It is a good afternoon, and I am blogging late due to a busy morning. I didn’t do anything amazing this morning, but rather, I spent most of my early hours working around the house, helping my parents, and dealing with my two very active cats. My parents are out of the house right now, and my son is still slumbering away in his room next door. I am at my desk with my faithful friend, Winston, and well, I am enjoying the blessed peace and calm and quiet of my urban home. Yes, you heard me right! I am enjoying the blessed peace, calm, and quiet of my home — right here in the middle of Phoenix, and right on the corner of Busy and Busier Street (in my neck of the woods, Greenway Road is one of the busiest East-West thoroughfares).
I am blogging now since I have a bit of downtime before I have to get to grading student projects. My class at ASU has come to a close, and final submissions are due tomorrow. I have some projects from earlier in the week to grade, and I need to update the grade book so that I can post final grades by next Wednesday. My other courses at Regent are finishing up Week 1, and I have some discussion to attend to as well as topic ideas to approve. In all, my grading is really low key, but I have timing and deadline issues to consider.
I still haven’t heard a peep on my transcript. I had hoped (fingers crossed) that the Registrar’s office would update my file yesterday, but it appears that nothing happened. I was told the case would be resolved by the weekend, and well, here it is Saturday, and there is no resolution. Perhaps Monday will bring me good news? I sure do hope so, but even if I must wait again, I will wait. I believe the Lord is Lord over this issue just as much as He is Lord over ALL of His creation. I can do nothing but trust in my Lord’s hand and power and authority, so I wait. I wait with hopeful expectation that my degree will finally post, and with that event, I will be one step closer to being hired full-time. I believe it. I am hopeful. I am expectant. He is good. He is so good to me. Selah!
So I spent most of yesterday working in my room. I have been on a kick to get my room in better shape now that summer is here and because I have more free time. I have gone round and round with style, decisions about design and color, and I have finally embraced what I think is the best style for me. I hate to admit it, but the Lord does know me best. I was pretty much settled on Modern Farmhouse (a la Joanna Gaines), but the Lord was not quite ready to let me stick with such a “kitchy” style (meaning popular or fadish). He pressed on me to consider other styles first, and over the past 8-10 months, I have gathered thousands of pins on Pinterest that explored Traditional/Transitional, Farmhouse, Modern, Eclectic, and yes, New Country (or really English/French Country). I explored design styles, paint colors, fabric choices, and even room layouts until I finally ran out of steam (and pins, LOL!) As of today, I have pinned:
- 3,883 pins for Modern
- 3,566 pins for Farmhouse
- 3,008 pins for Eclectic
- 2,101 pins for Country
- 1,732 pins for Transitional
Can you see how Pinterest has become my new best friend? Well, not really, but the social media platform has served a valuable purpose in my oh-so harried life. I found pinning to be the ultimate in relaxation for me. In many ways, Pinterest tapped into my love of reading design magazines. I used to spend my evenings (20-30) years ago with stacks and stacks of old magazines. I would pour myself a cup of coffee or tea and I would read articles and look at pictures in books and magazines as a means of relaxation. When I moved house and relocated to Phoenix, I tossed all my magazines out (I had almost every issue of Country Living from 1985 through 1996). Pinterest is the 21st century version of day-dreaming with magazines. I love, love, love Pinterest.
So I digress. After spending 10 months pinning myself silly, I really was able to discover my true decorating identity. I realized that for one thing, I happen to love a lot about several different styles. I also came to accept the fact that I am quiet eclectic in my tastes and my preferences run the gamut from shabby chic to bohemian to ultra modern. I really like many styles, but when I had to finally choose, finally decide on the style that I could live with for the next 20-30 years, I settled on Country French or New Country as I call it.
Country French is a design style that mixes rustic, industrial (some) with French couture. There is a sense of elegance to the style, but not too much “fancy” to ruin my appreciation of farmhouse and Americana. Country French embraces the beauty and boldness of the Queen Anne and Victorian period all the while keeping things fresh and light. Typically this style includes a lot of white, beiges, creams with mixtures of blues, greens, browns, and reds.
