Home » building a house » Co-creating


This is the fun part.

That’s what Traci, the Wonder Designer, tells me. The trim carpenter will be working over the next two weeks to create and install all the floorboards, pediments, staircase, closets. Our cabinets should be installed within the next week. We have narrowed down paint colors, and we’ll look at samples and select the winners within the next week. After the cabinets are installed, we’ll select our carpet color and cabinet hardware.

This is the fun part.

Which will probably send me flying high as a kite since I’m already having the time of my life. This entire process has been a downright blast for us. I can’t imagine it getting any more fun. But Traci assures us it will.

I love it.

I come from a family of extraordinarily creative, talented, gifted artists. My Aunt Lokken is a painter and has illustrated children’s books, and she is one of my childhood heroes. I adore her. Her daughter, Leah, is a photojournalist, who recently returned from Haiti with some breathtaking shots. My own brother, Madison, works in film. He’s an independent film maker/writer/producer/director, and he works on TV show/movie/commercial sets to pay the bills. He’s a lot cooler now that he’s not beating me up anymore. His wife, Alana (my sista-from-anotha-motha), is an incredibly talented interior designer. She reworked our kitchen design in its early stages, and it’s perfect.

And little ol’ me? Well, I kinda like crafting words. I used to like speaking them, but now I’m old and crotchety and introverted, so I prefer words on paper (or my laptop). I also love creative detail – looking at something and tweaking it to make it better, whether it’s something written or where to hang a picture or how to arrange a centerpiece. I directed two Broadway-style musicals when we lived in Iowa, which was so fun. Someday I’m going to take a photography class, too. Certain music (whether classical, Broadway, alt rock, pop, whatever) moves my soul, as does the beauty of artwork or literature or nature.

So the creative gene runs through our family and through my own veins, and it’s one of the many things I love about my heritage. Many friends (including my own creatively-challenged mother) have commented to me about how they imagine house-building to be extremely stressful, and how all those decisions would be so difficult, but truly, for me it is a constant exercise in creativity. More than that, it has become an exercise of faith and connection with the Creator God.

Madeleine L’Engle says in her book Walking on Water that the artist is a co-creator with the Creator, and that all art is a sacred reflection of His character and His work. Since we are made in the image of God, and God is Creator, we are therefore co-creators. (I’ve learned, too, that an artist doesn’t necessarily have to be a Christ-follower to be used to express His glory and His truth. We’re all made in His image, and He’s that big.)

Michael and I recognized a long time ago that this is not our house. Not really. This is God’s vision and purpose, and we’re just a small part of it. I remember vividly when I was about 20 years old, and only just dating Michael, that God called me very specifically to make my (our) future home “a safe place” – for not only our kids, but their friends, our friends, anyone who happened upon our doorstep. That our home would be a place where He is found.

I’m 37 now. That was seventeen years ago. He has worked in and taught and transformed us during that time to prepare us for this time where the vision is becoming reality. Wherever we have lived, whether our tiny first apartment, our slightly larger first house, our first “out of training” house, or this tiny rent house – we have learned to open our home and welcome friends and strangers alike. We have learned the art of hospitality.

Now here we are, in the final stages of decorating The House, and we’re learning to step aside and let the Great Artist and Creator take over. We know He already has a vision for creating an environment using color and texture and design that says, “Come in. Make yourself at home. Be comforted. Be encouraged. Be safe” – so as crazy as it may sound, we are asking His guidance for each decision about wall texture and closet design and paint color and stain color and pool design…every decision we pray about, because like I said, it’s not really our house, and He’s a much better Creator/artist than I am.

I have this mental picture of our family room, which sits in the center of the house, and there’s this warmth, this light, emitting from the center of the room to reach every corner of the entire house. That’s God’s presence. That’s what we want. That’s what we want you to experience when you come to visit us. (Please come visit us!)

The really cool part about this whole thing is that not only has God given us this dream and vision for what He wants our home to be, but by golly, He has provided for it. Just like it’s not our house, it’s not our money, and we keep asking for the wisdom to make the best decisions with what He has entrusted to us. We’ve gotten some awesome deals and have been able to do more than we ever thought we could.

I love being an artist. I love being a co-creator. I love being in a family of creatives. I love being a small part of something that offers beauty and meaning to the world.

This is the fun part.


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