You know those moments in life when you envision something and in your mind it is so beautiful, holy even. Then the moment arrives, and it looks nothing, I mean absolutely nothing, like you envisioned? This was one of those moments. I had so looked forward to this day. In my mind it was going to be this moment, as we placed scripture inside of the walls of our home, that would encapsulate all the moments of holy to come. A few weeks earlier, when our builder poured the foundation of our front porch, I had sent him a Bible to place inside of the concrete. It was opened to the passage of scripture that began this entire journey, Isaiah 54. He sent pictures. I cried. Partly because I wasn’t there to see it in person. Partly because, well, I cry at most things on this journey.
We were on our way back to Georgia to perform our reverential task, when I realized I had left all of the passages of Scripture I had torn out of the Bible for this picturesque moment. I hollered so loud when I realized it, poor Philly about ran into the retaining wall.
“I forgot all of my scriptures!” I started crying instantly.
It took him a minute to respond as he tried to recover from his adrenaline rush. He was not fond of my all too often panicked moments in the car.
He reached into his “how to deal with Denise’s breakdown” compartment. “What are you talking about?”
“My scriptures!” I said as I lowered my head back down and crammed my hand into my tote bag doing the panic dig.
I threw my head back with exceptional force against the headrest. “I cannot believe I did this.” My voice was getting higher. “I worked so hard pulling all of those out. Even underlining the ones on the page that I wanted. I knew exactly where each one was going to go.” I threw my head forward in my hands. “I can’t believe I did this! That was so stupid!” I might have been banging my head in my hands at this point. I don’t remember. But I wouldn’t be surprised. “What am I going to do?!” I threw my head back again.
“Throw your head again and you are going to have whiplash.” I’m sure is what Philly wanted to say. But he remained much less dramatic than me. ”I’m sure we can find you another Bible in Georgia.”
All of my emotion stopped. I swung my head at him and wiped at my eyes. “I didn’t even think of that.” I responded.
“No, you were too busy over there playing bobblehead.” I’m sure he wanted to say. Instead, he offered, “Maybe Publix will have one.”
“Publix maybe?” I responded as I leaned my head back, this time without the threat of impalement. “Yes, I’m sure they will have a Bible. They are like the Chick-fil-A of grocery stores.”
He was right. In their little card and magazine section they had a round, twirling display case with Christian books and a Bible. I could have given that entire display a bear hug, but didn’t want my potential new neighbors to start rumors too soon.
We had gotten to the house almost two hours before our meeting with our builder. I headed out to the dock, sat down in a canvas folding chair, put the praise and worship music on and simply took in the beauty. I was both overwhelmed and overjoyed at the thought of getting up every day and this body of water being the first thing my eyes would get to see. Then, I opened the Bible and was amazed at how each verse that meant so much to me, that was in a manilla envelope at home, came instantly back to my mind. Especially the ones I’d prayed over the kids for the last eleven years.
About an hour and a half later Philly came down to meet me. We took a measurement together to make sure the boat we were looking at would fit, and as we were walking back up to the house I stepped on a board and saw a nail. Immediately I thought, “Be careful not to step on a nail.” My next step was solid and went right on a nail that went straight through my slip-on tennis shoe and then straight into my foot. I couldn’t breathe. It hurt so bad. I doubled over and pulled my foot out; however, my shoe just kind of swayed there resting on the nail. Philly picked up my shoe. I grabbed my foot while trying to breathe. It started throbbing as if I’d punctured tendons. But, I’m assuming it just punctured the tissue of my foot. The blood came shortly after and so did the tears. Not dramatic tears. Simply “this thing hurts like a booger” tears. The passage came quickly. “Blessed are the feet of him who brings good news.” There it was with my feet again.
I was doubled over trying to get my wits about me and catch my breath when our builder came outside. After he assessed the situation, he asked when I had a tetanus shot last. I figured if I couldn’t remember, I probably needed one. Then he proceeded to say, “I had to get one a while back and that thing hurt bad.” This coming from a 6’2, 200-pound man.
“The shot?” I asked, wondering why people always tell you their bad experiences.
“No, the aftereffects. My arm hurt for days.”
I just shook my head. I got a tissue and doubled it up under my foot and put it in my shoe, then hobbled my way back to the house. The one good thing about the pain was that the foot injury that had plagued the ball of that foot for the last six months was completely forgotten about. I couldn’t feel anything but the throbbing. He got me some Advil and back to work we went. We walked through the house confirming floor choices and trim detail, got to see some paint samples for the exterior of the house, and we measured windows to give to our drapery designer back at home. We left grateful, but rushed because I had to get a tetanus shot before we met with the Tile designer.
