Doing Wonders with a Covered Wagon

We had the privilege to sit down with Buddy and Kathie Odom last week to see their beautiful Fountain City home and to get a glimpse into their philosophy of life at home and creating in and around it.

We've always begun our home interviews with the question, "What does home mean to you?" We weren't expecting the answer that followed but if you've spent any time with the Odoms, you know that an unexpected answer is what to expect.

"This isn't our home. We live in a covered wagon," says Buddy. What he means is; the house, the objects in it; they have meaning, they contain beauty, but that's not the make up of "home" to the Odoms. In a sense, the Odoms treat their house as a vessel, a place that fosters creativity, but they strongly believe that home truly is not made of material things. And Buddy says that Kathie "can do wonders with a covered wagon."

Kathie is an accomplished and well-known plein air artist but prior to diving into art as a career, she explained that in the past, her house had become a canvas because she wasn't yet practicing the art that she was created to do. "Plein air has given me the ability to create on canvas so it's lessened the intensity of the desire to rearrange and redecorate my home."

Kathie's Art Studio

Kathie's Art Studio

Speaking of Kathie's art, one extension of their house is the studio out back that Buddy built for Kathie. The walls, lovingly and cleverly made of horizontal cedar boards, are covered with her creations. Once a piece is ready for the wall, the nail goes right in and up goes her next creation. Just walking in you are taken to all sorts places: Seaside, the Smoky Mountains, farmers' markets, old barns in New England, quiet streams, and so much more. It's so obvious her gift with the brush gives her such great pleasure.  She gets giddy explaining her painting experiences as passers-by ask her about her work, pray for her, or ask to buy the work right off the easel. Tucked away behind a shelf were her countless awards, but it's clear the experience itself is her greatest reward. There wasn't a corner of the studio that we didn't love. Each item has a purpose and a home.

Back in the main house, Buddy and Kathie have a story for every item inside from countless pieces of furniture that belonged to various relatives, to a mason jar of dirt gathered from the garden of a previous home they lived in. Buddy and Kathie spent a good amount of time learning to dwell together in that garden in a season of life where they were empty nesters, a season where things in life were slowing down. Buddy added that each part of the garden reminded him to pray for a different person. They had weddings, rehearsal dinners, and birthday celebrations in the garden. The jar of dirt holds a lot of meaning, a lot of life. Buddy and Kathie have found in recent years that their current home has given them the opportunity to be creative together. They have learned to let themselves dream.

More than anything, the Odoms create a sense of comfort in their home. Kathie's desire is for her home to feel livable and not so perfect that you feel like you can't touch anything. Kathie talks about her relationship to their home and their belongings as "good ole friends", each item bringing back a flood of memories. They agree that it's best to only be 90% organized. Kathie recalled a time when she felt much more pressure to present her home in a certain way. She has found over time that she and her guests seem to enjoy her home more when it doesn't appear perfect.

As HYD spent time reflecting on this visit, we came away encouraged, educated, and grateful for our time spent on Gibbs Drive. The Odoms invite one in to a peaceful, ordered space that immediately takes the pressure off. It's obvious that homemaking is a team effort in their house and their gifts compliment one another beautifully. Buddy's attention to order and Kathie's love of color and texture allow for guests to make themselves at home no matter where their wagon lands.

HYD is excited to announce that Kathie will be hosting her "Cabin Fever Oil Painting Workshop" at The Hive in February 2016. This would make a fabulous Christmas gift for the painter on your list. For more information, just click here.

Letting go of the sippy cup

Sometimes we just don't see it coming. Life brings changes we never dreamed of. The changes can be full of hope and excitement with so many opportunities and possibilities in front us. Other times, these changes can be the opposite. The loss of a dream, a relationship, or even a life.

Recently, HYD had the great privilege of walking alongside a loving mama named Leanne who had to say goodbye to her baby son. Leanne also happens to be a dear childhood friend of mine. November 14, 2012, Baby Drew entered this world as a mighty warrior fighting for life from day one, 8 months later, he "passed peacefully from parent's arms into the arms of Jesus." I won't begin to share with you the journey this was for my friend & her family, you can only imagine. God never left their side, but the pain endured and the loss they continue to feel matches nothing I've ever known. If you're interested in reading more, here is the CaringBridge journal.

What I do want to share is what life is like two years later, when the room in their house that was to be Drew's still sits waiting for him to come home from the NICU at Vanderbilt that he never left. Drew's mama has tried for months to redo the room, find new purpose for it, and let go of some of Drew's baby gear that he'll never get to use. There are so many emotions attached to these items.

