Thursday, February 7, 2008

Lemonade Quilts, Cottages, and Whys

I sometimes get a comment or two - usually by someone who knows me very well - about posts such as yesterday's. I don't know how you can put such personal things on a blog, they say. Don't you worry about who will read? I know. I truly do. But the answer is no. I don't worry. I used to but I don't anymore. Here's why:

1. Writing, for me, is cathartic. Unlike anything I've found, writing feelings and failures and moments and memories frees me to acknowledge them. Examine them. Then forget them. Once my pleasure or pain is noted down in neat, lettered rows, I pass on the burden of carrying it all around in my head or heart. It's there. If I need to go back and relive it, I can. I don't need to store it and stew.

2. I grew up in a world of facades. In a place where Christian women were expected to be Bible- praying, pot roast-making Stepford wives. Raw emotion was discouraged. So, too, was acknowledging personal struggles. People with problems were rumored to have too little faith... or maybe too much. Christians who struggled were believed to have secret sin or, perhaps, were going through a time of "wilderness" punishment. It never jived with me. Either God forgives and forgets our sin or He doesn't. Either God loves us or He doesn't. And while painful lessons and corrections and maybe even tests are a part of our spiritual growth, they arrive from heaven carefully monitored and planned and always out of love. Always out of a desire by a holy God to help or teach or equip His child. They're not to settle a score or prove some unseen point. (And don't you Bible-thumpers start crying "Job!". Check carefully; he was the exception to the rule, and God rewarded him big time for all that.)

So why not acknowledge, I've reasoned, our struggles? They are, after all, proof that God is patient. That He loves us. Why not be open during times when our convictions would otherwise crumble? Because, you see, the thing with Christians isn't that we don't face hard times. The thing with Christians is that we never face hard times alone.

Besides, it's not that we don't have fears. It's just that our fears are overcome with faith. (Peter, for example.) And it's not that we don't have dark moments. It's just that darkness usually gives way to deliverance. (Moses, Joshua) And sometimes even our rebellion is proof that God's redemption is close at hand. (Jonah)

The point. I suppose my point is that life isn't easy for any of us. But for some of us - for me, anyway - life is beautiful. Even in the midst of its messes. For even in the saddest, most painful of times (yesterday being at the top of my list), I still recognize God's compassion and love. Even then. Even yesterday.

So let's move on to happier subjects. Because there are some big ones coming down the pike. Remember my mention of a Freeman House Cottage? What part of Saturday I didn't spend working in the garden or swinging in a hammock, I spent on horseback riding the land I'm seriously considering buying. Words can't ... they just can't convey... how magical this bit of land is. There are woods and clearings. There are moss-covered creek beds and perfect picnic trees. There are old fences and clumps of growing things. The view is amazing and the air is tranquil. This place has me written all over it. It's my magic place that's not yet mine. Everyday I drive out there and think. I can't stop thinking about it. Could I buy it? Should I? Will I?

All the preliminary checking is completed. I asked the bank if it would be possible for me to move Freeman House. This house has already been relocated once - between 1912 and 1914, I told them. It is perfect for guests but its location is not. I want to move it again and add a cottage and some gardens. Can I do this? I asked.

Sure, they said.

So I came home... and... well... I began piecing this quilt. White and butter yellow diamonds. It's the color of sweet lemonade. I can already see it on the cottage's iron bed, surrounded by buckets of sunflowers under a window with a view of creeping daisies...

...And on the bed, a tray with glasses of lemonade and thick, crumbly sugar cookies and bowls of strawberries and cream. And hand-embroidered linens dried over lavender-patch clotheslines...

Sigh.

It's amazing to me how, even in the messiest, most personal of days, we can find evidence of God's unfailing love. We can hold onto promises of peace and happiness. I like to think that even as I make my way through the mud, God's sloshing alongside with seeds in His pockets. The same seeds that will become a garden that will become my dinner and my delight. And the torn, cut-away pieces and fragments of my hopes? My selfish dreams? Those are the same scraps we'll use to beget a quilt that will beget rest. Sweet rest.

I'm so far from perfect. I'm such a mess. And my life is far from perfect. But it's as blessed as a life can be. From the "flesh and the fury" to the lemonade quilts, my Redeemer has proven Himself faithful and true. Even when others are not. May every word I write here and every word you read here be a testament to that.

