Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Shanty

I was nervous about the directions from the moment my husband gave them to me.
I had never been to this house before, and I wasn't quite sure I could find it.
The directions included phrases like "the alley by the pole", "a small path on the edge of the farm fields","a two-story asbestos building", and then the one that caught my attention: "the beautiful vine-covered shanty."
"You can't miss it," he said.
We walked down the main road, down the first side road, and then down the small road until we came to the alley.
We turned in, climbed through some scaffolding that was in the way, and followed the alley until it ended at the fields.
So far so good.
I couldn't remember if John had said to turn right or left, but the tiny path to the left looked a bit more well-trodden, so left we went.
We skirted around the backs of some houses, saw the tall building John had mentioned, and met an old woman sorting ayoyo leaves.
We mentioned the name of the lady we were looking for, and since everyone knows their neighbors here, she told us to keep going straight ahead.
We crossed a shallow ditch full of dirty wash water, and then I saw it.
The house was nothing more than a shanty.
It was roughly built of a mishmash of wooden slats, black plastic, corrugated zinc sheets, and nails.
A poor man's home, probably a transplant from the northern villages who couldn't afford rent, so had found this quiet spot on the edge of a field and gathered whatever cast-off materials he could, until he had enough to build himself a small dwelling.
And yet, it was far different from all the other shacks I've ever seen.
It was beautiful, for someone had taken a small vine, planted it in the soil close to the wall, and allowed it slowly creep and grow along the walls of that small home until it was almost completely covered.
Gone was the look of broken boards and wrinkled plastic, in their place was a gently dancing cloak of green.
Leaves to block the sun and the rain, and tendrils of green to please the eye.

So it goes with myself.
There are hard things, ugly things deep inside of me.
I am that old, cobbled-together lean-to, with nothing to say in my favor.
This heart of mine is nobody's dream house, no humble, homey cottage, no sought-after refuge.

But then one day I heard a knock.
I peered through a crack in my creaky door and saw One who wanted to come inside,
to meet me right where I was: hidden away, off the beaten path, in a hovel next to a dirty ditch.
I did no more than say yes.
And He came.
He planted those tiny shoots and covered my brokenness, my empty places, with His robe of righteousness.

I am not famous.
Not many people even know I exist.
In the scope of this earth, I'm no one important.
But I pray that by God's grace, I can stand along a quiet path, near the edge of a field, and offer a bit of Truth, Hope, and Beauty to those who pass by....
a beautiful vine-covered shanty.


  1. You've been that to me today - God bless you

  2. It strikes me so weird when you say you are not famous and that hardly anyone knows you. I'm so glad God somehow got me to your blog. You are famous to me. I can't tell you how much I love your style of writing and how you make God so real. And the memories I get while reading. I remember one time my mom couldn't remember if we were to turn to the left or the right, like you in this blog. We'd never been there before, but I remembered the way back even though I was only 6. And your shanty made of boards and odds and ends. One lady my uncle knew, who later became my aunt, built her own little house from left over boards and things after her first husband died with no insurance and left her with 2 children. Eventually people started seeing her building away using left overs, and started dropping off lumber, buckets of nails, cans of paint, wall paper, etc., at the end of her driveway. The stories were exciting to my young mind about God's provision. We knew she had only 3 plates and yet she had invited us over for cake to see her partially finished house, because she had finally been able to move in. My mom wanted to get her some plates/cups/saucers as a house warming gift (because she thought we'd be there all night with our big family sharing those 3 dishes and all the washing and rewashing she'd have to do.) We saw some in a discounted bin in a store, but no 2 sets matched, except a set we thought were rather ugly, but mom wanted them to be a matching set, so we got them. When my aunt saw them and took them into her kitchen, she screamed and said, "Come look!" They matched the trim that someone had given her for the kitchen! Exactly! "How did you know?" she asked. (We didn't.) Even though we had to take turns looking in her kitchen, since only 1 of us fit at a time, I was stunned that they were the Very Same Pattern. God had certainly provided something we saw as ugly to be beautiful to her. Your work carries me along in God. I just love knowing you! Thank You, God! Thank You, God!

    1. Thank you for sharing your story with me today. What a good God we serve, Who always knows exactly what is needed ~ right down to the ugly beautiful dishes to bless a soul trusting God's provision. Your words have been an encouragement to me.

  3. Hi Patty..This is so beautiful. Reading this and looking through the pictures there.... You and your family are so beautiful. You have another follower...Actually I've been a follower of yours ever since I can remember. Your work is amazing. Thank you for helping me remember.