Maintaining the gift of home

Originally Appeared in : 9904-2/14/19

“How much do you think our painter would charge to paint the inside of the house?” rolled off of Magan’s tongue harmlessly just as a bite of greens rolled onto mine during our New Year’s Day supper.


I gave my estimate, which garnered a nod and a “really,” and supper continued. A few minutes later, Magan asked another seemingly innocuous question, “Do you think we’d be crazy to do it ourselves?” as I ate another forkful of black-eyed peas.


“No, I don’t think so,” was my reply, and I returned to my plate clearing efforts. Little did I know what I had unknowingly approved would take place in my house over portions of the next three weeks.


Less than 18 hours later my phone buzzed on my hip, temporarily distracting me from recording portions of our Superintendent’s “State of the Schools” address to our staff. I whispered “Really?” so loud as I read “Does mommy want satin or semigloss paint for the kitchen paint?” that several of my coworkers thought an accident had happened at my house. 


Nope, no accident, just lots of paint. Burnished Clay to be exact.


By the time I came home for lunch, most of my kitchen that had once been enrobed in Khaki was now covered in said Burnished Clay, as were my wife and oldest son.


“What do you think?” said Magan, a flamingo ball cap on her head and brush soaked in Burnished Clay in her right hand.


“It looks good,” I said. “So you guys feel like you’re going to get the kitchen done this week?” I continued, hoping to elicit a reply of Magan’s true intentions and goals.


“Oh, we can finish the kitchen in no time,” she said. Translation: We’re painting until bedtime.


Based on the calculator I found online, it’s supposed to take a crew of 4-5 a solid week to paint an 1,800 square foot house. By day’s end, though, Magan and Noah had already painted both the kitchen and dining room, and were keenly eyeing our very Catholic cathedral ceilings in the living room.


Squares of carpet that hadn’t seen the light of day since our sectional or entertainment center had been placed over them years ago were now showing how much wear the rest of the carpet had seen during the same time. I kept that point to myself, in hopes only the walls would receive a makeover for the time being.


In four days, the front half of the house was a semigloss gray, uh, clay, as were the bottoms of several pairs of people’s socks and sleeves of shirts that had gotten too close to the walls. Jesse somehow managed to get oil-based paint in his hair (He looked like an albino skunk), we discovered Noah may have a slight latex allergy, and Isaac kept returning from corners of the house with handfuls of white paint saying, “Paint is everywhere.”


I falsely assumed that Magan was very satisfied with what she and Noah had accomplished, hoping we could tackle the back half of the house some other time. That time happened to be the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.


A few days, and one very uncomfortable night on the sectional later (she slept on one end of the “L” and I on the other), our house was clad in clay.


“Oh, doesn’t it look so beautiful?” Magan asked.


“Yes, it looks great. You did a wonderful job,” I replied.


Then Magan’s real reason for painting was discovered: “I don’t want us to ever take for granted what God gave us with this house, and start looking for something else to make us happy.”


The world is constantly pulling at us to become dissatisfied with all God has given us and, instead of showing pride in those blessings by being good stewards of them with things like a fresh coat of paint, begin to covet and lust for other things that distract us from God’s real purpose for our lives.


The Bible says, “Know well the condition of your flocks, And pay attention to your herds; For riches are not forever, Nor does a crown endure to all generations” (Proverbs 27:23-24).
By taking care of our blessings, and being faithful stewards of them, we set an example for future generations of Catholics, and also allow ourselves to keep our hearts and minds keenly attuned to God’s will for our lives.


I’m just hoping that the same will can keep Magan from remembering the shade/wear differences in our carpets, at least until Spring Break.


Jason Halcombe has five sons and two daughters. He and his wife, Magan, are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Dublin.

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