A Humble Home

To the Woman with a Humble Home:

This letter is for you if you do not have granite countertops.  If you have not shopped at Pottery Barn (and do not really look closely at the catalogues, because come on.)  If you have light switches that don’t work (and probably never will, honestly!)  If you don’t have a dishwasher, if you have window air units, if you have paint that chips, screens that are taped, forks that don’t match, and you have strategically placed rugs to cover stains and scratches.

If you’re like me, and your home is humble, and sometimes you feel bad about it.

Like, you’ve failed somehow.

Like, people will see the frayed edges, and think you haven’t tried enough.

Like, even though God’s blessed you and you are SO GRATEFUL, sometimes you wonder why He isn’t blessing you out of the 2015 Pottery Barn fall collection.

This is for you.

What if, what if… your home is absolutely perfect, right now, as it is?

What if, when someone walks into your home, they think of the house they grew up in?  They remember their mother, and the simple years of their childhood, and it brings them joy.  Joy, when they maybe needed it more than you knew?  Maybe when they had forgotten that joy isn’t found in the the pursuit of the American dream?

What if, when someone walks into your home, they see the flowers in the mason jar, and they think of how beautiful nature is, how happiness and enjoyment doesn’t have to be purchased or polished.  It can just be.

What if, when someone walks into your home, they see their place set at the table, and they feel a little less alone.  They feel connected, wanted, important?

What if, when someone walks into your home, they see the effort, the care you took in being hospitable, and they who are blessed with even more resources, are encouraged to do that same?

What if, when someone walks into your home, they see the imperfections, the flaws, all the things you have fretted over and tried to hide.  But then, they see you smiling, saying, welcome.  Dear Lord, what could that mean for them?  That THEY don’t have to be perfect?  That flaws are not what define us?  That we are all broken, but we are all welcomed by Jesus?

What if things are happening in His Kingdom and for it, that you have NO IDEA about, because your home is EXACTLY what it is?  How many times have we missed the opportunity for that because we wouldn’t offer to host a meeting or have someone to dinner, because we didn’t want anyone to see that we’re not living the same as others?

Oh dear hearts, I’ve been there.  I’m sorry to say it- it’s shameful.  I almost didn’t want to write this post.  But I’m hoping that sharing this with you might encourage you to see your own home in a different light.

This secondhand furniture is exactly what God chose for you, because He had a purpose for it.  It’s not an accident.  If there’s one thing we should know about Him by now, it’s that NOTHING is ever an accident with Him.  Your home has been carefully crafted by the Lord, each rickety table and mismatched pillow, all to draw others to Him. He poured over the furnishings, choosing this and that, and saying, yes, this one is just right.  This couch with its worn spot, and that chair with its scratched wood, and those curtains that are just a little too long.  This place is just right.  This place is glorified and will bring light into the world.

What if your home is beautiful in His eyes?

Because, friend, it is.

It is lovely, and good, and useful, and has been constructed to fit your heart and hand so that you can use it for Him.  Look around and delight in it.  Rest in it.  Look with kind eyes on these walls, whose tasks go beyond what we can see in this world.  Open your door wide, don’t be ashamed.  Stop apologizing. That’s what our enemy would have, that we would close off our corner of the world.  That we would believe it is not enough, that we are not enough, that HE is not enough.  Lies.  Because what our enemy knows is that, there is nothing more powerful than a home that loves the Lord, and whose door is open.

Stand at your threshold and rejoice, woman of the humble home.

For you are a daughter of the King, and your home is His dwelling place.

When your heart can’t hold it in anymore.

The facts.

I’ve seen my brother once in the last two years, at my sister’s wedding.  As we stood for photographs in the sunshine and the flowers and the heartbreak, I wondered if that would be the last one of us all together.

He wrote me a letter from a rehab a few days ago, and before I had a chance to even write him back, he had left.

I lay in bed some nights, imagining what it is that will kill him, and what it will do to us.

—-

The feelings.

I pity him.

I’m angry at him.

I’m scared for him.

I miss him.

repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat

—-

The fears.

He’ll die in a hospital bed, after a lifetime of regrets, like my uncle David.

The image of my parents with silver hair, and gently bent backs, and wrinkled faces, and not a worldly possession left to care for themselves.

That we haven’t seen the darkest days yet.

That saying it aloud hurts him and hurts my family.

That saying it aloud doesn’t make any difference at all.

—-

God help him. Help us.

The Way of A Man with a Maid

“There are three things which are too wonderful for me, Four which I do not understand: The way of an eagle in the sky, The way of a serpent on a rock, The way of a ship in the middle of the sea, And the way of a man with a maid.” Proverbs 30:19

Eighteen years I have learned the wonders of the ways between a man and a maid.  I have seen love stretched and tested and enduring. I have seen it soaring and flying, I’ve seen it hanging on and surviving.  I’ve seen it come easily and quickly, and other times fought for, bought with heart aches and forgiveness and reconciliation.  I’ve seen it shine like a brand new penny, I’ve seen it flickering bravely in dark places.  I’ve seen it change, over and over.  The endless seasons of love coming and going and transforming us, year after year after year.   It becomes fuller and more bodied as it ages.  It becomes something so difficult to describe that we stop trying.  It becomes so intimate and personal, that you don’t often see movies or novels written about the 18th year of being in love.  But this is a loss to us, as we love past our honeymoons and newlywed days.  Let the world hear, love is rich and amazing and reborn in us a thousand times over our lives. Let this little verse rival the lines of Romeo and Juliet.  Let me challenge Paris and Helen.  What can be known of love can’t be gathered in such brief moments as theirs.  Though truly, even a life time wouldn’t be long enough to know all the wonders of love.

