I recently spent four days in Austin, Texas living in a tiny house in a community of previously homeless humans.
I engaged with folks over meals, as I walked the streets with my morning coffee, around evening bonfires and ending my precious time there with a late night karaoke sing!
We shared our stories and became more aware of our commonness. A connectedness that meanders through joy and pain and healing, sometimes separating friends and families and unexpectedly creating new ones.
A strength of character grown through struggle…Community!
We all need a community of people we surround ourselves with – those that know us and love us anyway. Those without expectations. Those who give and love unconditionally.
A family…A Community!
As the homeless are housed here in Lakeland they are separated from their community and too easily become isolated, depressed and hopeless.
Community First Village in Austin, Texas has created a beautiful place of community. A place to learn to live, an opportunity for healing and an atmosphere of love.
There’s much to learn walking the streets in this neighborhood, much to learn sharing the studio with the women in my community.
This community is a lesson in Courage!
“We breathe, we pulse, we regenerate…Our hearts beat, our minds create, our souls ingest…37 seconds well used is a lifetime!” Mr. Magorium
Gospel Inc./RePurpose Art Studio Receives Grant To Train Women in Sewing
Lakeland, FL – Gospel Inc./RePurpose Art Studio is pleased to announce it was awarded an Impact Polk grant from the George W. Jenkins Fund within the GiveWell Community Foundation for its Job Training Internship program.
The three-month Job Training Internship will train four homeless and low-income women with sewing skills to encourage creativity and increase their marketability in the workforce. The grant also provides a wage to the women engaged in the program. “When women learn a marketable skill, they use it to the betterment of themselves, their families, and their communities,” says Connie Lutter, Director of the RePuprose Art Studio. “Especially when it is something they love!” The women will learn machine and hand sewing skills that are sought after in the community, providing them training in alterations, garment, and accessory construction with an opportunity for continued knowledge and experience in upholstery reconstruction.
Interns: Chris Calkins, Terry Yatzook, Erica Smith, Elsie Felix.
About RePurpose Art Studio…“Our desire is to engage our women in discovering marketable skills and courage, leading to employment opportunities, in a creative and loving space.”
About Impact Polk 2017…Impact Polk is an annual grant program of the GiveWell Community Foundation with the goal of addressing community needs throughout Polk County. #ImpactPolk
I met Brian Seeley of Gospel Inc. in September 2016 at Grace City Church where I had been attending since March. I came to Grace City with my wife in a difficult season. We were searching for rest in the midst of a difficult engagement and the sudden loss of my then fiancee’s father. We came broken, looking for grace, community, answers, friends…trying to find the Jesus we felt we were drifting away from. At the time, I didn’t realize how much was going to change for me from that introduction- looking back, I can see how badly I needed it.
Grace City teamed up with Gospel Inc. to help with their Monday night Bible study on The Person of Jesus (Paul Miller) and build relationship with the men coming through the halfway house. Brian and I began chatting about Gospel Inc., the work he is doing at the halfway house and with the homeless community here in Lakeland. As Brian filled me in on the heart and vision of the ministry, I was getting more excited to join in on what Jesus was doing through Gospel Inc. in the lives of these men.
The next Monday I joined several guys from Grace City and met 5 men living at the halfway house to talk about Jesus. Some of these men came from prison, some from local homeless ministries, some straight out of rehab. My first thoughts were, in a pompous, prideful tone, “this is a different crowd than the guys I’m used to running with.” A lot of these men have damaged the relationships they care most about because of their addiction, the secrecy, the lies and the betrayal that often come with it. Some of these men think they know who Jesus is, some of them are confused and offended by who He claims to be, but on Monday night we all came searching to understand more. I came that Monday thinking I had something to offer these men who had given up everything for addiction.
On the Mondays that followed, as we began to dive into the study on how Jesus lived, my heart began to feel compassion and I was able to relate to the very same men I so easily judged. We learned of Jesus’ heartfelt care, His honesty, His sacrifice, and ultimately His glory. Our stories, common struggles, and similar pain began to unite us more every week. After a short time, I looked forward to joining these guys on Monday nights and related to everything they feel and are tempted by in my own life. Where I might turn to money, pride, judgment or consumerism in my brokenness, these guys turn to drugs and alcohol. We’re walking together side-by-side working through the grief of loss and confusion of hurt. Together we’re learning to trust Jesus and live more like the God the Scriptures reveal, while we look for hope and the peace that Jesus promises in our circumstances.
