As-For-Me-And-My-House-We-Will-Serve-The-Lord-precious-moments-26390201-400-400This past Tuesday marked a day of several anniversaries for my family. Twelve years ago, my husband and I started dating. Nine years ago, we got engaged. One year ago, we moved into our current house.

When our realtor got back from taking over our contract to the homeowners last June, she told us that they were the nicest people with whom she’d ever negotiated a contract. They recognized our name on the contract because they attended the same church as my in-laws. They told her that they had been praying specifically for a young, Christian family to buy their house and were so excited it was going to be us.

Our realtor went on to tell us more about them. They kept the autistic children in their congregation during church services, so that the parents could go worship. Bill (name changed) was a contractor; each day he picked up a 75-year-old mentally challenged man who lived down the street and let him ride along on all day to his various jobs. They had kept their house in immaculate shape and spent every Saturday working on their yard.

When we looked at the house and in subsequent visits to the house for inspection, I noticed on the front door a cross with “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15) inscribed on it. I really didn’t think all that much of it (because these kind people definitely seemed to be legitimately serving the Lord) until we arrived on moving day and it was still there. While I grew up going to church every Sunday, my family certainly had no bible verses displayed anywhere in our house, especially not on our front door. Needless to say, I wanted that bible verse cross off my new front door. We arrived on moving day as they were finishing loading up their cars. As they packed their final things, I kept waiting for them to grab the cross. They left without it.

My initial neurotic thought was “Is this a test to see if we really are a Christian family worthy of their house?” My second thought was, “Are you really a Christian? You claim to believe the bible! Who cares if you think this cross is tacky, wow, you’re shallow.” My third thought was “How am I ever going to have anyone over with this thing on my door! My mother would die!” I knew that Bill would be driving down the street every day to pick up Robert, the man he took to work with him, and could plainly see if the cross was missing. Could I take it off and maybe make it a refrigerator magnet or Christmas ornament somehow? I’d maybe be okay with it on my fridge. Would that work?

In the year we since moved in, we’ve certainly made a splash in the neighborhood. The front yard, once so beautifully maintained, might lead you to believe that we hired Hans Klopek to do our landscaping. Our yard was the last to turn green and is the first one turning brown on the street. We HAD an awesome rosemary bush. In fact, we HAD a lot of healthy looking bushes that, under our care, seem to have gone the way of the dinosaurs. There’s a good chance on any given weekday you might wonder if we are having a yard sale given all the children’s toys scattered about.

Vlcsnap-2010-01-28-20h10m21s97

One freezing morning this past winter, I got in my car to go to an exercise class at 5:50am. The class was at 6:00 and I hate to be late. I backed out of my driveway without looking behind me and slammed into a car that was parked across the street. I knew the car belonged to a night nurse that was staying with an elderly neighbor while her husband was in the ICU. I got out of my car and assessed the damage, and then proceeded to drive to the exercise class without leaving a note. I walked in the door of our house an hour later and was eaten up with guilt. I had just been a part of a hit and run. The night nurse came out around 7:30a.m. and I went out and explained the situation. The police came to do a report just in time for all the neighbors heading to work and school to witness me standing in the middle of the street in my exercise clothes talking to the police and this nice lady. The kicker was that I had backed into her driver’s side door and it no longer would open. The night nurse was no spring chicken, and actually walked with a cane. I had to look away as she tried to contort her body through the passenger side door and wiggle into the driver’s seat. She came a few more nights to take care of my neighbor; I would scurry past my front windows to avoid having to see her get in or out of her car.

A few weeks later, I walked outside during my children’s naptime and noticed that our dog was not in the backyard. Our dog had dug holes before and I panicked because she has never been known for her street smarts, and I was worried she would run straight into traffic. I ran out onto the street calling her name, when a neighbor came out with a very serious look on her face.
“Your dog just attacked my husband.”
“Excuse me?”
“Your dog just ran out here and my husband was walking our beagle and your dog attacked him and the dog, she knocked my husband to the ground and he had to kick her off of him. My husband thinks that he broke his other arm, he broke his right one last week in the snow storm.”
At this point, a six year old little girl walked up carrying our 25 lb. dog whose tail was wagging and was licking her face and handed the dog to me.
“This dog attacked your husband?” I asked, pointing to my dog.
“Yes, he wants me to take him to the ER right now.”
I apologized very profusely, but was still skeptical.
Sure enough, the next day, our neighbor was walking down street with his dog with matching casts on both arms.

A few weeks later, our dog was at it again, digging holes into a different neighbor’s yard. I got a text message from the neighbor letting me know, and I hustled home from a meeting since these neighbors lived across the street from the man with two casts. I was worried that another encounter might lead to a call to Animal Control. When I arrived, our dog was playing pleasantly with their small dog and another tiny one that they were keeping for a family member. The tiny dog was little more than a ball of fluff, the kind you see on greeting cards and elementary school posters. I should have scooped up my dog and left, but of course I started talking with the neighbors, asking them when they had added on their screened porch and where they got their deck furniture.

Cujo-is-one-scary-monster

Before I knew it, my dog attacked the fluff ball with a ferocity I’ve never seen. All four of us in the room were screaming and throwing things and trying to separate the the two dogs. My neighbor was screaming and jumping up and down yelling “She’s killing her! She’s killing her!” It did appear that my dog was going to murder the fluff ball. Finally, the dogs were separated. Shaking, I took my dog and ran out of their house sobbing. I was met in the street by my husband who was returning from work and behind him was my father in law with my two children who were returning from an afternoon at their grandparents. I screamed at my husband “I’m so F—– sick of this! You have to fix the f—— fence! She almost killed a dog!” without saying a word to my children or my father in law or the other three neighbors that were outside and witnessed my meltdown, I ran inside and got under my covers.

In living in such close physical proximity to so many people, I suppose exposure is inevitable. The instances described above are just a sampling of things that have happened within 100 feet of our house in the past year. What makes the words on my front door feel like an indictment is the realization that what goes on inside my house and inside of me is so much worse than any crazy Cujo or ugly yard. Joshua’s words are so bold and so sure. Most days the only thing I am sure of is that I am a mess.

So why that cross is still on my door after an entire year? Part of it is definitely because that sucker is nailed to the door, and I’m worried about what will happen to the paint job if I try to remove it. On my better days though, it reminds me of my need. It reminds me that in my own strength, I could never claim to serve the Lord in any way. But even more than that, I’m reminded that those things that spring from my house and from my heart–my vanity, my selfishness, my sin–were nailed to another cross many years ago. On that day, the Lord was perfectly and completely served. As for me and my house, we will rest in that.