I promised you guys a blog post about my recent trip to Memphis with the other Ace Bloggers to attend a workshop with Amy Howard, so here it goes! Today’s post is not sponsored: all gut-spilling, soul-baring and enthusiasm is my own as always.
You’ve already heard about my recent experience with her One Step Paint (verdict: LOVE). That post took me at least six hours to write (let alone photograph steps, edit photos, etc.), I had so much information I wanted to share with you. And this one has taken almost a month to compose, as I’ve mulled over all the inspiration, encouragement, and big ideas I brought home with me.
You see, when I boarded my flight to Memphis, swallowing all the usual burning anxiety that accompanies traveling for me, I really had no idea what to expect from the next 48 hours.
Confession time: I had never even heard of Amy Howard before Ace Hardware contacted me about this trip, and as I shared earlier, I was not particularly excited about a chalk-based paint product.
The day before traveling, however, I received an itinerary for the trip that included a dinner at the home of Amy Howard herself – the first clue that this trip might be a little different from my original expectations…
Meeting up with the other Ace Bloggers in the hotel lobby was a great start to the evening – my sweet friend and Thrift Score Thursday co-host Cassie from Primitive and Proper, Tasha from Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s Body, Erin from How to Nest for Less, Kim from Yellow Brick Home, Linda from It All Started With Paint, Michelle from 4 Men 1 Lady – as well as members from the Ace Hardware team, Ace Home and Design Experts, and the DBC PR team.
It was quite a full bus that pulled up to Amy Howard’s house!
Amy greeted us each at the door by name and welcomed us into her beautiful home – a true work of art that served as a perfect showcase for her talents. We were invited to wander around and explore while sipping on wine and being serenaded by live music…
It was completely surreal!
As I wandered from room to room and learned that nearly everything in the house had been lovingly rescued and restored by Amy, I was in awe and increasingly eager for the hands on workshop the following day.
There wasn’t a shabby chic or overly-rustic piece in sight; everything was polished, glamorous, and yet so comfortable and livable.
As we headed back to the hotel that evening, my brain was full of colors and textures and alive with the buzz of fellowship.
That evening alone would have made the trip entirely unforgettable and will go down as a highlight of the year. My eyes had been opened to some wonderful possibilities, but possibilities are nebulous and can often spend their time floating around in the ether with the best of intentions and rarely touching down. Inspiration needs education to realize its full potential.
And so the next day at the Amy Howard at Home workshop is where this trip went from surreal to life-changing.
From 7:30 am to 3:30 pm, we slathered paint, gilded, crackled, waxed and stenciled, soaking up Amy’s instruction and her staff’s knowledge. I took pages and pages of notes as Amy introduced and demonstrated each new technique and then swallowed my intimidation and attempted them myself.
More than that, I rejoiced in Amy’s vision – rescue, restore, redecorate.
Gifting + Passion = Purpose
At the beginning of the workshop, Amy asked each participant to introduce themselves and share their passion. That in itself was such a unique experience – getting to hear what makes each person in the room tick and what drives them! It was mind-enlarging.
And so I shared my passion for gathering.
A creative way of life that is molded by serendipitous finds.
That treasures castoffs and their provenance.
That finds and makes beauty in unlikely places.
(Of course, in person I put it ever so much less eloquently – my passion is definitely not for public speaking!)
And I realized how empowering voicing your mission statement out loud can be and how I’ve truly never spelled it out so clearly here on the blog – The Gathered Home! (An area I’ve definitely earmarked for improvement.)
Amy shared her belief that gifting + passion = purpose and then challenged us to find the one thing we could do better than anyone else in the whole world and pursue it.
And then she proceeded to take her gifting and passion and teach and encourage and inspire us like nothing else.
Finally, after a day full of such intense hands-on instruction, Amy gathered us up once more and shared the last piece of the puzzle….
Her own story of restoration.
Rescue. Restore. Redecorate.
Rescue + Restore + Redecorate from Highpoint Church on Vimeo.
After so many opportunities to see this woman’s skill, talent, passion, generosity and humility, it was a privilege to hear her testimony and to discover the true source of her motivation.
I’m floored by the platform she has and humbled by the way she chooses to use it.
I’ve never been particularly comfortable speaking about my faith, but it’s absolutely foundational to who I am and what I do.
A few years ago, I heard this song for the first time and it settled deep into my heart and became a watchword for my life.
Beautiful Things by Gungor
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
As a creative person with a deep love of beauty, my pursuits and passions can seem shallow and meaningless at times. In the grand scheme of things, what does it really matter what paint colors I choose or how I decorate my home?
But I’ve come to realize that my love for beautiful things is nothing less than a way in which I get to live out God’s business: creating beautiful things out of the dust, making broken things new, restoring what was lost.
It’s one small way that I get to participate in a wild, cosmic plan of making everything whole.
If I lose sight of that motivation and stop making that connection, focusing instead on myself, my goals, my ambitions, allowing myself to be distracted (almost always by finances, you guys)… Then the passion wanes and my gifting loses purpose.
And that’s what had happened at the beginning of this fall, and that’s why this whirlwind trip to Memphis was so life-changing – it helped me refocus on my passion and purpose.
Oh and by the way, I had the opportunity to literally make beautiful things out of the dust, thanks to Amy’s “Dust of the Ages” powder that settles into wax finishes and creates stunning results like this:
So that’s where I’m coming from, and that’s why I do what I do.
It’s always so much easier for me to share the steps of a tutorial than a more personal post like this, but I came home from this trip with the conviction that I needed to be more vulnerable and open and true to the original reason I began this blog and chose its name.
I’m so glad I have the opportunity to share a little bit of my life with you like this and I hope you’ll stick around and join me on this journey of finding and making beautiful things!