I haven’t missed a Monday night since I met Brian in September. These relationships have taught me the value of living in authenticity and admitting and embracing my brokenness while boldly claiming God’s grace over my life. It’s been invaluable to learn more about Jesus and walk through life with guys who don’t have anything to prove to anyone. It has freed me to admit my failures and seek to understand others’ mistakes. Over the last 8 months, I’ve learned that we all come broken and looking for grace, community, answers, friends…trying to find the Jesus we feel we are drifting away from.
If you’re broken like us and looking for Jesus, we would love to have you join us on Monday nights here in Lakeland. Contact Gospel Inc for more details.
“Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”
#1 of The Four Agreements – Don Miguel Ruiz
To agree with this is more challenging than it sounds at the first read. For me, it is encompassed in the internal chatter of should of’s, would of’s and could of’s that could easily keep me locked up. The recognition of the lie in those negative chants are life changing. Having the space to take that energy and focus it toward truth and love…to recognize the truth and love that lives inside of us and embrace it as it emerges into beautiful expressions of our true self! I love this space!
As we prepare to begin sewing classes on June 2nd, we have been traveling down memory lane creating amazing string art and decoupage projects. From there, the ladies have moved into mixed media creations using the newly acquired crafty skills, adding meaningful quotes, buttons, fabric, beads and old jewelry!
There are so many wonderful people talking about Repurpose Art Studio… garden clubs, churches, neighbors and market friends! Donations are always appreciated and repurposed into wonderful pieces of love. Thank you for hearing the small voice of God whispering our name as you clean out your craft spaces!!
Sending a shout out for a few essentials! We need ironing boards and a few more sewing chairs. There were four chairs donated a while back that are perfect for the sewing station!
This is an Ikea chair named Alrik…it is perfect for wheeling around the sewing center! We are in need of 4 more to finish equipping our lovely 16′ conference table. They run $21.99 at Ikea online!! Thanks in advance!
Please stop by and create with us…Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1-4. If you’d like to come see our lovely creative space, I’d be thrilled to show you around!
Thank you to everyone out there who keep us covered in prayer, keep our hands busy with materials and keep our hearts engaged in fellowship!
May Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. As a child I would weave paper baskets, pick handfuls of our neighbors flowers and re-gift them…sneaking up quietly to the front door, depositing the basket on the doorknob, knocking real hard and running away really fast. Hidden behind a bush, I’d sit and watch as “Aunt Vi” would open the door and seem so surprised to find a May Day basket hanging on her door.
Once the grandchildren came to stay with us we would create all sorts of containers to hold flowers, cut or planted or dirt and seeds, from handkerchiefs to tea cups. They, in turn, would sneak, knock and run to about 15 of our friends and neighbors homes delivering May Day Baskets. One May Day delivery, in particular, will stay with me forever. Simon was about 4 years old. This beautiful white haired, blue eyed boy sneaked up to our only “difficult” neighbor’s house. He knocked and ran and waited…nothing. Sneaked, knocked, ran and waited…still nothing. So, he went and took the basket from the front door and we went around back. Our neighbor met us at the back door spitting mad and ready to attack. He then saw Simon holding a lovely basket of flowers out to him, greeting him with, “Happy May Day!” From that moment forward, we had no more “difficult” neighbors!
On this lovely May 1st morning I wish you love.
Love that brings joy to little children.
Love that fills Grammas to overflowing.
Love that melts hearts.
To use God in your life is to bring into manifestation all harmony, beauty, joy and happiness.
The Two Listeners/God Calling
The joy of watching Fred come into existence from caring, creative hearts to encourage a fellow traveler and gardener. Fred now stands proudly in the newly planted Talbot House garden. Love has many faces at Repurpose Studio.
The faces in the studio change, but the heart of the Father makes it’s way through this space through avenues unexpected. Several of our ladies have moved on to employment, others back to their homes and some back to the streets. Celebrating the joy of growth and recovery and sitting with the uncertainty, frustration and sadness of hopes unfulfilled goes hand in hand here. Love is the common thread that weaves itself through it all!
Legacy Christian Church invited Repurpose Art Studio to display some of our creative efforts at their Easter Sunday Art Show. Thank you Sara for the opportunity to promote our women and their work.