I am not glitz and glamour, but there is a part of me that enjoys some sparkle. I like mercury glass for example, and I appreciate old mirrors with film and haze. I like whitewashed furniture with ticking, toile, and checks. I like beiges, tans, creams, and white along with lots of brown. I like the way that these colors blend with one another. I am a bit shabby as the fad goes in that I do like crystal chandeliers and English transferware. I like doilies, Battenberg lace, and slipcovered sofas and chairs. In all, I am Country at heart, but with an upscale and desire to bring in rustic comfort.
My bedroom, for example, is a little bit Country French. I have added some pieces overtime, but I still don’t have the look quite right. Partly this is due to a lack of space, but also it is due to the fact that I have had to start over. I was thinking back to my first apartment. My ex-husband and I had a rag-tag collection of furniture, mostly cast offs. I decorated our apartment in what would be called “Flea Market” or today, “Shabby Chic.” I didn’t know that I was doing that back in the early 80s, when all the rage was primitive country, but I liked the colors of roses, the sway of geraniums, and the old fashioned way lace curtains ruffle in the breeze. Yes, I was a shabby girl, but I never knew it.
Years later, almost every magazine I would pick up at the market would be one that featured my colors, my style. I didn’t put any name to it until just recently when I started to think about decorating my own place — my first real home — and I had to make a decision as to how I would do it. Now, I am content. Now, I have a style in mind, and while my final version may not be catalog worthy, it will be unique to me, and it will represent all the things I love most — white, creams, tans — and beautiful light (soft, creamy wonderful light). Yes, I am ready to decorate, ready to create my own style, to design my own place, and ready, thank the Lord, to embrace a style that says, “Hey world, this is ME!”
How is decorating important to my sense of self? I have prayed about this for a while, and I asked the Lord why He was so bent on having me explore design styles. Sure, I needed an outlet for my frustration, and Pinterest fit the bill. But in truth, I think there was more to me accepting my style, finding a style, I should say, and then really embracing it. First off, I really had to come to terms with an important point and that was that my identity (the real me) is founded in Christ. I am a Child of God, and I find all value, worth and esteem in His opinion of me. He has accepted me as His own child, and as such, I am valued by Him. He esteems me, loves me, cares for me, and as a result, I am no longer at odds with the Lord. I am on His side, so to speak.
My identity is not found in the work I do. I am a teacher. Teaching is a label for me, and yes, it is something I do and I love to do. However, my identity is not formed through my teaching. I teach because the Lord provided teaching as a career for me to do to earn income and to pay bills. I appreciate the fact that teaching suits me, that I love to do it, and that the Lord chose a way for me that blesses me day in and day out. However, I do not find my joy, my satisfaction or my good pleasure in teaching. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but my joy, my satisfaction, and my good pleasure come from my relationship with the Lord. He is my everything, and He is the source of all my sufficiency.
Secondly, once I accepted my identity as being rooted and firmly planted in Christ, I began to think about how my identity is shaped (internally) and expressed (externally). What do people see when they look at me? Do they see a fashion model? Do they see a Mom? Do they see a teacher? What do they see in me, personality wise, when they meet me? Do they read correctly that I am a wholly devoted follower of Jesus Christ or do they see the world first and Christ second? More so, when people come into my home what do they find? Do they find the world, the trappings of the world or do they find a community of hope, love, and mercy? How does my external world match with my internal world? What message do I communicate to those around me, outside my family?
With all of these questions in mind, I started to think about how I need to work on my external world. I need to shape my external world so that it matches what I say I believe, feel, and think on the inside. I need to create spaces that cause people to feel welcome, at home, and to make them want to sit a while. I started to view my space as more than “my space.” I started to see the spaces I inhabit as community spaces where people can gather together. With this new mindset, I realized that I had to design space that suited more than just my style preference. I needed to design space that embodied what the Lord wanted to do in that space. In this way, my personal space merged with public space, and as a result, my ideas, my thoughts on what would work/not work changed. Now, I am not saying that my private home needs to be designed like a Starbucks, but I am saying that my private space needs to function like a Starbucks. It needs to be open to strangers, comfortable for sitting, lounging, and just hanging out. It needs to have a vibe, a good vibe, and that good vibe is created through a combination of several things.
