The Lavender Pavilion – First Steps

For almost two years, Bruce and I used this blog to chronicle our time of transition, from leaving our ministries in California, to our first seven months of life here in Oregon.  And then we took a break from blogging.  Now, after more than a year, it seems appropriate to once again share about our life and ministry here in Oregon, with a particular emphasis on an unfolding dream:  a place of beauty and rest, where women can come for moments of spiritual renewal.    

In a blog post written by Bruce in 2009 (“My Dreams for Julie, posted 12/12/2009), he shared about my call to pastoral ministry, shaped through the many years of service at our church in Southern California, and confirmed through all that took place during our Sabbatical.  He said he had dreams for me, and his fervent prayer was that these dreams would come to pass, so that I could use my gifts and talents for Kingdom purposes.

One of those dreams was to create a gathering place.  A room of quietness and beauty, where I could meet with women individually and in groups.  Where I could lead women through times of spiritual refreshment.  Where I could teach women how to have meaningful times of personal reflection, Scripture contemplation, and prayer.   His dreams also included a place where I could write devotional articles that would address the deepest needs of women; a way to share my heart for ministry through the written word. 

Needless to say, it meant a great deal to have my husband articulate this prayer of dreams that were important to me.   

Seven months later I wrote a blog titled “Pursuing A God-Sized Dream” (posted 07/16/2010).   I acknowledged the frenetic pace which I had lived for so many years, and the realization that many others – particularly women – do the same thing.  Because of my concerns, I had an idea to create a place for women to relax, experience beauty and serenity, and draw closer to God. 

But this idea never took on any concrete form.  It just continued to be a vague, unformed concept that I might pursue someday.   The months passed and these dreams simmered.  They were ever present, but there was little change or activity. 

And then, one day in April of 2010, God begin pouring plans – specific and concrete plans – into my mind.  For the first time, the dreams started to become real as God gave me a clear vision.  A vision of prayer rooms, restful gardens, and colors.  A vision to touch the hearts and souls of women. 

Since that day, the Lord has continued to feed me details about how to bring this vision to life.  And – as Bruce has prayed with me about these details - he has agreed with me that this is a vision from God. 

And so the months have passed.  We started our life here in Oregon, renting a 100-year old farmhouse from a member of our congregation.  We quickly fell in love with the stately trees, and the wrap-around porch.  This place speaks of history, and beauty, with many squirrels feasting on our nuts, and our sweet neighbor’s outdoor bunny, Farnsworth, hopping from pasture to orchard, and back.  After almost two years of waiting, and praying, we believed it was time to buy this home and property; and to begin building “The Lavender Pavilion”. 

To that end, Bruce has been clearing the blackberries out of the pasture, and uprooting the fence posts, to create a space that ultimately will become a large prayer garden.  At the moment, it is just a large and empty pasture…about 1/3 of an acre…but we can visualize an all-seasons garden with meandering walkways, benches, fountains, and reflecting pools.  A place to come and be still in the midst of this frenetic world.  A place to sit for a few minutes or an afternoon and spend time with the Lord. 

We are not sure of all the steps that need to be taken, but we are aware of many of them…and they seem daunting.  Energy, time, money will be required along the way, and we do not know how these pieces will fall into place.  But God has continued to lay this vision on our hearts – through our move, through transitions, through various jobs, and seasons.   And the vision becomes increasingly clear with each passing day. 

We can see it.  So stepping out in faith…even before the pasture is ready for planting…we purchased our first two trees: Japanese Maples.  Our hope is that these will flank the entryway to the garden, welcoming those who come seeking rest in the presence of God. 

So as we take each step, in faith, we simply trust that God will reveal the step after that… and the step after that.  

God planted this dream in my soul more than two years ago and now I can see it so clearly in my mind.  And now we are taking the first steps to make this dream a reality.  Thank you, Lord.   

-      Julie

Moving Forward

Our move here to Oregon was truly a life-changing event.  A new church and new jobs.  A completely new environment, with entirely new flora and fauna and weather patterns.  New friends.  New stores. 

We truly “started over”. 

We’ve immersed ourselves in our new life here in the southern end of the Willamette Valley, and it has been consuming as we get to know people and places and culture.  As a result of these demands on our time, we took an extended break from blogging.   

But we are now moving forward.   

We are re-starting this blog and we plan to post again on a more consistent basis.  We’ll be writing about different aspects of faith in this new season of life.  And we’ll be updating you about Julie’s unfolding vision for The Lavender Pavilion.  God gave her this vision more than two years ago…in our former home…but it seems that the vision is for this place and this time.  We do not yet know how long it will take to implement and become a reality, but we will move forward one step at a time and see what God brings about.

- Bruce