Through the very generous gifts of many loving people in the community and beyond, our goal of 12 sewing machines has been reached and our classes will begin in May. The excitement has been building and we are thrilled to have so many of our ladies interested in learning a new skill, making them marketable in the community.
Fabric has been our media for spring, creating flowers on stems and on magnets for May Day and for Mother’s Day as corsages. It never ceases to amaze me how outdated fabric can get new life, becoming beautifully remade into a purpose discovered only after someone discarded it. Sounds like life renewed!
This past Saturday, Grace City Church blessed Gospel Inc., Repurpose Art Studio and Lighthouse Ministry with a large group of men, women and children willing and excited to step out in the neighborhood and put their hearts and hands to work. Thank you to all involved for your continued generosity in the community and this ministry.
Dear friends, I’m finding, after four long months in this position, that we are a conduit. Nothing more, nothing less… A space that allows the flow of humanity’s suffering and inexplicable joy into a space of peace and healing. We are not a soup kitchen, there are places in this neighborhood that do that really well. We feed the creative spirit. We are not a Bible Study. There are tremendous classes that teach the Scriptures daily throughout the city. We teach acceptance and non-judgement. We are not a church. There are over 50 churches throughout Lakeland that preach their doctrine. What we do…is love, unconditional, unrestricted, unashamed…love. Come join us!
It’s been a couple weeks full of anticipation, which often times brings with it an underlying sense of uncertainty, expectation and frustration. We have several ladies looking for work, and due to the nature of their situation, the positions are very few and very far between. These women have overcome, they are strong and resilient and capable of great things! Please continue to lift us and our women up in prayer, for health, employment and happiness! Thanks for all you do to keep us creating new lives!
We are moved into our newly renovated studio, just in time to add four new neighbors to our lovely group of remarkably brave women!
I received this message from one of our new ladies this week. “…I came home so excited and encouraged which is, sad to say, not always my norm. I felt so “in tune” with EVERYTHING there…it felt like, as they say, “I found my peeps.” I felt acceptance which has not been happening for 3 years… I was expecting a fun time and all, but not on the level I did… I felt like I made new friends today.”
We are all breathing in deeply the open inviting space. We have all been creating originally designed fabric flowers for the Lakeland Downtown Farmer’s Market April 8th.
Remember there are several opportunities to gift these darling creations over the next months! Come by to see us!
May Day, May 1st – May Day Flowers for Filling Baskets!
Mother’s Day, May 14th – Corsages for Moms and Grandmas!
We were invited to set up our market wares at the Grasslands Craft and Art Fair this past weekend. It was such a wonderful opportunity to speak to locals and vacationers about our studio and the women we get to work/play/create with.
We have been blessed with a few generous donations for our Sewing Machine Project. Last week we ordered 4 of the wish-listed 10 Singer Heavy Duty 4423 Sewing Machines we are planning on to fully set up our studio! We are hoping to begin our sewing classes within the next couple weeks. We have several of our women excited about learning a trade that will serve them well in providing an opportunity for employment.
We are almost sold out of our really cute aprons that are made from men’s button-down shirts.
We need shirts!
Any cotton blend shirt works well, but we would love some bright colors for summer!
Call or stop by the studio. You are always welcome to join us and share in our creative space!
“This is the power of gathering: it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful: in a word, more alive.” Alice Waters
We enjoyed our first, First Friday cultural meal gathering in March. Our dear friend Letty prepared a Puerto Rican Fiesta of Rice with Gandules, Fricase dePollo and Tostones! We sampled a variety of tropical juices and mavi, a sweet tea specific to Puerto Rico. The dishes were deliciously full of garlic and cilantro!
I had always heard that if you didn’t care for a typical cultural dish, it wasn’t prepared correctly…I can honestly say that any plantain I had ever eaten in the past was NOT properly prepared, because I loved these Tostones!
We had been preparing for Spring Obsession and Lakeland’s Farmer’s Market the second Saturday of March by creating notecards from watercolors and colored paper. The proceeds going toward our project of purchasing sewing machines to begin sewing classes beginning in April! We have a few local boutiques preparing positions for our trained seamstresses!
Our created pieces are now set up and available in our Gathering Space at 310 Plum Street.
