You there, sliding out of your wedges into walking shoes for a 15-minute cardio lunch to Cardi B or however her name is spelled.
You. Going back to brunette after years of being ash blonde.
Even you, who thought you would never be a mom. Reading this on the way to give birth.
We TRANSFORM. We females. We literally change ourselves, our homes, the World. Once John came home and I had painted the outside of our house. By lunchtime. I kid you not.
We transform Dollar Tree items into insane custom party decor. We transform flour and yeast and butter into rolls which transform our thighs into more ample laps.
Transformation, creative becoming is in our nature. That we will become is a given; that which we will become is squarely upon us. We choose by the direction in which we set our spirit. We select by what we allow into our minds and hearts. Our volition determines whether we will wallow or rise up and become what God created us to be.
Come hear more this Saturday, March 16. FBC, Jennings, LA. Registration at 8:00 a.m.
It is time I came clean. It seems that no matter how hard I try to beat this on my own I just cannot. I. Love. Rehab. Adore it. Addicted to it. In each dilapidated space I see potential. I imagine that each ramshackle residence I pass could be beautiful with just a few gallons of paint and a new screened door. Or a new roof and a bulldozer for a precious few but I see original glory in those little places with overgrown grass and lazy gutters.
We have owned seven homes and our sixth was the newest we had ever purchased. The floors were pristine, the backsplash up to date, the deck wasn’t a demo. It was truly awful. It was perfect and did not need me. At all. In fact, I could only serve to mess it UP. It was a beautiful reno hiatus but I did not feel like it would be our forever home. It was an awesome address with incredible neighbors but then again we couldn’t park the bass boat out in the driveway like the true classless people we are.
I called Andy our realtor eighteen months ago because he knows my flair for the nomadic. I told him that we wanted something a little older with a few projects to keep me busy. I then threw the full force of my intermittent Adderall-Infused attention to realtor.com. I found a perfect looking house with serious internal issues so we walked away. Then I saw The Patton House. The first time I did a drive-by was Halloween night and the scene of costumed children and neighborhood parties was something so HGTV, it confirmed that we needed to try for this one.
The grey brick house had a large window which was circular at the top and I was in love. As I perused our honeymoon pictures months later, I realized why. My favorite photos from that week is in front of the main entrance to The Cloister on Sea Island which had an identical window, just grander. I assume that is why it spoke to me. We got in to see the home the next day and to my great joy there was a dilapidated Butler’s quarters in the back yard. HOT DOG! A project! We made an offer and were moved in before Christmas. You know, the slowest time of the year.
We have moved a wall or two, gutted the kitchen and painted everything inside but patiently waiting in the backyard was the Butler, a perpetual burr under my saddle. So I began to tackle Rhett this week. My renovation is mainly cosmetic: ship-lapping walls, patching floors and opening him up a little. I’d love a light & airy she-shed. I guess that would make her a Rhetta. Yesterday as I was removing the solid wood front door, I had unscrewed seven of the eight screws on the door jam and the eighth wasn’t budging so I took a hammer to it. The solid door fell hard and brought with it part of the door frame. It was stuck.
I tried to lift the girthy door to no avail. At least it was angled so that I could slide down out the front. After the initial thud and numerous attempts to move the front door I noticed a petite, beautiful butterfly floating around the scene. I then began to laugh. Butterflies find me wherever I go. I think of the thin veil between heaven and earth and since Maggie Lee’s passing I think of her whenever a butterfly comes around. Their whimsy comforts me and I feel visited by these little beauties in an intentional way.
“Ok, little doodle. I guess you are here to help me lift this door? I am SURE that we can do this together. Maybe you could fly under here and give it a good push?” I just grinned and tried to hoist the wooden beast again and could not. I slid down the plank and approached the door from the left side. To my shock, with a modicum of effort, I raised the door. Then I really started to laugh. “Thank you for the help little butterfly. Who knew you were so strong?”
The orange and black visitor never came particularly close. I cleared the front doorway and instantly the butterfly was gone. Do I think my daughter was reincarnated as a butterfly to help me lift a heavy door? Do I think the butterfly’s presence brought with it insane strength? No and no. Other than owning four dogs I am not crazy. But I am aware of the whisperings of God in my still, small moments and invite those moments with open spirit.
I love to see the dilapidated be reclaimed. Especially when that structure is me.
You remember the feeling. Whether from a cheap shot on the football field, a sweaty-handed monkey bar slip or an unfortunate double dog dare involving a roof and flying, most know the sensation of getting the wind knocked out of us. A forceful blow to the solar plexus brings the dome-shaped diaphragm muscle to a halt while simultaneously emptying our lungs of air. We cannot breathe and that is terrifying.
It has been a season of sucker-punches for those I call friends. A freak jet ski accident claimed the life of my friend, Lynne’s son-in-law. Another friend, Kevin, lost a custody battle which leaves his youngest in a neglectful situation and him in tremendous debt. Even more grave is the report from a McAfee classmate of John’s, Jessy, in Liberia where the Ebola virus is rampant. He writes, “People are dying day by day. Please pray for the people of Liberia.”
Because of instances like these and hundreds more, hope seems in short supply. Who can begin to forge an answer for the unexplainable tragedy, life-loss and just plain struggle to survive so many face? Not me. In fact, anyone who claims to have life completely and confidently figured out scares the fool out of me. While I cannot claim to begin to have the answers,what I do know is that Christ is my best example of how to do life, my survival of any trial is a gift meant to be given to other people and there is always room for hope.
1. Guess what? Jesus was o.k. with not knowing everything so I should be, too
In Mark 13:32 with the cross not far in the distance, Jesus admonishes his disciples to be alert for his return and claims that no one but the Father knows the day or hour that will be, not angels in heaven, nor even the son. Did you catch that? Jesus, who is headed to lay down his life out of obedience to his father in utter selflessness acknowledges that even he does not need to know when his return is scheduled. You may think he’d be curious about such things, right? This boldly exemplifies Jesus’ trust in God. If Jesus did not demand answers before he obeyed perhaps we can learn something here.
2. We are not responsible for what befalls us but we are responsible for what we make of it
Dallas Cowboy’s Jason Witten, who has been selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, grew up with an abusive father. At 11, his mom and brothers fled and moved in with his Grandfather. The Boys and Girls Clubs in Elizabethtown, Tenn., helped him, “It was a challenging childhood for me and that was a place where it seemed like you go in those doors and there were people who truly cared about me.”
In turn, Jason has taken his experience and reached out to encourage others. The polar opposite of some NFL players, he created a mentoring program for the children of women in domestic abuse shelters called The SCORE Foundation. Jason Witten is inspiring because instead of hiding the abusive past he survived, he seeks to give a hand up to those in the midst of their pain.
Whatever you have survived, there is someone in your life who needs to know that they can make it, too.
3. There is always, always, always room for hope
In the Summer of 2009, we had the wind knocked out of us. An accident left Maggie Lee in the Pediatric ICU. Sweet Dr. Travis Stork (Host of The Doctors,) sent a simple phrase through a friend of mine: there is always room for hope. Though our hope of her miraculous recovery was not meant to be, God has used that truth in my life to fill the expansive chasm of grief and lift me in a way which only he could.
When tragedy hits hard, dare to hope that despite all appearances your life is not over, your prayers are still heard and that one day you will feel normal again. Even if doing so makes you feel as deluded as The Black Knight in The Holy Grail, dare to hope. There is always room for it.