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!
Thank you so much for sharing this post. I am crying as I type, your paragraph about feeling shallow and wondering if it really matters has been my thoughts and feelings so often. I think it’s the enemies way of keeping us from usinow our gifting. What an amazing trip that must have been and I am so thankful you shared this post! God is good!
Oh Ange! That’s so wonderful to hear! And yes, I truly believe that if your gifting is creating beauty, than you are doing something needed and significant and exactly what you are meant to do!
Lovely story! So eloquent and heartfelt. Loved hearing about your journey and as well as what you learned to improve in your craft. Not to mention, I happen to be in the market for a matte black paint, and your credenza turned out absolutely amazing, so I’ll look into One Step Paint. Thanks for the rec!
Thank you, sweet Brittany!
(And I do think you would love the matte finish of the One Step paint!)
Melissa @ Polished Habitat says
Oh Brynne, thank you so much for sharing this! That song gets me every time too, but more importantly you helped me put together that I keep touching on my passion and going back into a bit of a funk on my direction and purpose. Until this morning, I hadn’t connected the dots that I explain my “why” for having an organized, decorated home on my Etsy receipts, but not on the blog. It’s not always in the forefront of my mind, so I get caught up in tasks and forget. I truly believe that your home should be a place that restores, comforts, and encourages you. A launching pad for your day that sends you into the world on a positive note and provides an escape when you return. It doesn’t have to be big, fancy, or trendy, but it should feel like you and relieve stress versus create it. That is the core of why I blog, and often I forgot that. So thank you for taking the big leap to be vulnerable and share your story so I could remember mine.
Oh Melissa! That’s such a beautiful mission! And you express it in such a lovely way!
I know I’ll be striving to incorporate mine more tangibly here on the blog – the beauty of redemption, even in the smallest of things – although it is difficult and intimidating to try to do it well, without feeling like I’m adding “the moral at the end of the story.” So even if it’s just a message that I keep at the forefront of my mind when I’m blogging, I’m excited to have a renewed purpose lately!
Thank you for sharing yours, sweet friend!
Sounds like the time you spent help redefine your vision. Great post, Brynne.
Thank you Ashley! Sometimes I’ll sit back and wonder what my vision even is anymore – so “finding” it again is always an encouraging experience!
Linda @ It All Started With Paint says
Beautiful post! It’s amazing to hear what you took away from the trip. I’m still struggling with ‘what makes you special’ concept over here, but so happy you found your purpose!
Thank you Linda! It was so great getting to meet you in person on the trip!
P.S. I think you’re a wonderful communicator and have an engaging sense of humor that’s perfect for drawing readers in and immersing the in your posts – so there’s something you’re very special at!
Sonya ~ at home with the barkers says
Brynne…my heart feels the exact same way. I met Amy this summer at Haven but it was at a filled vendor table. She gave me a copy of her book and I honestly felt the same as you about paint. I took the book thinking it was a book about painting. About a month after Haven I started to read it..and WOW, my heart jumped out. Since then I have been realizing who I am as a Maker and my purpose is restored. I’ve always felt my godly calling but connecting it as a blogger has had me confused. Then it hit me, I’ve been calling myself a blogger but in reality, I am a Maker who happens to blog. Thanks so much for sharing.
Chills, Sonya! What a beautiful realization you had – thank you so much for sharing it here! And such an important distinction: the blog doesn’t cause the making (constantly feeding the content machine); the making flows into the blogging… I love it!
Wow what a beautiful post – gave me chills to hear the song, what a lovely thing to share – made me very happy on this beautiful fall Friday in Virginia!!! I also am in love with the Amy Howard paint – it is fabulous —so glad you got to experience – God is good 🙂
Thank you Sandy! Hugs! God is good – and I’m thankful for beautiful things and wonderful experiences and sweet comments for reminding me of that fact!
(P.S. Can I add that I’m jealous of your beautiful fall day? It’s muggy and stormy here right now!)
Peregrine John says
As soon as I saw the cover image, I knew Gungor was going to show up in the article. It is a beautiful, moving song (though I’m more of a Dry Bones kind of guy, myself, the sentiment of Beautiful Things touches me deeply), and a post like this, that ties it together with what we do, echoes and children of the Creator, is a beautiful thing as well.
Dry Bones is such an amazing song as well – so powerful! I absolutely love your comment and the word picture “children of the Creator” – it conjures the image of a toddler on the floor making mud pies because they’re imitating daddy’s creative work – it may not be perfect, but it’s love. Thank you!
Corinna - A Designer At Home says
I’m so happy you had the opportunity to go on this trip. You do great things and will continue to do so.
Thank you sweet friend!
Crystal @ ClearCutCrystal says
Brynne! Thank you for the courage to share something so personal. It’s so encouraging to hear you actually name what you do and why. Beautiful story.
Thank you Crystal! I’m so glad to have been able to be an encouragement – it thrills me the way encouragement can travel from person to person and I know you’ll be an encouragement to someone else next! 🙂
cassie @ primitive & proper says
love this quote and i need to listen to the song later! in a hotel and just taking a quick peek online!
It’s such a beautiful song! Hope you’re having a good time on your trip, by the way – the pictures look so fun!
Amber @ Wills Casa says
I loved this post Brynne!! That song is one of my faves. I feel like I could talk for hours about this post with you, so I think you need to pick a date for coffee/lunch! Or you and Bryan can come talk it over with some dinner! 🙂
Thank you sweet friend! Let’s do it! I could definitely use a good “talk for hours” type coffee date! 🙂
Kimberly Duran says
Oh hun, you are such a passionate, thoughtful person and I loved this beautiful post (and what a lovely song, I’ve never heard it!). I’m so happy your trip reminded you of your personal mission. Please do keep sharing, you really have a wonderful gift. Big hugs xxx
Thank you sweet Kimberly! Big hugs right back at you!
I LOVED reading this post. I have followed your blog for quite some time and am delighted to see you share your heart so openly. Isaiah 61: 1-3 is one of my favorite passages that I discovered during a divorce after 33 years of marriage. It applies to anything we do in life and it is life changing. So glad you got to go to this and know that your work is never meaningless. Thank you for posting this. IT was so uplifting. Love your work.
Thank you Vicki! That’s a beautiful passage – thank you for sharing! I so appreciate your sweet and encouraging comment!
Amy Howard says
I have just read your post and the feed. I am in tears. I know you did not know this… but this was our theme song for Rescue Restore Redecorate.
I wanted my first book to be a project book on Crafting a Beautiful Life. I felt the Lord continue to tell me NO.. I was to write a business book for creatives.
I totally see why now. I am overwhelmed, grateful, thankful and encouraged to see God’s hand in such a mighty way.
Hugs to you all.. my creative friends. I love being a mother maker of sorts.
Thank you so much, Amy! The responses to this post were amazing, both here and on Facebook and Instagram. It was a privilege to write and get to share! I am so blessed and inspired by the way you are using your platform!