Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lessons from a painted closet

It was an interesting classroom- this closet of mine. I laid on it's floor looking up at the 9 foot walls.

The closet is actually the one in Leisha's old room. It's about to become - not a closet- but my 'office'! I cleaned all the treasures that were still left there. Some are waiting to be put back- some made their way to the attic. Some to Good will or friends! That was a great deal of effort for me already. So now I wondering, "Must I really give it a second coat? Would anyone notice that trim peice not touched up? Do I really care that much?"

It's not a 'normal' closet! It's odd shaped- one long rectangle with a little square tacked on at the far end. When we first moved here- there was one small door by the wall, and when you walked in- there was one long pole running about 6 feet back. And behind that was what used to be a window to the original house. They had boarded it up- but with the 3 brick layers of the original house- we now had an indention that made a great bookshelf. It's just behind the clothes. So when we moved in, we opened up the wall so we could actually get to most of the clothes- painted it all white and added a closet system that allowed us to use the book shelf too- for storage. Never did add any doors though.

But now that we don't need quite as much storage with Leisha gone and the girls at school, a friend suggested we decided to turn it into a mini office. I wondered about it at first- but as the room has progressed in design, I realized I wanted to be there- not to use the room as an office, but with my desk in the closet- the room could still be all we wanted it to be- and I could enjoy it.

I painted it "Light Raffia"- tan, in other words. The book case is "Del Coronado Tequila"- don't you love the name. It's Cream, basically, with the trim in the closet white. But it works well with our green walls in the room-and it will also be the colors of the bead board ceiling in the room.

So what does all this have to do with the lessons I've learned.
Well you see, when you are painting a closet- you are tempted to cheat a little. Once you get the clothes in and the 'stuff' stored- who's gonna know you didn't do the second coat- or touched up around the trim, or even painted the ceiling. The walls are uneven- gobbled in some places by owners long before us. Who cares! It really doesn't impact anyone-

but me!

I'll know!
Especially since it's no longer just a closet but my space. I'll always see it. I'll always notice because it will haunt me every time I walk in there. I know, because I have other places in my house that continue to taunt me for attention! Why didn't I just take care of that to begin with?

My life is like that right now. I'm in the process of trying to 'clean out some closets' in my emotional life. Places where clutter has gathered; Cob webs have grown; Dust bunnys run wildly; Or perhaps rust has begun and the damage is almost irrepairable. I know I have to dig into these places of my heart because everytime I try to take a step forward, some part of my 'closet' haunts me and pulls me back into the comfort of my ache. It does seem to become comfort after a while, even though it is painful. It's what I know! It's what I've learned to live with. OUT THERE I don't know what I'll find. I don't know if I'll be hurt again! I don't know if I'll be rejected again! I don't know if I'll experience loss again. So I stay in my closet!

But not today! Today, I've begun agian the process of clearing out some of the clutter. I'm identifying where I'm angry and how it's affecting me. I'm looking at where I need to take care of me, BEFORE I take care of others- and not be selfish in doing it. I'm experiencing a freedom that comes from facing the next hard thing- and seeing God big enough to handle that too!

And that means painting the parts of the closet know one sees but me. My dad used to tell me that character was who we are when no one was watching. So when no one will know but me, Am I willing to clean & paint the parts of me that know one ever sees. Am I willing to be 'underneath it all' who I try to be on the outside?

I want to be! I want to be cleaned out and painted thoroughly. I know there's a lot of work yet to do. But the Lord is graciously, gently making me aware of the things in life that have yet to be said, to be done!

So...I'm going back in - for another coat of paint! How about you?

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Green Room Update

Well, it's taken 3 years, 9 months, & 14 days but the walls are painted- a perfect shade of Green!

It's been such a journey to come to the place that we could begin to claim Leisha's room for anything other than her room. But even though the walls were painted a hot pink, bright yellow and blazing orange- it began to feel like a hole- a brown hole that was that was void of the life that once blared through it.

Leisha had painted the room herself the year before she died. Though I helped her some, she was the one who really labored to get the right colors and find the right sheets that she used for curtains and her bed. And she did indeed labor to paint those walls. I was reminded of that this weekend. The walls are textured plaster. And it is hard to get in all the crevices even on the second coat. I remember that I helped her with the second coat of the different colors because she was getting discouraged at getting a good coverage. I must admit- I was cursing that hot pink for the same reason as I was trying to cover it with green this time. And I did leave just a bit of the orange showing in one wall- just because it reminded me she was there.

I was so grateful that Cait was home this school year- because she literally walked me through the process of each item- is this important to me? Do I need to keep it? Can I give it to someone else? Or just take it to Goodwill? You can imagine the tears as I touched each thing- processed its worth to Leisha- to me- and made our decision. Cait would just listen as I processed and grieved. But she kept me on task- at my speed, but on task.

Then came the task of getting the right shade of green. Kim Basinger sat and listened to us one evening and helped us find not only the right "Leisha shade" of green, but also the right feel for the room. We had to prime over the bright colors- Cait got us started- putting the paintbrush to that first wall was so tough. Then Brie got home from school and began to help us put the overall room design together.

And I started painting the GREEN. Ren helped Saturday night. I knew I couldn't do it all myself- it was just too hard! So we celebrated our 31 years of marriage by painting together. I don't think we've done that very often in our 31 years. But it was good to be together remembering.

I found myself remembering so many things-
it started out bubble gum pink as 'the girls room' - they all three had twin beds in there. Don't ask me how- but it worked then.
Then we got bunk beds - which helped, but by then Cait had moved into what used to be a play room. And of course, Brie & Leisha wanted to paint it a different color. I think it was blue, yellow,pink & green that time.
Then we moved our bedroom up to the attic- so Brie moved into our room. That's when Leisha painted it the already mentioned hot pink, yellow & orange.

