Friday, October 30, 2009

Breathing Blessings

The art of tact is a valuable, charitable act of kindness that all Christians should learn. And it can be taught. Most of us learn it from our family and our peers. It is simply a natural progression of childhood training. Some children are never eased out of the egotistical stage of a young child. They miss the lesson entirely. They believe they are being honest and, in so doing, being helpful. They miss the point and influence of their words. They miss the opportunity to bless someone else.

I have a friend who was denied this lesson during her childhood, yet I know from whence my friend comes. In her mind she only speaks the truth and, in doing so, is doing nothing wrong. She doesn't realize that in being bluntly truthful, she erodes the sensitive structures of others which might have been carefully built up and might even be at risk of collapse. She is a sensitive soul herself and she's been hurt deeply in her past life. No one taught her tact because those around her had not learned it for themselves. They very bluntly and ungenerously taught her that life was not kind to anyone. Her way of guarding her inner self comes in trying to raise herself up in any way she can. Sometimes it involves putting others and their possessions down so that she can build herself up.

My friend had been to my house a handful of times when she finally asked me for a tour of my home. She seemed curious and so I granted her request. As I took this friend on a tour of my house, I found myself and my home scaled down one negative remark after another.

"Why is your pantry so far removed from your kitchen? Who planned it that way?"
and

"Oh, so that isn't a real wood burning stove?"
and

"My goodness! your laundry room is small!"
and

"Yeah, those scallops definitely date your kitchen."

She's right. All these things are true. The pantry is far removed from my kitchen. The 'wood' burning stove is not real. My laundry room is small. And I've been told by more than one person that the "scallops" above my countertop do indeed pre-date my kitchen.

But there is more truth to these things than meets the eye.

Let me tell you a little something about that pantry, stove, laundry room, and those out-dated scallops.

From the brick-lined opening above my kitchen sink, I can see my darling pantry door. It was a gift from my husband who found an old carpenter to make it for me. It stayed in my daughter's closet for twenty-years before finding a home. I have a slight obsession with pantries. For me they represent all that is special about a home; they are the abundant, life-giving corner of the home. While the kitchen may be the heart of the home, the pantry is its artery. My husband blessed me with this little room. My husband closed in this area of the house and converted the three side rooms (after years of neglect) into what they were originally meant to be. The pantry was a storage area. The middle room was an old bathroom. The room closest to the kitchen was (and is) my laundry room. We didn't "plan" it that way. The house was already planned. It would have taken a nightmarish host of time, energy, mess, and money to switch the laundry room to the pantry and the storage area to the laundry room not to mention changing pipes and breaking up concrete floors. I feel the Lord provided and I'm grateful. I have a pantry...a beautiful walk-in pantry that is just a hop and a skip from my kitchen. For me the walk to my pantry is but the number of measured steps in which I count my many blessings.

The little black "wood-burning stove" is indeed not "real" in the sense one would think but it is a very real presence in my sitting room. Its warmth is generous and there is no mess to clean-up. It was also a gift from my husband. Its very realistic flames smile a warm greeting at all who enter and shines a light on my many blessings.

The door nearest my kitchen is my laundry room and yes, it is small. Often life spills out of its recesses. It coughs up the dirtiness of our days and bears witness that life is never perfect or hidden.

But it is what it is and I love its practical presence. It is an everyday reminder that (despite the fact that I often tell my children "I am not your maid") I am a servant to my family. Not as a slave or even a maid, but as Christ was, through humble submission, a willing heart, helpful hands, and a generous spirit---though I'll be the first to admit I pray for sanctity in all of these on a daily/nightly basis.

In this little room I have room for everything I need to wash away the residue and grim of our lives. Call it the confessional in my house. I could easily close the door and I doubt anyone would follow me in there. The right-side of the room is still unfinished and awaits a folding counter and hanger section but in my other house I had only a closet in my kitchen for laundry usage. Now I have a room with a view of my family's soiled, mismatched socks and in that I sort through and count my many blessings.I harbor many plans for my kitchen. One day this wall will be knocked down and there will be a fireplace in its place. That is the "plan" anyway. Imagine it as you will.The open floor plan of kitchen and living area will be massive, a very generous space when five children begin to marry and bring grandchildren to visit. One reason we bought my husband's childhood home when his parents died is because we had seen, through many holiday/family gatherings, the ease with which it worked. This house is like a ripeful womb, full of activity and life. Still, it is old and sometimes tired. Yes, it is dated. At first my friend's words "Those scallops definitely date your kitchen" resounded in my ears. I didn't want a grandma's kitchen. I wanted something new and improved. I wanted something chic and pretty.
Slowly, too slowly for me, God moved my heart to embrace the old-ness (or what I prefer to call 'vintage') look and feel of this house. This has become part of its charm for me. These walls have heard many voices, many carols, and many birthday wishes. My children have been surrounded by a home that lives and breathes and sings with their memories and dreams. This house breathes and pulsates with our many blessings.

9 comments:

  1. Personally, I like architectural details like scallops. They give a home character instead of a cookie cutter feel!

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  2. Beautiful Cay! May the Lord continue to bless your "dated" kitchen, your "tiny" laundry room and your "far away" pantry. He has already blessed you with eyes to see the gifts He has given to you so that you may give good gifts to your family.

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  3. Cay:

    I love to read your blog - I live in Abbeville, LA and am friends with a bunch of Abbevillians that you know. I must say reading this I had to respond- Your house is beautiful - I have a friend that I work with that I hope never gets to come see my house - she too would be saying everything that you were told and more - that's how she is too - but I have accepted that from her - her house is beautiful - nothing out of place - would I trade my life for hers - Never!!!! Keep up the great posting!!!!
    Erin

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  4. I love seeing pitures of your house, Cay. I think it is absolutely wonderful and so lovely :-)

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  5. What a lovely home you have, Cay! I like your laundry room a lot...mine is yellow too, and even smaller! ;)

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  6. What a thoughtful post about tact and I love the photos of your house. Thanks for sharing!!

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  7. I love your home. I really like the scallops! I wouldn't have known that it dated your house.

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  8. wow that was so amazing! :D I don't know you, but you really made me feel blessed :) thanks

    God bless you!

    -sincerely
    Michelle

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  9. Thank you, ladies! you are all so sweet and kind. :-)

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