Project beauty

Believing in the power of beautiful creations

Home League ladies from Bungoma cleaning up the community market.

Home League ladies from Bungoma cleaning up the community market.

By Jolene Hodder

The alarm sounded. I quickly sat up, crawled out from underneath the mosquito net, stretched my arms to the ceiling, and declared, “Today, I start project beauty!” My husband Ken chuckled as he turned over, but I leapt from my bed and marched out of the room.

We are in the dry season, which is perhaps the least attractive time of year in Kenya. Everything, and I mean everything, is covered in brown dust. Plants are either dormant or dying, and every insect known to science is searching for moisture.

You could say that there’s been a lot of ugliness in our lives over the past few weeks. Ken came home and proudly announced he had found a “user friendly” rattrap at the market for our home. He tried to show me how it worked, but I had absolutely no interest.

One of our accepted candidates recently failed to report to the training college, and she’s still missing. Her parents, her fiance, and her corps family have no idea what happened to her. She has simply vanished.

In order to promote road safety, the authorities in Kakamega County have placed a wrecked vehicle on a high platform in the middle of town. While I understand their good intentions, this has been a problem for me in two ways. First, that particular car was the one in which one of our corps leaders was riding when it was struck by an out-of-control lorry. He did not survive. Second, since the car was placed on its pedestal, people have been stripping it for parts. That doesn’t help the message.

On top of all that, we have to deal with the usual amount of difficult news that reaches our offices every day.

The Lord has reminded me in my prayers this morning of a quote from Elsie de Wolfe, the woman credited with turning interior design into a profession: “I am going to make everything around me beautiful. That will be my life.”

To that I say, amen! After all, when the Lord created the world, he started with chaos and had to bring order to it. He took a shapeless mass and created a beautiful backdrop for our lives. And then, he performed the same beautiful miracle in our hearts.

So it’s clear to me that our God believes in beauty and in its power. Beauty draws you in, and says all is well. It comforts and inspires. And as children made in his image, shouldn’t we create lovely things too? We all do it differently, of course, because we all have different gifts. But every single one of us can be a creator of beauty in one way or another.

So as I cleaned my home, gave myself a facial, and painted my nails yesterday as part of project beauty, I also took a moment to make a surprise tea for the guards on our compound. I prepared a gift for a young mother in need, and I wrote a letter of encouragement.

Beautiful. And powerful.

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