Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Of Potted Mums and Waiting Free

"Don't stop making home"
she said to me.

We were standing outside a mutual friend's house, pulling on jackets and leaving in the same moments gave us pause for some conversation.
Deep red mums filled porcelain pots on the stoop of the house behind us; showcasing the home's french blue siding with white trim in stunning declaration of Autumn, and welcome, and beauty.

I had just bemoaned the fact that pots have not been planted or displayed on my stoop this Summer.
They were resting empty and far too clean in a cabinet nestled into the corner of our garage.
There are three of them, one for each of my people to arrange assorted Summer flowers planted, water and watch bloom.
There had been none of that tradition this Summer.
Now that Autumn is here, there weren't any dried up Summer flowers to replace with bright, full Autumn mums.
I felt strangely both guilty and apathetic over this. 

It had not been a studied, or even conscious, decision, but even in that statement, I knew what lay at the root of my neglect of our front stoop.
I voiced it outloud to her there in that front yard.

The hard news of school policies changing.  The prayer over how to react.  
The direction clear in my Favorite's face.
"We need to sell."
He and I had both cried over that decision.  
This house, so sweetly situated between pond and prairie, between sunrise and sunset, with it's perfect amount of space for just us five, and all of the loves we welcome in here.

It felt like a failure.

Only two years in this bright spot, but so filled with laughter, party memories, Christmas joy, and the arduous process of professionally finishing large basement rooms.
{When you and your home do months together in sawdust, sweat, paint and mess, your heart bonds right into the 2x4s and fixtures as they come to life to hold more of the living and loving you will do.}

It wasn't a house we were deciding to sell, it was our home.

On a cold February evening, our trusted broker traversed every square foot of this home with us.  There was talk, plans, and signing of important papers.
A few days later, a large wooden sign pounded into the snow covered front lawn.
Our home would now be available to those looking and searching.
I thought that would be the hard surrender....
It wasn't.

The hard hit in the following months of silence.
Month upon month scooted past without a call, an inquiry, or even a hint of interest....
We trusted and prayed and trusted some more, but waiting stretches a soul tight.
I became numb with uncertainty in what my Summer might hold.
Maintaining a home, but unable to start any new projects; a constant nagging sensation that I should be keeping things cleaner, sorting, purging just in case that buyer came.
And in the midst of all of this numbness, I never potted flowers in our pots.
Our stoop remained swept and ready, but empty.
Summer happened.  The pots did not.

After 8 months, the phone did begin to ring. 6 times now.
The hard hit again and in new ways. 

I have scooted into gear, polishing out a sparkle in every corner before herding us into the van for the disappearing act that allows strangers to come walking through, and peeking into, places even my closest friends have not seen.

With each potential buyer, my heart has surged, and with each ensuing silence, it has dropped.
The lowest grabbed me on the day I crammed a week's worth of housekeeping into one full morning only to receive an email canceling the expected showing for that afternoon.
There were tears that day and a rich clinging to Abba's tender perfect knowing of, and unending welcome for, my soul.
It turned out to be a sweet day of comfort...

And then the next day I stood there with her on our friend's front steps, looking together at deep red mums, and I heard her say words that sprang into my heart with such instant freedom.
"Don't stop making home. Go ahead and plant your pots for this Fall.
Make it bright and welcoming."

I realized there in that moment, and haven't been able to shake it since, 
that in all of this sadness over selling this home,
in all of this waiting and then hard working for what feels like nothing, 
I had stopped making home. 

Sure I've done more housekeeping than I would have attempted for the next year,
but I had checked out on making home with my heart, with my joy, with the parts of me that compulsively choose and plant pretty pots to display welcome, and home, and beauty...

It has been one week since I heard her say those words, and she has prayed for me in that week.
The Spirit has been doing some things to anchor my thoughts in trust and a confident rest.
My numbness to this process has lifted as did my grief over the closed doors we have received.
My hope has been renewed.
I actually began to plan another Christmas in this home, should the Lord give it to us, as well as some Autumn glory for the front stoop.

Today I stood in an outdoor garden center's check out line.
Trailing behind me was an iron wagon with beautiful Autumn plants, {one of them, a deep red mum}
Much more than a purchase was happening in that bright sunshine. 

Uncertainty, numbness, and grief were being exchanged for freedom to simply be right in the middle of this hard process.
Here, with all of the unknown still stretching out front, and all of this bright and warm soul-growth happening here in the middle, I was going to make home on my front steps.

As I stood enjoying the mother/daughter customers in front of me purchasing their plants, my phone rang.
Could we do it again?
They were sorry about the emergency cancel and still want to come see our home.
They want to explore all of the hidden places and ponder whether or not it could be home for them.

I hung up my phone with an overwhelming peace, and hurried home to fill some pots.
This place of ready waiting, of possibility that comes in waves before receding; 
it need not be a place of numbness and fatigue.
Because we wait not for circumstances to change, but rather on the One who holds all things together by the power of His word....
This is a waiting of wild and free living.
This is a waiting on the not-yet with the already-here fullness of His rich grace.
The freedom to make home in a house we plan to leave. 

The freedom to eek out every last moment of joy and big love in this place. 
The freedom to open our doors to those who might offer to take this home from us in a fearless joy. 

My soul tastes of things I would not have found had God not brought us into this long stretch with it's high-rolling tides and roller coaster plunges. 
He has surrounded us behind and before, and right here under our feet, with lavish grace.
One generous part of which has been the friend who spoke words to open eyes and move hands {and pot some plants on a front door step!} 

"Be still before the LORD, and wait paitently for Him...
The meek will inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace." Ps37:7,11

What about you, Grace-friend in this place? 
Are you in a waiting that stretches long? 
Do you wait alive and full with the grace right under your feet?
Where do you need to make home in the middle of unknown?
Know how I would welcome your sharing in this place and the opportunity to pray for you.

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