The Dovecote

It was popular in the nineteenth century to name your house, no matter if it were a cottage or an estate. I have embraced this tradition with my homes.

Our old house was aptly named The Burning Pinecone, after the fabulous firepit my husband built (many a nights were spent drinking and roasting marshmallows with friends) and the giant pinecones that fell from the towering long leaf pines. Most of our fires were fueled by the massive amount of pinecones on the half acre of land we owned. The new house is nothing like our old house. It is much smaller and less grand: it is the epitome of average. It faces the south, so less sunlight comes through our windows, but it keeps it cooler in the summer. Our yard is so tiny, in fact, the listing had the lot in square feet instead of acres. Because of all the other expenses, a firepit has not been built yet, but we have picked out its site. There will be more nights of roasting marshmallows soon.

Our new home needed a name. I didn’t want another firepit inspired moniker and so I considered what other people have named their houses for inspiration. From one of my favorite books, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, John and Meg Brooke’s house was named The Dovecote. Having no idea what a dovecote was, I looked up the meaning of it on Google and promptly went into silent laugh mode:

dovecotehaha

I thought this was a perfect description of our new property, especially after my husband and I failed to get the loveseat through the door (he and his co-worker managed to shove it through the other door with a millimeter of clearance, but not without damaging the walls in the process).

I then read the description of The Dovecote Alcott gave in the book:

And speaking of sentiment brings us very naturally to the ‘Dovecote’.

That was the name of the little brown house Mr. Brooke had prepared for Meg’s first home. Laurie had christened it, saying it was highly appropriate to the gentle lovers who ‘went on together like a pair of turtledoves, with first a bill and then a coo’. It was a tiny house, with a little garden behind and a lawn about as big as a pocket handkerchief in the front. Here Meg meant to have a fountain, shrubbery, and a profusion of lovely flowers, though just at present the fountain was represented by a weather–beaten urn, very like a dilapidated slopbowl, the shrubbery consisted of several young larches, undecided whether to live or die, and the profusion of flowers was merely hinted by regiments of sticks to show where seeds were planted. But inside, it was altogether charming, and the happy bride saw no fault from garret to cellar. To be sure, the hall was so narrow it was fortunate that they had no piano, for one never could have been got in whole, the dining room was so small that six people were a tight fit, and the kitchen stairs seemed built for the express purpose of precipitating both servants and china pell–mell into the coalbin. But once get used to these slight blemishes and nothing could be more complete, for good sense and good taste had presided over the furnishing, and the result was highly satisfactory. There were no marble–topped tables, long mirrors, or lace curtains in the little parlor, but simple furniture, plenty of books, a fine picture or two, a stand of flowers in the bay window, and, scattered all about, the pretty gifts which came from friendly hands and were the fairer for the loving messages they brought.

My hear swelled. As a writer, this was perfect! My new home reflected all the nuances of the Brooke’s home, save for the coalbin. It’s coziness (read: small quarters) and less than stellar landscaping (read: years of outright neglect) will be knit into the fabric of my life. Our front yard, which is about the size of a handkerchief, will hopefully be blooming with flowers and evergreen foundation plants this time next year. We have a wonky staircase as well, I’m sure I’ll go down it pell mell at some point.

And so, my new home is affectionately known as The Dovecote. I’m looking forward to entertaining friends and strangers over tea. When our house was blessed, the pastor likened it to the moon, reflecting the light of the Son. I hope everyone who comes through the doors of The Dovecote senses the love of the Lord in this space.

I also plan to frame this passage and display it in my new home.

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Moving to the Castle in the Sky

Through this moving process, like everything else this year, I have to adjust and reestablish norms. The kitchen in the new house, while an eyesore, is set up as best it can be for the moment. The closet is filled with my clothes, but not quite organized to my liking. My sitting room is still a catch all room, that will take some time to sort through. I’m excited to start a new writing routine and not spend my days painting – although a few doors still need paint. And demolition day in the guest bath is just around the corner.

All this newness, this hobby house I’ve had for the past few weeks is on the verge of being my home for the foreseeable future. Perhaps for the rest of my born days on this earth. I’m still learning to love it and embrace all its quirks, like the hall of doors (Is it a closet, mudroom, or bedroom?!). Despite all this, it will be my home.

As I was driving the other day, I mused to God on what Heaven would be like. I marvelled at the thought of when I get to Heaven, I won’t have to adjust to anything. I would be Home – and more than that – it will be perfect. No more autoimmune or anxiety issues to deal with: my neighbors won’t be pesky, nothing to pack/unpack, or problems I need to pay for/solve/fix myself.

Rest. Worship. Jesus. Constant light. People I knew on earth. It sounds glorious. I have every intention of seeing my 108th birthday here on earth, so I’m in no rush.

But I do look forward to that final move and the rest that follows.

Releasing the House

I don’t remember where the idea came from; I may have read about it or it came to me on its own.

Way back when we sold our first house, once we were under contract, I decided to “release the house” through prayer. Alone in the house, I walked into each room, placed a hand on each wall in the room and prayed a short prayer over each wall.

I did the same for this house. I prayed for the incoming family: for their safety, comfort, the new memories they would make there. I prayed for all of those who would walk through the doors would know the spirit of the Lord was here. I don’t know if they are Christians or not; I prayed they would find Christ if they have not and grow more deeply in Him if they were. I also thanked the Lord for the opportunity to live in and use this big house for His benefit, recounting all the people we served here. I touched on memories and prayed the house into its new owners.

I am beyond ready for this experience to be done.

