Right behind our house (barely) stands an old shed.
It’s entirely too close for comfort, in my humble opinion. In fact, it’s so close to the house that I could probably spit and hit it broadside while rinsing dishes, if I was tall enough to open the kitchen window without straining myself and also blessed with the gift of aim.
This historic landmark is iconic, let me tell you. It’s musty from decades of weathering and dry rot, drafty from missing all the doors and windows, and plastered with ivy vines that have crept their way so far up the mossy cinder blocks that they are now fused to the few barn wood boards that still remain intact. The tin roof is warped and creaks horribly when the wind hits it just right, which just adds to the overall drama of the place.
You have to have extreme agility skills to safely navigate around all the piles of junk stacked wall to wall, floor to ceiling and you certainly don’t want to be left second guessing whether or not you are up to date on your last tetanus shot when you enter, with all the rusty nails and misplaced sheet metal jutting out everywhere. Also, I’m definitely no wildlife expert, but I’m fairly certain undiscovered species of “critters” call it home, which is why I dare to only venture out there during winter months with some heavy duty gloves and a shovel or shotgun for safe measures.
Though I may have just painted the picture that this is the VERY place to go when you want to get chased down by an ax-murderer or something, make no mistake. It’s grown to become one of my favorite places on the whole farm. Because if you can get past the dust and mildew and severe lack of TLC, there is some real potential and beauty to behold.
Like most people upon first impressions, however, I didn’t always look at this shed in the same light as I do now. In fact, when we first moved here and were preparing to remodel and clean up the place after the auction, I thought it was the biggest eyesore on the entire property. I wanted it GONE. I begged my husband multiple times to doze it down, in hopes that we could one day in its place build a fully functional and beautiful garden shed with a chicken coop off the back side – all to match the house once we finished remodeling the exterior. I longed for the moment he would hand me a sledgehammer and say, “Have at it, babe,” and I’d go running buck-wild like a banshee, arms slinging and hands blistering until there was nothing left standing but a pile of rubble and my dignity. I wanted this so much in fact that I already began designing my backyard dream to the extreme.
On a steno pad.
With a Sharpie.
Because, you know, the more permanent the better.
I had this entire project envisioned so vividly, it seemed like it was already real. It was going to be absolutely stunning – a true farm-wife sanctuary of all things homemade, holistic and homegrown – just like you’d see in the Magnolia Journal or Better Homes & Garden magazine. I would have raised beds full of blue-ribbon worthy vegetables and luscious strawberry vines.
There would be walnut stained shutters and window planter boxes full of all my favorite wildflowers and herbs. I would have trellises adorned with clematis and english ivy as a backdrop for it all, and some hydrangea and rose bushes planted on the north side for when I needed fresh cut flowers for an elegant farmhouse table centerpiece. Zaylee and I would go out every day to collect eggs, pull weeds, and put our matching galvanized watering cans to good use while making memories, earning sunburns, and getting dirt caked under our nails. And every summer evening possible, we would gather as a family on the back porch to grill steaks and sip sweet tea while watching the chickens free-range until the fireflies came out.
Of course my husband, The Realist, snapped me out of my Martha Stewart/Suzy Homemaker trance and assured me that the existing shed could easily be repurposed into the same paradise for probably a fraction of the cost of building a new one. We just had to have faith, give it time, and finish the house remodel project first.
I always hated that answer, partly because deep down I knew he was right but mostly because I knew my next-summer-fantasy would now be more of a maybe-in-a-couple-years kind of deal.
If you haven’t figured this out yet, patience is sort of a foreign concept to me, and I live for spontaneity. My Type 7 Enneagram roots run deep, y’all.
I figured if I had to stare at the ugly shed outside my kitchen window every day, I might as well at least try to clean it up until we had the time and funds to overhaul it so it didn’t look as bad. If nothing else, it wouldn’t have to be the laughing stock of jokes during our backyard cookouts with friends and family anymore. Nothing a little deep power washing, some heavy duty contractor bags, and a few Pinterest organization tricks couldn’t fix, right?
