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When Your Ruins are Telling a Beloved Tale

I am humbled to be linking arms with Vi Bella Jewelry and to lend a voice to stories of redemption.  If you haven’t read the Vi Bella story or watched the video about how Vi Bella (which means a beautiful life) is taking discarded trash, please take a minute and be inspired by the heart of this company.  In their process of reclaiming trash and making it into jewelry, Vi Bella not only restrings and reframes, but they reclaim lives of artisans in Haiti, Mexico and the U.S.

I’m so excited to help Vi Bella tell their stories.  

Because if there is one thing that my writing has always been about, it is this:


What appears to be beyond repair on this earth is really just beauty undiscovered.


 

Over the next few weeks I’ve asked a few other writers to share their stories of redemption, of brokenness, of being made new.

Because we are always, always braver together.

Today I’m so excited to introduce you to  my dear friend and co-conspiritor, Tammy Hendrickmeyer.  Not only is she a gifted writer and poet, but this girl can laugh with her head thrown back and make you believe in hope again.

She can also look deep into the eyes of those who are hurting and ask “what’s going on”.  And she really, really wants to know the answer.  I love this sister, and you will too.:

 

When Your Ruins are Telling a Beloved Tale

Christmas has begun and Advent is upon us as Thanksgiving leftovers disappear or are frozen away for winter soups. It reminds me of when we first made our move back to Texas more than 6 years ago. The one we said we would never do.

I didn’t know Granny would be as sick as she was when we came to visit that Thanksgiving. We flew down with a couple of suitcases for our week-long event of turkey and cat hair.

And never left.

It was worse than I remembered. The cats being a large part of that. I did not know about hoarders or what that meant, back then. All I knew was, she had 30 cats living inside her house and also three large dogs, along with black nebulous canned mason jars marked “1985” in sharpie pens, stuffed inside her packed kitchen cabinets.

But as age draws us away from youth, so it does with other things. We lose our agility to take care of a house, or cats, least of all our self when a person has terminal lung cancer and is a widow living on a dilapidated farm with no help.

So we made the move we said we would never do. I think that is God’s sense of humor. When we say “never!” (maybe with a stomp of our feet and a crazy glare in our eye), He shows us “never” really is just a joke on us.

We left our nice, newer two story house for a cat-infested one that had mold growing on wood floors and closets crammed full of stuff. We found rats living in them once we cleaned them out.

I loved Granny. But this was something else.

Christmas was just ’round the corner but there was nothing familiar or traditional about this one.

No decorations. No time to ride around and look at lights. No husband, as he was gone back to work in another state, the same state of our much-loved house, the one we would sell a few months later.

Christmas was exceptionally hard that year. All we had was praise and worship and it played 24 hours from our small radio because if we ever needed to worship in the mess, this was it.

It was all I could do to keep from crying with my kids when I tucked them into one of the antiquated iron beds that hadn’t budged from its spot in years.

But I still loved this farm. I remembered my fourteen-year-old self laying down in chicken houses of fresh new wood chippings and letting the fuzzy yellow balls of a chick come near me. Or the crooked hay rings that my sister and I stood on end, like a tire ready to roll. Or the woodland trail that I’d follow and wondered if the coyote we saw earlier, near the back door, was still out there watching.

But returning all these years later, nothing looked the same. The meadows were full of overgrown trees, tall hay laid over on its side from years of dormancy, and the once gleaming chicken houses now stood like skeletons with a haunted hollowness.

On bad days, I felt as caged as the black security bars that were rusted shut outside Granny’s windows. The same ones she put up in the 1980’s and had not opened since.

Christmas had to be done from scratch, that year.

Which brings me to this year.

Things have slowly returned to some semblance of normal. Along with the new “normal”s that have formed here. Life once again is teeming from both the hidden and visible, redeeming work which has been happening. Even though there are still large remnants of scrap metal, and old chicken houses which flap loudly in southern Texas winds, God has been at work in my heart as I’ve watched this place, ever so slowly, begin to rise from the ashes. We built anew, just past the empty shells that once kept thousands of commercial chickens. Any visitor now days will have to drive by the ruins before reaching our house that is tucked away on the property.

It has been humbling. Living among the mess, I’ve had to hunt and chase down the beauty. Some days the chase was hard fought. But now, the old and the new are colliding here. We’ve found long forgotten items haphazardly laying under dirt or stuffed inside falling buildings on the farm. Pieces had been left to the elements as if to rot away. But we’ve pulled them out. We have gathered and dusted them off to give them prominence inside our newly built house. And they are beautifully telling quiet stories all around us. Much in the same way, each of our lives do.

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We too are pulled from the ashes of our ruins and given a place at God’s table. We are the beautiful people which God has re-built, Beloved-ly re-named, and given honor because we’re clothed in Christ. We are the Beloved Christmas people who birth the Hope of what God has done in us. And we cannot help but share the redemption He offers to us all.

There are stories that connect us because the Body is brought near by the Spirit of God. And we are reclaiming what He has done for us, this Christmas and always, because He was born to redeem our lives from the devastations. There is nothing more beautiful than a mosaic of people, creating a stained-glass picture of how He’s piecing us together for glory to shine through.

And each story brings its own radiant hue, redeeming our haunted places for ones of Life, light, and a deep-seated,

Beloved-ness.

 

Tammy Hendricksmeyer has discovered writing is the rawest, scariest, frustratingly glorious, rewarding, and essential way to process life. She’s a renaissance woman who’s scattered pigeons at Notre Dame, swam the coral reefs of Okinawa, scaled fortresses in Nuremburg, and viewed the Eiffel Tower safely from the ground, a  poet who practices faith outside of institutions, throws her head back when laughing, and occasionally drives an old John Deere tractor in tim-buck-two. Her prodigal path has lead her to many ugly places, but she’s firmly finding her redeemed footing, and voice, with a community of people. Fighting for others to also see their redemptive purpose, beauty, worth, and connection to a supernatural God is her greatest passion. She’s the Founder and Curator for Outside The City Gates where she’s also a Co-Conspirator with a team of other writers. Her faith journey is found on her personal blog, or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter

 

Support the ministry of Vi Bella on their site here, or shop a few of my favorite things at The Beloved Shop

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