The discouraging Oregon rain was again seeping through the rotted shingles on the roof of our dilapidated rental house. My brothers knew what to do. As they had done many times before, they hurriedly placed rusted coffee cans around the room to catch the incessant drips. Our house, so lacking in comfort, was situated only about one hundred feet from busy railroad tracks. The great depression had taken a heavy toll on our family.
During those years of hardship my father struggled to provide for our growing family. With six of their eight children still living at home and the imminent birth of number nine – me, my parents knew they needed to find a larger and more suitable home.
My father managed to find a vacant, but considerably run-down house. Though it was shabby, it would be large enough to provide shelter for our family. Unable to find the owner of the house, my parents made the risky decision to move in without permission. They reasoned that when the owner saw the house was occupied, he would soon come to collect the rent. It proved to be a good strategy, for in a short time the rent was duly paid.
The previous tenants had removed everything from the house that wasn’t “nailed down.” The only thing left behind was an army of bedbugs. Mother was horrified! Immediately she began to bleach everything in sight. Our family’s well-used baby crib would soon be occupied again, so everything needed to be clean and sanitized. Dad pulled off the baseboards around the house and then poured in coal oil to kill the rest of the bugs.
Over the years, my parents yearned for a better life, and more desirable living conditions for our family. They had embraced “the American dream” of owning their own home, preferably a house that had a bay window. My father was going to build that house with his own hands.
At the beginning of 1943, their dream started to take shape as my father began construction on our family home in Corvallis. We were encouraged, and full of anticipation, over the idea of living in a brand new house.
We would soon leave behind years of residing in ramshackle clapboard rentals that my mother worked so hard to scrub clean. In those places, our water for bathing had to be heated on the kitchen stove. Our laundry was scrubbed against a ridged washboard that was propped inside a galvanized tub. Once washed, our clothes were then pegged onto an outside line to dry.
Though my father’s house plans didn’t include a flush toilet in the bathroom, we happily envisioned ourselves living in our future home. At the building site, I wanted to be near my dad as he worked. I followed him around as he measured, and watched him use his brown carpenters pencil to mark the boards. Wisely, he always measured twice. With great care, he sawed the planks and nailed them into place. He wanted everything to be perfect, and carried out his work with excellence.
The scent of cut lumber still reminds me of those days of anticipation, and being close to my dad. Looking back to that time gives me a new perspective on the future. In parallel, I follow my heavenly Father to learn of His works and plans for all of His children. Spiritually I want to understand what He is doing so I can follow in His footsteps.
Jesus said: “Yes, indeed! I tell you that the Son cannot do anything on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; whatever the Father does, the Son does too.” John 5:19 (CJB).
As Jesus was about to return to His Father, He told His disciples that He was going to leave, and what He would be doing. He said: “Don’t let yourselves be disturbed. Trust in God and trust in me. In my Father’s house are many places to live. If there weren’t, I would have told you; because I am going there to prepare a place for you. Since I am going and preparing a place for you, I will return to take you with me; so that where I am, you may be also.” John 14:1-3 (CJB)
As I trust in the Lord’s promises, and accept what He accomplished on the cross, I am assured of another future home. In my heavenly Father’s kingdom, a house is being made for me, and there I will dwell forever.