the thing about a house…

by Matt Mooney

[No podcast this week due to the realities of boxing up our lives and not being able to find stuff, etc.]














We are in the midst of moving. Boxes are stacked eye level whereby it is dangerous to walk through them. Especially, for the 1st grade boy tossing the football for touchdown catches between said boxes who are now dutifully serving as defense in the game played only in his head.

Watch out for the boxes, son.
That’s a new light fixture.
Not in here please.

We moved next door. As in one house over. To the left if your facing the “old house” door; the one we lived behind the last 8 years, locking it each night when the chaos calmed. Into the house next door that we have been reno-building for over a year now.

My sentiment is unpredictable. My sappy-ness creeps around like the neighbor’s cat- pouncing just as you forgot it was even there. I don’t think I am terribly sentimental; that is my dad and my sister. I am not like them. I don’t carry tissues around like my wallet.

But I walked over last night to the “old house” tallying step number ____ on the Fitbit (who-knows-what because I forgot to wear my Fitbit on the day I would’ve broken the all-time step record for our galaxy….couldn’t find the &*$% box I put it in.)

As I circled around to lock the door on my way out… it was one of the moments. The ones I cannot explain nor do I care to. The ones I ask God for more of, but He doesn’t often oblige. But then He, not unlike the cat, does when you are not expecting it and when, instead, you are just wanting to go to bed and justifying why- though you have been moving all day- a shower is really not a good idea; and besides, it is supposed to rain tomorrow anyway. That’ll wash. Pondering just where your toothbrush might be, though you know you don’t know, and you know you haven’t that one ounce of energy it would take to check and see if it is in the place you know it is. You worry about Ginny; how will she handle your body and breath? But then you remember that you read or heard somewhere that newness is good for a marriage.   These aromas, not known in 16 years of marriage, are new. It will be a good test for her. Love keeps no record of wrongs. You’re doing it for her.

Shutting the door, I swung my body around to face the house that I was leaving. It hit. I saw all the work and sweat we had put into it: the bathroom we were unsure we could afford to update but did any way, the kitchen wood floor removed board-by-board when the brand new dishwasher flooded, the new tiles that Hazel laid on before she could walk, the tub that Anders chipped his tooth on the one second I looked away from bath time, the two rooms we added on when we headed to Ukraine to bring home five year old Lena.

We have been swimming in the final phase of endless details that pile up at the tail end of any project: trim size, paint colors, placement of light fixtures, blah, blah, blah. “Decision fatigue” we call it. No complaint. Just a thing.

And here’s the thing about a house. If it is doing its job, you are certain to take it for granted. We love the house we are leaving. Not because it is our dream house but because we got to live out our dreams within it.

And if we are not careful, we can twist even a house into exactly backwards of what it best can be. Because in that holy moment with me, door in hand, on the threshold of the old house, I knew that I can be tempted away from the beauty if I just let the water of my head run where it would without intentional effort otherwise.

Life is in the living. A scratched floor tells a better story than one finely finished. I want to stay up past bedtimes talking on the porch with my Hazel about whatever she finds interesting. And I will do my daddy-best to slip in words of how her identity is found only in the One who loves her more than she could ever know. I want to let Anders score on a drive to the basket but still beat him in the end, and tell him between jumpers how proud of him I am. I want to kneel down on the carpet in Lena’s room, fraying from her routine of walking in a circular pattern, and never see the carpet at all; only eyes to see the steps of a girl that we never thought would walk.

I want this new house to hold my friends and their families as we drink deep around a table and laugh so hard we have to catch our breath. I want new acquaintances to experience a welcoming Jesus in these walls- the ones with scratches, nicks and markings of a life spent in community with others. There’s always a cost to life in proximity to others. And there’s always an allure to the polished life of self.

So when all of the pieces that form our days seem equally important. Let us remember that such a notion is a lie. Because the thing about a house is that it’s worth is only measured by those who come inside.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Phoebe May 12, 2017 at 7:57 pm

Wow. Such great memories! Sigh it is the people in it. A house can serve a purpose. A place to stay a bit. An investment. Matt blessings to you and your family. May God always guide you with discernment and wisdom on life’s journey

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