Making Home

I couldn’t help but smile when I saw it.  During the official welcome of our family in an Hogar de Vida staff meeting, I glanced down at my sandaled feet.  Little white freckles peeped happily back up at me.

There was flour dusting my toes.

I didn’t even brush it off.  My heart was so content with our welcome and the baking spree that had decorated me.  That morning my mixer had labored over wheat bread for our family, cinnamon rolls for the meeting, and rolls for the team’s dinner.  I was tired, but happy.  This is what I was made to do.

That feeling has warmed my heart many times over the last few weeks.  We’ve hosted three teams from pickup to drop off, shared meals and the story of God’s work in our lives, shopped, cooked, cleaned, sanded, painted, and learned names to match beautiful faces.  On the trail behind us are a good many “firsts,” marking out the path to the feeling of “home.”  I have carried a one month old new arrival from the house tia’s arms to a medical eval, feeling the flutters of first-mom jitters all over again.  We now know just where to put the glass in the refrigerator to catch the condensation runoff that’s supposed to be routed below, and where to get our favorite produce at the farmers market.  We can see the work the Lord is doing here, and the difference that it makes every day.

Familiarity has paved the way.  Evenings spent reading books aloud on our couch, early mornings hanging laundry.   Goodnight kisses, Spanish greetings, movie nights, and bright sunrises.  My running shoes have ventured out to tread the hills, and my lungs have caught up.  Joy has come again.

We are home.

Giving Our Account

About 7.5 years ago, the Lord did a miracle to place our family in our home.  It was over our price range, but He invited us in and worked grace through two banks to give us a short sale (where a loss is taken just to get the property off of their books) within our budget.  And the work began.  While the potential of the house was great, the condition of it wasn’t.  Broken light bulb in a socket, sprinkler system out of commission, bushes grown into barricades,  a deluge from a skylight, and so on.  One night early on I prayed for direction whether to use our savings to replace the teenage heating and cooling system or to begin a kitchen restyle.  That very week the furnace began making an alarming noise and the repairman gave us his “kindly sober” look while asking us to say our final goodbyes.  We’ve torn down wallpaper, painted top to bottom, updated fixtures and functions,  ripped out and replanted, until our pillows whispered sweet nothings.  Last year we made it through the kitchen makeover  with a lot of help, and actually enjoyed the Costa Rican cabina feeling of doing life in our kitchenette/dining room/living room space and washing dishes in the bathroom sink.  While the place we call home is still far from perfect, we’ve come a long way by investing our time, talents, and treasure.  To say that I’m attached is an understatement.

A few months back I was lamenting the approaching “for sale” sign to the Lord.  “But God, you did a miracle to get us in this house.”  His sweet whisper immediately answered, “Yes.  And do you think I only have one house-miracle for you?” With a smile I conceded that He was big enough to do as many as He wanted to.  How often I forget.

He spoke again as I was reading in Matthew 25 the other day.  You’ll probably recognize the story.  A man goes on a trip and gives his servants different portions of silver to take care of while he’s gone.  After a long time he returns and gathers them to each give an account of how they had used his money.   Those who had made a good return on his investment received praise and the commendation: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities.  Let’s celebrate together” Matthew 25: 21, 23 NLT!

His whisper on my heart was simple, yet profound.  How much easier to bear His yoke, how much lighter to carry His burden when I remember that this roof and everything under it has always belonged to Him.  He’s been letting us tend it, and now He is calling us to give our account.  We have been diligent with this thing that is small from an eternal perspective.  Now He has in mind for us new responsibility: to care for sweet brown eyes in Costa Rica and nurture fellow believers as they step out of their country and culture to serve.  Kingdom festivities are in the works.  So I nudge my heart to release its grasp on this box of treasure in the prairie and take hold of the greater plan that He has for our family in the land of rainforests.  The Master is worthy.  Let’s celebrate together.

A little instruction on the fun picture gallery of our Kitchen Remodel above:  Hover your mouse pointer on a picture to see its caption.  Click on a picture to enter the full-size slideshow display.