Summer in my heart

Though winter rages ’round

Sunshine on my skin

Though rain keeps falling down.

.

Music in my ears

When fades away the tune,

Stars in my sky,

When hidden is the moon.

.

Sweetness on my lips

Though bitterness may be fed,

Warmth in my bones

Though long the fire dead.

.

Fullness in all my wanting

Safety in all my fears

Joy in every sorrow,

With you in all my years.

Year’s End

I’ve been wanting to write about my brother for about a year now, but I couldn’t do it.  It’s still not easy, to be honest.  As a matter of fact, that’s pretty much why I stopped blogging altogether, because I couldn’t write around it.  I couldn’t write about it, and I couldn’t NOT write about it.  So, I took a break, and just let the ground lie fallow.

But, this is okay.  This feels right.

Sometime in the early summer of 2013, it became obvious that he was on shaky ground again.  We tried reaching out to him, but it didn’t stop it.  He began the slow and painful journey back into his addiction.  It broke my heart, ticked me off, scared me to death.  Every emotion was dragged out into the open, whether I wanted it or not.  There were days that it weighed so heavily on me that I couldn’t breathe.  Some days, I handled it okay.  Some days, I handled it all wrong.  But all the feeling… it didn’t stop the reality of what was happening.  Every day was borrowed time– every phone call had the weight of horrible possibility.  We knew it was coming, we just didn’t know what it would be.

He was arrested a few weeks before Christmas of this year.

He was jobless, homeless, still in the process of breaking himself.  Being arrested saved his life.

So, now instead of laying in bed, wondering where he is sleeping, wondering where he is, what he looks like or how he’s getting food, or if he misses us and remembers any of his old life… I know where he is.  I know what he’s eating.  I know what he’s wearing.  And I know he’s thinking about his life.  With four blank walls around you, there’s no escaping your own thoughts.

I couldn’t write about this while it was happening.  I wanted to give him time and space and quiet– but the truth is, this is part of his story.  There’s no way to bury this.  He’s going through this, we’re going through it.  I want the end of this story to be one of triumph and healing.  But there’s no getting there if we pretend there’s nothing to overcome.  No pain to heal from.

I don’t know what happens from here.  I don’t know if this will be the last time, but I sincerely pray that it is. But I ask God for more than that, more than just my brother’s sobriety.  There are hurts in our family that run deep, hurts we don’t want to acknowledge.  Wounds that have healed over poorly, scars that have left us numb, pieces that don’t fit together as well as they should.  We have not been okay.  We have not been okay.  I’m not sure why that’s important to admit, but it is.  At least for me.  If that’s all I said, though, it wouldn’t be worth much.  We haven’t been okay, but God hasn’t left us.  He suffered with us.  He shared our pain, bore our burdens.  He listened when we cried, He dried our tears.  He was patient as we stumbled through anger and resentment and bitterness.  He upheld us when we were our weakest.  We weren’t okay, but we weren’t alone.  Not for a moment of this hard and terrible thing.  We were never alone.  This didn’t kill us.  The sorrow of our earthly troubles didn’t overcome Him.  He didn’t take the pain away, but it did not extinguish His goodness and mercy and His work within us.  What have we to fear, when He holds us so firmly in His Hand?  He is truly master over all.

So there you have it.  We’re in a quiet place now.  A place to catch our breath.  A place to assess our condition, check that we are still intact, still breathing.  And we are.  He has brought us from 2014, into a whole new year full of possibilities.  May we live in 2015, blessing His name in its highs and lows.

Happy New Year, all.

Hello from the Coop

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One of my favorite things about keeping chickens:  the booty beauty.  Fluffy bottoms abound!  They look like feathery pantaloons or skirts, and I just love ’em.  I wish I could teach them the Virginia Reel.

This little pillow of chickeny goodness is my very favorite.  She’s so docile and friendly– she’s the one who would always hop on my shoulder when she was smaller.  Now, she lets me pet her like a dog!  I lerv her.

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Chickens are curious creatures.  Especially if there’s a chance you may have a treat for them.  This girl always cracks me up with the tufts around her face, and the feathers parted neatly around her comb..

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Roosters have scary reputations, I’ll give you that.  And honestly, they do cut quite an imposing figure.  But Nemo is very well behaved.  He is a handsome young fella, and his is constantly on patrol.  It’s fun to watch.  And really, when I look at Nemo now, this is what I remember:

Awww…. He was such a runt back then.  Very bottom of the order, but he’s worked his way up.  He will probably never be the big boss though, Prissy has that firmly in hand.  Speaking of Prissy,
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Hasn’t she turned out pretty?  She is fat and happy and lays lotsa eggs.  Good chicken.  She keeps the flock in line.