One afternoon I got overly-ambitious as per usual and decided to take a peek and get a glimpse of what we were getting ourselves into. Every inch of my being cringed as I stepped inside that shack of shambles. I tried my best to dodge all the mouse droppings like a ninja, all while lunging over the massive junk piles and picking cobwebs out of my hair that had probably been hanging around since the early 70’s.
At first glance, it really was just as horrifying as I imagined it would be. But then when I really got to looking closer – past all the moldy feed sacks and broken glass bottles and fallen shelves that caused several coffee cans full of rusty bolts to cascade to the earth below in an impressive waterfall fashion – I realized that there were actually some really neat things buried in there.
I was in complete disbelief and stood there all giddy, like a flea market addict high on espresso and chalk paint fumes. Vintage crocks and oil cans, unique pallets and crates, antique tables and hutches, old books and recipes, wooden wagon wheels and rustic hand tools – it was truly a smorgasbord of all things paint-chipped, rusty, and distressed.
Whoa, Betsy. She has done it. She has just discovered the world’s greatest secret, and it is all hers to pursue. Eureka.
Needless to say I became a changed woman that day, kind of like when T-Swift went pop or when the Tin Man finally got a heart. Okay, okay. Maybe it wasn’t that extreme, but I did begin to look at that old rinky-dink shack with different eyes from that moment on.
Now, when I want to embrace my inner Joanna Gaines and fill the void of a bare wall or empty shelf in our house with a unique and rare antique find, the old shed is where I go to fuel my inspiration because I know what glory it beholds. It truly never disappoints. Every time I go inside it’s an adventure, as I discover something new I once overlooked.
And I’m becoming more and more okay with the idea of keeping it around a little longer until we re-purpose it into something else that is just as equally amazing.
I’m not really for sure why I am still so drawn to it and all its marvel – or lack thereof, depending on who you ask – but I think it’s because in some very odd and far off ways it reminds me a bit of myself when I was in my darkest times. Not that I’m smelly or creepy or a potential health hazard or anything like that, but because I know what it’s like to feel like everything about you is an unsolved mystery. To believe that people look right past you – and feel abandoned, forsaken, and forgotten because of it. To try to stand tall and profound in a world where others just want to tear you down. To question your potential and value in this world, because you are no longer as new and strong and confidently built as you used to be in your glory days before time and experience took its toll on you.
To convince yourself you are only the remnants of what’s been weathered and tattered and beaten down in the elements, and to not appreciate the beautiful story you have to offer this world that tells all that you have become and overcome because of the hard seasons you have faced. To slap a temporary band-aid on what you know requires a much deeper repair and maintenance, but not have the energy or faith to see it through. To rip the doors off the hinges and open yourself to the chance to feel needed and purposeful, but instead find that after all this time you have become this giant bottomless vessel as one unwanted thing after another was hurled inside and forgotten about by the one who cast it away. To let it all pile up until you lose yourself in all the chaos that’s burying you alive, to the point that no one knows what’s beneath the surface anymore.
To board up the windows of your heart in desperate attempts to guard your deepest secrets, waiting for the right person to come along who will push past all the clutter and filth and brokenness and find the diamond in the rough that so badly wants to shine but isn’t sure how. To ultimately lose sight of the One who carefully and purposefully hand built you into the very masterpiece you were designed to be.
Oh, friends. I know the feeling all too well. And I’m guessing a few of you are familiar with it too.
But here’s the thing…I also know that nothing about it is really true.
In fact, it’s all one giant twisted lie the devil himself has meticulously stitched and woven together, just to shove it in our face and tell us it’s our story. And we let him, almost always. We wrap ourselves up so tight in the head trash and negativity and temptation he has crafted – to the point it’s almost suffocating and we can’t wriggle our way out on our own anymore.
For some odd reason, when I think of the old shed and all it’s hidden wonder I am also reminded of the story of Jeremiah.
I know, I’m random.