Where Your Treasure Is

Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.  Matthew 6:21 NLT

In keeping with my last post about setting up our nest of family life in Costa Rica, I wanted to share some pictures of the “treasure” that I have tucked away there.  We are going out as a family of 5 to serve by hosting short term mission teams and helping with the children at the Home of Life.  I can’t tell you the excitement that rises in me when I think about those sweet brown eyes, and the laughter of team members at their cabins as I walk up the path to greet them.   From this end of the plane ticket, however, I find myself being the practical wife and mama, strategizing how to stuff our suitcases with just the right essentials to enable us to hit the ground running (physically and emotionally) upon our arrival.   I’ve seen “bed in a bag” sets at the store, but how to pack “home in a suitcase?”

The Lord, in His kindness, gave us a head start.  Last summer we took down 4 large tote’s worth of sheets, socks, skivvies, books, and other basics to store at the Home for our upcoming launch this August.  Given our family’s fondness for tasty sustenance and my heart for hospitality, outfitting the kitchen has been getting the lion’s share of my attention.  Good food at an inviting table is home in a nutshell to me.

Costa Rica’s tile floors have a knack for shattering glass and pottery, so this plastic tableware above is a gift of grace for our bouncy crew, with a pattern pretty enough to make the endless dish washing more interesting.

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Of all the bags we packed, this one was my favorite.  Tropical kitchens have sparkling critter potential. Grocery stores there sell many items in small individually wrapped packages for protection against the humidity.  These canisters are going to be my go-to for making the most of our cabinet space while keeping our food all safe and cozy.

What’s the significance of all this plastic?  Cinnamon rolls and homemade bread coming out of the oven, beckoning in the neighbors.  Breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks shared over school lessons and silly stories.  Peaceful organization and future grocery hauls.  A bit of worldly treasure marking the spot on the map where the Lord has planted our hearts.  Home.

My Inner Bilbo

“. . .it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”  J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

As Bilbo made his dash to join the adventuring dwarves and lose his reputation of being respectfully predictable, one of his first laments was missing his pocket-handkerchiefs.  I have enjoyed the humor of that little scene recently as I made a batch of them for our family to try out.   Inspired by a friend’s table and hankering for a bit of sewing, I’ve become interested in making everyday cloth napkins for our family.  Considering my abundance of narrow quilting remnants, I decided to start on a smaller scale with some hankies.  (We like them, but I won’t go into the blow-by-blow.)

Making something useful out of something that I already had–and wasn’t using–is always a personal joy, but there’s been more to this project than wiping kissers and sneezers.  A sense of home.  A new family tradition.  In this time of releasing so much of our family’s way of doing life, my heart is hungry to tuck another feather in the nest we are making in Costa Rica.  Like Bilbo, I enjoy my comfort.  Yes, I am glad we won’t have to buy paper napkins and as many tissues in the future, or send our landfills another offering.  But mostly I think of meals that we will eat, conversations shared, and prayers made over that cloth for years to come.  When we move from our home of 7 years to an apartment in San Jose for 8-10 months of language school, and later to a rental house in Atenas to serve at the Home of Life, they will lay on the table as a thread of continuity.  A little luxury speaking the truth that the life our family shares is not defined by the space we share it in.

Today I spent some of my Christmas money on yards of beautiful fabric, a peaceful swirl of blues and greens for most days, a black print for spaghetti dinners.  And as we continue to move through the next few months letting go of what doesn’t fit with our calling, I will be stitching on the background for new memories.  I’m channeling my inner Bilbo, fluffing up my faith to set out upon this journey, and tucking away a little comfort for the road.

Photograph and a Tutorial on Napkin Making at Blissfully Content.

Introducing “1000 Words” Posts

I’m usually pretty capable of cranking out 1,000 words at any given moment. My husband will verify this, especially at bedtime when he’s drifting off. Whether those slurries of words are of interest to people outside of marriage vows (and sometimes even in them) is another story.  I would like to start a new feature here on TheGoodNewsFamily to make it easier for me to share my heart for our global launch to serve at the Home of Life in Costa Rica.  A picture is said to be worth that much in verbiage, sometimes even more.  Please enjoy a few of my favorites and the (brief) reasons why.

Coming Home to Cabin 5

Our home for 5 weeks this summer.  There is a beauty to doing life in a small house when you are surrounded by glorious weather (I even love the rain) and warm people.  Itty bitty living space, phenomenal cosmic life.

Every morning of our stay, the skyline above was the breathtaking view from the rocking chairs on our front porch.  Cue the symphony of birdsong, crickets, and gecko chirps, pour the coffee, and breathe in the presence of the Lord.  Blessings!