I think I felt trapped in myself for much of my growing up. It was like an episode of HGTV's Designed To Sell where people live in cluttered, run down houses that could be easily fixed. They live that way until their house won't sell and they need help. The disrepair that these people were satisfied to live in is evaluated and eliminated. This overhaul took a matter of hours and a few extra hands. Hours and hands. I don't want to stay there. I don't want to live in a run down house that I can't even sell to people who don't have good taste. I want to do the work. I want the story to develop.
Several years ago, people in my life started dying. Losing brothers, babies, and grandparents is something that makes you evaluate your life. I noticed something in each of them that I was so impacted by: Passion. This started a whirlwind season in my life where I began yearning to write a better story. My grandfather's paintings hung outside of the oval office, but that wasn't what made his story great. He painted quietly every day, laughed a lot, and deeply loved a woman for his entire adult life. His life and ethic inspired others to live.
All of this death prompted me to make a list of the things I wanted to do to help me live. I wanted to write. I read that Nicholas Sparks reads 60 books a year to improve his writing, so I set a goal and started blogging about a book every week. The more I read, the more I wanted to tell a better story. One day, after some morning prayer time, I looked up at my husband and told him that I didn't want to live out the rest of my life in the suburbs doing what every one else was doing. So, we sold our house. We found this 100 year old, 5,500 square foot house in the middle of nowhere that needed to be rescued. This began our story.
Last year, I received A Million Miles and I began my list making again. What story did I want our lives to tell? What story did I want our house to tell? I was given this teary-eyed vision of a respite for the broken. If I could tell any story with my life, with the life of our home, it would be a story of rescue. It would be like one of those paintings that you would never know an old painting was hidden under it unless you were told. A real life Redeeming Love.
The list. How could I inspire others to live, love, and redeem? I would have to live my life to the hilt. What are the things I want to define my life? This is when I discovered that the best stories are often told in the edit. What would be kept and what would be left on the cutting room floor? So, we quit everything. Walking away from things is difficult. There are things that keep us from telling a better story and we must release those things to live.
I want to lavish love on others. Cook, Wife, Mother, Writer, Photographer, Painter, lover of the orphan. Inspire. I wanted to create a southern version of those houses like Italian people have where you feel loved and full and more alive after being in them. Everywhere there will be art to inspire, food to fill you, and people to show you the next step. It's like Paula Deen meets Under the Tuscan Sun. I started hanging a swing in every one of our glorious 40 foot trees to remind tired hearts of whimsy.
Most of the things on my list were really about documenting the story of rescue. To paint, write, cook, and photograph, I needed to do it. I needed to take classes. No more wishing for a future time of doing these things. I am selling stuff so I can get schooled in how to live out my creative dreams. Anyone want to buy a couch?
I deeply desire to take my family on this creative journey with me. That led me to think about my husband. Now, my grandmother always said that all a man needs is sex and food to feel fulfilled by his wife. Did you know that there are sex classes in Austin, Texas? Oh. My.
I laughed and asked if I could even put that in my blog. Then I learned another part of a good story: don't try to church it up. Live and Make love. I have some dear friends who buy each other a "clean" sex book every anniversary and read it together. For thirty-eight years their passion for each other has been inspiring others. I love it that my 50 year old friends can make my 30 year old friends blush!
We have a strong desire to bring others into our story and let them be heroes with us. We are looking for babies to rescue. So, we pray. A lot. My hope is to never be afraid to share the works of God and the rescue that He has orchestrated for us. So, I guess my way of learning to live a better story is by no longer being afraid to have one. It is to, above all else, drink love deeply and create an environment of hope. Pull up a rocker on the porch with me, grab a Mason jar full of sweet tea, and imbibe the story.
I desire to learn to get out of the way of my own story and to let the characters of my life develop with grace. I want to throw myself into writing and experiencing in order to leave a legacy of vibrant life and love. I guess I am hoping to create a map for people with my own life.
I wrote this to define my desire and for a chance to win a trip here: www.donmilleris.com/conference