You don’t need to wait for the market days to pick up a card, a lovely piece of jewelry or any variety of crafty items.
Our shop is honor based. Prices are posted and a basket “drop box” sits on the ironing board. The doors are generally secured, so call before coming to shop and ring the bell!
Phone:863-869-1623 / 863-513-5001.
Donation basket sets on the ironing board. Donations gladly accepted!
After a very busy weekend with our ladies, neighbors and a wonderful group of workers from Oasis Church, our gathering space and studio was ready to set up for our Mass Market Grand Opening Bonanza!
Josh “Bump” Galletta gifted us with a lovely mural in our entryway.
The wonderful ceiling was completed, the picture rail was established for hanging art, moulding painted, shelves built, walls built, delicious food created and new friendships developed.Thank you to everyone involved!
We are so grateful for our fabulous facilitator Joyce. She is unwavering generous with her time, her talents and love for us all at RePurpose Art Studio.
Over the past several months I have been reading and soaking in the words of, “A Fearless Heart: how the courage to be compassionate can transform our lives” by Thupten Jinpa. One of the practices in the book is repeating, “Just like me, all others aspire to happiness and desire to avoid suffering.” The human connection… Just like me!
During my very short time here at Repurpose Art Studio I have witnessed compassion at work in the smallest of gestures to the moving of mountains! The practicing of compassion takes on life and breath here. The out-workings of compassion are subtle at times, but if you are still and watch…the joy bursts forth from the faces of our women as an inward smile or a confident turn of their head as they survey the final brushstroke on a notecard!
We have been joyfully preparing for “Spring Obsession” this Saturday, March 11th and our table at the Downtown Farmer’s Market. The ladies have been practicing watercolor techniques and being creative with adding color and texture to the lovely Spring note cards we will be showcasing this month at the market. Our aprons and jewelry will be available as usual. The proceeds from the market will go towards a specific project to purchase 10 basic, heavy-duty Singer sewing machines. We have several job opportunities arranged for our women who will be trained on the machines, so we are anxious for the current work to be accomplished so they can begin a new creative endeavor that will increase their marketable skills!
We would appreciate any donation towards this project. Thank you in advance for your generosity!
We are preparing for a workday this Saturday as well. We will have college students and neighbors here moving furniture, painting the last bit of moulding in our studio, building shelving in our cabinets to organize our supplies and creating a “Gallery” in our gathering space to display artwork.
Then comes the “fun” part…settling into our newly renovated Studio! The dream is becoming reality. We will have a spacious studio with sturdy tables for sewing machines, a cutting table and a lovely, vintage, wooden ironing board! The painting center will have tables, easels and drawing boards with a plethora of supplies to inspire creative play that we all so dearly need, no matter your age! For our handcrafters, we will find a couple comfortable chairs for hunkering down in and keeping the fingers full of threads and yarns.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
A week of discovering creative talents that have been hidden.
A week of discovering courage, giving strength to boldly go…
A week of discovering friendships built on trust and a common sisterhood
The renovation of the studio is almost complete. Now, we begin the deliberate equipping of the beautiful space. We plan on filling it with large, sturdy tables and an abundance of comfortable, practical chairs for sewing, jewelry making, handcrafts and painting. Yes, I did use those two words in the same context to describe chairs! It is possible!
Your prayers are especially appreciated in covering us women in love, courage and strength for the day.
We are grateful for our very handy man Art, who works to keep Repurpose Art Studio moving forward. A sincere thank you to Trinity Presbyterian Church for donating furniture to help make this space inviting and functional. Thank you to the multitude of people who have given of themselves and their wealth, be it financial or material…you provide the opportunity to keep our hearts full and our hands busy here at the studio.
We had the pleasure of having gentlemen from the Ledger visit the Studio on Wednesday. Several of our women had the opportunity to share the stories of their lives and their time here at Repurpose. The photographer snapped photos of watercolors moving on paper, beads strung on string and threads cross-stitched onto cloth. They graciously spent time on their knees picking up spilled beads from a necklace that slipped from Allie’s fingers. They shared in our time together as if they had all day. Hoping to see them again once we are settled in our new space. It was truly a pleasure.
Preparing our cherry blossom tree and watercolor note cards for Spring Obsession at the Downtown Farmers Market on March 11! Our ladies didn’t know how talented they are.