Summer Series

Beautiful Things

I was fresh out of middle school when I was invited to travel to the United Kingdom with a group of students from area schools.  It was the first time I travelled outside of the continental United States, and it forever shaped me into what you would call a ‘free-spirit’ when it comes to travel and living away from family.  I grew up with strong roots that tied me to my family and even stronger connection to my church community.  I believe the freedom I felt to venture into the world was a result of the strong support I experienced from those around me.  They believed in my abilities and thus, I carried their confidence with me. I would continue this trend into college and beyond, moving far from friends and family, always knowing I had a soft place to land whenever I returned home.  

In all my wanderings, I have practiced what I like to call “place-making”.  What I think of as the art of transforming whatever space I am given; a dorm room, a bedroom, an apartment, a car, a cubicle, a home… into a sanctuary.  Now, I am no theologian, but I hope, that this is one of the small ways I carry the character of Christ in this world.  1 Corinthians 6:19 tells us that as believers, our own bodies are the interior places that the Lord has chosen to inhabit.  We can partner with Him in letting him beautify us through the process of sanctification.  In the same way, I love bringing beauty into the spaces I inhabit, thus, inviting whoever enters them to feel safe and seen, just by being there.
In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis writes, “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that House. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.  But presently, He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense.  What on earth is He up to?  The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought - of throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is making a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

 While I consider myself an enthusiastic amateur in this “place-making’, we have among us, someone who is truly expert.  Recently, I asked Melissa Adkins to share some thoughts on how opening the storefront location of her successful architectural salvage business “Inn the Attic” has allowed her to bring her unique mission of hospitality to our city.

Melissa’s store is designed to inspire and empower people to fully inhabit their own places.  She has curated a beautiful collection of found and restored items and furniture for this purpose.  While it would be unusual for her to have what we would think of as traditional gospel conversation with her customers on the regular, what Melissa does, is invite each person into her retail space by greeting with a smile and a word of encouragement to let them know they are seen and important.  She listens to her people well and does her best to meet overtly expressed needs as well as any that she observes covertly.  Her tools for impacting the kingdom are paying attention and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide her as she becomes salt and light through her warmth and gift for gathering beauty around her.

It is a powerful thing to use our God-given talents for His Glory and it is so easy to underestimate the impact that can have for the Kingdom.  What started for Melissa as a love of décor and restoration has been used to season the lives of so many with her kindness, welcoming spirit, and a treasure trove of beautiful things to adorn their homes with.  Her work is her worship, just as it can be for each of us, and by doing our work with excellence we can partner with God in His work too!

Ellie Hamilton
July 2022