June: Believe what God’s Word says

2017 has been a year of constant change: front row seats to watching a loved one fight for sobriety, bought a house, sold a house, 2 new jobs – I officially have change fatigue. Looking back over the past year, nothing is the same. I barely recognize my own life.
I’m hoping the summer will bring some much needed stability. Because I am in dire need a few weeks of calm, where I don’t have to make big decisions, learn a new skill, or fight for my emotional survival through a panic attack.

My devotional has brought such comfort and clarity to my walk, but I need to go deeper, like I did when I first started reading the Bible. I sucked the marrow out of Isaiah and John, savored every sentence in Galatians – Paul’s words struck a chord with me in his letters.

June’s focus will be “Believe what God’s Word says.” It’s time to get back to basics and reorient my life through the power and truth of His Word.

May in Review

The salty air caught me off guard. Had I been away so long from my ocean that I had forgotten? It’d been over a month since I trod on these sands.

I breathed in the the sweet ocean scent as much as I could. While the cool breeze kept me from sweating, the sun’s warmth comforted my aching soul. This month’s focus was letting go of anxiety, which has proved to be quite the task. I needed a time out from my worries, and the Atlantic coast was my drug of choice.

I skimmed through an old magazine, pausing every few pages to take in the scenery around me and to let my mind wander over the small breaking waves.

I tried to absorb as much sun as I could. It was as if I was solar powered, with my lights dimming from the lack of beach in my life. For a few moments, I was content. My worries were on the mainland while I was on the island.

I wish I could have bottled up that moment to relive it every so often.
Burdened with an anxiety disorder and selling a house with my husband, who is ill equipped to do so in my eyes, letting go of anxiety was difficult.

Long story short, we sold the house. My worrying did nothing to help this along, surprisingly enough. Our new house has 2 issues: a bum window and some flooring that is warping at the seams. I’m doing my best not to freak out. And then my parents, high strung perfectionists from the Midwest, have made our house a stop on their east coast road trip a few weeks after we move. What could possibly go wrong?

My rescue passage, Psalm 130, is written in German next to my computer at work. I’m slowly memorizing it. I whisper it to myself during the day. Some days, that was the only thing keeping me together. My feverent prayers for a buyer were replaced with a groaning spirit of prayer. I didn’t know what or how to pray for my situation. The Holy Spirit knew. My walks turned into a jumble of prayers and thoughts that went off on tangents. My prayer life reflects the current state of my old house: stuff everywhere, staged for packing, with no real order. And my bathrooms are disgusting. I’m not cleaning until the terminal clean for the new owners. I don’t have the time. Nor the patience. With my routine and way of life interrupted, rest has been scant.

I also started a part time job on top of it all. Because, yeah. Money.

My awesome non-medicated brain can not let go of the anxiety. Even the counselor said I can only contain it: I have tools to stuff it back into its box so its tentacles don’t invade other areas of life and rob me of the joy of living. Psalm 130 is one of them. I did my very best to beat the monster of anxiety into submission this past month – sometimes I was successful, other times I was not.

I leaned hard on the Lord this month, sobbing incoherently into His robes. I am ready to move on from this season of life.

Pennies

One of the ways the Lord reminds me of His presence is to give me pennies. I was frightened at how much money was going to be lost on the first house we sold many years ago; in front of a cheaper competition house, I found a penny: in God we trust. Our house sold soon thereafter, and while we did lose money, it all worked out in the end.

I find them just about everywhere, and recently it seemed as though I was in a drought. It had been quite some time since the Lord gave me a penny.

And then, we bought this house.

Once the deed was recorded, my husband and I arrived at our new home that same afternoon. We found 2 pennies before we even walked through the front door. One was my birthyear, the other was a year that was one of the worst of my life. The first few times we went to the house, we’d find another penny. My husband found one on the driveway – my birthyear again – as he went back to the car to get things. He swore it wasn’t there before.

We found one in the dirt in the backyard. More on the porch. I’ve lost track of how many we found and where. Just when I thought we’d found them all, as I was painting the moulding in the kitchen a second time, I found one jammed underneath the moulding. I had to wedge it out with a screwdriver. I’m pretty sure I would have seen it the first time I painted. It was the year I gave my life to Christ – I thought my heart was going to burst.

Despite the fact that I was not 100 percent on the purchase of this property and my anxiety peaking about it at every step, I am so encouraged that this is and will continue to be a blessing from the Lord. How will the Lord use this house to further His kingdom and bless those around us? I don’t know yet. I do know I need to be more hospitable than in the past. My pastor wife friend and I have already decided to do tea party nights at each other’s new houses. Hopefully we can use this house to host others and be that beacon of His Glory for everyone who enters these doors.

As it says on the penny, in God we trust.

Writing Challenge Day 25: Your 21st Birthday

I turned 21 in my first college apartment junior year. It was a Wednesday.

I had my first sip of alcohol the previous year: a house party in my boyfriend’s basement initiated me with Mike’s Hard Lemonade and lemon drop shots (shooting vodka and chasing it with a lemon wedge covered in sugar).

The night of my birthday, I went to TGIFriday’s with a friend of mine from church who was 22 and regarded alcohol like me: an occasional indulgence. I ordered my favorite, a Long Island iced tea, served in a glass that could only be described as a bowl on a stick. It was watered down, I didn’t even catch a buzz. We had a great dinner too.

My mom bought me a premixed mudslide in a bottle for a birthday present. It was a glass bottle – I still have it – and I use it for meter food (read: change for the parking meters).

I had a party at my apartment a few days later, my fridge was stocked full of Mike’s and other like drinks. My underage sister came down for the festivities – she was by far a more experienced partier despite being in high school.

I enjoyed being 21 – and not having to pay someone else “handling charges” to pick up liquor for me. I was never a big drinker or partier – I’ve never blacked out and all the crazy stuff I did in college and beyond I did stone sober.

Every now again, though, I would love to tie one on, like the old days.