28 comments:

lyn. said...

Yes, God loves each and every one of His children. He forgives us our sins in the same manner we are able to forgive those who sin against us. True forgiveness of others, no matter how grievous their wrong-doing, will set us free. Remember the example of the Amish community? They immediately forgave the killer of their children not only for him, but for their own freedom from the anger and hatred that can envelop and over-take our lives if we are not ever watchful.

Yes, God loves us. He allows us to have hard times and trials so we can learn and grow; to become more understanding, loving, and caring human beings. He also blesses us with happy, joyful times. We should always be grateful no matter what life has give us at a particular moment during earthly journey. God loves us unconditionally and we can return that love by following His counsel and loving all His children as He does.

kali said...

I so appreciate your honesty...the realness of your blog. The best part of this blog is when you said that the thing with Christians isn't that we never go through hard times, its that we never go through hard times alone. Thats a truth I cling to!
I wrote about you recently on my blog...if you get the chance, you should read it.
I wish I could have been riding with you! I can only imagine how beautiful it must have been! I will be praying for you, that God blesses you and opens doors, and brings you peace in the hard times.
And I absolutely have to learn how to sew a quilt!!!
Hope your day is lovely!
kali

Johanna said...

You are a beautiful old soul.

A rare treasure.

I am so happy I found your blog awhile back. It certainly enriches me.

Amber said...

I have proof that God is with me everyday. I also believe that God shows us His presence by what he allows us to go through and brings us to the other side. I have found that a lot of times He puts angels here to help us and they are called "Friends."

You are one of the best "angels" I know. I believe that God has given you the gift of words to put on this blog to show the world His power and that He is ever present. You are a witness to all who doubt.
Thank you for your selfless gift of inspiration to the rest of us.

Amber

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

People are often commenting about how honest I am on my blog, which amazes me. I mean, I'm talking about my life and that is what it is all about. This isn't Heaven, yet.

Your heartfelt writing will definitely bring soothing balm to others. :)

I truly believe God looks at our attitude as we go through life. In the midst of all the heartaches and such, do we look around us and see His beauty and blessings.

frugal mom said...

I am so thrilled to have found your blog. Your ability to handle the stress and heartache we all experience in life with such strength is such a fabulous example. You are the epitomy of grace. I wish you the best of luck in turning Freeman House into everything you wish for it to be. I would love to vacation there sometime.

Kathleen Grace said...

I agree with you that we need to be nmore honest about our trials. I grew up in the same kind of church you did apparently:>) I think people still have a hard time admitting tough times, not only becasue they are afraid of being judged but also because there is a certain feeling of failure involved. I just posted last night about some financial burdens we are going through and questioned myself about whether I should post it. But I am a "let it all hang out" kind of girl and finally decided I didnt care what people thought. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and honesty. We all go through things, maybe if we were more honest about it the world would be more accepting.

Kimberley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kimberley said...

Your words are beautiful. They cause my soul to pause and ponder the greatness of our God!

Brambleberry said...

I also appreciate your "realness." Your willingness to share the pain you go through...and not mask it. It's so easy sometimes to just pretend that we don't go through the valleys.

But what kind of testament is that? It's not real. Not relatable. Thank you for sharing it all.

Blessings.

Sugarplum Cottage said...

I just started blogging in Jan. and I love your blog, your one of my favorites. Live the life you want,why worry about something that may never happen. Have a wonderful day, RoseMarie

Debe said...

BLESS your heart!!! I just pray that my daughter (who is 28) someday becomes as centered in who she is as you are. God does continue to bless you!
Since I live in Texas, I do hope you get to move Freeman House! I will come to visit.

Sue@CountryPleasures said...

Dear sweet Brin, you've done it again, perfectly explained (#1) why we blog, your an amazing woman! I feel the same way about writing, and blogging has enabled me to share so much, it's such a blessing, like you! I hope you can boy that magical land of yours and I can't wait to see it! Hugs!!

betty r said...

