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I am a placemaker too

I became acquainted with Christie Purifoy when I read her first book, Roots and Sky. The story of her moving to an old farmhouse in Pennsylvania, with her husband, three children and one on the way, moved me, and I gave copies of the book to friends.

Anticipating Christie’s second book, I applied to be on the launch team for Placemaker, Cultivating Places of Comfort, Beauty, and Peace. I am not disappointed.

Christie Purifoy’s flower garden

The writing is lyrical, sentences and paragraphs creating song and melody. As Christie describes the places she and her family lived, she tells a story of life and loss. And she talks about trees.

Chapter titles are named for them: Citrus Grove, Pine Tree, Saucer Magnolia, Honey Locust. Because making a place you call home is not just about the building where you live. It is about the city, the neighbors, the parks, the church family. It’s about settling in and calling this place home for however long you are there.

I’ve not lived in as many locations and states and Christie. My homes have been within less than a fifty-mile radius from birth to present day. Yet home, with all the meaning I can give it, is significant. Memories evoke the places where they occured. The yard where I celebrated a birthday with childhood friends. My teenage upstairs bedroom with white cape cod curtains. The carport with wood neatly stacked ready to be carried inside for the fireplace. The kitchen where my mother taught me to cook and the one where I orchestrated thousands of meals. The lane where I walked to visit a neighbor. The gardens where I planted herbs, vegetables, and flowers, bending low to pull weeds and cultivate something akin to beauty.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Placemaker:

“Making and tending good and beautiful places is not a dishonorable retreat. It is a holy pursuit.”
“Every place made by God is loved by God, and that includes every place where His people dwell. If we are willing to look through the lens of His love, then we will see that every place has some particular magic.”
“The trees know what we struggle to accept: it is right and good to love my neighbor as myself. My fate, and my neighbor’s fate, are bound up together. No human and no tree are an island.”

Placemaking is making a place, whether that is creating a comfortable home for husband and children, making room for friends at the table, getting to know the neighbors and looking out for one another, or opening one’s heart to love and be loved.

We’ve all been given places to inhabit and to tend. Christie Purifoy tells us her story in her own beautiful way.

View from Maplehurst, Christie’s home in Pennsylvania

[God] determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. Acts 17:26b



Monday grace

My devotional theme yesterday morning was about resting, and it took me to a familar passage, Psalm 23.

Sometimes things old and familiar can be common and ordinary if we are not careful.

I didn’t need to turn to the Psalm. I’ve known it by heart since a child, learned in Children’s Church when rewards were given for memorizing. Whatever works, and it worked for me.

As I quoted the verses by heart, I noticed afresh how they speak of resting.

The Lord is my Shepherd. I have all I need. I don’t have to concern myself with working for salvation or be consumed with the cares of life.

He makes me lie down. Why is it so hard to cease from our busy schedules and relax, be refreshed?

He leads me beside still waters. The rushing waters are beautiful and powerful, but the still waters invite me in to its gentle flowing.

He restores my soul. How I need this. Jesus tender touch on a weary brow, a heart that is broken, a soul that has drifted.

He leads me in paths of righteousness. This is His path, not one of my own making. His path is the right way.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. Fear has torment and is the enemy’s tool. No matter the place I must go, my Shepherd is with me.  He is good and He is strong. He replaces anxiety with His very own peace.

Your rod and Your staff. Comforting tools of the shepherd are there to protect and guard, to guide and rescue.

You prepare a table for me. I love it when someone invites me over, prepares the food, and tells me to sit and enjoy. I am the pampered guest, and I feel loved.

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My cup runs over. Not “just enough” but more than enough. Christ’s love is everlasting, His mercies are ever new, His compassion fails not.

Goodness and mercy will follow me. I don’t have to chase them down and beg. They are pursuing me with the graciousness of my God.

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord. Ah, here is the ultimate rest, to be absent from this body and present with my Lord. I am a member of the family and will make myself at home.

Because I will be Home. And nothing says rest to me like home.our house by Elyse

P.S. I took this Paslm to heart so much yesterday that I rested from from Sunday grace and technology.

 

 

 

Sunday grace

My friend texted me late last night: “Karen left this world at 6:50 pm tonight.”

Karen, a woman who has battled cancer that ravished her once healthy body, left this world of pain and suffering. Karen left this world and went Home.

There’s no place like home. I look forward to coming home at the Wright House. The old and familiar things comfort me with memories. I recall family and friends gathered at the table, filling the rooms with their sweet presence.

We’ve fought battles here and shed tears. We’ve bent over in laughter and shared joy and victories. We’ve found comfort in each other’s embrace here and weathered storms as we prayed for peace. Here at home is where we built our lives.

Home is where my people are.

Paul describes it so eloquently: Being absent from this body is to be present with the Lord. This is our true home. To be with Jesus will be home like no other place I’ve ever dwelled.

The tribulation and trial that are part and parcel of this earthly existence will fade away. No more suffering. No more weaping. No more death. God Himself will wipe away our tears.

