I love the fifteen minute drive to my parents’ house. It’s country roads and memories the whole way-because we now live next to the high school I went to, the drive re-traces the same roads that were a twice-daily part of my life for many years. There are three houses along this route that have always captured my attention.
The first house is a big, old house that was always kind of run-down. I believe there may have been some kind of family-based group home there at one point…I remember seeing lots of children of varying ethnicities and some with disabilities playing outside when I was little. I remember praying for the kids when I would drive past with my mom, my heart ached and hoped other kids weren’t mean to them. Growing up where I did, different wasn’t always easy. Over the years, the home changed hands and sat empty for a long time. I often wondered about the stories it held and the memories made there. I hoped they were good ones.
The second house sits down a steep embankment, and the property backs up to a creek. There was nothing terribly remarkable about the house, other than a large picture window in the front that housed a 3 foot tall porcelain angel. It stood out to me because the house sat in the woods and was painted brown, and this angel was white and seemed like the only source of brightness in that little hollow. I had become so accustomed to that house that when I noticed a tree had fallen on it and mentioned it to my mom, she told me it had been like that for months. I hadn’t even noticed.
The other house is my very favorite… it’s a tiny little house with a wide front porch. The property couldn’t be more than 2 acres, but it’s flat and houses a few random outbuildings and has the most adorable old stone fence at the front of it. Every time I drove past, I dreamed about living there. I would have an old basset named Henry laying on the front porch while I tended the garden. He would lift his head in a lazy greeting when I walked past him to go inside, and then drop it again with a thud. I never got any of that, but it’s ok. I watched over the years as the gentleman who lived in that home aged and the property fell into a bit of disrepair. When I saw the auction sign go up after he passed away, I was married and we had three girls and I knew there was no way we could live there.
Recently, all three of these houses got new owners. The first house, as it turns out, had some gorgeous log under that ugly siding. The current owners are clearing up the outside, restoring the home to it’s beautiful rough-hewn log beginnings, and adding a bit of space. The second home has had the tree removed, the roof repaired, and several trees cleared away. I feel like someone has plopped that house in a Tommy Bahama chair by the ocean…it’s enjoying some fresh air and sunshine. If a house could wear sunglasses, this one would. And the last house…well, some young guy got it at the auction and he has taken down several old and dangerous trees, is cleaning up the grounds, and working on the buildings.
I love seeing progress. I love seeing old things made new, the broken get restored, the junk getting cleaned up. It’s the center of the gospel message. These homeowners may never know how they’ve ministered to me during this time, and they may not even know Jesus, but I’m reminded of His work every time I drive past their houses.
What signs of encouragement have you found in unlikely places? Do you think seemingly non-spiritual things can reflect the spiritual?