A very good post, Brin! You said it so well..why not be honest about ourselves, God knows it all anyway! I second that...you are indeed a rare treasure!
And you know all that lemony colored gorgeous stuff you posted?..well, I'm off to the kitchen to bake some lemon squares!

grace said...

Amen and Amen.

Rebecca said...

God bless you, Brin, for allowing Him to use you to minister others. Thank you for hearing his voice.

Susan said...

wow ! what a great post todays was. Wow ! cheers from Nova Scotia

Anonymous said...

Ooooh, I love this post. And I totally agree with your view #2 assessment of life in our family. How funny that you would see and say what I have seen, learned, and felt, but because of our family, have never come out and said. Naturally. You are a blessing. Love, Auntie M

Amy said...

I visit often, but do not comment--as I don't know you. However, today I will as this blog was breathtaking for me. Literally. You wrote my thoughts--and very eloquently might I add.
Thank you. Thank you.
Amy

Pamela said...

Wow, you are soooooooo good at all that you do. It makes me want to come to Texas to see you... I really enjoy your blog, can't wait to get there in the mornings. You are inspiration to the soul. Hope to visit often... Pamela, Beehind Thyme

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

...and I'll tell you what else blog entries like yesterday's achieve: a whole lot of folks praying. ;>

Moving the house again...hmmm, sounds like a mighty endeavor, but a worthy one if the house will be at home on the land that you describe. Obviously, you have big plans for Freeman House!

Love the quilt...most especially the color!

sister sheri said...

I have found when I finally step out of my comfort zone and share the truths that comprise my life, I become aware of other kindred spirits that have been there all along. Thanks for the "whys"...

Mayberry Magpie said...

Don't ever stop revealing what makes you, you -- Brin.

Ohmystinkin'heck has encouraged her readers to post about blogs they love. You're up on mine today.

www.mayberrymagpie.com

Anonymous said...

Brin, I admit that when I read posts such as the one you wrote yesterday that I actually feel guilty reading it. I feel as if I am looking in on a very private, intimate moment of your emotion and shouldn't intrude. But do I stop reading? Of course not! I am curious and sadly, secretly thrilled to know that I am not the only one who has such thoughts...such emotions, dreams, nightmares, moments that I cannot convey in script. One second I feel guilty, the next I feel relieved that I am not the only one that feels...hurt, pain, love, failure, success, guilt, innocence, blessings, sin, embarrassment, humiliation, grandeur, inferiority...

I am somehow comforted in knowing that I'm not crazy. That I'm not the only one in the world who has ever questioned or uttered words that I felt no one else understood.

Through your blog, your inspiration, your recommendations of books, I am slowly coming to terms with the life I've lived and the life I want to live. And I'm trying to conjure up the courage to tell my true story. You have inspired that truth...that need to come clean and let the world know what I really feel and not just what I choose to portray to the world.
Do not be dismayed...continue to be yourself. And never for a moment doubt who you are...you are perfect in God's eyes.
Michelle
(the fellow Texan in Arlington)

Minnesota Kathi :) said...

Brin...you are such a beautiful spirit, I can't imagine you being any other way than you are on your blog. I suspect that's why so many of us continue to return for visits, your honesty, openness and beauty in your blog is such a breath of fresh air.

I for one am thankful to have found you. I hope you continue to remain faithful to your hopes and dreams and make them all come true.

Have a wonderful day!

Kathi :)

nbranca said...

Brin,
I know, I grew up in the same type of church and area, just in the city. And, remember, college was the same way. Even though I loved the town and our school, remember how judgmental most everyone was if you (generalized you) had even the smallest problems? (Seeing as I actually know you, I can say this, I think)
It's hard to grow, sometimes, but God's love makes it less painful. I mean, just imagine all the hard times we've all been through if God hadn't been there for us! And his compassion keeps us going, too.
Sorry, I feel like this is rambling. But, anyway, I'm glad you're finding peace. Prayers from friends across the world are helpful, but so are the personal, heart-wrenching prayers we so often speak. And God hears them all.

Anonymous said...

tell me it isnt Clopton giving you all this grief, he is so not worth it. comeon Brin. Clopton??????

Terri and Bob said...

WOWOOOWWW! I hope you get your wish to move your house. What a cool thing to do. I love the cottage idea, too. You are so clever, your ideas so fresh!