As the years add up, I find myself longing for home more and more. I see that this life is temporary, that my body is aging, that I am susceptible to ailments and pain. I look forward to corruptible putting on incorruptible. When perishable will put on imperishable.  Life will swallow up death.

And I will be Home. In Heaven. With Jesus.

I will hear the familiar words I am longing for, “Welcome Home.” And I’ll run into my Savior’s arms.

Sunday grace.

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If these walls could talk

It was late summer or early fall when we moved into our house so long ago. And if the walls of this place could talk, oh the secrets they would tell.

My dad was the chief contractor when we build our first and only home in 1976. It was always his dream to build his only daughter a house. He built it strong and sturdy; it has stood the test of time and tempest for forty years.

My Sweet William and I lived in an apartments when we married, newly weds adjusting to life together as one. We were completely different personalities coming from totally different backgrounds. It was like cold and hot air moving toward each other until the swirl becomes a potential tornado.

We had no idea what we were in for.

Our son was three years old when we moved into our forever home. I recall tender, sweet memories of being his mom. High chairs, potty training, and bicycles. First grade, middle school and graduation. Drum lessons, soccer practice and boy scouts. Carefree childhood, homework, and his first real job. The accomplishments, the worry, and the prayers.

Every mother knows the joy and sorrow that accompanies raising a child. It happened within these walls.

I was with child twice more in this house, and I lost both babies.  We cried and could not understand. And how do you explain to the small son that there would not be a brother or sister coming?

We had parties, sleepovers, and play dates here. We celebrated birthdays and holidays, inviting family and friends. I fixed so many meals and cleaned up after them. I packed about a zillion lunches.

We had fun here. Games and jokes and silly antics brought relief when stress threatened to crush us. Laughter is always a good medicine.

The dating years were interesting as the one an only son brought girls here to meet us. The young woman he finally picked was his perfect match. We loved her from the start.

We held grand-babies here, one after the other, nestling them in our arms and watching them grow, loving on them every chance we had. Those were precious times when childish merriment echoed once again through the halls.

We cried a bucket of tears as well. We grieved our losses and comforted one another. We climbed hard, rocky mountains and we braved terrible storms. Sometimes we felt like we were drowning; sometimes the fires of tribulation scorched us. Sometimes we wondered if we would recover.

At times we needed spiritual surgery, our lives infected by disobedience and wayward hearts. We  were torn apart like a piece of cloth pulled in two, leaving ragged edges on our souls.

But God did not leave us there, all battered and wasted. His discipline is for our good. His purpose is to redeem the rubble, to rescue the perishing, to welcome home the prodigal.

In all these years, all these trials, all these experiences, God has been good. He was working in the darkest shadows when we were fearful. He was working in the long night seasons, and He always brought the dawn.

If these walls could talk, they would tell some tales. But the overarching story is one of redemption and triumph. God takes our feeble efforts and worthless failures and remakes them into something new and beautiful.

Even in an old house like this.

“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.” — Hosea 6:1 NIV

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Countdown to 2011 – Part 2

Here I am again with more tips on  getting organized in 2011.  Just remember, I am not a pro.  I am only sharing information that has helped me or that might help me in the future.  Organization is an ongoing project.  It only takes a little accumulate of things to feel out of control.   And I like to be in control.  Just ask Sweet William.

Work on the areas that are visible first.  For sure, those closets need your attention, but putting your visible surroundings in order first will give you a respite when you take a break from the closet chaos.  Besides, if someone drops in unexpectedly, you don’t have to make excuses for the whole house being in an uproar.

Keep only one, and I do mean only one, calendar.  This takes some discipline but is well worth it.  Whether you use a Day-Timer binder, a Blackberry or some hand-held computer, or a simple calendar on the refrigerator door, use only one.  Otherwise you will mark an appointment on what is at hand and forget to transfer it to your personal planner. 

Keep an ongoing box for Goodwill or Salvation Army.  Regularly deposit items that need to be re-positioned out of your house into the designated box.   Don’t go back through the box when it’s full and ready to be removed. 

Remember the stuff you keep is really keeping you.  Have you realized this?  The more stuff I have, the more time it takes to dust it, wash it, straighten it, and protect it.  Is that really the way I want to spend my life?

Reward yourself.  After you complete a number of tasks, take a break and do something you enjoy, like paging through that new magazine (stacked neatly with your other reading material) while sipping a great cup of hot coffee (made from the pot that is sitting on a neat kitchen counter).  Set the timer so you can get back at the task at hand.

The wise man Solomon said this in Ecclesiastes 3 – “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven . . . A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away . . . ” (verse 1 and 6).

January is my time to cast away.   More to come tomorrow.

I wish you a happy, safe New Year’s Eve and a blessed New Year 2011

 

Are you making resolutions or goals for next year.  Leave a comment.  I’ll share some of mine with you later. 

Countdown to 2011

January magazines are on the stands, and often they boast how you can get organized.  Obviously it is a goal at the beginning of a new year.