 

And this girl, visiting the nesting box.  I’m trying to decide if she’s going broody on me!  She’s been in the nesting box for a gooooood long while today.  She’s already fussed at me once for getting her out.  Broodiness can be bad if you don’t want to hatch chicks.  They may accidentally break eggs, which can then be eaten, and start up a bad habit of egg eating hens!  Also, a broody hen can cause other hens to go broody as well.  They won’t get up to eat or drink, they get all drama queen on you.  So we’ll see.  I’ll check again in a little while.

This shy girl is the smallest, meekest of the chickens.  She’s on the very bottom of the pecking order, which means she has to eat last, take the worst roosting positions, and basically yield whatever to the other chickens.  I do try to sneak her secret bites of food and attention when the others aren’t looking. She’s very timid but I love her sweet expressions and quiet personality.

And lastly, guess what?
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More chicken butt.  :)

So there ya have it.  A little chicken for your day.

I Will Tell You a Story

Prologue

Once upon a time, there was a girl who couldn’t remember her name.

Though she had all else she could desire, a warm hearth to eat food, a soft place to lay her head, strong walls to protect against the night, she was bereft.  She sought out the elders of her village, and the wise woman at the meadow’s edge, and the wild men of the forest, but none could tell her who she was or how she had come to be.  Sorrow hollowed out her heart, and just as she had lost her name, she began to lose the simple comforts of a living soul.  Food became tasteless, and the flames of the fire ceased to warm her.  Sleep fled before her tired eyes, and the rising sun did not quicken her spirit.  She was alone, unknown to herself and all living creatures.

With each passing moment, she faded more and more, until one day, her steps began to lose their sound.  Light passed through her, as if she were a pane of glass.  With fearful hands, she touched the world, and felt nothing.  Nameless and forgotten, she slipped away from herself.  With none to see her, or know her, or call her name, she became invisible as the wind.  Like the whisper of a breeze, she blew through the empty halls, hardly stirring even the motes of dust.  She was a ghost of a girl, held together only by the faintest of will.

The wind knows no measure of time.  It simply is, until it isn’t.  It blows, and then it doesn’t.  And so it may have been for the girl, who existed as barely a breath for countless ages.

Except for him.  The one who, though he had desperately lost his own way, would one day, stumble upon hers.

This is their tale.

Turning the Camera Around

So, I’ve been taking selfies lately.  Yeah….

I’m not going through a narcissistic phase, if that’s what you think.  I’m not doing duck faces, and if I DO, then by all means, stage an intervention.  I promise you, I haven’t developed an unhealthy obsession with my good side.

Nah, the truth is, I’m coming out from behind the camera, because I’m way too comfortable back there.  Over the past few years, I’ve been slipping into invisible mode.  Hiding behind my kids, melting into the background, sitting on the sidelines, slipping out the door, whatever.  I think some of it is a natural introversion (why does nobody believe I’m an introvert?) but some of it is probably laziness.  And then there is the fact that I’m not a big fan of pictures of myself.  All terrible excuses for HIDING.

I recognized this shortcoming recently, and I didn’t like it, not one bit.  Life’s too short to hide from it.  What do I have to lose?  Vanity?  Pride?  Am I afraid to look a little foolish, a little fat, a little goofy?  Lord forgive me.  And it’s not just pictures, I tend to hold back in lots of situations, when I should be open and engaging.  I can be there, without really being there.   But I don’t want to be that way.  When I am an old gray mama, I want them to flip through photos of me in their younger days and remember that I was full of life and joy.  I want them to see the happiness on my face, the laughter in my eyes.  I want them to see me engaged in all the moments given to me.  Because if they see anything else, then they are seeing an untruth.  And I can’t bear that thought, that they would ever believe I didn’t love sharing this life with them.  I don’t want to be on the sidelines of Life, out of the picture.  I’m there, and I want them to see it and remember it long after I’m gone.

So now I get it. You can’t suck in your middle and belly laugh at the same time.  You can’t romp in the waves if you’re hiding under a towel.  I mean that literally, AND metaphorically.  You’ve got to let go, and believe in the love of your Father and those who hold your heart. For me, making my way into intentional pictures is a step towards visibility in a bigger sense.  Putting myself out there, embracing the person I am at almost 39, it’s not narcissism.  It’s about NOT letting stupid insecurities hold me back from the fullness of living.  “Hiding” is a disservice to the great blessings I am surrounded with, and the One who gifted it all to me.  So now, you see me a little more…. but hopefully, you’ll know it’s so much more than a “selfie.”  It’s me saying, I’m here, and I’m glad I’m here, and I’m especially glad it’s with you.  That’s worth some time in front of the camera, and in front of the crowd.  My loves deserve it.

[But, I can’t defend the hashtag.  #onceyoustartyoucan’tstop ]

Happy week, all.

 

 


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