But then, I thought
every concert was special, and one of the things that made them
special for me was the closing number each week. You see, it was a
tradition for the band to end each concert with the band
accompanying a vocalist who sang "Bless this House." I really
enjoyed hearing "Bless this House" even though I heard it every
week. It was almost as solemn a moment for me as the opening
"Star-Spangled Banner." But, I must admit, as a child, I was never
really sure why they closed with "Bless this House," since we were
in the great outdoors and not in a house. Now tuck that thought away
for a few minutes as I move on. I will return to it later.
Last summer my wife
and I were trying to locate a house to buy where our daughter and
grandchildren could live and call home. An impending divorce and a
cramped apartment were forcing us to do something on which we had
I was willing to look
for a fixer-upper, or as the current real estate vernacular calls
it, "a house needing TLC." I knew I could put in the sweat equity
better than I could afford to buy a nicer home for them, and I do
have some friends who I thought might be willing to help. I think
Carol and I drove by every house in town that was for sale that had
three bedrooms and was in our price range: "cheap."
This was one of them.
We didn't even stop to peek in the windows. It looked too small, was
built on a slab and according to my favorite television network,
HGTV, it lacked "curb appeal."
Later in the summer
George Dahmm called me to tell me that the county board had been
given a house by HUD, and it had to be used in some sort of a
low-income housing program. They wanted to give it to HFH. When he
said it was located on North Kankakee, I knew exactly which house it
was. [Petri's daughter had chosen another home.]
At that point, I did
at least stop and peek in the windows. It looked really small and,
according to my favorite television network, HGTV, it certainly
lacked "curb appeal." Even though the price was right -- only $1,
and I think that Leonard Krusemark paid that -- I still found it
difficult to get excited about using it in the HFH program.
Fortunately, God has
better vision than I, and he saw an unused, unwanted, run-down home
and knew that it could be turned into a thing of beauty and function
for a family that just needed a helping hand. God's good at things
like that, isn't he? When we give him a chance he can turn anything
or anyone into something good.
In case you are not
familiar with the program of HFH, this home is not being given to
Brenda and her girls. Brenda has worked hard for it and she will pay
for it. HFH gives a helping hand, not a handout. Brenda applied to
be a HFH homeowner. She was checked out and found to be eligible and
willing to participate. She has already put in many hours of sweat
equity toward the reconstruction of this house.
[to top of second column
in this article]
She is the first
person that I, as treasurer of this organization, have ever
encountered that has had her down payment in the escrow account for
three months before dedication day. Usually, I walk away from the
dedication and open house with $500 cash tucked away somewhere so
that you can't see it, because the homeowner has waited until the
last minute to fulfill that part of the arrangement.
Brenda will sign a
mortgage with us and be making payments for the next 20 years.
That's not a handout. Yes, that mortgage is interest-free. Yes, the
cost of the house is only 70 percent of the appraised value, but
that's the helping hand -- HFH, God's people accepting donations of
property, time, talent and money and partnering with others of God's
people who need a helping hand to have a decent, affordable place to
This is the eighth
time we have done this in Logan County in the past 11 years -- eight
families that have a decent affordable home of their own, an
opportunity that they might never have had if it were not for the
ministry of HFH.
Brenda, we are
pleased to be here today to dedicate this house and ask that God may
bless you and your girls and that you may take this house and turn
it into a home.
As I return to my
original thought, would you bow with me as we make the words of the
song that closed each of those band concerts our prayer today.
Bless this House
Bless this house, O
Lord, we pray,
Make it safe by night
Bless these walls so
firm and stout,
Keeping want and
Bless the roof and
Let thy peace lie over
Bless this door that it
Ever open to joy and
Bless these windows
Letting in God's
Bless the hearth
With smoke ascending
like a prayer!
Bless the folk who
Keep them pure and free
Bless us all that we
Fit, O Lord, to dwell
Bless us all that one
day we may dwell,
O Lord, with Thee!
(Words and music by Helen Taylor and May
[Address by Harley Petri]