There’s a beautiful, empty space above the sofa in our “front” room. The picture that has hung there for years (and which hung in the dining room of the house where I grew up) has been moved to another room, so now I have this empty canvas to fill. I’m excited…..but a little anxious.
When people walk through my home, I want them to feel that they KNOW us. We live in a 138-year-old brick farm house that is charmingly imperfect. It will never be featured on HGTV, but it’s where we do life. And I love it.
On the wall above our fireplace mantle, we’ve placed these words:
The words are a daily reminder that we’re not doing this alone.
So now, this wonderful space I plan to fill above my sofa could hold so many different things. Artwork and photographs, a little shelf, a sconce, a wreath, letters or words. I was inspired this summer by Jen Hatmaker’s blog on a project she stole from a book titled “The Nesting Place” by blogger Myquillyn Smith. I’m gathering ideas and soon I’ll come up with a collection that I hope will do more than just fill a space, but will declare who we are as a family.
Thinking about that declaration, I’m reminded of something I heard at a women’s event on the shores of Lake Michigan last week that has challenged me: What are the declarations I make in my own life?
More important than words on a wall or photographs in a frame is the impression I leave with people who share my life. It is my deep desire that when people spend time with me, they come away knowing that my life is filled with joy.
It’s tough to admit that sometimes they’d have to look long and hard to see my joy. It’s buried beneath discontent, washed over with self-pity. Too often my joyful noise can’t be heard because of my whining. Or because I’ve retreated into silence due to some grievance I can’t release.
“Joy emanates out of the abiding sense of God’s love for us.”
Author and teacher Margaret Feinberg’s declaration to the women gathered on the shores of Lake Michigan last week came as she shared her journey through breast cancer — a journey that caused her to fight back with joy.
I could relate. I’ve been there, too. Facing my cancer led me to some of the most joyful days of my life. But in the ebb and flow of the everyday, ordinariness of life, often there isn’t much joy emanating from my heart or my home.
Only I can change that. I need to examine my definition of joy. The 242 times joy appears in scripture would be a good place to start. And I intend to begin looking longer and harder and deeper for what Feinberg calls “joy bombs”. They’re everywhere.
“Creation is like an uncleared mine field of joy.”
Margaret’s words hang with me still because I know it’s true — I am surrounded by reasons to be joyful.
It’s time to start counting them.
Throughout October I’ll be looking for those “joy bombs” as I write daily about all the ways I see God reflected in my corner of the world. I’m calling them “God-spots”, and I fully expect them to be showing up all over the place.
In the meantime, I’m on the hunt for three little letters to hang on my wall as a reminder.