I still remember the year I wanted a doll house for Christmas. I was 7 or 8 when “Santa” bought me a Tuesday Taylor Penthouse. I marveled at the box and couldn’t wait to set it up. It was a difficult project for me, probably taking more than a few days during the Christmas holiday, but it was a lovely penthouse.
Because it was so big and bulky, I could not keep the doll house in the living room or front porch. My room was too small to store it. We lived in a row house in Philadelphia and space was a premium. I had to dismantle the doll house after playing with it. It stayed in the basement, until I was brave enough to retrieve it from the box and set it up all over again. I didn’t play with it often.
When I became a teenager, I would sometimes set up my doll house. I simply loved it. I think I loved it more because it was a gift from my dad, aka “Santa.” I couldn’t wait to have a house of my own, I reasoned, where I could set up my doll house and leave it there… always.
When my mom moved from the home of my youth, to an apartment almost 10 years ago, my doll house didn’t make the trip. I thought about it often and even told my husband that I still wanted a doll house. He encouraged me to buy a doll house and to make it a craft project. One Christmas season about four years ago, I bought a wooden, Victorian Farmhouse that required major carpentry skills. It needed, glue, screws and paint. I worked on it for months, only getting discouraged when the doll house called for more technical skills than I could muster. I gave up. I packed up the doll house and stored it away from sight.
When we moved to Portugal a few years later, I began working on the doll house again. This time, I asked my husband for help. He is an engineer, had worked in construction and was better able to manage my doll house construction project. We decided that we would build the house and give it to our young daughter. We worked on it for months, this time with him on lead, hanging shingles, doing the trim and painting the exterior. But when his work schedule changed to longer days, and we both started university classes, there wasn’t time to build the doll house. Again, the project was sidelined.
During the holiday season, we resolved to finish the doll house for our daughter. We bought furniture for the house and my husband and I began painting the last bits of trim, putting up walls, painting floors and hanging windows and doors. It was as if we were building a real house. By Christmas Eve, we were 80 percent complete. I had done all I could. It was late. I was so tired, so I turned the project over to my husband. He finished the doll house at 3:30 a.m. Christmas morning!
We decided our daughter would receive her present after Christmas church service. So, we took our little one downstairs to the basement and unveiled the doll house and all of its furniture. She was so excited that she wanted to immediately set up her doll house. We told her that she could keep the doll house in her room and could share it with her closest friends.
My daughter and husband turned the doll house into a mini home. They placed all the furniture just so, found an old toy pink motorcycle and parked it out front, and started a “garden.” They recycled old toys and dolls to make a perfect home for her toy family. The yellow Victorian doll house, with purple trim, will be a permanent fixture in our home.
As I think about the doll house, I remember two things: First, sometimes in our faith walk, we go it alone, not asking for help from God; nor do we seek assistance from the people he puts in our lives. I have been guilty to this in two respects. When I have gotten into a spiritual crisis, I tried to figure it out alone, rather than immediately taking it to God. I should not wait so long to call out for help. And when it came to the doll house, my husband was there and willing to help me build, I just had to ask. God likewise, is there willing to help us, we just need to ask and trust in him.
Secondly, this doll house made me remember the story of Israel seeking the Promised Land filled with milk and honey (see the books of Exodus, Deuteronomy and Joshua in the Bible). It took them nearly 40 years to arrive at their destination. Most of those who began the journey, including Moses, did not make it to the Promised Land, but they knew their children would. They did not get their beautiful home in their chosen land, but they probably took comfort knowing that their children and descendants would inherit this wonderful gift. One of my favorite quotes of the Bible comes from the book of Joshua. God talks to Joshua to give him confidence before he and the others go in and take possession of the land that God promised them. Memorize this scripture, it will strengthen you: Have I not commanded thee? Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed, for the Lord thy God is with thee, withersoever thou goest,” Joshua 1:9
Sometimes we want something so bad that we don’t trust that God will provide it for us. We think that we are going to make our own way, no matter what God is telling us. But who can stop a mighty God? Does our mighty father need our help or do we need his assistance? Sometimes we do not ask if what we want is God’s will for us. But nevertheless, we should trust that God loves us and hears all of our prayers. If we do not get what we ask, even if it is good, perhaps God can pass on those blessings to our children or our children’s children. Look what he did for Israel.
Look at how he used doll houses to teach me and to show his love: I see my first doll house, the swanky Tuesday Taylor pad, as a gift from my earthly father. But my daughter’s doll house was truly a gift from God, El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty), who is all-powerful, who keeps his promises, even to stubborn followers wandering through the desert or stubborn children like me who sometimes feel impatience creeping in instead of the love of God. Know this: El Shaddai keeps his promises; God is faithful and just. And sometimes, all it takes is a yellow Victorian doll house for us to remember that. What a wonderful God we serve!