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

Growing deep

I planted more little trees this week.  Sad to say, several little trees had set in large pots for two years, yes two years, waiting to go into the ground where trees should go.  My last few years have been uncommon and too much consumed with other things.  Somehow these trees had  survived hot summers and extremely cold winters with little enough care from me.  This spring I was really surprised to see them greening, living in spite of my lack of nurturing and the harsh winter before.

This year I determined to get them in the ground and give them a real fighting chance to grow tall and beautiful like trees were made to do.

When I tried to move the pot from the place it had stood for two years, it would not budge.  It was not just that I didn’t have strength to move it.  There was something holding it where it sat.  I pried the bottom of the pot up with a shovel and realized roots had grown through the pot into the ground.  Several roots had pushed through to reach into the soil so much that I had to clip them to move the little pot-bound trees and loose them to plant elsewhere.

And I perceived that the small trees had lived because of those roots.  They had pushed down into the ground, into the rocky soil where they stood because they needed something besides the pot of dirt and little watering I gave them.  Their pot was not sufficient for them to live so they reached for something else, something more sufficient, something beyond themselves and their present environment.

I learned a lesson from the little trees.

My present circumstance, my current environment will not be enough to nurture me, to sustain me enough to grow.

I’ve been there.  We’ve all been there when today was just too hard and tomorrow promised much of the same.  I’ve wondered how I would muster up the strength to go forward, put one foot in front of the other.  Because I just knew there was not enough in me to keep me pressing on.

That’s when I have to reach for something more, something deeper than myself.  I have to put down roots into a strength that is beyond my own.

I reach for the Word of God which is steadfast, sure, and true.  It is beyond me and my circumstances.  It comforts and strengthens.  It guides and instructs.  It has stood the test of time.  It is the place where I can go when nothing else makes sense.  I find solace and wisdom.

I will never be enough for this world and the challenges it places in front of me.  It does not matter how many times I shout “I can do it by myself.  I will pull myself up and draw from my own strength.”  I soon run out of steam. There isn’t enough of me to deal with the hardness of life.

And as much as I value the love and support of family and friends, even they are not enough.  I must push through to something bigger and stronger than all of us.

I call out to, reach for, press into the Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who is above all, who made it all, who sustains the heavens above and the earth below.  He is the source of my strength and my life.

Roots.  They must grow deep for the tree to grown tall.


Sunday grace

I planted a tree yesterday, small and green.  I dug the hole, plopped it in the ground and encouraged it with “Grow little tree.”

It will take a long time to fulfill my wish.

I may not be alive to see it reach its full height, spreading its branches to sway in the wind, offering shade and shelter.  I planted it with hope that others will see it and enjoy its beauty.

Life is like that.  We plant seeds along our journey.  At times we are allowed the pleasure of watching those seeds produce and flourish.  Other times we wonder if the seeds are growing at all.  Sometimes we never pass that way again to recognize the product of a seed of kindness or love.

I would like to keep planting throughout my life, trees and flowers to be enjoyed by future generations, deeds of kindness, words of encouragement.  Maybe I will not see the final result.  I will leave that to the Master Gardner who ultimately brings forth bread from the earth.

I’ll just keep planting.

Sunday grace, friends.