Porches and Priorities

By Connie W. Adams

The homeplace in Virginia which my father and his brother built when I was three years old, never had a front porch. The original structure was four rooms built of rough lumber from trees cut on the spot where the house was to be built. A steady job by 1939 enabled my father to add eight feet to one side of the house and to add four rooms upstairs, making it a nice-sized farm house. My parents patterned it after a farm house they saw in southeastern Virginia, complete with a front porch extending across the front of the house and around one side to include the chimney. But my folks were never quite able to build that porch. The reason for that contains a lesson many parents could use.

Paul wrote “for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you …” (2 Cor. 12:14). In this context Paul explained why he would not be a burden to the Corinthians when he visited them again. You see, he had “begotten” them “through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15) and looked upon them as his children in the Lord. He was as a father to them. He did not expect them to sustain him. No, he would “lay up for them,” he would “very gladly spend and be spent” for them. The attitude shown here would greatly benefit all who preach the gospel. It would abolish selfishness.

But there is also a great truth taught here about parents and children. It was actually that truth upon which Paul relied to impress his point to the Corinthians. The truth is that parents ought to provide for their children.

After my mother’s death in July, this truth came home to me forcefully after a conversation with my aunt Ida, my mother’s only remaining sib-ling. She said, “They always wanted that porch on the front of the house, but there was always somewhere else for the money to be spent.” Why did I learn that from an aunt? I never heard either of my parents speak about a frustrated dream of a porch. But I am one of several reasons why the porch was never built.

My father was a carpenter on a construction crew for Hercules Powder Company. He farmed a little on the side to provide food for the family. My mother was a homemaker. Our house not only was home to three children but to other relatives. My great-grandmother and grandmother lived there until they died. My father’s sister lived there most of her adult life. My grandfather spent his last few years there. In 1948, I went away to Florida College, never to live at home again. It took every dime I could earn and all they could do to make that possible. My father sold chickens and farm produce from door to door in Hopewell, Virginia to make extra money. He drove a 1936 Chevrolet for a long, long time. His wardrobe was limited.

So was my mother’s. Without complaint and no attempt to make me feel guilty, they sacrificed to help me all they could to go to college for four years. Before I had finished, Wiley began preaching and decided four years in college would be a great help to him. My parents tightened their belts and pitched in to help all they could. It was even more difficult for Wiley to go than for me because he was already married and had two children at the time, with a third born while they were at Florida College.

My sister, nine years younger than me, also attended Florida College. More sacrifices had to be made. Still, no porch. When Glenda had finished, they decided to care for some foster children and there were a number of these in succession. Soon, it was retirement time and more limited in-come. Then the ravages of time and age took their toll. When Daddy passed away in 1986, our mother continued in the home place along with our aunt Beulah, her sister-in-law. It was her desire to be independent as long as she could and to maintain her own home. She died on July 16 in the bed-room at the homeplace where my father had breathed his last.

Now we are left to sort through the memories of a marriage that lasted 63 years plus nine more years during which our mother was the rock that sustained all of us through the loss of the spouses of all three children and assorted heartaches and concerns. On the real estate market, the old house is probably not worth a great deal by the standards of today. If only those walls could talk! There has been a heap of living in that big house with no front porch. You see, with them, their children and other people came before the porch. Now there is a lesson on priorities.

Guardian of Truth XXXIX: No. 22, p. 3-4
November 16, 1995