News Commentary: St. Elmo’s Friedrich house doomed to destruction


In Today’s Pioneer Press there is an article about a house that seems doomed to destruction and the dreams of one Linda Hardy. The home is a historic farm home from Lake Elmo.  Linda and her husband David saved the home from destruction in 2006 with a promise of restoring the home.  Then David became sick and died and Linda is left with the home and the dream.  However, she is not able to deliver on the promise.  Restoring the home is beyond both her ability and means.  She would need someone else to intervene and the cost is beyond what she can pay.  She is holding on to the dream and stated, “”If they want to fine me or something, OK. But if I miss a deadline, I am going to lose my house and belongings?” and “I am 62. My husband is dead. I can’t get a job. There will be no comeback for me.”  The fact is her husband died, and what may once have been feasible is not. In order to keep her dream alive she needs the intervention of someone else to do the work and even at a reverse mortgage will have a debt far too large for a 62 year-old woman with limited income to maintain.  In this story, there are lessons for each of us.

Lesson One:  Dealing with the Past. 

            This lesson is about the farmhouse itself. A building holds memories to the town of Lake Elmo. There area has some emotional attachment to the building. Yet, it is just a building that has far outlived its usefulness.  It is admirable that the Hardy family wanted to take on the challenge of restoring the old house.  Turning something old and damage into something new is a challenge that takes a lot of commitment, time, and resources.  Perhaps if David had not gotten sick and lived they would have been able to accomplish it but now the house becomes a burden. It is now about something to which one person is holding. It is one really large burden that has become an object one person is holding onto in her grief.  If the community as a whole truly valued the building as an historic landmark, it would not depend on the limits of one family to restore. The community could work to bring it to restoration. Instead, it is a rather large piece of the past that needs to be let go of. Often in our own lives, we can old onto remnants of the past.  We can even take on the burdens of others, seeking to display some good.  Sometimes though the past is something that needs to be let go of and let be a memory to look back on.  Trying to hold on to something that is best let go will just bring a burden that is unbearable.

Lesson two: Own dreams often pursued at expense of others.

            Too often in this world we focus on self.  We identify a want, a need, a dream and it is our sole focus.  We fail to take into account others.  We hold on to what we value most.  This is seen in this story as well on multiple levels.  We have an individual holding onto a dream and not considering those around her. Her expectation is they should understand and points to her attempts to preserve something that is a reported landmark. The neighbors and Lake Elmo community on the other hand are exhibiting their self-focus as well. Complaints about how one persons dream and project interfere with their own lives, dreams, and desires. We have a widow; holding on to a dream and project beyond her own ability and no one has offered to help. Sure there are contractors who are willing to get paid, if allowed, all ultimately at the exploitation of this widow. Yet, no one has offered to set in to aid the widow. She will lose the dream, lose the house, and lose the little she did hold onto and will be destitute and alone. Not one soul has come to her aide.  ABC Extreme Makeover is not coming to help.  Neighbors are caught in their own world and dreams that the struggle of a widow and her dreams are simply a nuisance. Fact is no one in the community really cares and Linda Hardy is left holding onto something that for her is just simply beyond. Apparently, some people have thought it would helpful to provide items like a shower and just dump it their, basically getting rid of their own baggage and turning it over to someone already over-burdened.

Lesson Three: The cost of being saved from destruction is beyond own abilities.

            This story really points to me that saving anything from destruction comes at a great price. Here a home is in need of restoration and salvage.  However, it is beyond the scope and ability of one person to do it.  Linda Hardy can put in all she has and more and still she will fall short.  There is a need for someone to step in and do what is beyond her help.  Now perhaps it can be saved at a dept that Linda Hardy cannot repay.  It is rather a hopeless situation. The picture though is one that rings true for each of us.  Each of us ultimately are like the farmhouse.  We are in great disrepair due to our own sinfulness.  The best work we put into restoring self will fall short.  Any attempt to restore self by works is akin to Linda painting the house “as far as she can reach.”  Trouble is our reach will always come up short.  For each of us there is needed intervention for the cost of restoration and transformation is beyond our own limits. 

We need the help of others, but ultimately the damage done by self is so great that even those we know trying to help can only touch the surface.  For true change and true restoration their needs to be an ABC Extreme Makeover type event, only one far more lasting.  Extreme Makeover comes in, guts a home, and rebuilds a bigger and better home. Yet, the families are left to deal with cost, have greater expense, and can still lose their home.  The Extreme Makeover needed is far more intensive and far more reaching.
We all need a Savior, a redeemer. Someone that can change us wholly and take on all the debt associated with change.  There is an answer for each person, and the answer is Jesus. He paid the price and He alone can restore us and save us from destruction.  He alone can pay the debt we cannot pay.  He has paid the price, all each person needs to do is accept the price and remain in the submitted relationship.  The choice is up to each person but too many will try to take on the impossible task and depend on own efforts with like the house, ultimate destruction being the final destination.

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