensation that they see nothing! ) So in order to keep out the bad and still be a lighthouse in the neighborhood, I’m allowing window salesmen to come to the house for estimates. This has been very entertaining because they are some of the few non-Christians to darken my door, and I love sharing who we are and how God provides for our needs, just to see their reaction!
Moving on to my cramped cave-like laundry room, I have a top of the line washer and dryer, which I justify, since laundry is one of my ministries here (see the dvd.) Anyway, you might recall that we had a generous Christmas this year. I just wanted to mention that the house, via the washing machine, contributed to that when it stopped working and started blinking at us to check the filter. We dug out $9 in change! None of us keeps loose change in our pockets, so that was a real mystery. That was only 1 of many financial miracles in the last 2 months and God just keeps reinforcing the fact that He will continue to provide for us in a myriad of ways.
And then in my kitchen, I had hung this image taken from a French picture book. The theme was “Don’t worry, be happy!” (and this positive outlook is extremely rare in French children’s literature.) It was a very powerful and prophetic story for Noah and I ten years ago when we were really struggling with his schooling upon arrival in France. So I decided to frame the image and keep it before me until joy was a permanent reality in lives. Well, over Christmas I spontaneously grabbed Noah’s hand and asked him to dance with me while worship music was blaring in the kitchen, and he did! It was then that I knew that God had done a that work in both of us and that it was time to take the picture down. Another thing worth noting is that Noah has outgrown our house this year: There are 3 places where anyone over 5’10” has to duck. David has an automatic sensor, but my son was hitting his skull on a regular basis during his 3 weeks at home. Combined with the positive changes I saw in him over the break, this physical manifestation reassures me that he is ready to move on to “bigger things!”
In the verse, “As for me and my house(hold), we will serve the Lord,” the Hebrew word for “house(hold)” really does include the physical building. The French tend to decorate their homes with impersonal and generic art and decor, but chez nous everything on the walls has a story and testifies of God’s personal touch on our lives. What is your house saying to you and the world?