There is absolutely no such charm as a local shop.
Places like Wal-Mart, Target, and Kohls can give you bulk and efficiency, but their polished floors and fluorescent lighting could just never compare to the simple hominess and charm that comes from walking into a local shop.
Local shops create community, offer relationships in a way corporations can’t, and often have a sense of identity and creativity that are unique to that particular area.
As much as I like the ideas of local stores and shops, to me they’ve always been a luxury I couldn’t afford. But with the upcoming move, I started realizing how often I was driving past storefronts I’d spent years being curious over but refused to enter because of that silly philosophy of, “*Sigh.* Someday. Someday when I have the money. No sense in wanting what you can’t have.”
There is such a thing as limiting yourself if you’re worried about your self-control in spending too much. But after living in the same area for more than 20 years and never once venturing in, I started to see how silly I was personally being. How could I have passed these places for so long and never gone in? What kind of treasures might I be missing? Whose acquaintance had I never made simply for lack of entering? And really, my self-control in regards to money is actually pretty strong and wouldn’t be hindered a bit by walking into a few stores. In some weird way, it was like I was waiting for just the right amount of cash or some kind of life achievement before I finally allowed myself to wander into one of those stores as a “reward.”
“Someday,” I decided, “Needs to become today or it’ll never happen. And why not today?!”
So I put it on the Bucket List. 🙂
And let me tell you… I am so glad I did!
It wasn’t a huge life change or anything that had major repercussions, but it was a shift in mindset that was somewhat liberating. For some reason I’m still not sure I totally get, I used to think I wasn’t good enough to walk into those stores. That it would be absolutely wrong of me to walk in without the “correct” amount of money in my pocket, to walk out without purchasing anything, or to admire and appreciate things such as home decor and signs that read “family” when I have neither a home or family of my own.
I guess in a way those stores represented not only “not good enough,” but also “not there yet.”
But you know what? I walked into those stores as “not good enough” and “not there yet,” and I was happy when I walked in, happy when I walked out, and it had absolutely nothing to do with what I purchased, but with what I own.
And what I own is this: I’m a work in progress, and I will be until the day I die. I’ll never be exactly good enough or “there” (wherever “there” is), and that’s completely fine with me. For a long time, I only saw beauty in “someday.” Someday in the future… someday when I’m married, published, a better Christian, etc. But here’s the truth I now know and own: I am worth so much more than what I do or don’t have, and it all begins and ends with one name:
For the first time, I walked into a store that had “boutique” written across the front and looked like this:
I was surrounded by beauty and gorgeous treasures, and I stopped often to ooh and aah and touch. It was a wonderful day spent with some very well-loved friends.
The craziest thing of all though was this: I left without a single thing, and an overflowing heart.
I felt like I’d spoiled myself, and I hadn’t left with a single thing! But maybe that’s the real beauty of it all–the beauty of how Jesus sets His mercy crown upon us–He invites us in, just as we are, not as we “will be,” or “should be,” but “just me.” And He lets us come in whenever we choose to answer His call. To take Him up on His offer to walk in just as we are instead of waiting for “someday.” And who can describe the glory of standing in the beauty of His presence?
It felt good to walk into Elizabeth Dean Boutique, but I’d be remiss, dear friends, if I didn’t tell you what it’s felt like to walk into the very throne room of my Jesus. Nothing in your life will ever compare.
Another place I had the privilege of visiting was a place called “Speckled Feather Mercantile” which is one of the most perfect names ever, in my opinion.
It’s an arts and crafts store only thirty minutes away from my home, but I never even knew it existed until recently. It’s amazing how many opportunities a person can miss if they’re not thinking about looking for them!
The Speckled Feather was a place right up my alley. I absolutely love “attempting” to be creative, and some of my favorite memories are taking art classes as a kid. It was one place I allowed myself to “mess up” in now and again. I loved dance, too, but after several tries and continually failing (or at least that’s what it felt like in my mind), I gave it up to save myself from being further humiliated. Maybe it was because I felt like my messing up in dance affected others and that the mistakes I made were more public than in art class.
Whereas in something like pottery, I didn’t have to worry about some unrecognizable shape that didn’t look even remotely like the teacher’s, because, hey, it doesn’t really affect anyone if you get it wrong, and it’s for you to create however you’d like.
But eventually I did start getting embarrassed about my silly creations and let art go, too. But the simple joy of creating has never left me, and it’s only in recent years that I’ve begun to discover that passion again.
So when I heard that The Speckled Feather hosted “assisted art projects,” I was absolutely ecstatic. I’m great about having a vision. I know exactly how I want things to look and be just so. But as far as actually putting things together, that’s where my skills end. I am just not a hands-on type person. Things that for you would be common sense don’t make any sense at all in my mind. It’s not for a lack of trying, because, well, I’ve tried. It’s when I try to take the knowledge or vision that’s in my head and try to communicate it to my hands or body that somewhere along the way wires get crossed. No matter how hard I try, it’s like a part of my brain just shuts down.
So you can imagine how overwhelming a whole bunch of scissors and paper and rulers can do to a mind with a grand vision and a body with clumsy hands. But miracle of miracles, the amazing staff at Speckled Feather helped me to create this:
Can you tell how proud I am?! It felt great to be able to do something that I absolutely love but for a while had given up on being able to do. Leaving Speckled Feather with that little shadowbox in hand, I felt so much joy. Joy in rediscovering a part of myself that I’d thought was lost. Joy in creating something, just for the simple sake of creating it. I chose the word “dream” to place inside, because I thought it would be a good reminder to allow myself to dream again. The last couple of years brought me to a shattered place. One where I didn’t know if dreams came true, and where I couldn’t see much good in life at all. This shadowbox, simple as it was, was a part of me reclaiming… well, me. The good. The dreams. Hope. And healing.
So if I can leave you with anything at all today, dear heart, let it be this: Find the areas of your life where you’re “not good enough” or “not there yet.” Find the place either literally or figuratively you’re too afraid to enter. Let someday become today. Rediscover that part of yourself you thought was gone, but really was only just a little bit lost.
And when you find it…