When I pulled up to 15539 Keppen in Allen Park last December, I instinctively expected to see the faces of our older girls peering out the window at me, waving me in. I expected to see a Dora big wheel parked in the driveway or a tiny picnic table retired from its summer duties, collecting the first snow of the season.
Instead, I saw a “For Sale” sign in the yard. Instead, I saw an empty porch, an abandoned driveway, and tightly closed blinds. No signs of the life we once knew there.
But I quickly remembered what we were selling and what we weren’t. Our family memories weren’t for sale. I didn’t pack up those. And the mistakes made, lessons learned, forgiveness sought, and gospel seeds sown weren’t for sale either. So I let our house go in that moment, knowing God had used it for his purposes in our life and that season was over.
When we first moved into our love shack on Keppen, we hadn’t been married a year. We shared our frozen wedding cake on our 1-year anniversary, seated on our slip-covered couch in the living room. That house was our proving ground as newlyweds, as employees, as church members, as evangelists, and as new parents. So much of the work God has done in our life started within those four walls.
We learned to work together on managing a house and its projects and responsibilities and eventually fell into a good rhythm of what became my duties and what became Matt’s. It was one of our first partnerships. We learned to wait for things we wanted that we couldn’t afford (or to give up wishing for them!). And, we saw God provide through hard work and the generous gifts of friends and family.
We cut our teeth on hospitality in that house. We had hyper teenage boys from the youth group spend the night. We hosted playdates with new moms, dinner clubs, recovering addicts that needed loved and counseled, discipleship sessions for new and hurting Christians during our kids naptime or after dinner, neighborhood dinners, evangelistic Bible studies, college and career Bible studies and lunches and birthday parties, and even provided them with a couch to crash from their crazy schedules, question-packed lunches with older godly women, and regular community group meetings where we hammered out applying the Bible to our lives.
|One of our many beloved Community Groups|
There we began learning to rejoice and sorrow with others and how to follow the Lord in joy and in sorrow ourselves. From the joy of setting up our first nursery and then big-girl room (ladybugs galore!) for Stella and bringing her and our other two Michigan-born-babies home to that house. There we learned the nuts and bolts of having 3 kids 4 and under and all the craziness that entails -including scrubbing poop off the walls, curtains, floor and crib when a certain child decided to decorate with his/her nap-time excrement.
The stories those walls could tell if they could talk!
|Stella’s nursery turned big-girl room|
Tear drops might still stain the kitchen countertop from when I was mindlessly scrubbing it because I had to do something after finding out that I’d lost our baby after almost 20 weeks of pregnancy. And I can still see the dozens of cards from church members lining the top of our piano in the dining room, sharing in our grief, admonishing us with Scripture, and sharing their own stories of God’s faithfulness to them through unfulfilled expectations.
We loved that house. It had a warmth and coziness we haven’t been able to replicate here in our Florida home. The charm of the curved front sidewalk and the glow of the light from the living room wall sconces in the evening. If I close my eyes and listen hard enough I can still hear what the cries of a hungry baby sound like there at night, the pitter-patter of first steps on those hardwood floors, the frustrated turning of the old, loose door knob to go upstairs to our bedroom, and the echoes of excitement when Daddy came home for the day. God provided our love shack for us in an amazingly generous way, and he continued to provide for us the entire time we owned it. Not just for our material needs, but with all we needed for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3)
|Ruby as a new walker|
And as of yesterday, it is ours no more.
But, for the past nearly three years now, we’ve lived in a different proving ground, learning many new lessons and re-learning old ones. God isn’t done with us yet. We’ve discovered that our homes here are primarily training us for our heavenly home. Whether we have happy or hard home lives. Christian or antagonistic family members. Beautiful or fixer-upper surroundings. It’s all meant to help us on to him. It’s all meant to fit us for heaven. To make us more like him. To make us long for our eternal home, but also to encourage us with grace along the way.
And if God can help us find such love, hope, and happiness in a 900-square-foot house in cloudy and cold Michigan, I can only imagine how beautiful and peaceful and perfect our eternal home will be. Because it will be with him.
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:3-5)
Praise the Lord for sharing and explaining how our homes ought to be used and remembered. It is an Awesome reminder of the proper perspective of how God can use such a simple structure, such as a house, and how He can allow that house to be turned into a Home that can be used as an instrument to teach us many things, and to honor Him!
Thanks again for sharing!