Under renovation- PT2

The wiring. Man. What a mess! Knob and tube hanging on lats attached with square head nails to a rough cut timber connected to nothing (we hope). Newer wires criss-crossing above in the ceiling and down the exposed walls. Many a time my husband was left scratching his head asking ‘why did they do it that way’ or ‘what is this even connected to?’

You guessed it, made me think, what am I connected to?

I’d like to say that all the things in my life are new connections,  allowing fresh insight to flow and energize my entire being. But I still find myself back in old patterns of thought like ‘what makes me think I can do that?’ or ‘am I good enough? smart enough? brave enough to attempt that?’ It sets me on a course that winds and circles back to dark places in my past where I allowed those kinds of thoughts to keep my face hidden from God. I did not want to believe He loved me enough to die for me. I could not believe I had that kind of value. There were so many other people who are so much more than me. He should lavish them with blessing was my stinking thinking. I was wired into a habit of self recrimination that held me back from fully experiencing the love of God. He never loved me less, I just refused to accept that fact.

Learning to see myself as a beloved child of God, heir to the Kingdom, required some drastic rewiring. Some of the old got wretched out, like the knob and tube, but some also got left behind, serving no purpose or connected to anything, other then reminders of what had once been.

I’m still finding some sparks of the old me but verses like-

Psalm 42:11 New International Version (NIV)

11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.

these remind me Who I am wired into.


Under Renovation- Pt 1

The mess in the picture started with removing a dishwasher which led to discovering a leaky connection, throw in a little brute force fueled by exasperation and the late hour, and there you have it a– a broken sink, literally. The whole thing broke into three pieces. Didn’t even know that could happen. And that’s how our kitchen gut job began. 

At first we decided to do just the island that contained the sink and a little counter space and leave the main work, all the surrounding cupboards and counters, for the summer. But, in all honesty, we had lived through a building project the previous summer and missed an entire season of deck entertaining and enjoying our back yard. I did not want a repeat this year. So… my awesome husband agreed that we might as well do it; rip the band-aid off a situation we knew we were in for anyway.

Our home was built in 1869 and opening these walls are ever a surprise. Nothing is straight, nothing is square, nothing is 16″ center. The pluses? The lime stone exterior is 2 feet thick making it nearly sound proof, whole trees hold up each story, not to mention the deep window wells are perfect for sitting on or displaying Christmas decorations.

Tearing back the lats and plaster revealed solid stone walls, their over one hundred year old mortar still intact. It made me think about the legacy those first builders laid down when  they decided to build the house on this plot of land. They are unknown but their dedication to their craft lasted for generations and generations.

   (Left) 2 massive support beams resting on stone 12 inches thick

(Above) trees shaved to lie flat as floor joists for second story, 6 inches thick, 8 inches wide

Teaching Sunday school for more than 20 years, I sometimes wonder if the legacy I leave behind will impact future generations. I’ve been at it long enough to see kids I taught as 2 year olds move up through the grades, go on to become baptized, leave to pursue a career and then return with spouse and baby in tow. I am not saying it was all because of me, because it wasn’t, but I believe each of us in ministry has a responsibility to teach the Truth as it is written in the Bible, model our life according to those teachings and shower grace on everyone, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak to their heart and draw them close to God.

As our renovation continues, new insights about my own foundation are being revealed.

Blessing in Disguise

Cliche, I know. But sometimes it fits.

People ask me all the time what is lupus. They may know people who have it but have never asked them about it, not wanting to pry or seem like they are uninformed.

I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease about 5 years ago but probably suffered for years before, chalking it up to over exertion, that time of the month muscle soreness, etc. I could find a dozen excuses why I needed a 3 hour nap in the middle of the afternoon just to make it to bedtime. For me, it effects the connective muscles between my joints, and I mean all my joints, from my pinkie to my little toe. A kind of pain that leaves you immobile. And something you just have to wait out most of the time. Becomes very inconvenient when I have a busy weekend planned or am attending my brother’s wedding and have to forgo the reception celebration so I can huddle in my hotel room, wrapped in blankets, taking anti-inflammatory pain killers, hoping for a quick release so I can enjoy what remains of our family vacation. That’s the down side.

The upside is it made me prioritize where I expend energy. In the Bible, Paul begs God three times to remove a thorn or pain from his life. When that doesn’t happen, he instead praises God for allowing it, a constant reminder of his need for reliance on Him. I’ve had to learn the same lesson. I would not wish lupus on anyone but it has slowed me down quite a bit, allowing my career to shift from running a busy tea room and catering company to writing, a life-long passion. I believe He needed to put this ‘thorn’ in my life to keep my eyes on what really matters. I’ve pared down my work load to include the things that have Him at the center of my motivation, catering funerals, writing novels,  making time for friends and walking at our local indoor track, an invaluable time of listening to my Christian music while literally walking with Him for overall better health.

I had to mourn in stages the things I had set aside that I thought were my identity but embracing this disease and living within its limitations have given me a new hope for this next phase of my life.

Oh, as an add-on to the missed wedding reception, my daughter and sister did not want to leave me alone so when we got back to our hotel room, we changed into our pajamas, put on a cheesy Christmas movie, broke out a box of gluten free, dairy free chocolate glazed chocolate donuts (yes, Virginia, they do exist!) and had an amazing time just being together and laughing at the the overzealous actors trying to save a hapless Santa from ruining the holidays. Best present ever!


A Blank Slate

There’s nothing scarier than a blank page for a writer. Am I right? I used to think so then I discovered the possibilities of that page are endless! Yes, sometimes the first few sentences are nonsense, the exercise of writing seems drawn out and futile but then a couple of …