Last month, my husband and I finished our 2nd renovation on our house in almost six years. It wasn’t exactly planned this way. We finished our first major renovation in 2014 and I did not think we would ever take on anything to that grand a scale ever again! Then a major storm swept through our area last July resulting in a tree falling onto our house. By a straight up miracle from heaven, it ended up not being that bad. It could have been way worse as the tree missed my bedroom window by mere inches. Long story short, the circumstances which followed that fateful storm lead us to decide that this would be a good time to take on a second renovation. The plan seemed so simple: take in the back porch, doubling our classroom space, add on a laundry room and convert the old laundry into a walk-in pantry.
Simple, right?! Walls down, walls up, install the washer and dryer and call it a day!
How could we be so naive???
Oh, and yes, you read that right, we have a classroom because we are those crazy, wackadoodle people who home school their children…..
So the first thing we had to do to get our renovation started was to unload my beautiful classroom and begin demolition.
If you will allow me to flex my home school mama prowess for just a moment, I can thus give you a glimpse into the weird way in which my mind works.
One of the concepts we have been learning about while reading some really great literature, is the idea of personification–or anthropomorphism, if you are feeling especially fancy.
Anthropomorphism is “the attribution of human traits, emotions and intentions to non-human entities.”
As we began the process of demolition–basically destroying a perfectly good room–I began to wonder what this house would be thinking if it were a person…or maybe even a house with human attributes.
I began to imagine that if our house had thoughts, it would be contemplating what on earth it had ever done to deserve this abuse. It was a perfectly good house. Besides the fact that it needed some tree holes patched up and some new siding, there was nothing really wrong with it. Why are these people beating me up and tearing me apart?!?
I imagined that if this house had thoughts and feelings and could respond to the repeated blows of sledge hammers and crowbars, it would think of us as cruel indeed.
We had never attempted to alter anything structural in our house before, so there were a lot of unknowns for us. There was a center support beam that we really wanted to remove, but we were not sure if we would be able to do so safely. This was kind of the point of no return for us and a huge source of anxiety. If we could remove it, we would move forward with the expansion. If not, we would have to put it all back together as it was before. Thankfully, my husband’s dad is an engineer, and he determined that adding joists spanning the width of the room would hold the weight of the roof with no difficulties.
There were many more hurdles to jump as we delved deeper into the project. We tried to preserve the flooring when we took it up, and it just was not possible. The glue stuck fast and the wood shattered. I really wanted to keep the windows intact, and that became impossible as well. The only way we managed to get them out was with the help of the front-end loader on the tractor! The aftermath was complete and utter devastation. Shards of glass and debris were everywhere and the potential for lacerations and injuries was very real. I took in the shattered pieces of guillotined glass and again, my mind went to what this house might be thinking in the midst of so much brokenness.
There have been many times I have sat among the shattered pieces of my life and wondered what on earth was going on as well. There have been circumstances in which I have been desperate to do all the right things, and it seemed that the results were nothing like my expectations. “I’m a good person” or “I have good intentions” or even “I’m a perfectly good house” collided with catastrophic blows which left me wondering what on earth God was doing with my story. There are countless examples in which I tried to seek out and do His will and yet I still ended up getting disappointed, mad as a hornet or heart broken. Can anyone relate??
For the duration of our demo, I continued to feel sorry for my anthropomorphic house. But as we peeled back the layers, we discovered that this renovation would allow us to address some issues with our house which could have been serious problems down the road. The walls of the sun porch–which was our classroom–were made of chip board and they had sustained a good bit of water damage and had begun to rot and crumble in places. The water had just begun to creep into the walls of the main house and praise God, we were able to stop any further damage.
We were also able to make our house more efficient to heat and cool by adding some insulation in the crawl space between the ceiling of the down stairs and the floor of the upstairs. It had been left completely open to the attic letting in the hot humid Louisiana air! This renovation also gave us the opportunity to move the window in our son’s bedroom, which looked into the classroom. This meant that if I needed to pull a late night getting ready for school, I had the pleasure of a giggling little face peering at me through the curtains. Soon, his window will actually look out to the back yard and the sunshine dancing through the leaves of the woods.
Who knew that tree falling on our house could be a blessing in disguise? My house seemed perfectly acceptable the way it was, but deep within her, she needed help. She needed some broken places busted out, swept clean and neglected places to be made new again.
Beyond that, not even a house with human attributes could have seen the Renovator’s vision for her transformation in the midst of her pain. I am writing this blog in my finished classroom and I am positively humbled by the outcome of all the blood, sweat and tears which produced this beautiful room. Even more so, I am in awe of the clarity in the message that my Abba is unveiling to me through the whisperings of my anthropomorphic house. He is doing the same work in me. He does not want me to waste my pain, but to use it to grow and to mature in my walk with Him. He has a vision for me…for all of us…and though we may suffer for a little while, he is faithful to see us through. I praise you, Jesus, because you have shown me time and again, that the heart of the Renovator is GOOD and I CAN TRUST YOU!!!!
Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house, testifying to what would be said in the future. But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” Hebrews 3:1-6