“Stepping off the school bus, she saw her home for the first time through the eyes of others. To her, the home had always represented the beauty of a loving family. On this day, however, that all changed. Her feet touched the worn dirt path that led to her little house in the woods, as shame covered her face crimson red. She fought hard to hold back the tidal wave of tears that were threatening to break loose from her tightly squeezed eyes. She would not let them see her face. She would not let them know how their words ripped her heart. They had laughed at her and called her home a shack, and for the first time in her life, she began to believe what others had to say about her. *”
It was that time of day. The time I waited for; the time I anticipated. Down the dirt road I heard you coming. Sure enough, there came the old brown Pontiac with a trail of dust trailing behind her. Daddy and Momma were home. I was so excited to see you, even more so, to see why Daddy was opening the trunk. It was not Friday—grocery day—so I knew something was up.
Horror struck my soul when he pulled several bundles of carpet samples from the car and told me of his plans.
“I’m going to take these and make a carpet in the hallway. You won’t have to walk on that cold floor anymore.”
My heart sank. Our front door was in the middle of that hallway. Anyone who came to our house would see Daddy’s rug. As much as I loved him, and no matter how much I trusted him, I could not get the doubt and anxiety that this project, he was so proud of, would only bring me more pain. How could he do this to me?
After supper, he asked me to help him. I guess he saw the apprehension in my eyes.
“Trust me,” he said. “I promise you it will be beautiful when I finish.”
To fully understand my feelings, you must know the background of my story. When my little brother was born, he was born with a defective heart valve. He was very sick and spent the first two years of his life in and out of the Medical University of South Carolina.
The toil of medical expenses and time away from work led to a financial crisis. I still remember my mother crying as her furniture was being toted out of our home. The house we had been family in for the last six-seven years was being sold. My parents could no longer afford it.
We were blessed to have friends who allowed my Dad to sharecrop on their farm in exchange for a small home to live in. I loved that little house. It was not much, but it was home. It was the one place I felt loved. The one place I felt safe and secure. We did not have a lot, but we had each other. (Time has proven to me that was the best gift.)
Going to school was never easy for me. I was often teased and bullied. That is why my little house in the woods became my sanctuary. There, with my sister and brother, I was free to be me. Over the years of growing up in our little house, the three of us became very tight. We still share an unbreakable bond today. Each one of us knowing the other has our back.
I can still hear the laughter of the older children on the bus as they called my home a shack. Their words cut deep. I remember looking up at the old house as my heart broke. She was my home, and she was beautiful to me. She was my friend, my haven. I wanted to defend her, but how could I? Looking at her from their view, I realized they were right. She was an old shack, but she was my old shack. And I loved her and all she represented.
Now you can understand why I was so nervous when Daddy started his project. I wanted so badly to believe him. He had never let me down before. However, I could not get those mean and belittling words out of my head.
From that afternoon on, when Daddy got home from work and supper was done, he would work on the rug. He would sit crisscross applesauce on the old vinyl floor and using his ruler and chalk box he carefully marked each piece to the same exact size as all the rest. I sat with him, watching him and handing him the tools he needed as he meticulously placed the pieces of cut carpet side by side. If they looked good together, they stayed. If not, he would choose another piece. Over and over the process continued until the last part of the sample carpet was laid.
Finally, each piece had been cut and matched with its neighbor. The last step, the gluing, was all that needed to be done. Daddy stayed up late to finish as the rest of us slept. When the morning sun touched my face, I quickly pulled back the layers of homemade quilts to see the finished rug.
It was beautiful. Completely and totally breathtaking. I stared down at the patchwork rug, feeling so proud of my Daddy, yet so ashamed of myself. I had doubted him when I should have trusted him. Let everyone tease me if they wanted. I had something they did not have. I had a rug made by my Daddy. One made from a loving man who gave his family the best that he could.
Many years have come and gone since those days, but I will always remember that patchwork rug my Daddy made. I could not see the whole picture as he could. What he was confident of, frightened me.
As I have traveled into adulthood, there are many days when I cannot see how all the different pieces of this life are going to come together to make something beautiful. I watch as my Heavenly Father works faithfully; still, I struggle with trusting Him to create a masterpiece out of me. I do not know how it will all turn out, this tattered mess called me, but I trust Him with all the mismatched pieces. Somehow, He will make sense of it all. Until the day of my completion, I must choose to believe in Him and trust Him to do the work.
I spent many years, wishing I had a house like everyone else on my bus route, only to learn that God had given me something far better. He had given me a home. A home filled with love and acceptance. A home where no one was turned away.
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV)
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not evil, to give you and expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13, KJV)
(*Baggage and All, Renee Kinlaw, © 2017)