Every wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands. Proverbs 14:1
My friend posted this sign on Facebook. It happened to coincide with Operation Happy House. A home renovation project that began with a thought. It probably originated months back when I looked around and wondered why my house was so dull. And dark. Because I love color. Bright color. It was then I wisely deemed my dark surroundings played a large part in my dark countenance. Thus, I decided it was time for a change. I wanted the sun. Sunshiny yellow or orange would brighten my walls and lighten my mood. Here comes the sun became my motto. Yellow would fix me…
So not long after when my husband announced it was time to re-do our floors, I was all for it. More than ready. But I find the pig in a pancake series holds true in real life. Especially with home modification. See, if you give a pig a pancake, she’ll want some syrup to go with it. Likely, she’ll get all sticky and need a bath and will want to use your bath bubbles. And so on and something like that. Well, as for a home remodel, if you give a pig a new floor, she’ll want to paint the old cabinets because they just won’t do. And if you paint the cabinets, she’ll want a new wall color. Yellow. It had to be yellow… the color of the sun. And then, when you give her a new wall color, she’ll definitely want a new rug for the floor. And so on. This is where I’ve dwelt for months now. Consumed by color and placement. Faintly, in the far recesses of my mind I heard God’s warning…
Why are you living in luxurious houses while my house lies in ruins? Haggai 1:4
But see, God wasn’t talking to me. He couldn’t be. Because I was going to fix up my house. I was going to fix me. The color of the sun. A bright reflection of His glory splayed across my walls and across my face. No, I must have heard incorrectly. And so, a month or so back, I began my endeavor. I started with the cabinets…
Don’t worry. They’re not this color – creamy white went on top. I just wanted the other colors to peep through. Next, I painted my desk… yellow of course.
And then, perhaps I went a bit overboard. I started painting everything in sight.
Green and teal, yellow and orange. My husband said our house was going to look like a playhouse. And you know what… he may be right. For when you add in all the other colors of my house, it will in fact resemble a kid’s haven. All the colors of the rainbow. Jason began to affectionately (I hope) call it the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Come inside, come inside… if you dare.
Needless to say, I’ve been busy building up my house. Or at least that’s what I thought I was doing. However, last night gives evidence to the contrary. Because I had a meltdown. A big one. Maybe one of the biggest ever. In fact, I was downright UGLY. So ugly.
But first, let me explain. Last Sunday, I was elated. Walking on air. Pumped. Because I was still in the beginning stages of the venture. My household was completely packed up. The old floors had been removed poised for floor installation the following day. And the icing on the cake? I saw a sign I wanted on HGTV. I loved it. And lo and behold, a mere hour or two later, I found such a sign for my very own walls… It was perfect. It seemed as if God were blessing our undertaking.
Then came the week of the actual project. It was tiring. We lived in my mom’s basement. There was a lot of back and forth and juggling. Annabelle was out of her element and slept fitfully. Levi spent the week with Me-Maw and Pa-Paw, so he received extra attention. Extra spoiling. And I became tired. So tired. Come Saturday, it was time to move back in. And I was bound and determined to unpack every single box.
But my husband warned me. Let me just say how much I love him. A bit sarcastic. Very dry humor. And handsome to boot. However, no one can make me angrier. No one. And Saturday, he made me mad. MAD. Because he was the voice of reason. When I told him my plan to finish the house, he said, “Pam, that’s crazy.” He told me how tired I would be. He reminded me I would be up all night with Annabelle, for she had been sleeping fitfully. He told me how cranky I would get… And so, I felt mad. Nevertheless, I decided to heed his warning and stop around 8:00 pm.
Which lead to yesterday. The meltdown. My bit of craziness last night. Putting my house back in order ended up taking all weekend. Finally, the last item was in place. The floor was swept up, and it was time to unwind. But before I could relax, my plant leaked water all over the new floors dripping through to the basement. Next, the power went out. And me being me, I thought I could still take a shower. Turns out, you can’t. Once I was good and lathered, the water went out. Apparently, the water pump is electric.