When we lose something precious, our grief process may have some similarities to others but truly it is always our own process. Drew's mom has clung desperately to her faith, her family, and her friends. Leanne's transparency through this journey has been immeasurable. It has also allowed countless others to confess the hard, ask for help, and find healing through inviting others to share their own burdens.

In this season, after all the CaringBridge readers are gone, the sympathy cards and casseroles don't come any longer, and most people think her family ought to be "back to normal," Drew's mom knows that the healing will never be full until she holds her boy again in Eternity. Until then, there's a room in her home that needs new life. This is where Help You Dwell comes in.

Leanne knew it was time. She was ready. She called and said she didn't know where to start.

Caroline and I got there at 10:30am and by 2pm, Drew's room was well on it's way to be a guest and family craft room for both she and her 9 year old son, Nate. 


The process was wonderful and hard at the same time. Drew's mom got to sift through some of the thoughtful, handmade gifts she's received along the way. HYD helped her make decisions about how to donate certain items and how to discard others. One of the hardest items to let go of were the sippy cups she had saved for him. Any of you who've had the blessing of multiple children have saved items from your older kids that the younger ones can use. This bag of sippy cups had been Nate's. All the other items she had saved could be donated or given to a friend to use, but sippy cups aren't really items to share with others. You really just use them for your own kids so she knew they would just have to go in the trash. It's amazing how so much of a person can be wrapped up in an object.

Listening, waiting, and gently encouraging her to let go of the bag of cups wasn't easy but it was good. She would agree. We moved on to the next items and by 2pm, the room was transformed into a place that allowed her to see all kinds of possibilities.

In closing, I want to also share a little of my friend's experience having Help You Dwell enter into this intimate & sensitive place to walk alongside her in this journey.  Upon writing this blog, I shared it with her before posting & she responded with her journal entry just after we had come. Here is an excerpt she gave me permission to share...

Yesterday, Taryn and Caroline came and helped me declutter Drew's room. It was an amazing, productive, and heart wrenching time. It felt like forever, but it was 4 hours. Funny how you lose a sense of time when you're in that kind of space. (at one point, I commented that cleaning out spaces seems to go a lot faster on HGTV) I was so anxious leading up to our time and asked so many to pray for that time. God was faithful to be there. He gave me a willing spirit to get rid of stuff and to stay on task. He also blessed me with 2 precious sisters to walk with me in this process. What a gift!!
Several times since they left, I have gone into Drew's room and just enjoyed the space. It's open and mostly organized. (there are still boxes to go through, but they are in the basement and out of sight... this could be dangerous. You know, out of sight. Out of mind.) I love the space and the reward of having purged so much stuff yesterday. However, I know the room isn't finished. We began the day yesterday discussing what the space should be. I LOVE, LOVE that Help You Dwell's goal is to make spaces functional and to bring purpose to a room.

Caroline and I know that when we enter someone's home or even workspace, we often come across the parts of our clients' spaces that stay hidden. We expect to hear stories although they're never required. And always, there is no judgement on our part. We expect a mess, that's why you called us in the first place. 

Taryn, Leanne, Caroline

Taryn, Leanne, Caroline

How a little organization can lead to a great party

Photo by Adam Brimer

Photo by Adam Brimer

So... round one of the HYD blog should start off with a little celebration, don't cha think??  We do!

We've put together a little list of ideas to help you host a great get together.  You can celebrate along with us!  Make it big, make it small, planning ahead & having a few things in place will help you enjoy your guests throughout the shindig.

  •  The warm weather is in your favor.  You can now use indoor & outdoor space so be creative, move indoor stuff out to jazz up your outdoor space for the party.  Bring some fun lamps out, maybe an extra table, candle sticks, a rug.
  • Once you've picked your space, time to get organized....

When?  Pick a time when you know you'll have time to prepare.  For example: If you're off on Saturdays, you'll have much of the day to get ready.  Consider your guests as well, when is a good time to get as many of them there as possible.

How many guests?  Consider your space, your budget, your purpose for having the party - do you want good conversation with just a few or a fun night of music & mingling with lots?

What kind of food and drink?  Are you interested in preparing all the food or would you like to invite others into that by hosting a potuck?  HYD is a big fan of the potuck because the host can spend more time creating a great space for the gathering while the guests help with the food & drinks. If cooking is your thing, start early!

Decorations? Get creative and use props. Go to a local thrift store and grab a few candle sticks, a new table cloth or place mats. We love using hanging lights and plants to create a festive and picturesque space. Don't be afraid to ask friends to borrow things for your table scape. We love mix and matching plates and glasses and creating a boho feel.

While all of these things help to create a great party, the guests are the most important part. As your prepare, remember that being present and being able to enjoy the party matter most.

Do you have any parties coming up? We would love to hear your ideas for creating a memorable party.