If you really want to dive deep into a bittersweet roller coaster ride of a faithful prophet’s life as he persevered through extremely dangerous and depressing situations to fulfill God’s calling, Jeremiah is your kind of guy.
Long story short – and trust me, it’s really long – he was given the very daunting task of prophesying throughout the reign of several kings that the city of Judah would eventually fall to the Babylonians, if they didn’t turn away from their sinful ways. He spent a lifetime enduring obstacles while faithfully doing everything the Lord asked him to do – all while rarely seeing the fruits of his labor. In fact, most of the good that came from his diligent work wasn’t seen until after his lifetime was over.
Just like any good Nicholas Sparks novel, there seems to always be some tragic ending or plot twist to Bible stories that makes you want to throw the book across the room and shake your fist at the Man Upstairs for ripping your heart right out of your chest and playing with it like a stress ball. Jeremiah is certainly no exception to the rule, as he eventually found himself imprisoned and persecuted by King Zedekiah for going against the grain and doing what God convicted him to do. Oh, and he was tortured, mocked, and eventually exiled to Egypt, so there’s that to add on top of his already impressive resume`. If I were Jeremiah, this is probably the point where I’d throw in the towel and say, “Sorry, God. I’m out.”
But if you keep reading, you find the bittersweet ending that makes it all seem to have purpose and meaning again. It’s the boomerang effect that keeps you coming back for more and reminds you of how brilliant the writer of the story really is. (And let’s be real. No matter how ticked off you get at ole Nick, you’re still gonna read his next release that ends up topping the New York Times #1 Bestseller charts. It’s just that good of a story.)
Rest assured, the author of Jeremiah’s story pulls through in a very similar fashion, delivering the goodness we know He promises for those who keep fighting for His namesake. It was there – in desolate bondage and captivity in the prison court – that the Lord gave him yet another message that is so jarring to me, it still gives me goosebumps every time I read and reread it.
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and I will shew thee great and hidden things, which thou knowest not.” – Jeremiah 33:3
It’s absolutely incredible. Poetic. Profound. Talk about a best-seller story!
After all the sin and brokenness, after multiple second chances and opportunities to repent with no avail, after all the years of destruction and exile and judgment that followed suit – God fulfilled His promise of restoration to the people of Judah and used Jeremiah’s story as a testament of true faith that we still talk about in Sunday morning sermons today. Even greater than that, He vowed to pardon the Judeans of all their iniquities. And He doesn’t just cover their sins, He completely wipes them away! He extended His love and grace on a magnitude so grand, that no one could even begin to wrap their minds around it. All they had to do was trust and obey, and in all due time it would come to fruition – like when Moses led the Israelites for 40 years through the wilderness before getting a glimpse of the Promised Land. It’s such a foreshadowing of the love that Jesus would illustrate on the cross many years later, which paved the way even more great and hidden things I believe you and I will get to experience someday on the other side.
This encourages me so much in my spiritual walk, because despite how damaged and flawed I may feel at times – kind of like that old back yard relic behind the house – I believe He is drawing up the blueprints for this amazing story of healing and restoration for my life. I believe He will redesign and repurpose me into something even greater than I ever thought I could be, if I just give Him my heart and meet Him halfway. No ultimatums, no demanding answers, no putting a deadline on the whole process. Just trusting…and maybe willing to endure a few setbacks along the way. I believe He will do the same for you, too.
As much as I wish that I could take His vision goggles and put them on my own face to gaze far into my future and gain some clarity, I know that it’s not my place to ask questions. I’m sure Jeremiah felt the same way at times. But to understand the outcome of my life before walking through the journey in total blind faith would be like what I am reluctant to admit I did when I read Dear John – skipping to the last paragraph to know the ending and miss the entire beautiful story in-between. It would be a huge disservice to the Creator, and would devalue all the hard work He put in to make it such a heartfelt story.
It’s my place to trust that He will make it all come full circle in the end. I can definitely put my hope in that. I have to put my hope in that. After all, He is the only one who can look past all the “junk” built up in our crazy, messy lives and somehow sift out the gold we never even knew was there. It’s like He already sees the goodness in us, when we can’t see it for ourselves.