But finally, finally, all was good. Annabelle went down early so I was able to fall asleep on the couch around 8:00. I was going to turn in early. And because Annabelle was finally in her crib after a week’s hiatus, surely she’d slumber through. Turns out she didn’t. When 8:45 rolled around, she did too. The boys turned in and Annabelle woke up. And me? How was my countenance? Well, not sunshiny yellow like my walls. In fact, it was dark as night. For I was mad. MAD. I was tired. Overworked from the week of beautifying my home. Exhausted from building up my house.
I gave Annabelle a bottle to settle her and ever so quietly, placed her back in the crib. I had just settled on the potty only to hear, “Mom?” I remained silent. I did not want to wake my baby. Again, my son called out “Mom?” If I stayed quiet, surely he’d stop talking. Didn’t he know Annabelle was finally asleep??? Again, “Mom!” And that’s when it happened. I snapped. I yelled louder than my son called out. “Shut up!! I’m sitting on the pot!” Shut up is what I said to my son. Loud. Oh, there’s more to this debacle but you get the picture. And last night, after the fiasco, I was the picture of remorse. I was filled with grief.
“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!” Matthew 7:24-27
So what happened? Where was my happiness? My joy? The walls were painted orangy-yellow. The furniture was in place. The new floors were swept. However, the house renovation culminated in me becoming a raving lunatic. The end result was not what I expected. I wasn’t fixed!
Finally, when my senses returned, I went to my son. My firstborn. It was 9:30. Past bedtime. I asked if he wanted a story. Amazingly, he said yes. I selected a picture book and the first story turned out to be the parable of the two foundations. One on rock, one on sand. And I heard God this time. He was talking to me… Is this a time for you to live luxuriously in paneled houses while my house remains in ruins? A portion of Psalm 127 reverberated through my heart, “Unless the LORD builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain.” Yes, all my activity had been in vain. Because my foundation was shaky. For the entire last week of Operation Happy House, I neglected spending time with God. And the result was a brittle, frail, erratic, impatient woman. A crazy lady… see, my collapse was great.
Ever hear the expression, “Charity begins at home”? Well, charity is another word for love. And though it’s not scriptural, it’s truth. See that picture above… those are my kids. My loves. And for some reason, those I love the most get the worst of me. See, I had good intentions. I wanted to be happy. I thought outside influences, like colors, would do the trick. But they didn’t. And because I was hell-bent on getting my happy house in order, I ignored the one thing I should have been doing. Quieting myself before the Lord.
See, I want to build up God’s house. I really do. But in order to build up His household, I have to start with my own. Because truth is, my kids are part of His house. They’re my first mission. And when I let myself get out of whack, they suffer. My house, which is God’s house, lies in ruins. I must begin with them…
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11
See, color on the wall won’t do the trick. It’s the color of my heart that matters. For what’s inside eventually spills out. If I want orangy-yellow… the brightness of the sun and the reflection of glory… I need to put Him inside me. Truth is, He’s already there. I just need to tap into Him. His glory. That’s when I’ll find my happy.
Funny thing is, the night before I packed up my house I listened to a well-known Bible teacher. She taught on the blessing of Asher out of Deuteronomy. Asher. It means blessing, but also, happy. It means happy. Through that teaching, I learned something big. It has to do with the Proverbs 31 woman…
Her children arise and call her blessed.
It’s there in that word. Blessed. That’s Asher. That’s happy. And that’s what I want. More than anything, I want my children to arise and call me happy. Last night? If my son had the words in him, I think he would have arose and called me something else.
And so, my heart aches for this today. I want my children to witness a happy mother. And to know that they are the biggest part of my blessing. My joy. Will I ever, ever learn? See, I know what to do. I know what makes me happy…
And I know what makes me crazy. And yet, crazy is my default. I get so busy. Hell-bent on accomplishing my stuff. Set on building up my house my way. With yellow. With paint. My happy house. My play house… As Jason said, it’s the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse… come inside, yes, come inside. If you dare.