Ecclesiastes 101

For the last few months I?ve been living the book of Ecclesiastes.

Last April my wife?s mom passed away, so, for a variety of reasons, particularly that I had lost my mind, we decide to try to sell our home and buy her mom?s house, which is smaller, requires less maintenance, and hopefully will not have room for our two dogs. ?Because our present home is an older home, and coupled with the fact that I prefer watching TV to home maintenance, there are a few ?touch ups? we need to do to get the house ready for market.

The first thing we do is have my wife?s sister, a former realtor, go through the house and fire off suggestions in rapid succession while I follow her around frantically scribbling notes: 1) Repair soffit in back porch that?s sagged the last 3 years and remove bucket underneath full of rancid rainwater, 2) Remove medium-sized oak trees from gutters, 3) Paint every bit of wall surface Cookie Dough Bland, 4) Take down paintings and family photos so people can envision their own decor, like moose heads, mounted on the walls, 5) Replace broken bedroom window and brick that props it open, etc.

The actual cost of all the repairs turns out to be more than the asking price of the house, but hey, it?s worth it to sell it. ?The whole summer becomes an Extreme Home Makeover marathon, and I become Ty Pennington, only my entire crew consists of two hapless dogs who can?t wait to christen the new carpet in the den with their ?scent,? if you know what I mean.

A couple weeks ago we get a realtor, who I also follow around frantically scribbling notes on how to ?present? the place: 1) Hang white towels everywhere, place white bath mats next to tubs, and put baskets with white wash cloths on the bathroom counters, to give the impression that we actually practice good hygene, 2) Install air fresheners throughout the house – but make sure they are mild – because we want the house to have a hint of fragrance, but not the overpowering sweet smell of a teenage boy after he?s used Axe shampoo, body wash, and toothpaste, 3) Make sure all the toilet seats are down before anyone looks at the house, because we don?t want anyone to think we actually go to the bathroom, etc.

Finally, after cramming 9 years of home maintenance into 5 months, I really start liking our house.? But what?s ironic is that I’ve put all this work into the place just to leave it for someone else. Reminds me of Ecclesiastes 2:21:

Sometimes a person who has toiled with wisdom and knowledge and skill must leave everything to be enjoyed by someone who did not toil for it. This also is vanity…

I?m glad I?ve got something better than this world to look forward to, aren?t you?

photo by whereareyousimon

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I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I’ve written a lot of worship songs. I also like to paint.


  1. Elaine says

    LOL! That's exactly how we felt when we were selling our home in Charleston. After all the home repairs, it was beautiful! And all for someone else! Yes, I am thankful this world is not all there is. Thanks for the reminder, Mark; I so easily become caught up in the busyness of this world and all its cares and forget to deliberately "set my mind on the things above."

    Hope your home sells quickly!

    • MarkAltrogge says

      Thanks Elaine! I hope it sells quickly too, so we don't have to keep putting out all these white towels….

  2. lisa says

    We can SOOOO relate. This just depresses me so much…. :-) But at least you're through it all now. :-) Hope the house sells soon!
    Will the dogs really not be moving with you? That was a joke, right?

  3. spufidoo says

    I'm currently living in Ecclesiastes!

    Last weekend, we visited a pastor friend and his family near London. On Sunday, he preached on Ecclesiastes 1:12 onwards.

    Today, I'm preparing a presentation I'm giving at a tech conference, and my first foil says,

    “there is nothing new under the sun”
    What has been is what will be,
    and what has been done is what will be done,
    and there is nothing new under the sun.
    Is there a thing of which it is said,
    “See, this is new”?
    It has been already
    in the ages before us.
    (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 ESV)

      • says

        I designed some software for a company back in '94.
        Someone else designed something very similar at the same time for another company.
        We both ended up working for our current company and have brought the software with us, improved it, now I'm presenting on it in November. There truly is nothing new under the sun!

        P.S. Hi from Christchurch!

        • MarkAltrogge says

          Hey spufidoo, I think even this post has probably been done before….interesting how you and the other guy developed similar software and now work for the same company…

          Hi back to Christchurch!

  4. saraandfam says

    oh, good, I am glad to hear it's not ungodly to have maple trees in the gutters. I was worried about us! ;)

    • MarkAltrogge says

      Hi Sara,

      Nope, not ungodly to have maple trees in the gutters….now if they get to be full grown in the gutters….

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