Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Love Expressed

God has surrounded me with amazing friends. Some of those friends are artists in the true sense of the word. Recently I was able to visit one friend's "craft room". I guess if it were mine, I would call it "Sanctuary"...or, maybe, "Refuge". Honestly, it brought tears to my eyes. It is a beautiful space. (I asked to return just to take pictures for this blog. I had to share this room with others!)
I wondered why I was so overwhelmed (in a good way) by this room.

Is it because I long for a place to get away to be creative, rather than lugging stuff to the dining room table? Is it because Tammi has decorated it so beautifully? Is it because I feel like a kid in a candy store, or more like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory?

I was so overwhelmed by this room because this is where my dear friend pours out her heart, her love for others.
You see, she is one of the most generous, loving people I know. This is the room where she creates to make others happy. This is the place where she expresses her passion, this is the place where she gives of herself...and it shows. I can feel it. That is why this is a sanctuary or a refuge for me.

I can feel the life and love here. Thank you Friend!

Monday, August 18, 2008

This Old House

I love that we live in a house that is almost 100 years old...our Hamewith. I love looking through the windows and seeing the wavy glass, the imperfections of the hardwood floors. I love that there is history here that we have yet to discover...it adds a bit of drama!

We do know that the house used to have two fireplaces, both closed up before we moved in. When we replaced our roof, we removed the chimneys. Todd has been talking, for a while, about removing the fireplaces, from the attic down...brick by brick...to reclaim the space. He has had dreams of a second bathroom, maybe a closet. Recently, an "office space" has been mentioned. I have taken it all in stride.

Last week Todd was in the attic taking bricks out. "Well, if that is how he wants to spend his day"...was a thought of mine. He brought a few bricks down. I saw the action as him relieving a bit of stress. The next day, he yells out from our room, "Hey come and look at this!" I go into our room to see that he has taken off a whole section of sheetrock to expose some wall paper from way back when. He wanted me to see the cool wallpaper. My thought was, "Where is the wall? What are you doing?!!! He is really going to do this. Oh m' gosh!"

So for the last week, Todd has been using his "spare time" to reclaim this space, as well as the materials he has uncovered. Nothing is going to waste! He salvaged the beaded board, maybe to use on the ceiling or wall in this space. I grabbed some of the wallpaper, knowing that my artist friends could do something creative with it, and the brick...
This weekend the whole family got in on the "reclamation" process. We've been wanting a brick sidewalk along the front of the house. So, I got the honors of deciding on a pattern. Ashley got to clean the mortar off the brick, Jackson loaded, and hauled the sand and Todd laid the brick.

It is awesome to see what we did! The sidewalk looks really good. I just get so excited about it. It also gets me reflecting on it all...the life lessons that are being uncovered here.

Reclamation means "restoration, as to productivity, usefulness or morality."

There are so many areas, in my life, that the Lord has restored to usefulness. Those things that I thought should be discarded, the Lord has seen as beautiful, useful, with a purpose. I am so grateful for the Lord's faithfulness and commitment to me. He has skillfully remove the layers, revealing the beauty underneath.

Who knew?
God did.
I am very proud of Todd. This is just another example of his visionary gifting and tenacity.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Waiting vs. Waiting

I have written that I have done a bit more blooming than blogging this summer. While that is true, I maybe have not shared the "whole" story. (Does that sound like a little child caught in a lie, or what?!) Really, I have some amazing blooms to share, I just wonder if I would have had more, had I taken care of a few weeds sooner.

Now, I do know that there are blooms that come despite the weeds. They are resilient, colorful, and, many times... common. Then there are blooms that are breathtaking. They live in a nicely kept garden. The soil seems to be worked...free of weeds, watered precisely and freshly airated. It really is quite beautiful. The impact and beauty stays with the Beholder for the longest time.

I have thought about the things that have been "weeds" to me this summer...weeds that can only be taken care of by getting down on my hands and knees and pulling them out by the root. I hesitate to even tell you the weeds, because I do not want my telling to feed them even more. But, then again, my telling may help others "identify" that very weed in their "garden of blooms".

There are a few things that pop up in my "real time" gardens. I am so excited to see green, I let it stay awhile, until I can identify if it is weed or not. If I were more experienced, I would know a lot sooner whether to let it grow or go. This summer, I seemed to be addressing the same weed, over and over.

This particular weed never got super tall, it just seemed to be everywhere! eerrggghh.

In asking my "Master Gardener" about this, it was brought to light, that instead of dealing with the first "sighting" agressively (hands and knees, pulling out by the root), I wanted to be rid of it quickly, with little effort, so I reved up the ol' lawn mower and cut it off. Of course by doing this, I did get rid of the appearance, for a time, but the root was still there AND I had scattered the seeds.

"The weed?" you ask.

"Self pity." I answer, embarrassed.

Oh, it starts off simple enough. I start thinking about the things I am waiting for the Lord to do. The list is long, (but not as long as ALL the things He has done already...this is Miracle Grow to my hope)! And, instead of resting in the waiting, I start thinking, "Oh, I have been waiting long." And it just goes from there! The appropriate response to the first thought should always be, "Thank you Lord for what you are doing. I do not see, but I trust you. You are good. You are kind. You are faithful." And it can go from there!

So, there were a few sad bits this summer...waiting on Jackson to get better, waiting on our adoption to happen, waiting for certain things with YWAM-Charlotte to "take off", waiting for things to go the way that I think they should go (oh Lord, forgive me...).

The big lesson for me...I need to stop waiting on these things to happen, and be wholly waiting on the Lord Himself.

Sweet, Sweet Lord, you have been so patient with me. May my "blooms", and the garden I tend, bring you glory.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bloom Where You're Planted

As a preteen girl, I used to decorate my room with posters that were pictures of flowers, kittens, puppies...remember? They would have some sort of saying on them, meant to shape your outlook on life.
"Bloom Where You're Planted"... seemed to say to me, no matter where I was in life, I could bloom. I have the ability to affect my surroundings, for good or bad... choose good (to bloom).

When we were very young, we would go camping as a family. We would go to our camp site, set up for the weekend, have a great time boating, fishing and skiing. On Sunday, we would pack it all up, and before we load ourselves into the car, my dad would have us scan the entire site for trash. My sister and I would say, "We got all our trash, Daddy. That was here before we got here." To that, my dad would reply, "We need to leave this place better than how we found it."

That has pretty much been one of those sayings that has shaped my world view (it was not on a cute puppy poster though)!

Tonight we celebrated National Night Out with our neighbors. You may have celebrated with your community as well. This year is the 25th year of this celebration (my first year celebrating). The whole idea is to bring neighbors and police together, saying good-bye to crime and hello to activism.

It was a great time of actually visiting with neighbors, more than the cordial wave as we drive by each other coming and going. We held babies, visited with the mayor, shared yummy dishes of food and the kids were free to run around together and play...in the intense heat of summer's evening in the South.

What is so amazing about this event tonight is that our neighbors came together, and that is miraculous. You see, when we first moved here 10 years ago, the area was considered "deteriorating".

Over the years, we have seen the crack houses close down, drug dealers move out and families restored. We still have progress to make, but we are seeing God work miracles. If we turn around and see where we have come from, we see the hand of God. I see God "planting" us here so that we can bloom.

Tonight, I see the result of people "blooming where they are planted." I see the result of people "leaving a place better than how they found it." I look forward to next year...to see the progress.

And just in case you have been wondering...yes! I have been doing more blooming than blogging this summer. Stories of "blooms" are on the way...Now, go do some blooming!