I remembered tearful conversations, excited dream sessions, deep thoughts, intense debates, not just with Leisha but with all three of the girls. Sometimes I was part of the conversations- sometimes I could just hear them from the floor below. And the giggles & squeals- do girls ever stop doing that? It was all so SO BIG sometimes all I could do was listen - I couldn't begin to absorb it all for the grandeur of it! But I've pondered it many times since- especially this weekend as I painted GREEN!

We have a ways to go- putting up a new ceiling- refinishing a floor- turning the closet into my office. But phase 1, 2 & 3 are done. Not sure how many phases are left- but I think the hardest is part is over, and it's already beginning to grow new life in all it's greeness!

I love the color green!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Still thinking about our wedding!

Here it is our anniversary week & Ren and I have hardly seen each. I had a speaking engagement on Thursday evening that kept me focused and Ren's been working hard to keep everything going at work. So...we're hoping to celebrate Saturday evening somehow.

But it has kept me thinking about that day we got married and all the people that made extra efforts to be there. We lived far from the school we went to in Omaha- so it was a real effort for most of our attendents to be around for it. I know my roomie ended up being in Ecuador that week and one of Ren's best friends was on a harvesting crew and couldn't get off. That was ok! We thought of them all anyway!

But since I've heard from some of 'those' who could come- whether it was to sing or to be a groomsman or bridesmaid- I thought it would be fun to post some of those pices here too. These are all people who have meant a great deal to us- and though our paths have all gone different directions- it's great to reconnect over the years.
So here's to remembering!

This was Praise Song, the group I traveled with the year before we got married. I knew I wanted them to sing before I knew anything else.

Meet Cathy Rosentrator Wagner, Mark Ellis, me, Deanna Koehn Duerkson & Rolly Walter.

Everyone thought it looks like Mark & I are getting married- I don't know why we didn't have Ren in the picture.

And here is the wedding party, Betsy Schmidt Olsen, Tim Busenitz, Cyndy Thiessen Bergmaier (my sister) me, Ren, Devin Burrus (Ren's bro), Mindy Wimberly Putmam (Ren's cousin) & Leo Reimer. Such a fun day!
Whether you stood with us that day- or have been standing with us during the past 31 years in other ways- WE ARE MOST GRATEFUL!
Thank you for your faithful friendship- even if we have not seen you in years! We're grateful for the role you have played in our lives.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Thirty ONE Years ago Today...

...and in about 2 hours- considering the time change in Texas- I married my best friend!

I say that still because I have never had a friend that has known me so completely, and still chosen to love me- over and over again!

Rennie, I'm so grateful for you! You continue to care for and listen to and work to provide a 'safe' place for me- even though I know you would rather I come with you on the next 'adventure'!
Thank you for your faithfulness to me! for your ever constant pursuit of me even when I've turned away, and for your steady love and devotion to our sweet girls!

I'm so grateful for you! And for all you are allowing God to teach you even as you keep on with what you must do!

I love you- truly I do!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

the HOPE of Results

A friend posted this a couple of weeks ago- I've been pondering it ever since. It's one of those things that say something differently than you've heard it before and suddenly you hear what he's saying - and realize it's been trying to be said to you a hundred other ways before.
You get it!
I think I am getting this! But I wanted to continue to ponder it- and perhaps have you speak into these thoughts as well. Worth reading all the way through.

Do Not Depend on the Hope of Results Extracts
from a letter by Thomas Merton

Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on, essentially an apostolic work, you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. And there too a great deal has to be gone through, as gradually you struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. The range tends to narrow down, but it gets much more real. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.
You are fed up with words, and I don't blame you. I am nauseated by them sometimes. I am also, to tell the truth, nauseated by ideals and with causes. This sounds like heresy, but I think you will understand what I mean. It is so easy to get engrossed with ideas and slogans and myths that in the end one is left holding the bag, empty, with no trace of meaning left in it. And then the temptation is to yell louder than ever in order to make the meaning be there again by magic. Going through this kind of reaction helps you to guard against this. Your system is complaining of too much verbalizing, and it is right.
The big results are not in your hands or mine, but they suddenly happen, and we can share in them; but there is no point in building our lives on this personal satisfaction, which may be denied us and which after all is not that important.
The next step in the process is for you to see that your own thinking about what you are doing is crucially important. You are probably striving to build yourself an identity in your work, out of your work and your witness. You are using it, so to speak, to protect yourself against nothingness, annihilation. That is not the right use of your work. All the good that you will do will come not from you but from the fact that you have allowed yourself, in the obedience of faith, to be used by God's love. Think of this more, and gradually you will be free from the need to prove yourself, and you can be more open to the power that will work through you without your knowing it.
The great thing after all is to live, not to pour out your life in the service of a myth: and we turn the best things into myths. If you can get free from the domination of causes and just serve Christ's truth, you will be able to do more and will be less crushed by the inevitable disappointments. Because I see nothing whatever in sight but much disappointment, frustration and confusion. . . .
The real hope, then, is not in something we think we can do but in God who is making something good out of it in some way we cannot see. If we can do His will, we will be helping in this process. But we will not necessarily know all about it beforehand... Enough of is at least a gesture...I will keep you in my prayers.
All the best, in Christ, Tom

From a letter written by Thomas Merton to Jim Forest dated February 21,1966. The full text of this letter is published in The Hidden Ground of Love: Letters by Thomas Merton edited by William Shannon, published by Farrar, Straus, Giroux.