Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Not So Secret...Secret Garden

a secret garden

Sometimes you have friends whose company is just plain fun. 

And sometimes you have friends that you have walked through dark & difficult times with. 

Our friends Andrew and Sara fit both of those categories for Sam and I.

Over a decade ago, we volunteered at the same summer youth camp together. Now we live in the same city, go to the same church, each have a handful of kiddos...have laughed together, stayed up late at night playing board games together and have wept deeply together so much so that it hurts. 

All of those things have made our friendship stronger. 

I have also been watching this family closely, for years, as they live out community. The kind of community where you don't just invite someone over for a meal but invite a handful of people to live with you...LIVE with you! 

Break bread with you...see you at your highest moments and your lowest. 

It is something that I hope to write more about in the coming months. While we've never fully experienced community in that way, we have had someone living or staying in our home for much of our married life.

In fact, I would even say that I am who I am today because of those experiences. 

Having people live with you isn't neat and tidy. You don't get to clean everything up pretty and have plenty of advance notice to vacuum and dust before company comes over. But you say, this is me.

This is me allowing God to transform every part of me.

And you work at it earnestly. 

And you say, this is what it looks like in the process.

We will go deeper on that topic, sometime soon...I promise. (Sara writes beautifully about her journey, here.)

But today I wanted to take you on a tour through Andrew and Sara's community garden. 

I immediately wanted to call it a "secret garden" because it makes me think of the movie. But there is simply nothing secret about it. 

Their home is always open to others...always

It is one of the most welcoming places on the planet. 

A few years ago they moved into a beautiful, old Victorian home in Minneapolis. It is the kind of house where you go from one parlor to the next and they have the most glorious vintage Christmas parties with cut out paper snowflakes and strands of popcorn and dried cranberries around the tree and...

I digress. 

The city skyline is literally just a hop, skip and jump away.

In fact, the home that they moved into is directly next door to their good friends, Jon and Bliss. Almost immediately after moving in the two families decided to open up their connecting yards to enlarge each family's outdoor space and create one larger community space. 

Brilliant, I say.

Together they have created an outdoor space that is simply enchanting, welcoming and a place to gather. 

Would you like to see it?!?

Come on in...

First of all, you should know that Sara will tell you that she isn't a professional gardener, but she certainly has me fooled. It is a joy to see someone come alive by doing what they love...spending hours in the dirt while soaking up huge amounts of vitamin D!

Sara loves making things beautiful.

Recently I spent one morning snapping pictures of her yard and then we sat and talked. We talked about life and kids and I enjoyed every minute, I almost don't know where to start you first.

But perhaps I should start with the bees.

Jon and Bliss, next door, have two children and a swarm of bees. 

In fact, part of their backyard is sectioned off with a special enclosed space for the bees to call home. There is something so fascinating to me about these bees. Perhaps it is because of their beautiful haven that Bliss created that just draws me in, or that bee keeping is such a mystery to me, or that honey is simply delightful. 

I just had a conversation with some friends about bees. I began it by explaining that I would probably ask a silly question...but I really know nothing about bees: "Do they actually live through a MN winter?"

I could literally stand at the gate of the bee yard for hours gazing in and watching...

just watching.

In fact, while I was watching the bees move around there were butterflies coming and going and lily pads to glance at.

This...this is a Minnesota summer to perfection. 

Back at the front of the house you'll find a path that leads you directly to the front porch.

And the front porch is filled with chairs to rest on. 

Not just one or two but enough chairs for a gathering. 

Not too long ago a few of us ladies met Sara on her front porch after work was done & kids were tucked in bed.

We sat there chatting about life as the cars and people strolled by. It was something that I definitely want to do again. Talking about life with other women is so good for the soul. It is about hearing each other's stories and experiences and learning and growing...together. 

Moving back to the backyard you'll find all sorts of places to stop and rest a while.

A hammock...

A swing...

There is even space for lots of friends to gather and eat.

These two connected homes take having a weekly potluck to a whole different level!

As I first pulled up to Sara's house she was cutting flowers straight out of her garden to place in the mason jars.

Straight out of her garden...if I did that all of my flowers would be gone.

Like, totally gone. :-)

While they have beauty around every corner, it is their heart for sharing their space with others that makes my heart skip a beat. It isn't just about creating a beautiful space, sitting alone in it and watching the clouds roll by.

For them, it is about inviting others in.

Just to name a few invitations...they have had weddings, numerous birthday parties, family gatherings, community potlucks, harvest parties, vintage Christmas parties and even invited kids from the neighborhood to join them for some food & fun one week not too long ago.

And since their family has continued to grow and expand, so has their vision for having a fun outdoor space...not just for their kids but for their community.

The people that come and share life with them.

A pirate ship...how cool is that?!?

It kind of makes me dream of being seven again.

Whether you want to climb a pirate ship, be mesmerized by bees, swing in the hammock, sit in the shade, eat yummy food from a weekly potluck, roast some marshmallows or share a cup of tea with a cherished friend...they have you covered. :-)

And it's not just about finding such a beautiful and rare outdoor space in the city...

But about the company that you get to share it with, when you do.

I believe that life is meant to be real, celebrated, shared, & enjoyed.

And this home does those four things well...really, really well.
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