What’s the big deal about repurposing?

Some of you may know that my dream house would be a sturdy, old barn repurposed into an open-beamed, warm, welcoming home. With mountain views.


Photo: Houzz.com


Yesterday, I spoke to a group of lovely ladies in Meridian, Idaho, about re-purposeful living after loss.

I had browsed through a couple of junk stores back at home with the plan to take a repurposed item with me — as a door prize and an illustration of the message.

On a dusty bottom shelf at a secondhand store—buried beneath old wooden picture frames—I found a sturdy wooden tray with handles cut out of the sides. Ooh, I think I can make something out of this.


The tray was spray-painted black and roughed up a bit with sandpaper. A scrap of burlap was glued to the bottom, and with twine laced across the front, the tray was transformed into a photo box where photos and cards and favorite quotes can be easily interchanged.



At yesterday’s gathering, we talked about loss and sorrow and how we live in a broken world of broken dreams. Which means many of us are going to lose the people we love to cancer or drugs or miscarriage or divorce. And we’re going to lose our jobs and our investments and our homes to financial reversals or natural disasters. And we may lose a cherished way of life, and our sense of purpose and meaning.

But what if God could pick up the shatters of our broken hearts and broken dreams and create something new and useful and gorgeous again?

He can.

And so the barn. It’s not that I want to live in a house that looks like a barn; it’s that I want to live in a repurposeful place.

A place that was once useful but, in time, was no longer needed, was no longer cared for, was left alone, started falling apart.

And I want to fill this repurposeful home with family and friends and strangers. And I want all the guests to be reminded that something new and gorgeous can come of their lives at a time when they had given up hope.

I want to be a Hope Giver living in a hope-giving place.


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  1. Gary Bonacker

    Hello, Marlys –
    A wonderful piece you have written.
    Thank you for that.
    I am going through some tough times right now.
    I am not very religious but I do believe in angels and you are one of them.
    Be well,
    Gary B.

    • Oh, Gary, I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through a hard time … as if you haven’t had enough hard things pile up on top of cancer. You’re still one of my heroes. Let’s talk when I get back in town. Or rather, you talk and I’ll listen. Love and prayers.

  2. Marlane

    What a beautiful illustration, thank you my friend for this wonderful insight!

  3. Tanya

    I can see you in a fixer upper place filled with love, friends, light, life….God CAN DO EVERYTHING! I enjoyed hearing the guest pastor at today’s service. He’s my favorite so far! I love your energy, Marlys…and so enjoy reading your
    weekly blog!

  4. Nasus

    Thank you, Marlys, for the precious way you reach out, lift up, and bless others! May I add my care, concern, prayers, and several hugs to your wishes for your hero and mine, Gary B, whose comments are above.

  5. Cheryl White

    You are already halfway there – you are a Hope Giver. Now you just need the Hope Giving place! I could totally see you taking a deserted barn and making something beautiful out of it! Thanks for including me in one of the pics in your re-purposed memory box. I love that picture!

    • I love that picture, too, Cheryl! “Halfway there,” you said. I’d never thought of it like that, but what encouraging words. Are you “halfway there” to someplace you want to be?

  6. Kris Johnson

    I love this and I love you… ? I’m so sorry I couldn’t make it. I was quite a bit behind on some deadlines. A little farther than I had hoped. I love you ❤️ if they recorded it I’ll get it from Aunt Linnea ?.

  7. I love this! You’re the ultimate repurposer directing our hearts to the Divine Repurposer…by making memories with deliberate sprinkles of hopelets in every kind of “barn” we live in! I love that you find God-things in every discard, no matter how small! Hugses! I bet the Idaho women ate you up with a spoon… with chocolate sprinkles!

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