Space: In interior design, the way a space is laid out is important to the overall atmosphere. Open spaces suggest an invitation whereas closed spaces say “stay out.” Space design needs to be considered, especially in furniture choice and placement. Lighting in space design is also really important because how a space is lit will determine how people feel about using the space. Bright light is good for working, soft light is good for romance or quiet study.
Function: The function of a room is also an important consideration. Tiny rooms make it really difficult to have people in them. If there is no room to move around, the function of the space becomes diminished. Large rooms, on the other hand, can give plenty of space for activities, but without careful planning, they can also feel like bowling alleys or conference rooms (no personality or so large they are like a cavern).
Style: Style refers to how a room is decorated. It can be a combination of furnishings, but it can also be designed with hardscape (flooring) or wall surface. For example, tile or wood floors give a certain feel to a room. Barn siding also can create a certain feel or look. Likewise, open arches or cut-outs in the wall shout modern or contemporary whereas columns or other architectural detail say traditional. Colors from darks to lights give a room a presence, and lighting as mentioned before can illuminate a room and make it more functional or practical.
I’ve thought a lot about the space I inhabit. Right now, my space is limited to my room. Although, I share an entire 4-bedroom home with my parents and son, my personal space is really just a 11x11 room. Someday, though, I will have my own home. I will have more space to design, and I want to make sure I am on the right track, thinking community rather than private, and being open to the idea of sharing my space with my brothers and sisters in Christ as well as those who are seeking to learn more about Him.
The space requirements that I have are minimal now, but in time, I see that I need private and public space in my home. I also need professional space. I need a full office to do my work from home. I need a bedroom for my rest and relaxation. I need public space in a kitchen, dining area and common area for when I entertain friends and family. My son, should he remain with me, needs a bedroom and a studio room. Thus, at a minimum, we need a 4-bedroom house. If I want guests to stay over, I need 5 bedrooms. It is hard for me to imagine that I need this much space, but since I work from home, my space allocation doubles.
The function of these rooms, the public ones, is pretty simple. I need a place where people can sit and talk. I need a place where people can watch TV (movies or other things). I need a place to prepare food. I need bathrooms, of course, and then laundry facilities. In short, I need my space to function well. I need a decent size kitchen, not a galley hallway. I need space for a big table with at least 8-10 chairs. I need a family area where I can have me big screen TV and enough seating to accommodate 10 people easily. Yes, I intend to host gatherings whereby I will easily have 8-10 people in my home.
Thus, as I think about the space and the function, I must consider what to do with that space once I have it in hand. I can certainly just leave it as a blank canvas, a big white box (or tan as most come these days). But, since I am familiar with design and how atmosphere is created with lighting, furniture and placement, I realize that in order to create an inviting place where people feel welcome, I must also consider the colors and the overall effect that each room has on visitors. Therefore, the past 10-months of pinning had purpose outside of simply helping me relax and rest from my hard work of teaching and doctoral study. Yes, my pinning prepared me to design a home that will be used by the Lord for His work and His will. Selah!
As I think about all of this today, I am reminded that the Lord does nothing short of perfection. He leaves “no stone unturned,” and in this way, He is careful regarding details. He lacks nothing when it comes to designing spaces that He intends to use, and with a humble spirit, He will help, guide, and provide so that the spaces we create and live in and enjoy can be used for His praise, honor, and glory.
Today, consequently, I learned that my space, as much as it is about me, is also His space, and in this way, His design, style, and management requires that I let go, and that I let Him direct me so that what is created suits His purpose. His purpose, I should note, is above and beyond my purpose. His purpose factors in my needs, but ultimately, it is about His work and what He intends to do in and through the space He provides for that work.