Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
I'm out here in our side yard, pulling a paint-splattered brush handle back and forth across white primed wood. It's quiet here, underneath the green tarp we use for camping and Justin pulled up across the fence to shield me from the sun while I work.
Since returning from vacation I have been opening too-full cupboards here and tossing upside drawers stuffed with things we don't need. An unfamiliar, uncomfortable ache surprises me, propelling me toward ridding this little house of things cluttering our precious space. Things making my heart feel tight, worn, distracted.
Shelves of toys. Stacks of art supplies and piles of clothes ill-fitting and no longer worn. My boys and little girl's collections over the spring need to be tended to--walking sticks, a broken, homemade wooden bow, end-of-school letters, bent paper airplanes, broken plastic army men, Barbies long-since enjoyed. The abundance of things can paralyze me, making a new part of me feel almost sick. And we--the kids and I--spend time each week, these long summer days, clearing things out, making space in our hearts for less--things, clutter, stuff.
I have friends who inspire me with their pursuit of clearing out of their home anything non essential, anything unneeded or nonsacred. Kristin's space is a haven of beauty and light and white. Her home is a sanctuary to writers and artists and friends--creatives whose hearts need space to think and feel and breathe. I spend a June morning here, the next to the last day of school, ensconced in a pillowed chair in her backyard, watching sunlight on grass and listening and scrawling down love letters with shaky hand.
I tell her, my sweet, wise friend, upon leaving, "I am wrapped up in peace here. Your home is beautiful." And I can't tell if it is the beauty of the space--her wide-open-space rooms--I am talking about, or the way my heart feels when I cross the steps of her front door. She responds, "everything in here can only stay if it has a place." If there is no place for the item, no matter how beloved, it must be shed. And I realize the physical can manifest peace when married with space for each of us, uniquely, to breathe.
Perhaps, this is peace, a friend who loves and encourages me on--my finding of a space where I am Home.
In the mean time I haul things out of my house and brush on this old dresser what I think must be one of the colors of heaven. . .
This Father of mine is wrestling me--the Artist who fights for freedom with beauty-- showing me new ways He wants me to be free.
How is the Father tugging on your heart, this summer?