And someday, whenever it’s finally time to roll up our sleeves and rehab that old shed out back into something pretty spectacular, I’ll have a beautiful reminder right outside my kitchen window of that perfect kind of love that was extended to me through great and hidden things…things that I could have never envisioned on my own with just a steno pad and a Sharpie.
PPSSSSTTT! Hey, you! Yes, YOU!
Since you so graciously took the time to read these words in their entirety and made it to the end, I thought I’d let you in on a little secret! (After all, the theme is great and hidden things, here….ba-dum-dumm *tsss!*)
Basically I have been working in sworn secrecy (not really…) on a new project, which consists of me FINALLY starting that book I always dreamed of writing ever since I was little! That’s right! Ya girl is going to be an AUTHOR! Like, a legit one that hangs out in coffee shops with glasses and messy buns and oversized cardigans and does book signings in Barnes and Noble.
Well, I hope. Publishing is a long and drawn out process outside of writing the darned book itself, and rejection is real. So, I’ll let you know how it goes.
And no, I don’t have a title yet or know when it will be finished, but stay tuned.
Title and Time TBA. Noted.
Pray for me.
In all seriousness, this book sincerely means so much to me, as it represents me finally having the courage and audacity to DREAM BIG again, like I did in the days when I sang into a hairbrush and swore I would be the next Shania Twain. (Still waiting on that one to pan out.) To DARE to do something many people don’t get the chance to do, or never even take the chance to try. To BELIEVE that it’s possible, even when I don’t always see it happening.
As many of you already know, I’ve been on a journey to self-growth and personal discovery for quite some time now. After lots of frustrations and growing pains from pushing my comfort zone boundaries a little farther and father every day, I feel like I am finally at a place where I can offer a few tidbits of wisdom from life lessons I’ve learned along the way. Lessons of going through emotional childhood trauma, being a recovering perfectionist, battling suicidal depression, surviving college, starting and leaving jobs I loved (and sometimes hated), moving SO. MANY. TIMES. It’s unreal, becoming a wife and mother, and through it all still trying to stay sane and show up well for myself and others while following whatever arrow the Lord is pointing for me next. This book will be about “all of the things”, and how my faith has transformed throughout the entire process of becoming who I am today.
Whether I succeed or whether it’s a flop, I figure I’ve got to at least put myself out there and give it all I’ve got! I’m already counting it as a WIN, because, you know, I’m actually doing the thing.
And fun fact! This blog post you just read just happens to be the first full chapter I’ve actually completed to feature somewhere in this new endeavor I am embarking on! In fact several pieces from former posts on here will be added in there as well!
It is definitely not edited yet and the vast majority of it was written in between interruptions of the phone ringing, the baby crying, or some other third-world emergency I had to respond to, but hey. It’s WRITTEN. I broke the ice and the book of my dreams is finally underway!
> insert fist bump here <
2,000ish words down, about 80,000 more to go…no pressure, or anything. I basically just have to write a chapter like I just did about 20+ more times, then I’ll finally have a book.
And if it ever makes it out into the world? Maybe you’ll love it and talk about it with friends over lattes and Wednesday night devotion groups, maybe you’ll throw it in some old shed out back and never think about it twice. (HA!)
Either way, it’s happening. And it’s gonna take a whole lotta faith and coffee and support to make it go down.
So if you can, show me some likes and hearts, give me (KIND.) feedback or suggestions if you see anything that needs re-configured or re-worded, leave me some words of encouragement FREQUENTLY throughout this process that is sure to be long and difficult at times, and send up some prayers that this book says all that it needs to say and lands in the hands of all who need to read it and weep.
(And friend, I will so totally ugly cry with you.)
So, yayyyy! Now you know the thing!! And I’m so happy to bring you along this journey with me!
But SHHH! It’s a secret reserved only for the baddies who take the time to read this! Because after all, YOU are the ones who will help make this thing totally possible! 😉