A House Is Not a Home

I have old run down houseto say I love watching “Fixer Upper.”  It is absolutely one of my favorite shows.  Watching Chip and Joanna take an old, tired house and turn it into a thing of beauty is truly fun. I think one of the reasons I love the show so much is because growing up, we lived in some of those old, tired houses–only we never got to fix them up.  I wish I had pictures to share of some of the many places we lived. But alas, our house burned down when I was in college, and there are no childhood home pictures.  But I had two favorites.

When I was in 1st grade we lived in the California desert in an old two story house that had no paint on the clapboards, cracked linoleum on the floors, and broken windows in the second story.  It truly looked like a ghost house.  But the memories we created while living there were wonderful. I remember school walks where the teacher carried snake bite kits, swimming in the old horse trough, sliding down a canyon to play in an old abandoned box car and running like crazy when someone yelled, “Snake!”  I remember digging my toes in the irrigated soil and accompanying my daddy to the river to see hundreds of frogs.  I remember the old steer skull lying by the road.  I also remember my baby sister sitting on a red ant hill (not fun).  It truly was a magical time for a kid, despite the snakes and red ants.

The second house that I loved living in was in the country in Pleasant Plains, Illinois.  It was a big OLD farmhouse that at one time was a grand home.  We had a butler’s pantry and a fireplace in every room. There were two “front parlors” and a play room. The stairs were grand and the railing was great to slide on (just don’t let Mom catch you!).  It was the first time in my 10 years that I had my own room–a part of the attic with slats on the walls, no heat, and just enough room for a twin bed. But it was mine! Of course the creepy dirt-floor basement was scary, but the rest of it was great, even when plaster fell off the ceiling.

Thinking back on those homes, I realize that it probably wasn’t the homes that I loved so much as the memories made while living in them.  People can build some pretty good memories in some cruddy homes and some pretty bad memories in beautiful mansions.  I know many people who berate themselves for not giving their children a better house to live in. But I have learned it isn’t the building that makes the home. It is the people who share their lives there.

What kind of home are you building? Are you building a home that is filled with warmth and memories or are you so focused on a “perfect house” that you forget why you need it in the first place? I can only pray that even though my children are grown and gone and I have moved from my former house, that “home” is a place they will always want to be.

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