Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Changing A Room's Purpose

Building a house on the family farm isn’t like building a home on a random plot of land.  In other situations, a family may build, live there for awhile, then move and build again.  Perhaps that family goes through this cycle more than once or twice, each time making changes based on what didn’t work well in the last house in hopes that this time, they might finally create the perfect house plan.

When husband and I chose to build on his family’s hay farm, we realized that we had one shot at perfection.  God willing, there would be no do-overs.  No adding or deleting square footage.  No knocking out or moving walls with the next build.  If we didn’t get it right the first time, we would just have to hope any heavenly mansion awaiting us on the other side fixed our first home’s shortcomings.

With that knowledge, I poured over our house plans for years.  Husband and I put together a set of plans before our oldest son was born in 2006.  Back then, I made certain there was a room just for me.  Labeled the “sunroom,” it was the space I imagined the most on those cold days living in an old off-the-ground house completely devoid of insulation.

I would come in from work to the blue-black cold where the winter wind slipped between the crumbling seals around the windows and crept up between the panels of wood flooring.  With the house's two room-sized heaters left off during the daytime, sometimes, the house’s internal temperature would be colder than the weather outside.  I never understood that. 

On those coldest of days, I would close all the doors between each room, huddle in front of the living room’s single gas heater, and imagine the room of my dreams, that long, narrow sun room with its four windows spanning the outer wall. A room of my own.

My frosty breath visible in the forty-degree interior, I would imagine the aqua-colored walls reflecting the sun’s radiant glow as it bathed my face in morning light and gave life to the deep green plants growing around me.

My plan was to eventually buy a used baby grand piano to take up one end of the room, a wicker settee, two chairs, and coffee table the other.  I even contemplated hanging a lacy hammock in one corner where I could lie and read in perfect peace—no south Louisiana mildew or mosquitoes to mar the picture.  This would be my sanctuary. 

Our life’s path then shifted dramatically with the loss of husband’s career, and those plans gathered dust, propped in the corner of a closet.  Three children and a steady income lost later, the plans needed to be adjusted.

The first thing to go was the two-car garage.  We'd park on the gravel for a few years.  Next was my sun room.  Although not eliminated, it was slashed in half, transforming it into just another normal-sized bedroom.  The four windows turned into two.  The room faced north and not east with the rising sun.

There would be no baby grand.  No hand crocheted, ecru-colored hammock. No piercing dawn light.

Still, in 2010 when the house was finished, it was my room. And it was beautiful. My childhood collection of sea shells, a practical day bed, and bamboo-inspired furniture made it one of the most enjoyable rooms in the house to be in.  Although smaller and not what I had envisioned, it was still my room, and I loved it as mine.
This past summer, God led husband and me to offer that sun room to a college student we barely knew.  Overnight, the beautiful room became infused with LIFE.  A garden of clothes, shoes, books, board games, and everything else that could fit in her car and dorm room grew up in that space and planted seeds of love in our hearts for this new member of our family.  

When the young girl left in August and my room became mine again, it looked so suddenly emptyLifeless.  Her return for Christmas break brought to life those seeds that had been lying dormant, making this past December one of the most enjoyable Christmases of my adult life.

This Monday, I took out the room's piano and replaced it with a second bed in hopes that another young girl God has placed in our hearts will be staying with us this summer and throughout the next year as she finishes her last year of college. I know she won't understand the love God has placed in my heart for her since I can't understand it, myself.  But what I do understand is how my obedience in opening my home and my heart has helped bring healing.

For four years, each time I passed my room, I felt the loss of what could have been.  But, this past year, God has shown me how He can create beauty from ashes, how He can take what I call "less" and transform it into "more," how he can take what I call "mine" and bless me so much more when I answer His call and offer it back to Him as "His." 

Today, when I pass "my" room and think of all the love and joy it has brought to me and my family, all I can feel is full and complete, not loss.  The warmth that fills my soul as I look at the teenagerly chaos within its four walls is more fulfilling than any sunlight a couple extra windows could have poured in on me.

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer, this is just beautiful. The room and your heart. So excited to welcome a new member to the family, for any length of time :)