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Building My Dream Home

by Tracy Nunes  
1/18/2011 / Family

This couldn't be the planWait a minute, back up! Rewind.start over! This could not be the plan!

All little girls have that dream. You know, the one with the picket fence, the handsome husband, 2.5 children, a beautiful garden in the back yard and oh so much curb appeal from the street! I was going to have a gorgeous butcher-block island in the middle of my large, well appointed country kitchen. My husband would tell me every day that I was beautiful and my smart, well- adjusted, Christ -centered children were all going to gather round me there while calling me bless-edMy Dream Home Fantasy + God.

But, I stared reality in the face. Reality was that twenty two years ago God was telling me that His plan was for us to move into my husband's boyhood home with his parents still there. Reality was that my mother-in-law was a hoarder extraordinaire and my father-in-law's 500 chickens filled the back yard right outside the kitchen door. Not to mention the 10 or so dogs, 20 or so cats, 5 or 6 junk cars....well, you get the picture.

This was no country cottage. This was suburbia and my father-in-law had taken "Grandfather Rights" to the extreme. Let me tell you, he was not a neighborhood favorite. I have yet to see an Extreme makeover show come close to what we faced. From front to back, top to bottom, this home, on this plot of land, was the polar opposite of my dream plan.

My husband's family was very strongstrong willed, strong tempered and just well, strong. in the gnarly, burly sense of the word. I just knew they were going to eat me alive. They couldn't be more different than me. I was always cleaning.they were never cleaning. I had high hopes of raising kids on the mountaintop of Masterpiece Theatre, but I was moving into the valley of Reality TV.

Everything about me was against their grain. Yet, this was God's will spoken through my husband and I wanted my struggling marriage to survive. I stood at the crossroads and chose God's way, but could not see it as anything other than complete sacrifice on my part.

There was no joy on moving day; only the sinking feeling that I had just entered an alien planet and there was no air there. I survived moving day and the next. One day turned into another and slowly, but surely, I began to breath. Little gasps of air and then deeper and deeper until I got into a rhythm. The days turned into weeks, months and then years, as I tried to keep breathing and surrender to His will.

Over time things began to change. A little here and a little there; in small bits and pieces we made progress. We cleaned up the property one area at a time. Frequently, they would fill it with junk again. We were known as the last stop after their friend's garage sales. What people couldn't sell they gave to my in-laws and it would be thrown onto the heap.

Nevertheless, over time, change did happen. It is astounding to see from the old photos how far we have come. Our relationship with my in-laws has had highs and lows and some days success is measured more by long-term endurance than short-term acheivment.

But, the biggest surprise is what God did in me. It came as quite a shock when He told me, "Tracy, you are the house." I was filled with junk that should have made a trip to the dump a long time ago. I was stuffed, front to back and top to bottom, with all of the pain, bad habits, bitterness and unforgiveness that I could hold.

Just like we were new occupants in the house, Jesus was a new occupant in my heart. Except I had placed Him in a back room. I didn't consciously make Him go there. I was just so filled with other garbage that it was the only place where there was room enough for Him.

During those years I would have dreams about old rotting houses with deep, dark closets that had doors no one could open. I would try and try to open those doors and then clean them out, only to find them dirty, dark and scary again. And sometimes this is what I was doing in my own life; trying very hard to clean things up in my own strength, only to find that it was dirty again.

God used my living situation to break my dependence on myself, to break my dreams of what my life should be. He was teaching me to rely upon Him and to break me free from my Dream Home + God fantasy and make it into a God's Dream Home reality; a place where He resides with peace, forgiveness and wholeness.

A small change here, a reformed attitude there and over time He did the remodeling His Word promised He would do. No more scary rooms. No more heaped high garbage. Now it is a place where my family, even the gnarly, burly ones can find rest.

It turns out that it wasn't a sacrifice on my part after all. It turns out that the rubble and the renovation were for me.

Tracy grew up in Hawaii but now resides in Tennessee with Richard, her husband of 32 years. They have two daughters and six grandchildren. Writing came after homeschooling her girls and a career in real estate management. She doesn't claim to have all the answers but she knows the One who does.

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