Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Transformation begins

We started renovating the Kailua house with a group of friends. That made it much easier to take. Here we were in the house we lived in 15 years earlier, doing all the stuff you dream about doing to a house. We tore out the old carpet, removed a partition wall from the kitchen, and added a new room to the large living room that would be our son's bedroom. Even in this smaller house, each kid would have their own room. We added a french door that opens to the lanai (patio). It was so exciting.

Then it was time to put things back into the house. We painted every wall and laid 1600 square feet of laminate flooring. We could not have done it alone. Folks showed up and helped just when we needed them. We had friends do the electrical, plumbing, framing and the drywall mudding. 

 They spent their weekends on us. It was so humbling. In record time, we were ready to move in. The place was transformed.

"Yes, I am the Vine; you are the branches.  
Those who remain in me, and I in them, 
will produce much fruit.  
For apart from me you can do nothing." 
                                          - Jesus,  John 15:5

I'd like to name this house The Branch House. I love the imagery of a tree. A tree gives life, it gives cool shade on a hot day.  It even makes the air we breath. Jesus said, I am the Vine and you are the branches. This house is to be an extension of the Vine. It sits on the corner of our church property. It's like the branch office of the church. It's the place that can bring life and refreshing. I'm looking for the fruit this tree will produce in our family, our faith community, and our neighborhood.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A change in perspective

World English Dictionary
perspective (pəˈspɛktɪv)
1. a way of regarding situations, facts, etc, and judging their relative importance
2. the proper or accurate point of view or the ability to see it; objectivity: try to get some perspective on your troubles

There's a saying, "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it."  I can relate to this. 

Fifteen years ago, our family moved from Kailua to the neighboring town of Kaneohe.  It was a good move.  Our girls where five, three, and one year old.  I was just entering the world of homeschooling and working from home as a bookkeeper.  God blessed us in that home with the birth of our son.  Our family of six got busy living life.  All through that time, God was growing us and changing us.  We learned to live not only for ourselves, but to see those around us and reach out to them.  We learned that generosity was the path to true freedom.  Day by day, over the course of those 15 years, Mark and I learned to become a team.  We learned to stop picking at each other's weaknesses and instead, rely on and encourage each other's strengths.  The kids continued to grow, as they all do.  Two daughters graduated from our little home school.  The first-born even ventured off to the mainland.  Life was good.  And God had a plan.  He began to plant in us a vision for more.  A desire to be part of a community of Jesus followers who lived out what they believed.  God also put in our hearts a desire to return to Kailua. 

This past summer has seen the seed of that dream start to germinate.  In a matter of weeks, God opened the door for us to return to Kailua - to the very house we lived in before.  But this house was not as we left it.  Owned by our church, we joined in a renovation project that turned the hot, stuffy box of a house, to the most beautiful, functional house I've ever lived in... and I'd lived there before!  (God has a sense of humor!) 

Fifteen years is a lot of time to accumulate stuff.  We had spent those years acquiring more than we needed.  The kids had grown up and out of so many things.  I had years of homeschool books and gadgets that we didn't need or use anymore.  I had remnants of hold hobbies that had gone by the way side.  The Kailua house, as lovely as it had become, still had no storage.  That meant a drastic purging of our belongings.  And purge we did!  I believe we left that house with about half of what we previously owned.  So freeing, but also gut wrenching. (We practically stocked our church rummage sale single handedly.)  But even in this, the Lord had been preparing me.  I had been reading minimalist and simplicity blogs for about a year.  I knew I could do the purging, and was very grateful for the push to do it now.

So literally, in about 8 weeks time, we went from blissfully living in Kaneohe, to renovating a house, purging half our possessions and moved back into the house where our three girls were born.  My head is still spinning!

But this house is special.  We have a studio space that can accommodate young adults.  We currently have two sweet young ladies living there that bless our lives so much.  We are becoming family.  Not only is this house special, our whole block is special.  Like I mentioned, this house is on our church property.  We join a community with our pastor and family as well as another house that has two church members living on the property.  Our dream of living in community is happening before our eyes. 

So what is life like now? 

There are always people coming and going.  We have a steady stream of extended family around.  I love it.  There is always someone to join us at our table, someone to sit and chat with, and someone to throw a football or play xbox with our son. 

Would I have been able to live this way 15 years ago?  No way.  I would have resisted the intrusions.  I would have resented the interruptions.  God grew us into this life.  I am so grateful.  Mark and I are feeling useful and happy.  God is good.

So I continue to enjoy the view that God has given.  God has changed our perspective on so many things.  He is renewing our minds.  He is faithful to bring us to the point of surrender, then fill us with good things.  Our cup overflows.

Psalm 16

A psalm of David.

1 Keep me safe, O God,
for I have come to you for refuge.
2 I said to the Lord, “You are my Master!
Every good thing I have comes from you.”
3 The godly people in the land
are my true heroes!
I take pleasure in them!
4 Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods.
I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood
or even speak the names of their gods.
5 Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.
You guard all that is mine.
6 The land you have given me is a pleasant land.
What a wonderful inheritance!
7 I will bless the Lord who guides me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I know the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
9 No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
    My body rests in safety.
10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead
    or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
11 You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.