We left and headed to Urgent Care. The Urgent Care had no tetanus shot. Welcome to small-town Georgia. So, off to the health clinic we went. Twenty minutes away, all back roads. Thankfully, I got right in. The lady saw I was from Franklin and started talking about how much she loved Franklin and how she had been to Leiper’s Fork and how she loved all the farms. I told her the farms were fading quickly because “progress” was paving paradise and putting up parking lots. She then proceeded to tell me how sore my arm was going to be when she asked me which arm I wanted it in. She said, “You won’t be able to sleep on that arm.” Oh, how easy one can move from liking someone to hating them.
Then she gave me a sheet on all the things that could possibly go wrong, aka “side effects.” I have never really thought about vaccines before now. Now, everyone is thinking about vaccines in ways we never have before. Now here I sat, having to debate between losing a limb from a vaccine or losing one from whatever you get from a rusty nail. So, I just took authority over all of it. Right there in her chair. I prayed against any and all side effects. Including the horrible pain everyone was describing. Then I offered her my arm. It felt like a bee sting and I was in and out of there in 15 minutes.
Onward we went to the tile store. It was our tile finalizing day and we had already made so much progress, it was more like “Philly show and tell day,” because he had yet to see all the final choices. In the middle of the marble and slate and ceramic and grout she looked at Philly and said, “She is really good at this. When she doubts herself, I always tell her, trust what you decided at first. You always go back to it. You knew what was right from the beginning.” She would never know all the ways her words wandered through my soul and healed parts of me. Never. I think they even helped heal my foot and arm.
My mom and dad arrived in town in time to meet us for dinner. Afterwards, we headed to the house for our final task, hanging up our Scripture. I was so excited. I wanted it to just be a sweet and holy time and was grateful my parents were going to be a part of it. I was even going to ask my dad to pray over our home after they were all hung. We only had one stapler to staple all the pages onto the 2×4’s, so Philly and I would walk through together. My mom joined us. It was when Philly was stapling the second Scripture that the stapler broke. It went downhill from there. At one point he swore when he finally rigged the stapler up and about stuck it in his finger. “Don’t cuss! This is the Bible!”
Nothing felt really holy about the moment. We lost dad midstream out of boredom, so there was no prayer over the house. But room by room we got each one up. And for the rest of forever I’d always know what verses were where. Always. No matter the journey, no one would be able to steal the final outcome. Seeing page after page of Scripture, our Scriptures, nestled inside the innards of our home was a powerful site. One I knew I could pull up inside of me whenever I needed or wanted.
I picked verses and tore out pages for each of the kid’s bedrooms. Verses for the dining room about them being around our table. I put my personal favorite verses in my office and Philly’s favorites in his. I put verses about marriage in our bedroom and about the Holy Spirit by the shower, because He speaks to me so often in the shower. Water and the Holy Spirit just go together. I put verses in the kitchen about breaking bread and verses in the family room about joy and laughter and by the piano about worship, and I put our covenant passage in the walls of the gallery where everyone will enter, knowing it would also be what each person would walk over before they even came through the front door.
As we went to leave, I realized this would be the last time I’d ever see the inside studs. Something in that made my heart sad. This had been such a wonderful process. Watching the foundation come up. Watching the studs begin to rise. Watching the shingles adorn the roof. Watching as the exterior shingles began to cover the home and the stone began to take its place. Watching as the electrical was placed inside the walls and the plumbing was plumbed. Here was the framework of our home. Looking at its innards. Seeing from one room into the other. Our home. God’s home. The home of us. Together. The Architect and us.
“Babe, we won’t ever see it this way again,” I said standing in the door frame.
“I know. I’m so glad. It’s closer to being finished.” We could not be more different.
I didn’t feel that way. Like watching a child enter a new stage is bittersweet, so was this. You want to hold it still. Linger in it a little longer. Keep it as it is. Of course, you don’t want to miss the joys to come. And you can’t get to an empty nest until you let them grow. Baby to toddler, toddler to kid, kid to teenager, teenager to young adult. So, for us to be able to make this a home and nest in its walls, the sheetrock had to come. But, saying goodbye to this stage of our experience was hard. I shed more tears. What a day!
I waved goodbye to our baby as we crossed the threshold. When we came back it would be a toddler.