This Ugly House

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My house has problems. Does yours? First of all, I have the ugliest linoleum kitchen floor. Ever. Sometimes I feel the need to apologize to guests when they walk in. It’s yellow and brown, and looks a lot like the geometric pattern of throw up. Maybe it was all the rage in the 60’s, but today it’s retro-horror. Even the most vintage-loving hipsters out there would find it ugly. I’m pretty sure the floor’s design came straight out of one of those optical illusion books I read as a kid. So, if you happen to drop your Cheerios, don’t even bother looking for them. They are lost. To hunt for them is dizzying. You won’t find them again until you feel something crush under your feet.

Go ahead, say it: first world problem. (But just for the record, when my brother-in-law, who lives in Africa, sent pictures of their new missionary compound, I couldn’t help but notice: even their floor was nicer than ours.) Just sayin.

We are renting this house, so we don’t have the freedom to change things. And while I love the location, there are some things I would love to fix about this place. Like, there’s no dishwasher. And old siding. The bathroom is somewhat decrepit. It needs repainted. And there’s definitely something funky going on with the shower tiles. And it’s tiny. (So tiny that when my daughter is on her potty chair and I’m on the toilet at the same time, our knees almost touch. That’s fun.)

But lately, we’ve had a bigger, less trivial problem: our doors freeze shut. (As in, we can’t get out of the house frozen shut.)

We realized last Monday morning when my husband tried to leave for work—and then he couldn’t. That was the day he jumped out the bedroom window in his dress clothes, and proceeded to kick the front door open Chuck Norris style. That was the day I stood there in my pajamas, head-over-heels (or slippers) in love, as my very own ninja-warrior saved the day and drove off to work.

That was a week ago. Since then, he’s acted out this little kung-fu scenario every day. And it’s not so funny any more. It’s plain annoying.

Finally, it happened to me. Selah and I were about to leave for Target to buy her some Mini-Mouse underwear, when I realized we were stuck. The door re-froze from my husband’s morning escapade, and we couldn’t get out.

Immediately, “Survival Mommy” sprung into action: I threw my weight into the door. Nothing happened. I tried kicking it. Nothing happened. I went to the bedroom window and tried to open it. Nothing happened. Then, I started to panic. “What are we going to do Selah!?” I kept asking her over and over again. And she just stood there all bundled in her coat, looking up at me like a little marshmallow. I had to do something.

That’s when I opted for my default weapon of choice: the blow dryer.

There I was, for about 45 minutes blow drying the door frame. And as the ice began to melt and I stood with a puddle of water forming around my feet, I kept picturing that little tag on the blow dryer. You know that one that has a red “X” over the blow dryer in the bathtub? And then I started thinking about what my obituary would say, “Mother dies of blow dryer electrocution. She was that stupid folks.” (Do you ever do that? Start writing your own obituary in your head when you’re doing something dangerous?) My next feat was chipping at the ice around the doorframe with a hammer, a screwdriver and…a grilling fork. (It was a real low point for me.) But I was determined. We were getting out of the house. We were going to Target. We were buying Mini-Mouse underwear. I would break a window if I had to.

But thankfully, by the grace of God (and perhaps some angelic intervention), the door finally opened. Which meant, we made it out of the house without breaking any bones or windows. And, I didn’t even get electrocuted in the process.

Hallelujah.

Now, this may not come as a surprise, but I’ve really been falling out of love with my house lately. I’m constantly noticing every little, and big, need for improvement. I’m constantly pointing out some new problem or failure. I’m constantly house hunting online, or browsing Pinterest to pin ideas for my dream house someday. Or, I’m researching how to spruce up a rental. How to utilize small spaces. How to make everything look nicer, and better than it does right now.

I was down on my hands and knees today, washing my kitchen floor from all the mud and ice that’s been tracked in. And as the warm water mixed with the clean scent of Murphy Oil Soap, and I scrubbed, I began to think about all the places I’ve lived. Places smaller than this, uglier than this. Places three times the size, and much more beautiful than this. But you know what I’m finally realizing? It doesn’t really matter. Our house. What it looks like. Because it’s not the house that makes me happy. It’s the people that live in it.