Several years ago I started a January project of going through every drawer and every closet in the house.  I’ve thrown out, given away, and found a lot of stuff.  After several years of this mentally deranged undertaking, I have, at the least, a much better idea where things are when I need them.

Some of you are probably thinking I’m weird to enjoy this.  Maybe I am.  I  know my organizing-orderly tendencies can drive other people crazy at times.  Blame it on my DNA.

So . . . I thought I would share some organization ideas with you over the next few days as we countdown to year 2011.  

Now before you start thinking I’m very wise (along with being very weird), let me tell you that what I’ve learned has come from others.  I’ve picked up tips from articles and books that endeavor to teach me how to organize my space, my time, my life.  Is that even possible?  It’s a work in progress for sure.  Some of it has sunk in and actually works for me.  Maybe it will work for you.  I will share it, and you can be the judge.

File it – don’t pile it.  One of the best pieces of advice I ever took hold of is to do something with what I have in my hand.  It is so easy to lay it down while planning to put it away later.  Before you know it, there are piles of things to put away later.  Whether it is the daily mail, the clean laundry, or something you picked up from the living room, put it where it belongs instead of laying it down to do later.  

Creat a system for your papers.  Yes, I know we are trying to go paperless in our society.  But I still have a lot of it coming in to the house.  Don’t let it accumulate on the kitchen counter.  Have a bill file, a hold file, a to-do-later file, a read file, or make up your own categories that will work for you and your family.  After you’ve put it in a file, make a note in your planner or calendar to go through your files on a regular basis.  You will feel better knowing your stuff has a rightful place to be.  And your kitchen counter will not become the land of the lost papers. 

Make up your bed.   This is what we tell the kids, right?  It will make the entire bedroom look neater, and you’ll feel better about going in there.  The simpler your coverlet and pillows are to spread and fluff, the quicker this job will be. 

Break big projects into smaller ones.  You’ve heard this one before, I know.  Don’t let giant projects overwhelm you.  Take bite-size pieces.  Instead of planning to organize the entire house (such as weirdos like me do :)), plan to go through your dresser drawers; or organize the kitchen cabinets; or clean out the freezer or the refrigerator.  Accomplishing a smaller project will boost your morale and make it easier to tackle the next project.

Now the tricky part of this post:  How do I take this subject and make a spiritual application to it?

There is a verse in 1 Peter 4:9 that I think applies as I make the effort to maintain order in my home. 

Welcome people into your home and don’t grumble about it.  (Contemporary English Version)

If there is reasonable order in my home, I am free to extend a spur-of-the-moment invitation.  You just never know when someone needs a welcoming place to sit and refresh and be encouraged.  Your home could be that place to a weary traveler.

P.S.  Be sure to click on the five at the top.  It’s just  fun to watch the countdown.

   More to come in the next few days.  I would like to hear your organizational tips.  I’m always ready to try something that works for someone else.  Leave a comment.

Merry Christmas Eve

Speaking of interruptions, (see yesterday’s blog post) I burned the ham I was planning to serve our family for our Christmas Eve dinner. My Sweet William said, ‘Don’t worry about the money. Just go get another ham.” Interruption.

Bill struggled in the bathroom (he’s just had knee surgery) and knocked several things onto the floor. Nothing was broken, but water from a vase went on the floor. Interruption.

After bowls of oatmeal and raisins (the last good-for-us-food we will probably eat today), I donned my Neiman Marcus green felt fedora (a cast off from my cousin – a find for me), hoping to cover the bed-head hair, threw my cape over my PJ’s (actually sweat pants and an old shirt of Bill’s), put on my sunglasses, and set off for Kroger, hoping to see no one I knew.

I quietly asked the Lord for a close parking spot. He gave me one, bless Him! I rattled my memory for the four items I was going to get: ham, a package of dry yeast, whipped cream, and a replacement soap dispenser for the one in the bathroom that quit working this morning. Interruption.

I only saw one person I knew at Kroger. She looked at me with her head slightly turned, smiled and wished me a Merry Christmas. It was the hat, I’m sure.

I grabbed my items quick as I could, trying to be pleasant to other last-minute shoppers like myself. I bought chocolate cream puffs from the frozen section, a substitute for homemade cookies this year.

I went through the self-serve check-out and wished the young man stationed there a “Merry Christmas.” The car trunk popped open with the press of a button, and I deposited my purchases. I took two bascarts back to the store, and a Kroger employee smiled sweetly and said a genuine ‘thank you.’ I smiled as I walked to the car.

At home, I put the new ham in the oven, careful to follow the instructions this time. I went into a food preparation frenzy. In between recipes, I grabbed stockings and stuffed them, put gifts in bags and added some tissue paper hoping they would look OK. It’s been such a busy few days with quite a number of interruptions.

Before the family came, I managed a quick shower and change of clothes, fixed my hair and make-up. Soon the house was full of my loved ones, lots of smiles and laughter, hugs and hearts filled with thankfulness that we have each other. And after all, isn’t that the best Christmas gift of all?

Merry Christmas everyone. Joy to the world, the Lord has come!