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Granddad’s House

 

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Granddad’s House

“Ain’t gonna need this house no longer.”

Mothers’ Day 2014.

My mom had been diagnosed with Aortic Stenosis. It’s serious. It would kill her. Eventually it would cause heart failure. Nobody knows how long she had but statistically someone with severe AS lives two years or less. How long it take for the hardening of the aortic valve to get to the point where it caused heart failure was up to the Lord.  In the meantime, Mom’s attitude was great. She was ready to go to the Lord when he called her. While she waited she prayed through her alphabet lists.

My sister-in-law, Marlene,  was visiting for Mothers’ Day. She wanted to go see “Granddad’s House.” I had not been back there for years. I even avoided driving by it. But  Marlene wanted to see it, so Tim and I loaded Mom in a wheelchair and we took her.

The house had been vacant since we sold it in 2005. The new owners had been taking care of the yard and keeping the place looking nice, but the house had recently sold again. The new owners had not been keeping it up. The place looked awful. The lawn hadn’t been mowed for weeks, weeds clung to the sides the  building. The paint I had so carefully applied years ago, hung in shredded fragments or lay scattered under the ragged shrubs and roses. My grandmother’s favorite yellow rose bush outside the dining room window had climbed all the way to the second floor. A single crumbled bud still clung to the vine.

Marlene got out of the car to take pictures. I sat in the back seat hurting and stunned.

This had been the house where my grandparents had lived. Every summer when I was growing up, my family would drive from California to spend time with my mother’s parents.  They bought it in 1946 when they returned from 25 years on the mission field in China. My mother had been a student at the University of Washington then. My grandparents had lived in that house until they died–my grandmother in 1977 and my grandfather in 1980.My husband and I bought the house from Granddad’s estate. We had it as a rental house until 1994 when we sold our home in Ferndale, paid off our debts and moved in to it.

At the time that Bob and I moved in our marriage was failing. We were divorced in 1996. When everything else in my life was chaos and pain, I found comfort in being in that house. The one place in the whole world where I had had unconditional love as a child.

I built a white picket fence around the house. The fence had been to contain my border collie puppy, but it had much deeper significance to me. The fence marked my boundaries, my place. This is where I belonged.

As I looked over Drayton Harbor from my quiet time place in the front room I told the Lord I would like to name the house.

“What shall I name it, Lord?”

“Harbor House”, I heard.

That same day I painted the name on the mailbox.

A couple of days later a friend stopped by and asked me if I were opening a bed and breakfast.

“No,” I laughed in reply. “That’s just what I do, not my job.” It was true. I nearly always had people staying with me. My future son in law called them my “waif collection”.

But the Lord had plans. A couple of years later I did open a bed and breakfast there. That is a different story.

I loved that house. I told my friends that I expected to live there the rest of my life. Apparently, the Lord had other plans. In 2005 my new husband and I sold the house to develop our business elsewhere. That is also another story.

Tim had found a piece of property about 10 miles away, on a busy road, where he felt our goat dairy business could prosper. I could not imagine selling Granddad’s house. One morning as I stood in the front room Drayton Harbor looked as if it had molten gold poured over it. The Canadian mountains stood as a snow peaked backdrop. I worshipped the Lord with my hands raised. I praised him for the beauty of the place where I he had brought me. Then I heard his voice.

“Are you willing to give this up so someone else can learn to worship me here?” He said.

Without hesitation, I answered, “In a heartbeat.”

“I have a plan,” He said.

“OK,” I answered.

I called a neighbor who had told me that if we ever wanted to sell it, let her know. In less than 30 minutes the house was sold. Cash. Full price. No inspections. We could take all the time we needed to move. I could not help but see the hand of God in that.

Even though I believed that the Lord had arranged the sale and had us move to the new location on the Birch Bay Lynden Road, I grieved the loss of that house, every day. From the new house I had a view of the busy road. Not only did it have no beauty, it was also noisy. Conversation was impossible on the front porch because of the road noise. I told Tim even before we agreed to buy that property that it would not be permanent. It was not a home. It was business. I grieved the loss of the water view and a place to be quiet before the Lord.

As business prospered through the years. The noise level increased. I fed all the employees at lunch time. They used the house as their break room throughout the day. Customers drove in the driveway. Trucks came in and out. Change was the only constant.

Then in the fall of  2015 Tim and I  moved to this condo on the other side of I never have to move again. But I am the Lord’s bond servant and He may yet have another plan for me.

I still don’t know what his plan for Granddad’s house is. It has been vacant since we moved out 12 years now. It would have failed any inspections in 2005, now it is in ruins.

After Marlene got back in the car we drove down to Semiahmoo, thinking that we would have lunch there. But I was in too much pain. I really could not think about lunch, much less a Mothers’ Day Brunch celebration. We drove back to our place on the Birch Bay Lynden Road.

