During my daughter’s senior year of high school, my husband lost his job. The next 20 months were frustrating, stretching, and sometimes fearful, but that season also provided glimpses of really beautiful things. The impact those months had on our future was huge from an emotional, financial, and spiritual standpoint.
When it came time to plan Hannah’s graduation party, I knew resources were slim, but was still hoping to pull off a celebration that would bless my girl. In preparation, I wanted to freshen up my living room a bit. I decided to enlist the help of my friends, Ginger and Carol, who I knew to be gifted at creating beauty in people’s homes through repurposing decor and adding items they’d found over the years as they shopped through clearance aisles, thrift stores and garage sales. I gave them freedom to utilize anything I already had, showed them a few items I’d collected over the years and stashed in my storage room, and told them I had $100 to spend. It wasn’t much, but it would have to do. I thought it could be enough for a couple second hand items, maybe some pillows, candles, a picture frame, that sort of thing.
We talked through some ideas, then they were off to dig through their collection of decor and shop. I was so blessed and humbled by the excitement they showed at being able to do their thing. A week later, they returned. I was not prepared for what happened next.
First, a delivery truck showed up with new living room furniture. A few minutes later, my friends were unloading their cars, bringing in brand new curtains and curtain rods, pillows, pictures, rugs, bedding, and more. In a matter of minutes, my living room, dining area, bedroom, AND bathroom had been transformed. I was completely blown away. After my friends had put the finishing touches on every room, I stood in awe at the way they had lavished love on our family. I know we aren’t the only ones who have been blessed by these two amazing women over the years as they so beautifully stewarded the ministry God gave them. They would probably both choose to remain anonymous and would hate that I’m singing their praises, but I can’t help it. It's time I shared the story.
Before they left, Ginger and Carol prayed a blessing over our home. They prayed it would be a place of refuge for many. They prayed it would be a place where we would welcome people in, meet their needs, and bring joy to their lives. I hope and pray our home has been that for someone over the years.
Late in 2019, Carol was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She passed away in September of 2020. When I got the news that she was gone, I sat in my living room and wept. I looked around and thought about all the people who had sat on my living room furniture over the years but had no idea how it had come to be there. I thought of the hundreds of pairs of shoes that have been kicked off on the rug in my entryway as teenagers found their way to our house, not ever knowing who put the rug there. Everywhere I turned, there were reminders of how my friends not only blessed our family, but also invested in the lives of the people who have walked through our doors. Carol had left her mark on my home and more importantly, on my life.
Yesterday, I returned home after spending the morning working at school. I was excited about the writing appointment I had planned for the afternoon, but in all honesty, I was a bit weary. This has been a week when I have felt more like Gina, the cancer patient, than Gina, the human. Doctor's appointments and blood tests and scans will do that to a person. I am receiving awesome, compassionate care, so that isn't the issue. It's just the nature of the beast.
Anyway, as I was pulling in the driveway, I noticed something peeking out from behind my screen door. I parked in the garage, put my things on the kitchen counter and went to go see what it was. I bent down and picked up a brightly colored canvas and a handwritten note. The note was from Carol's daughter, Lindsay. She explained how she was dropping off a painting which her mom had gifted to another mutual friend, Marcia, when she was diagnosed with cancer many years ago. The verse on the canvas reads, "She does not fear bad news nor live in dread of what might happen. For she is settled in her mind that Jehovah will take care of her." Psalm 112:7 On the back are words of encouragement and signatures from some pretty incredible women, including Carol.
Lindsay wrote how years later, Marcia gave the painting back to Carol to encourage her on her own cancer journey. Now, she and Marcia wanted me to have it, to remind me of truth and peace that sustains. She also said when I am healed I am to pass it along to the next person who needs it. Their thoughtfulness was exactly what Gina, the human, needed.
As you can imagine, it wrecked me. Partly because of their gesture of kindness, but also because I was overwhelmed seeing how Carol was continuing to impact my life and grace my home with beauty. I don't know if Lindsay and Marcia had any idea that what they were sharing with me would add to a collection of items in my home that are symbols of joy and hospitality, friendship and hope. But for as long as I need it, the painting will be another sweet reminder of how we are comforted in our trials so we can be a comfort to someone else. When the day comes and I pass the painting along to the next person who needs it, Carol will leave her mark on their home too, as her legacy of beauty lives on.