When the Unexpected Houseguest Shows Up

My son runs across the room, scoops up his book bag and shoes, while my husband stands waiting in the kitchen. He holds the big, black brief case in his hand, rolls his eyes and we grin tandem over our son’s inability to pick up the pace.

“Can you drop off my shirts at the cleaners today, I don’t think I will have time,” he asks. “And tell them I don’t want any starch,” he adds.

“No starch,” I ask puzzled.  

“Yes, I don’t want starch,” he confirms.

Since our matrimonial union twenty-one years ago, his work shirts hold starch. Until today.

“Okay,” I whisper, eyes arched.

When they turn to leave, I grab my son’s arm on his way out the door to the garage, pull him to me for a morning hug and hope you have a good day encouragement. Then rattle off the check- list of things he might have forgotten, including his lunch.

And when I pick him up later that afternoon, he informs me sheepish that he would like me to stop using jelly on his peanut butter sandwiches.

“They make the bread soggy,” he says squeamish.

The same boy who decides a few weeks ago, after eating the same natural peanut butter his entire twelve years of life, that he wants to switch over to Jif with all the “genated” words in the ingredient list. “Because it tastes so much better,” he says.

And when we sit down together for dinner, I serve salmon on plates and my daughter declares it. That she doesn’t really like salmon.  Actually, fish in general. She doesn’t like fish. The girl who orders salmon from a menu religiously since she learned how to speak to a waitress on her own, like it’s the only thing her taste buds will tolerate.

I am a stand- by passenger to Change, a window looker into souls that shift constant in longings, preferences, and passions.  Watch the mission of Change weave her tapestry into a beautiful picture called life, knots and frayed edges hidden underneath.

Change is often the unexpected houseguest in my daily routine.  And when she arrives, my first question begins with why.  Why did you come?

No matter what her explanation, it doesn’t really matter does it? She’s here and now I have to decide what to do with her. Where she will stay, how long her presence will affect the comfort of my routine, if I receive her with joy or resentment.

And after my family walks out the door on this morning and the house hums quiet, I open the laundry room door and the smell of dog hits me like a stockbroker on the floor of the exchange.

My dog died on Saturday.

I see the spots on the carpet where he laid, the golden strands of hair stuck to the rug, the drips of foamy drool hardened on the cabinet door, the basket of bandanas in the pantry he donned home from the groomer. And when I see the bowl of food – his last supper- lying in the garage sink it is the final straw to break the tear dam.

Because grief lies in the stream of endless looking back and wishing. Whispering why and never hearing an answer.

Today, I look forward, attend to Change, my houseguest. I’ve decided to tuck her in to the room with the fluffy pillows and the hyacinth in the window that wafts air sweet. We watch birds dangling from the feeder together and talk about tomorrow.

She points out Hope travelling to my place on the horizon.  I knew that Hope was coming, unlike Change. She walks slow and steady, placing her feet in the imprint Change left behind.  Confidence is in her backpack. And I can’t wait to hear her stories when change leaves.

What will you do when Change comes to your place for a visit?

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? ~Isaiah 43:19

 Linking with Word Filled Wednesday, WLWW and . . . .

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46 Responses to When the Unexpected Houseguest Shows Up

  1. This is just … so … tender. Thank you for unzipping your heart here; thank you for trusting us with this beautiful art of your pain. Much love to you, friend.

  2. a beautiful story, Shelley. like the way you weaved it! the part about your poor dog, your memories welling up…that moved me. probably because i sense the same memories and sadness in my house as my kids grow faster than i can blink and i miss them already. you are right, change is hard, and it is inevitable, we fight it and it is useless…looking for hope, that is worth my time…this was encouraging today.

    blessings,

    Nacole

  3. oh friend, this makes me ache. i’m so, so sorry about the loss of your dog. i find change so hard too. thinking of you, praying for you…

  4. kd sullivan says:

    My daughter is the worst with this. She’s always announcing things that she does and does not like as though it has always been the case. It. drives. me. crazy. This is a nice post, and I understand the battle with change. It’s either or best friend or our worst enemy, and those of us who “feel” deeply are usually sentimental to a fault making change a difficult task.

    • I thought I was sentimental until I had my daughter. She keeps every wrapper, card, piece of paper with any kind of meaning in it. I do think it is harder to except change when we feel deeply Kimberly, I agree.

  5. Denise says:

    Very sorry about your dog.

  6. Cathy says:

    I’m sorry about your dog. Thanks for those thoughts and beautiful flowers. Blessings ~

  7. Ms. Kathleen says:

    Beautiful post speaking to the realities of life… So much change going on in mine. I’ve just decided to embrace them. Have a wonderful day.

  8. brian says:

    i am so sorry about the loss of your dog…that is hard…change is constant…we will never escape it…so in the midst i hope that grace and hope break in on you too…smiles.