The next morning while I on the treadmill I heard this song.

“This Ole House”

by  Stuart Hamblen

This ole house once knew his children
This ole house once knew a wife
This ole house was home and comfort
As we fought the storms of life
This old house once rang with laughter
This old house heard many shouts
Now she trembles in the darkness
When the lightnin’ walks about

(Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer)
(Ain’t a-gonna need this house no more)
Ain’t got time to fix the shingles
Ain’t a-got time to fix the floor
Ain’t got time to oil the hinges
Nor to mend no windowpane
Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer
I’m a-gettin’ ready to meet the saints

Ain’t a-gonna need this house no longer
I’m a-gettin’ ready to meet the saints

 

As I listened, I thought about Mom’s failing body. She would not need it much longer. The song gave me joy.

When I shared the song with Mom and Marlene, Mom told me that she had painted a picture of a house and put that song title on the picture. She found the picture. The house wasn’t Granddad’s House, but it was on Drayton Harbor Road. The view behind it could be the view from Granddad’s House. The house in the picture was in as deep a state of disrepair as Granddad’s House is.

The picture struck me.

“Ain’t gonna need this house no longer,” it says.

Truth, suddenly, set me free.

“I ain’t a gonna need that house no longer, I ain’t a gonna need that house no more.

“Ain’t got time to fix the shingles, ain’t got time to mend the floors. . . .

“I’m a getting ready to meet the saints!!!”

 

With the truth in my heart, not just my head, I was set free.

With the Lord’s perfect timing he used my fading mother, my sister-in-law’s curiosity, an old song, and a water color painting to set me free of that old house.

When the Lord has set you free, you are free, indeed. Praise God!

this-old-house

 

 

 

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It’s Always a Glorious Day in the Lord

IMG_1787On this day after the official day of giving thanks, I would like to tell you about a lady I met a long time ago. She knew how to live in that place of constant praise, in spite of losing everything. Her name was Gertrude. Gertrude means “spear” and “strength”.

It’s always a glorious day in the Lord.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

                     I met Gertrude in a nursing home in Blaine. I had gone there to meet my friend, Daphne,  one of the staff members of the nursing home, for lunch. I took a seat in the foyer to wait for her. Gertrude sat across from me in a wheelchair. She had only one leg. I said something to her about the weather and I don’t remember if the weather was good or bad, but the Gertrude answered, “Oh, it’s always a glorious day in the Lord!”

Wow, I thought. Here is someone I need to get to know. I moved over next to her and introduced myself. She told me her name and that she had lived in Blaine a long time.

“You might remember my grandparents,” I told her, “Mary and Myron Terry.”

“Oh,” she exclaimed.  “I knew your grandmother! She painted a head of Christ for me.”

“I remember when she did those,” I said. “She made one for my sister, too.”

“I used to have it hanging in front of where I sat and did my quiet time,” she said. “I loved that picture. But I don’t have room for it here.”

“What happened to it?” I asked.

“I think my kids gave it to the church when they took my apartment apart.”

“When did they take your apartment apart?”

“A month ago,” she said. “I started having some heart trouble and had to go to the hospital. While I was there I got this problem with my leg and they had to amputate it. That’s why I had to move here.”

“Oh, dear,” I said, “you lost your leg just a month ago?  That must be so hard for you.”

“The hardest part about losing my leg,” she said, “was that they couldn’t give me a general anesthetic when they did it because of my heart. So I was awake!  I couldn’t really feel what they were doing, though.”

“Oh, dear,” I said again. “I am so sorry. What a rough time you have had .”

“Oh, it’s not so bad,” she said. “The only thing I really miss is my large print Bible. I don’t know what my kids did with that.”

“Well I am sure we could find you a large print Bible around here somewhere!” I said.

“It wouldn’t do me any good. My glasses are broken anyway.”

Gertrude told me all of this, after she had started by our conversation by saying, “It’s always a glorious day in the Lord!” She had lost her leg, her home, her independence, her portrait of Jesus, her quiet time place, her Bible and her glasses!! I am not even sure what order of importance she might have given to all those losses.

She amazed me. She became my hero, and my friend. I visited her often after that—whenever I came to the nursing home to meet Daphne.

Daphne got her glasses fixed for her, and found her a large print Bible.

I went to the church and found the head of Christ my grandmother had painted. I took a snapshot of it. (This was long before we had digital cameras). I had a tiny print made and put it in a little frame.   She carried that picture in her pocket for the rest of her life. The picture she gave to me I will also carry for the rest of my life.

Update March 20, 2017

I just added a snapshot of the picture my grandmother painted. Just today I received the picture from a friend who received it from the church where it had been hanging since Gertrude had to give up her apartment about 25 years ago. My grandmother painted in in about 1953. Thanks be to God that he care about things like this and the picture is now in our family. Thank you Nancy Dement for sending it to me!