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Family Grace
By Shawnelle Eliasen

White Carpet and Hardwood Floors

Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin. (Romans 4:7-8)

The boys and I are spring-cleaning. Not the all-out stuff, like washing walls and cleaning curtains. But we’re sprucing things up. Making things fresh. Today we’re washing floorboards–moving along the woodwork with sudsy pails.

The living room and front hall floors are hardwood. They’re original to the house. But they haven’t always been visible. As I move around the perimeter of the room, a boy sloshing water behind me, I think about when we moved in. These old floors were covered with carpet that was deep and thick and white.

“I can’t do it, Lonny,” I’d said. “That white carpet will drive me mad.”

“It’s nice,” he’d said. “Fresh and bright.”

Exactly, I’d thought. That’s why it wouldn’t work. At the time we had three little boys.  I knew there’d be no way under the sun we’d keep that carpet clean. For a couple of months, I tried. But soon there were wear marks. Spotty dots where a toddler had dribbled juice. A green swish from a magic marker that had run off a coloring book page. A muddy print from a small boot that should’ve stayed in the hall.

Trying to keep that carpet clean was a useless, frustrating gig. I was helpless. We were hopeless. I didn’t want to live with that sort of stress.

One afternoon, while Lonny was at work, twelve-year-old Logan and I began to peel back the corners of that carpet. We tugged the edges from the carpet tack. We pushed the furniture to the dining room, and by the time Lonny got home, the carpet was in the center of the room in a neat, tidy roll.

The floors underneath were a gem.

After the smoke cleared, Lonny was grateful. The hardwood brought a rustic charm. They gleamed after a washing with oil soap. We gave the carpet to someone who could use it. And the stress of keeping that white rug clean? It was no longer mine.

Today I remember that carpet and smile. I didn’t think of it at the time, but trying to keep that carpet clean was like trying to keep my life clean from the dark blots of sin. It’s going to happen. Like that rug, my life, my heart, is going to be soiled.

No effort in the world can keep a human heart clean.

But I’m filled with joy to think of it. That’s why we need a Savior. That’s why we need the Lord. He’s faithful to remove my transgressions. The wear marks. The dirt. And the replacement, his righteousness, is fresh, shining and clean.

“Are we done, Mama?” my youngest son asks. He’s gone a little wild with the water and the knees of his jeans are wide, wet rings.

“Getting there,” I say. This woodwork washing is a breeze. Nothing like maintaining white carpet.

Praise the Lord for hardwood floors... and for what Jesus did for me.

Shawnelle Eliasen and her husband Lonny have been married for twenty-five years. They have five sons and raise their bevy of boys in an old Victorian near the Illinois banks of the Mississippi River. Their sons, Logan, Grant, Samuel, Gabriel, and Isaiah, range in age from twenty-one to six with Shawnelle home teaching the youngest three.

Shawnelle has been writing for six years, contributing regularly to Guideposts magazine, Daily Guideposts devotional and other inspirational publications.  She would say that life with her men moves faithfully, on fast forward.  But it’s her heart’s desire, her passionate prayer, to see God’s goodness and glory in the fullness of her days. She longs to see Him in the unexpected moments, unexpected places, changing the ordinary to extraordinary and bringing quiet, sustaining grace.