“You should write another blog post”, he said,”People are probably getting sick of me and want to hear from you..”
It is true that I haven’t written anything for months. I’m not even sure why, though if I had to guess, it’s because sometimes it’s hard for me to find words to describe things…life. The good, the ugly, the sweet…there’s so much going on and I don’t have words for most of it. And the words I do have don’t seem to do well to describe things. I’m still learning to trust my words, after all…to trust my thoughts. But he’s right, I’ve got stuff to say and need to get back into the habit of saying it. Here goes nothing.
Remember that time, when describing our year of giving, I alluded to the fact that this giving…“it’s working”? Well, I have a tale to tell you. And it might be one of my most favorite stories of my life.
It was last March. Joel and I were still reeling from the news we had heard only a few weeks before. I was around a table with my coworkers, having one of those whimsical office conversations. “If you could do any job, what would it be?”, someone asked. Around and around we went, each taking their turn. A private eye. A lumberjack. A chef. When it was my turn, there was only one answer and it was obvious to me, though I had never spoken the words out loud: “I would paint and sell furniture.”
You see, when we were first married, Joel was in his last year of getting his bachelor’s degree, I had just graduated – we were broke. It was common for us to get furniture at garage sales or at the thrift store and redo it for our apartment and then our tiny houses. (One time we went to a huge burn pile in the middle of a field and pulled out furniture that someone had thrown in to be burned. There may or may not also have been a dead cow on that same pile. Don’t judge.) Over the years I became an expert at knowing what to do with that furniture to make it lovely again. So that pretty much sums up most of our home decor. For the last couple of years, I had noticed these people who did this as a business. I was secretly jealous of them and wished that I could be one of those people- who made cool stuff out of old stuff and made money at it.
As I walked away from that conversation, I was struck by one thing. Why couldn’t I do that? I mean, really, what did I have to lose? I figured that, at the very least I could buy something on Craigslist, paint it, and sell it on Craiglist again. So that’s what I did. I bought a dresser on Craigslist for $10, and painted it. It felt like one of the best things I have ever created. And then this happened: I was showing someone at work the pictures I had taken of the piece and someone else saw it. Then they bought it- for $150. (It was empowering. And I cannot even describe how beautiful It was to be empowered in this way when the whole of my life was spinning out of control).
The next week, I noticed a store in my town that had opened a couple of months before. Vintage Junky, it is called. I went into the store and it was a dream. Things made anew. In that moment I dared to dream that I could be a part of it.
So, I wussed out and tried to contact them by “Private Messaging” them on Facebook. Nothing. I knew I had to get brave and call them. I did. I PICKED UP THE PHONE and called them. I asked them if they were in need of another dealer. The answer: “No. But text us some pictures of your stuff.”
I have never texted anything so quickly in my life. And then I get this response: “When do you want to start?” I literally almost fell out of my chair. Even now, thinking about that moment makes me grin.
So for over a year (the exact same amount of time that we’ve been doing The Caroline Project) I’ve been a dealer at Vintage Junky.
This is again the moment when we lean in and I whisper, “Its working…month after month I’ve made way MORE money at Vintage Junky than we’ve given away via The Caroline Project.
I love it more than I can put into words. It is a dream come true. It’s that moment when you look at yourself and notice in your heart, “I’m GOOD at this.” More than anything though, redoing furniture is worshipful work. It is REDEMPTIVE work. I take something old, worn out, worth nothing, cast off. And I make SOMETHING NEW. Something of beauty and worth. I pick up something off the side of the road. And I work on it to make it beautiful. And then I sell it because IT IS NOW WORTH SOMETHING.
I work on a piece of furniture and all the while I have hope. Hope that God will take our story, our broken pieces, and make it into something that matters, just as I am doing to the furniture. Hope.