About five years ago, after paperwork, paint samples, and hurried home inspections a nearly 90 year old, less-than-900 square foot cottage received its new resident dreamers. Few people had visited the old charmer, despite it’s “character”, because time had taken it’s toll. Toll that would require a whole lot of work. Goldenrod Formica, that oh so dated layered plastic, not only graced the counter-tops but somehow had managed to make it over to the windowsill as well. Let us not forget, the mountain scene mural complete with covered wagon that was sketched into the aging shower tile. The list of defects was long, but we saw endless possibilities.
Walking through the rooms we hoped to fill with love and laughter, we didn’t only see the present, but the potential. How many people could we squeeze into the living room? Which vantage point in the kitchen allowed for full view of the yard where our future children would play?
As we dreamed of our life in the cottage, there was a subtle feeling that for once we were in control. Goodbye apartments and awful management companies who were always cramping my style! I was free. Time to renovate. We lugged gallons of paint into our new home that should have been labeled “most difficult color to paint over.” If we wanted to paint the door blue(or orange, or purple) we could! Deep red in the kitchen provided a coffee shop vibe. Slate blue and gray to offer a soothing atmosphere in the living room. Trendy teal in the bathroom to highlight my husband’s hard work tiling over where the oregon trail landscape had taunted us. Life was open-handed, progress was possible, and change was expected. Little did I know that the highest hopes I held for that new home were merely a shadow of the ways God would work. The maker of the universe wasn’t only interested in the big dreams we had for this home, for our life, but for the moments we could never have anticipated.
People don’t often move into their house envisioning the ways their heart will be broken, or enter into marriage predicting how the highs and lows of extended family will be what you live out together. They look at the walls and paint the pictures of joy, peace, and togetherness instead of looking at the doors that might be slammed, the pillows that will be cried on, the rooms that will hold deafening silence. I want to laugh when I see quippy statements that insinuate that all there is to achieving your dream is making goals, and taking small steps towards them. Sure, no one gets far by not dreaming, but life happens. And life, well, life can be full of nightmares.
Our cottage is where God began to teach me Psalm 34:18; The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
Just a few days after the house became ours I knelt in the living room and prayed fervently for my grandpa. He was on life support as I painted the walls. On my knees, on the ladder, to my knees again. Waiting for the phone to ring. Praying. Layer after layer of paint. Question after question.
A few months later, that cottage with the painted walls was the last place I saw my other grandpa. He and my grandma had stopped by to see our gardening progress. Then shortly after that afternoon visit, I was sitting in the living room when I got the call that he had passed away suddenly. Grief is another one of those places in which God meets us in ways different than anticipated.
Late at night, when others were asleep, the 90 year old house witnessed my tears as I confronted infertility month after month. I was fiercely aware of how opposite this was to our plans and dreams. Yet brokenness drew me to Jesus again and again.
God’s dream for me wasn’t a Pinterest perfect life or a great Christmas card, but it was nearness to him.Had life continued just as I had designed, I would have tempted me to believe the lie that I was doing fine on my own. Instead, from my shabby chic chairs to His glorious throne, He drew me. From my thoughts of perfection to His promises, He transformed me.
“…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”~Romans 12:2b
From my will to His will, He carried me. I did not want to walk the paths in front of me, and I did not lay the stones for the ones behind me. But my God never left me to walk alone. In fact, I can see now that his plans were crafted from deep love and redemption, but I was only able to find them when I began to let Him remodel my dreams.
Readers, How has God remodeled your dreams so that you may fully see the potential He wanted to reveal?
Holly is a wife, mother of one, and foster mother to many. She seeks to glorify God in all she does, for all her life. She studied Intercultural Studies at Corban University and loves to build bridges between cultures and people. She welcomes people into her life, into her heart, and into her home with hopes of offering encouragement. You can find more from Holly here at Anchored Voices or at her blog Called to Restore.