Exhaustion was setting in. We had toured so many homes that we stopped counting. New in town, but with high hopes of settling there to raise a young family, we pressed on, determined to get this right. Convinced there was a house the LORD had set aside just for us, we were prepared to search until we found it.
When yet another home seemed not quite right, we stood on the front porch as our realtor checked the listings one. more. time. A look of surprise and hope spread across his face. He turned to look at a brick house on a corner lot just across the street. “See that house? It is not even on the market yet, but they are scheduling a tour for agents tomorrow. Maybe I can get us in for a sneak peek?”
The specs of the home were unknown to us, but the lot was lovely. The timing and location seemed too convenient to pass up, so I agreed to take a look. From the moment we set foot inside the house, I just knew.
The original wide plank floors in beautiful condition, the spacious living room, stunning fireplace, the breezy side porch, the staircase, and the soft, butter-yellow paint on the walls that appeared so dreamy in the late afternoon sun! I quickly moved from room to room, mentally checking off the list of bedrooms, bathrooms, play and office areas, and even abundant storage in the garage, full basement – and the best of all – a sweet untapped space in a walk-up attic!
A vision for so many spaces in that house began flooding my mind. My heart started to race. The sun was sinking fast, but I held out hope that my husband could still make it around the corner from his new office to see this property in daylight. Eager prayers for confirmation were lifted. In the core of my being, I just knew… this was HOME!
By the next day, we were under contract! In a matter of weeks, the initial wave of painting and cleaning was complete and we were settled in a home we would enjoy every single day we were blessed to live there!
We renovated rooms, installed a gorgeous white picket fence, and planted flowers in gardens that circled the entire yard. That old house was new to us, warm and inviting, mysteriously familiar, and ripe for all our dreams to find a beautiful reality!
This new chapter in a new place felt like setting foot into an old familiar dream we hadn’t known to hope for!
* * *
The journey toward home. The shaping and reshaping of a place until it feels like it was made for us. That place of comfort and belonging where our truest selves can emerge and grow. A place of peace and joy that inspires us to open the door wide, set extra places at the table and welcome others in to make themselves at home there too.
These endeavors capture beauty in so many forms … in the physical space of a sunlit room or a cozy chair or a bustling kitchen, in the natural space of a blooming garden or a patch of green, but also in the faces of the people who treasure and reflect the beauty that touches them.
This is what Christie Purifoy calls “placemaking,” a pattern given to us by our Creator when He first fashioned man, made a home for him, and placed him in a garden. In her new book, “Placemaker,” Christie welcomes us to journey with her through the many places she has lived, the ways she and her family have shaped (and been shaped by) those places, the joys and sorrows along the way, and the gardens and trees that help tell her story.
Christie has awakened in me a deeper interest in history! For at its best, placemaking first seeks to know a place, its natural surroundings and its people, the backstory that frames the present. When we treasure those details and weave them into the history we ourselves bring to a place, a beautiful vision for the future materializes.
Intentional placemaking will cause us to fall in love with each place we live. I now understand why moving more times than I would care to count has carried with it a grieving process for me. “Placemaker” has helped me to begin long overdue healing, appropriately acknowledging the loss associated with each place in my own history.
But this journey toward home also brings JOY. When I truly understand that history builds and adds rather than subtracts, I see it as multiplied beauty rather than loss. Each new place, each new experience can carry with it a sense of returning. A rediscovering of old joys in new places, a bringing in of something treasured to shape a new place and make it home. A realization that seeds have been sown all along the path and there is an enduring and a harvest of the work that has been done.
Just before Christie and her family discovered their home at Maplehurst, a brick farmhouse in southeastern Pennsylvania, a friend shared a dream she had about their new home… with its long tree-lined driveway… where she sensed the trees whispering a single word… “Jubilee.”
Simply stated, the Year of Jubilee for GOD’s people in the Old Testament was a time of celebration, restoration and return. Debts were canceled. Slaves were set free. And property was returned to its original owner, as allotted by GOD when His people first entered the promised land.
I’ve read this book twice. And both times I’ve stopped and stared at that word, “Jubilee” through brimming tears.
“Why?” I asked myself. “Why does this strike a deep cord in me?”
Because I have spent years nursing an intensifying hunger to return home. To the northern hills. And yet the stronger pull on my heart has been in the opposite direction – to follow where the LORD has led and placed us – hundreds of miles away in tropical south Florida.
So how do I reconcile the truth of Jubilee? And this beautiful thing called placemaking? In a place I never imagined I’d find myself, a place I still struggle to call “home?” Christie brings it all into focus in the final pages of her book…
We find our truest home in and with the One who created us, who first placed us in a garden, who agonized in a garden and stepped bravely forward to secure a forever Home for us with Him.
Until we make our final return to that place where we were first imagined, every bend in our path can be a step of return. Home on earth is wherever He places us, welcomes us to make ourselves at home, draws us closer to His heart, allows our truest selves to emerge and grow, and inspires us to open the door wide to welcome others in to make themselves at home there too.
* * *
For over a decade, We have lived far away from that little brick house on the corner lot with its beautiful white picket fence surrounding a favorite saucer magnolia tree bursting with petal pink blossoms. Stories and pictures of that place still bring a warm, enveloping smile to my heart!
In that place I embraced my new life as a mom. It was within those walls that I surrendered my heart to the LORD, receiving His call to move south, wherever He would lead us. Our story of His stronger pull to the home He had planned for us here began in that beautiful living room with wide-plank floors.
I have thought for a while that the first floor of our current home needs an update. Maybe, just maybe, I need to return to a little bit of my own history, and allow favorite touches from the past to transform the present… shaping it until it feels like it was made for us!
Maybe, we can save our pennies to replace bland white tile floors with ceramic that looks more like wide planks of wood, and paint our walls soft, butter yellow, like the filtered afternoon sunlight spilling from the breezy side porch of that brick house in the northern hills.
There is a sweet and honored place for all of our story… past, present, and future! A place that fills our days with comfort, beauty … and peace.
Return to the LORD your GOD, for He is gracious and compassionate,
abounding in loving kindness. Joel 2:13
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you,
being rooted and grounded in love… Ephesians 3:17
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