  9. I love how you personified “change” and, of course, “hope.” This really breathes new perspective into those “visitors” in our lives. And I’m so glad that “Hope” is always around–I’m running to Him and clinging to Him today. :)

  10. DeborahJoy says:

    I love the image of Change & Hope as houseguests, and I love the way you bring to life the words of our Lord.
    Sometimes I guess it’s my job to make welcome the un-welcome-able (I think I just made that word up). They keep knocking on the door even if you pretend to be out.
    Me, I’m scared of Change but I live in Hope.

  11. Ann Kroeker says:

    Dealing with change here at our house, too. I need a hyacinth, to bloom color and waft sweetness into our space.

    • I guess it is common to all of us. We’re in good company which is comforting. I wish you could get a whif of my hyacinth that sits in my writing window Ann. It smells like spring and that odor gives me hope.

  12. wolfsrosebud says:

    Your piece, too beautiful for words. Change is a hard thing in this life. Glad it won’t follow through Heavens gates. I’m sorry for your loss. I’m guessing a Golden. I’ll give mine a bit hug. Lovely photos with your piece. Joy in the morning to you…

  13. rejoyful says:

    Love how you intertwined the challenges of change with hope. Great thoughts that we need to make change welcome, for she will always be around! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Sherri says:

    Exceptionally good today, Shelley. Awesome.

  15. Such a beautiful analogy.
    I love the verse at the end, it is going down on paper. I need to meditate and create more space in my life for moving forward with anticipation!

  16. Shelly, your words comfort me again today. I don’t know if you heard, but the decision to close VCCA was announced last night. Josiah crumpled in a little ball for what seemed like an eternity, and while my heart broke, I felt the Lord’s peace. This blog was exactly what the Lord was saying to be today.

    • No, I hadn’t heard. So sorry to hear that Jen but I know God redeems what we often see as tragedy. I hope your little man will see God’s plan for him beyond the disappointment. So glad this was an encouragement and confirmation for you today. It blesses me to know that. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Debra says:

    “…grief lies in the stream of endless looking back and wishing. Whispering why and never hearing an answer.” I am so sorry dear Shelly, so sorry to learn of your beloved dog dying.
    When Change comes to my place for a visit…
    I will be watching and praying.
    The only constant is change.
    And how I love the Scripture from Isaiah!

    • Thanks Debra. I actually wrote about him on Saturday, it was cathartic. And yes, the day we got Winston my husband reminded me that I would probably have to go through grieving again (we lost a Springer Spaniel when my kids were little). Change is truly the only constant in life. But our Hope: Jesus Christ!

  18. Dea Moore says:

    Hi my name is Discouraged. Change has left a mess at my house and I am thinking since Hope is coming over, you will invite Encouragement to come as well. Could we have a pow-wow on dealing with the Future? Change didn’t stay in the guest-bedroom. She took over the whole house.

    You writing amazes me Shelly—and challenges me. Have a blessed day.

  19. LuAnn says:

    Thank you Shelly. ‘Change and Hope houseguest-one unexpected, one invited and how will I recieve them?’. For me your blog is now a daily part of pausing to hear God. “In Him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” You bring them out. I feel loved and enlightened by your writing.

    • Oh my, who would’ve thunk it! God is good and faithful to speak in whatever ways He chooses. So honored it is through the words I pen in the quiet of my house, sitting in my pajamas with reading glasses on! I love you.

  20. Paula says:

    What perspective you have. I great change much like the unexpected houseguest and truly look forward to meeting hope……..amidst the flexibility that I am always assumed to have. Even if change is positive, the unexpected that it brings can always prove uncomfortable.

    • I agree Paula. Its when we get stuck or immobilized in change that we miss out on fulfillment. I want to always see hope behind the change because I know God often does things in our lives we don’t understand. Mostly, I wait in hope because I know He loves me. And He loves you too!

  21. C Allyn says:

    The big change we are actually waiting for is the telephone call telling us to book tickets to Ethiopia to pickup our adopted son.
    We have been married 15 years. We are an auntie and uncle to a total of 13 nieces & nephews.
    I have moments when i think, we can do this…then I might have a “panic moment” which passes.
    I am a mixed bag. I look forward with anticipation and then sometimes feel scared silly.

    • Oh my, I think you are sooo normal. I would definitely be feeling the same. I am also sooo excited for you! God will give you exactly what you need at exactly the time you need it my friend. I am praying for you and please keep me updated. What a blessing that boy will receive.

  22. Leslie says:

    Houseguests are present here as well. Love your analogy. I’m anxiously awaiting Hope!

  23. love this picture of change, and Hope. Yes. I see her slow and steady…sometimes we have to go out on the road to meet her.

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