Little House Updates and Virtual Photo Tour


My husband and I made some renovations to the Little House this past winter. My goals were to make the building more functional, spacious, and welcoming for myself and those who meet and gather here. This past week I returned to meeting with Directees in-person and it was such a joy to welcome people to this space again. 

If you live in Central PA and are interested in exploring Spiritual Direction, I'd love to have you stop by for a conversation. I also meet virtually with individuals from all over the world. Interested? Email me or comment below to begin your journey. (Chripczuk.Kelly@gmail.com)  

Virtual Tour:

This is the Little House, my private office and meeting space. It's situated just off our driveway, between our main house and garage. This spring, my husband built this bench and planters to make the entrance more welcoming. 


We were able to make a new seating area (see photo at beginning of post) by removing this old cooktop stove and the cabinet. For now, the wall and fan vent hole have been covered with plywood and painted one of my favorite shades of blue. The whole project was briefly stalled when we got distracted by the idea of placing a little round porthole window in that vent hole. My husband also built the ladder bookshelf (see photo above) that allows me to keep my hoard of papers and books near but not on top of my desk at all times. 




Another big space-saving change included removing a built-in desk that stuck out of this closet (below) and installing a closet door. The closet still offers storage for books and files, but removing the unused desktop bought me several square feet of floor space. It's hard to explain in pictures, but one dream I have for the future is removing this corner entirely and installing a loft bed for over-night guests. 



One of my favorite updates is the new writing desk my husband built (below). After using a child-sized desk for the past seven years, this spacious desk (with my own real office chair) comes as a welcome relief. Plus, I was able to paint it one of my favorite colors: Magenta!


I was planning to sell my old desk to cover the cost of some of these updates, but when I turned it around to move it out of the Little House, I noticed it makes a perfect little altar-table (see below). Now it's just right for a candle, glass of water, and poem or two. 


I also invested in new seating, finally updating my old, oversized Ikea chairs with these spiffy blue Mid-Century modern chairs (below) found on Facebook Marketplace. I'm still on the look-out for new-to-me seating that will be more comfortable than these current chairs. Currently, the Little House comfortably accommodates small groups of about 5-6 adults (message me for details about reserving the space for your group to use). 


This little corner (below) is the last thing visitors see when leaving the Little House and the painting sums up my heart completely. I love having this space for reading, writing, and praying. But most of all, I love offering a space of peace, joy, love, and rest in the midst of this busy overwhelming world. I hope you'll visit some day - in person or online. 


Questions to carry:

What kind of space does your heart long for? How do you reflect the spirit of God in the spaces you've been given?










In the Place Where You'd Rather Not Be


 

Learn from the things that are already in the place where you wish you were not. – Padraig O’Tuama in The Shelter, (p.9) 

A dead lightbulb has been sitting on our kitchen island for more than a week. Before that, it was in the light fixture above our dining room table for more than a month, dead. I unscrewed it in a burst of this room is too dark and depressing, I’m going to do something about it energy. That was at least a week ago and it now sits on the kitchen island waiting for someone who’s going to the store that sells the right kind of bulb to remember to take it along for comparison and finally buy a new one. 

That lightbulb is driving me crazy. 

That lightbulb is revealing things about the place I’m in that I would rather not know. 

(Don’t worry, the lightbulb isn’t telling me I’m a failure, it’s not that kind of bulb.) 

When I listen closely, though, the lightbulb has a lot to say. It tells me there’s a lot going on in my life right now. So much, that little details are certain to have to be let go. It invites me to pick my priorities, again. It helps me to see that having food on the table is a triumph in itself and one good conversation that invests in the future shines a light brighter than any bulb. 

I’m in a place I don’t want to be in, again. A place of many and much, a place of I didn’t realize we were going to have to deal with this now, but here we are in the middle of it anyway.  

Following Padraig’s advice, I feel my heart muscle stretch to open to this new place, this new challenge, this here and now. Once it's open, once I accept what is, I can begin to learn. I can begin to welcome the belief that even in this place, what we need is here. And so I begin by listening to the lightbulb, by “listening to the things that are already in the place where you wish you were not.”

Finding God in the Appliance Section of Lowes


 

It seems
a little scarier and
the sky may
be falling. But 
even we can
change
when
we discover
kindness and compassion.

- K. Chripczuk (found poetry)

As I mentioned in a recent video on my fb page, our washing machine died over the weekend. It was the last straw in a series of frustrating, flummoxing events. Although we have the money to replace it (thank you, thank you) it's not an easy fix and certainly not a project we would choose to tackle this week.  

All I wanted to do Monday morning was nestle into the Little House - to read, pray, practice yoga and return to my own sweet center. But what I needed to do was pick up my son's negative Covid test, drop him at school, and then look at our laundry closet and make decisions about stacking or not, used or new, and (because we live in an old, old house) which walls or outlets or plaster we might want to move or replace in the near or distant future. 

These were not conversations I wanted to be having, not decisions I wanted to be making. I didn't want to be googling "best dryer brands" or messaging people on fb marketplace for the dimensions of their used washing machines. And, even though a new washing machine is a miracle in itself, I really didn't want to be riding in the old red pickup truck to Home Depot (where everything was on back order) or Lowes. 

I struggled to see how God or spirituality might be part of the day I found myself in. But I tried to stay present. I tried to have patience with the sales woman who could not get us what we wanted when we wanted it. I tried to remember her humanity as well as my own. 

I tried, again, to find patience for the salesman at Lowes, who was a bit of a talker ,when all I wanted to know is which items were in stock. Looking back, I can see that it's hard to connect with people, hard to look them in the eye, when you don't want to be where you are, don't want to connect with your own circumstances or yourself.

I'm sure we seemed worried and stressed, but we lightened up a bit once a decision was made. The salesman got chattier still when he found out where we live and he somehow rambled on to the topic of pets, cats in particular. In the end, holding our receipt hostage, he told us a story about "the best cat we ever had," a small cat name Pickles. 

Pickles, he told us, was procured one year when he and his wife went to pick out a tree at a local Christmas tree farm. "There was a little girl wearing a long prairie-like dress," he said, gesturing with his hands as if to paint the dress before our eyes. "She had a little basket with a kitten in it." 

Again, he gestured with his working-man hands, creating an imaginary basket. Then, he placed one hand, palm up, in the center of his chest, just where someone would hold a wee kitten. 

"She was this little," he marveled. "She fit right in the palm of my hand. Except for her tail, hanging over the side. Except for her tail, she was just that big." Again, he gestured, showing with his other hand how the sweet little tail would have draped out over his wrist. Pickles lived to be 17 years old and, finally, just stopped eating. The vet told them to let her be, it was "just her time." 

Isn't it something, how that cat story showed up so unexpectedly right in the middle of our day? Our salesman went to a farm looking for a Christmas tree and came home with a kitten. We went to Lowes looking for a washing machine and came home with a love story. 

I watched the salesman's hands eyes as he wove his tale, they were cinnamon brown with gold flecks. Even though the day was harder than I wanted and, in some ways, the sky did feel like it was falling, this man and his story helped me find what I was looking for all along. Sometimes all it takes is a story and a stranger's eyes, to lead our hearts back home.