We’ve just had the pleasure of hosting our beloved friends Joel and Lauren for the weekend. And these are not just your ordinary houseguests. Here’s what we did while they were here:

   ~Wired our new sunroom/keeping room for electricity (seven outlets!!)
   ~Installed insulation and tongue-and-groove paneling in the same room
   ~Put out twenty bales of pinestraw
   ~Laid my garden path with pea gravel
   ~Went to Home Depot for more pinestraw and pea gravel
   ~Trimmed dead branches out of trees
   ~Cultivated and fed 12 rose bushes
   ~Fed 14 fruit trees
   ~Repaired our front screened door with brand new screen and hardware cloth which will (hopefully) be doggy-proof

And that’s not to mention the four meals we shared together, the stimulating conversation, the swapping of ideas and book recommendations, the mutual edification that took place all weekend. They left us both bone weary and spiritually refreshed. And absolutely thrilled over all the work that had been accomplished around here. After having been very sick for over two weeks (hence my long silence!), it was especially wonderful and invigorating for me to see such ‘beautifying’ going on everywhere I looked. This morning I wandered about from window to window, smiling and offering happy little prayers of thanksgiving at all the pleasant sights that met my eyes.

We have been swapping work weekends with Joel and Lauren for years. We both live in old houses that require tremendous energy and upkeep (we feel a deep sense of responsibility that we talked them into theirs in the first place ;)). And we absolutely cherish each other’s fellowship. My husband grew up with Joel, but Lauren was one of God’s precious presents to me when I married Philip. I recognized a kindred spirit in her right away. I don’t know whose idea it was at first to transform our weekend visits back and forth into This Old House, but it had to be one of the best notions of the century. (I hope it was mine.)

We’ve painted, weeded, caulked, wired and hammered. Philip has helped Joel build a window seat with a toy box beneath. Lauren has emptied my ironing basket more than once and made a big dent in my mending. Joel helped install a paneled ceiling in our den. I’ve planted flowers and vegetables and herbs in Lauren’s garden. There is evidence of their craftsmanship in almost every room in my home: curtains, upholstered chairs, a bricked hearth… Even the barn has had its day. And out in front of our house there’s a lovely, spreading cherry tree that’s growing up with their oldest child, as Lauren helped me plant it when she was pregnant.

But the best advantage of all has been that of ‘iron sharpening iron’. We’re polishing our tools together for the real things in life: our marriages, our families, our homes and our ministries. Every conversation seems so important because our time is brief and we don’t have the luxury of day-to-day contact. I am always challenged to be a better wife, a more artistic homemaker, after being around Lauren for a weekend. Together Philip and I are inspired by their example to shed unnecessary encumbrances and invest our lives in the Kingdom.

We’re already looking forward to the ‘fall session’! 🙂