If These Walls Could Talk!

It started with the simple afternoon task; but before I knew it, I was way in over my head. 

What began as simple weekend project of painting a few walls turned into several weeks of scraping, patching, caulking, sanding, more patching, more sanding, and then priming before I could even begin thinking about applying a fresh coat of paint to the upstairs hallway.



It all began when I came across an area that needs to be patched. I started removing over seven layers of paint. But there was no good stopping point, so I continued to scrape outward from the small area I was working on. The project forced me to make a decision; would I create my own patched-up stopping point or continue my scraping frenzy working my way down the hallway and through the living and dining room? My weekend project would surely turn into several weeks of work that would involve a great deal of time and energy if I chose the latter.

I decided it would be better to continue on – and that I did. There was no turning back. So I rolled up my sleeves, through some of the hottest days of summer, working all day into the evening hours until the original plaster was exposed, patched, and prepped. My patch job turned into a complete makeover.

IMG_20140901_120601194_HDR IMG_20140902_074116815_HDRIMG_20140902_081851133As the hours slipped by with all the scraping and sanding, my mind became a playground of images. This hallway was home to 1001 memories, multiplied by 1001 other images of the past. I wondered…

If these walls could talk, what in the world would they say? What stories would they tell?

Suddenly, memories come like waves gently crashing upon the hidden crevices of my mind.

Labor-intensive memories:

  • of ripping out old carpet when we first moved in;
  • of moving furniture up and down again and again as family needs changed;
  • of retrieving Christmas decorations from the attic and returning them only a few weeks later to their annual place of rest;
  • of countless trips carrying ridiculous amounts of laundry (for a family of 10) up and down, as some sort of daily ritual.

Pleasant Memories…

  • of young sons playing cops and robbers and using the ledge as a hideout barrier;
  • of teenage daughters modeling their homecoming and prom dresses;
  • of late nights and early mornings – and bringing a nursing baby downstairs to rock so as not to wake the rest of the household;
  • of the day my sister-in-law came over to paint a mural that took up the entire stairway wall.

The remains of her masterpiece peek through (below) as I peel back layers of both paint and memories.

And within, I pause in gratitude for the many ways she blesses me with her kindness, love, and friendship.

IMG_20140901_114733762 IMG_20140902_074936676

Scrape Dry. Add Water. More Scraping. More wondering. More memories.

Hard memories…

  • of tending to a daughter who at age 14 was bedridden for weeks to recover from an accident that almost cost her – her leg;
  • of me chasing after rebellious sons and daughters in an effort to discipline or correct bad behavior;
  • of yelling at someone for this or that over something that seemed like such an awful crisis at the time;
  • of that day when smoke billowed from an oven grease fire and I almost set hall and home on fire.

And thinking of how laughter is good for the soul…my mind shifts to things more light-hearted in nature…these

Humorous Memories:

  • of wondering if my kids reenacting the scene from Home Alone, and using these steps as a toboggan shoot while my husband and I escape for an evening alone;
  • of imagining this brood of eight I had, chasing one another up and down with relentless teasing;
  • of me yelling first and middle names combined and suddenly realizing how silly my voice sounds when I yell and how much I sound like my own mother;
  • of high-schoolers coming in minutes after curfew thinking they were safe, but for the creaking of old steps.

So many memories flooding the mind and the heart!

Memories that are forever a part of me; the good, the bad, the ugly, and the humorous, all playing a role and telling the truthful story of where I have been –  what I have been –  and who I have been.
And yet, it’s the new that motivates me to press on! 
This putting on of the new self. The not yet. And simply embrace who it is I am becoming. 
And I wonder all over again; my mind jumping from my own past – to a more distant past. 
Although we have lived in this old farm house for the past 21 years, it has been standing for almost a century!


It’s hard to imagine that this humble home of ours was once a farmhouse, surrounded by acres and acres of pear and apple orchards. A home without a nearby highway to disrupt the peaceful silence of summer nights. A home void of bright street lights hindering views of star-filled night skies.

What joys and sorrows took place here? Within and without? What kind of people moved among these old halls and walls? Who were they?

If these walls could talk, what stories would be told?  One can only wonder. And all this wondering anyway…what purpose does it serve?

Could it be that we spend too much time holding on to the past that we miss the present? And Is it possible that our looking back keeps us from moving forward on the journey God has prepared for us? 

Like walls needing to be restored to their former glory, so too are we.

So between flights; between family and visitors coming and going; between memories of the old and the new,

…this work…this laboring…this striving…all of it serving as a sacred reminder that we are a wonderful work in progress. 

And we all know that progress that takes time – and time always involves a process.

And so, the laboring, the shedding of the old for the new continues.

And I think it helps to remember:

  • that God is never content to leave us as we are (and aren’t you glad about that?).
  • that it is necessary for the old to be removed in order to create the new.
  • that we are all in the process becoming something beautiful. Something wonderful. Something new.

So what about you?

How is God scraping away the old, patching up the broken, and creating something lovely within you?

How is He ridding you of old habits, old thought patterns, and old identities to prepare you for new habits, a renewed mind, and a new purpose?

Though difficult, this becoming is a necessary and good exchange! 

The question is, will we let God do the necessary, messy and good work within us, in order to make us more like Jesus, while at the same time moving us closer to his purpose and plan?

Until next time, why not take a few minutes today to think about how you’ve seen God at work in your life. What examples can you point to that help you understand more of God’s refining work and growth within you?

And feel free to write or share your thoughts in the comment section. I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for taking the journey with me today. 🙂


6 thoughts on “If These Walls Could Talk!

  1. connectdd says:

    Remodeling is such a great word picture, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience. I find the transition, the space between the old and the new to be an anxious phase. That’s especially true when I can’t see the new yet but the old is definitely outgrown. All God’s best as you enjoy the remodel and live joyfully with the old becoming new.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Betsy Stretar says:

      Thank you conectdd. Yes, transition can be a place of anxiety for sure. Mine has been a journey of learning to embrace the new as an adventure. We can’t let fear hold us back from becoming more of who God made us to be. I like the way you said, to “live joyfully with the old becoming new.” And thats more about the present isn’t it? Being content in the inbetween…and trusting that even there I can find contentment, joy, and purpose. Thanks for stopping by today 🙂


  2. lisabetz88 says:

    When we get into the middle of a project-,and realize it’s much bigger than we thought (aren’t they all?) it’s good to remember that the end result will be worth it. That is just as true in home remodels as it is in life remodels, although in life we can’t don’t always know what the “After” photo is supposed to look like. Thanks for reminding us it will be worth it.


    • Betsy Stretar says:

      Thanks for your response Lisa. I’m still working on the “after” in both home and heart (Insert smile). I’ll be posting more on this subject later this week. I look forward to talking more about the journey with you.


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