Let’s just say that our house was never featured on anyone’s Pinterest board. Nor was it ever the chosen location for anyone’s baby/bridal shower. Twice, in fact, separate friend-groups staged an intervention in response to my pioneering pastor-man’s stress level.
“We know you asked us to pray, but when we do, all we can see is the chaos in your house. So, with your permission, we’re stepping in and taking over.”
My permission? Yes, please!
It’s not that we are pigs, I think, and no one’s called the health department yet. It’s just, as one of my rescuers sighed, “there’s zero trace of anyone with OCD living here.” So we gratefully borrow it from others.
Somehow, over the years, we accepted that organization is not a gift which either of us possesses in any great depth, and we poured ourselves into what were our strengths: teaching, pastoring, homeschooling – living the crazy life that always demanded more of us than we had. When saner people are stressed, they create order at home. We usually just retreat with a book into the shade of the coconut palm in the backyard.
Though the beautiful attempts of our diligent friends have created visible improvements in this ragged tent, their abiding results are in us.
Somewhere along the way, we lost the unspoken shame. Surrendering the illusion that we could be something we are not, broke an invisible cage and literally opened the door to receiving people into our imperfection. We turned our eyes from temporal goals to eternal souls.
And they came.
In ravishing variety, life has flowed through here ever since. Into this three-bed/one-bath shack, whether for refuge, retreat, or recreation, they come.
A motley crew of pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and musicians mingle with friends and family here. From Australia, China, and India, from Denmark, England, and no particular place at all, the leaders and the lost have embraced (or endured) our disarray. Some alone and some in groups as large as fifteen; some for a night and some for much longer.
Twice, single girls moved in after devastating losses and stayed until their feet were strong enough to walk them into their own path. One became a mother, the other a bride.
This week, the breathtaking mystery of birth arrived. Brought here by difficulties with their own abode, a precious family transformed these walls into a sanctuary where candlelit worship, fellowship, and prayer beautified the wrestling match between labor pain and newborn life. Little Grace Sarai Guilbert entered this world in a birth pool in the dilapidated former Florida-room where so many others found life in different ways.
From Humberto’s white flowering tree to Annisette’s lemon bush (it should have been a tree, but that’s another story) – from Naja’s and Anders’ passion vine to Kristina’s red hibiscus, our garden has become a living souvenir.
Each one leaves their own fragrance behind; each one imprints deeper colors upon our souls, and they are our eternal treasures.
We have nothing to offer, except acceptance and the Life that pulses within us. We have no special skills, except to give Him room. Because He loved us first. Because He is love.
And what we give to Him, He gives to others.
Like this broken, insufficient shell (our home) houses human life, so this broken, insufficient body houses His Spirit, and always with outstretched arms, He invites:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” ~ Matthew 11:28
“As my failure is lost
In the light of Your glorious grace
Let the ruins come to life
In the beauty of Your Name
Rising up from the ashes
God, forever You reign
And my soul will find refuge
In the shadow of Your wings”
~ Hillsong United