The more I scrubbed, the more clearly I could see it:

My kitchen floor is ugly, but the little feet that patter across it somehow make it beautiful. The feet that dance upon it, turn it into sacred ground. And the little girl who lays on it in front of the stove, makes it fade altogether in the background with her beauty.

My house is small, but it forces me to be closer to the man that I love. The man that jumps out of windows for me, and kicks in doors. The man who comes home at the end of the day and fills this place with music.

We get stuck inside sometimes, but I wouldn’t want to be stuck with anyone else on earth. We lose power, the heat goes out, but I wouldn’t want to be under blankets with anyone else.

It is bitterly cold here, but the neighbors next door begin to make it feel a little warmer. The other young moms down the road remind that spring will come. That we will take walks again. That things do grow here. When we let out our roots into one another’s lives.

This house has it’s problems, but this is exactly where God wants us to be right now. And though there are some ugly parts, this is a place where the Spirit of God dwells. This is a place where we love Him. Where we worship Him. Where we enjoy Him. This is a place where He speaks to us. And that suddenly makes this place holy. And sacred.

We could have the most beautiful house in the world. We could make the pages of the Ikea catalogue materialize all around us. We could Pinterest our way into some kind of paradise. But unless God is here, unless God is filling this place, it is just an empty space.

So God, come, come fill up this house once again with Your presence. Come dwell here with us. Because wherever we live, I want to make my home in You. And I want You to come make Your home in me. (John 14:23) Let us turn our eyes upon You. And look full in Your wonderful face. So the things on earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of Your glory and grace. 

I’m not saying I won’t still drool as I look through Pinterest, or that I won’t dream as I walk through Lowe’s. I will still really admire the beautiful houses of my friends. But as long as God has us here, I will love this ugly house. Because it’s the people that live here, that make it beautiful. And the God who dwells here, who makes it holy.

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16 thoughts on “This Ugly House

    • Rebekah,
      Thank you. This morning I woke up the sound of drizzling water. The ice built up on the roof is starting to thaw, and was leaking at the top of one of the window frames in the bedroom. I sprung out of bed, and grabbed towels to clean it up. And I just had to smile. This house, these problems, they are almost getting more hilarious and outrageous by the day. But I’m so thankful for a God who opens our eyes to see beyond the surface. And who comes and fills this place. May He totally fill your home with His presence as well;)

  1. Oh, you are singing my tune! In fact, I have a post in the works about it! We moved from a bitty apartment in the city to a big old house in a bitty town two years ago. It was wonderful having room at last for a family of six but, oh, it was Green Acres gone rampant! Holes in the roof, mold in the basement, nasty rippled water damaged green carpet, peely plaster ceiling, um, I could go on, but I will restrain myself from putting my unfinished blog post here. 🙂 Needless to say, some has been miraculously repaired by talented hubby and yet so far to go I get blue and embarassed to have guests. But, you are so right about what makes home! The Lord puts such beauty in it with love and family and friends. Thanks for a great read. Good to know I am not alone in this.

    • Oh, I’m so happy to hear this. I love when God does that, when he starts speaking about the same theme to us. It sounds like it’s about finding contentment and joy in Him. Totally write that post! It will transform your perspective that much more! I’m glad you can relate, and may God fill your home with His presence, and deep love for your family. 🙂

  2. Oh my dear daughter, I loved this one too! Love and God’s presence make a house a home. You have His joy and peace in that house, things money can’t buy. Really compared to many people in the world you have a palace. I will never forget the missions trip to Metamoros, Mexico. They had no indoor plumbing, no running water, cooked all there meals on an open fire and I think 14 people lived in a shack like dwelling. So thankful for His heart I see in you.- Mom

    • Mom,
      Thank you for teaching me this message. I will never forget the time you sent me a letter that said, “Did you know your kitchen can be your sanctuary?” Thankfully, I know that now. But at the time I received that letter, I was in college living off-campus in a house of girls who did not like to clean very much, and there was mold growing in the kitchen sink. Back then, I still ate my meals in my bedroom. 😉 But today, I’m thankful to be able to know what you were trying to say back then! A beautiful home is truly the people, who live in it, and the God whose presence dwells there. Thanks for being a powerful example of this. And yes, you are so right in reminding my house is a palace to most of the world. May I never forget how truly blessed I am. I love you. 🙂

  3. I remember that kitchen! You’re right, it is pretty bad… But you have a wonderful family to fill it! I’m sorry your door freezes shut; that sounds terrible! I can’t wait for spring. It’s supposed to stay above freezing (at least in the highs) starting Saturday

    • Sky,
      Haha, I am glad you are one of the few who can picture EXACTLY what I am talking about. 😉 Although this place has it’s quirks, we have grown to love living here. Too bad you aren’t still just up the road, or I could see you all the time! So glad to hear that our area will thaw out eventually. We will have to catch up soon. And by the way, thanks for reading. 🙂

  4. Rebekah,
    First I died laughing as I imagined your husband karate kicking the door open! Then, I cried as I saw your heart poor out so honestly, and yet so full of beauty. I lived in a place like yours not too long ago and I still remember trying to use the bathroom with my two little ones always having to join me. We were like three sardines in that place. 🙂

    It really is all perspective though–His perspective. Thank you for reminding me of this today. I will not forget it soon.

    • Sasha,
      Haha, I’m glad you could visualize and feel a few of the moments in this! (I think toddlers in a bathroom is dangerous, no matter what the size! Why do they love to touch plungers and run into walls? Or in Pierce’s case.. drink from the toilet?!;) Anyway, it has been quite the experience living here the last year–but even though this place has it’s quirks, I have grown to love it. Like you said, it’s a matter of taking on God’s perspective and not my own. Even a month ago, I was so ready to move out. But in the last few weeks, I don’t know..God has just really opened my eyes to see these two precious people I get to live with, and the fact that He dwells here with us. Thank you for taking the time to comment and share your feedback–it is always precious to me.
      Much love,
      Rebekah

  5. Picturing your husband kicking the door and jumping out of the window made me laugh out loud!! I had a blow-dryer fall victim to the cold weather this winter when our pipes froze for the 10th time 🙁 There are a lot of things that I really dislike about the house we bought (maroon carpet in the living room) but you are so right it is the people in it that make it a home 🙂 Great post!

    • Autumn,
      I’m so glad you could read and relate with this! Frozen pipes sounds like no fun at all! Lol, there truly are some interesting moments when you are glad no one else was watching.:) But I’m so happy to hear that even though your home might not be your complete dream home, it is a place that is full of the people you love, and the God who dwells with you.
      Much love,
      Rebekah:)

  6. This is hilarious and beautiful. It takes great grace and a humble heart to appreciate something that is not your dream. Your message helps me stop my wavering about a bigger house one day vs. my current one for life. And it reminds me to put my time into building a relationship with God not my home improvement wants. Seek the things you can take with you to eternity right? God bless you in your sweet home and may it warm up quickly!

    • Your response to this was truly beautiful and I thank you for taking the time to give such thoughtful feedback. It’s a daily choice to see things at face value, or to see beyond into what God sees. You are so right, the eternal things matter most. And even if we had the dream house, it really is His presence and our love for each other that makes the biggest difference. It’s hard to keep this in mind as we are constantly fed more and more gorgeous photos of beautiful homes on social media. (And not that you can’t have a beautiful home, because I know many people who do and who love him very much!) But it’s just good to remember that those things aren’t what matter most. And the Father values what is done in secret…sometimes more than the things we could never capture with a camera. 🙂 May your home be filled with His love and presence to deeper and deeper measures still. And p.s. our door is totally thawed out! It has been 40 degrees the last few days! Woo! This is a big improvement for us! 🙂

  7. I was made redundant recently and all my dreams of fixing my home suddenly disappeared. I also have a kitchen, actually lack of kitchen which needs an apology, but reading this made me feel so blessed about what i do have because I have a fantastic husband and 2 beautiful girls who fill the place with love and laughter which makes my home the best place on earth.

    • lo,
      It makes me so glad to hear that you see the beauty of your family, and value that higher than any home you could ever have. May your house (no matter what it looks like) be filled with God’s love and presence, and deep peace and contentment. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your perspective, it’s beautiful!

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