Truth be told I had zero business taking on another commitment when I took on The Horse Farm Project. We were in the middle of hurricane season, I was struggling through bouts of intense grief, I had just signed on to help a growing small business completely reorganize, the pecans at our family’s pecan grove were falling off the trees in buckets and I had a stack of other obligations nipping at my heels.
Nevertheless, I took it on anyway.
In fact, I took almost every project that came my way because the alternative was leaving myself with white space. Space to have to think and feel and deal with things I just didn’t want to deal with. And so, I all but happily buried myself in design plans, meetings, shopping trips and strategy sessions.
Even when Hurricane Irma hit and I was given a chance to slow our pace down, we continued full speed ahead, laser focused on hitting our Thanksgiving deadline. I returned text messages at 3 am, participated in conference calls on the drive from one job to the next and worked through almost every single weekend for three solid months.
I was rocking and rolling like a boss lady, you guys, sure I was on top of all the responsibilities I had amassed during the project.
But love showed up one early morning when I was sitting in the dark with nothing but the dim light shining from my cell phone screen to remind me differently. In the darkness I heard someone say, “How long are you planning to keep this up?”
We were both quiet for a while before I said, “For as long as I need to, I guess.”
“I figured you would say that and as someone that cares about you, I have to say, you’re headed straight for burnout. NO ONE, not even Wonder Woman could keep up this pace. It’s almost crazy you think you actually can and while I’m at it, can I tell you something else?”
“Umm, yes?” I replied
“NO ONE CARES THIS MUCH ABOUT PLAID FABRIC!”
“AND BY THE WAY, IT’S 230 IN THE MORNING – YOU SHOULD GO TO BED!”
Yikes, right? Like I’d be able to sleep after that exchange anyway. On one hand, I knew things had to change. On the other, we were weeks away from the install and it seemed like the hard part was basically over.
So, I did what I always do – I forged ahead like I was crossing the Delaware, you guys.
The week we were set to leave for The Horse Farm Project, I got a serious case of, “I need to control everything because I am teetering on the edge of exhaustion-itis.” My usual self-confident personality was mixed with hefty fits of aggravation, I was easily irritated and I raised my voice out of frustration more times than I dare to even count.
The day I was supposed to drive to the project, I was running on 4 hours of sleep. Nothing had happened and yet everything had happened and in the midst of it all, I found myself crying so hard mere hours before we were supposed to leave, I couldn’t get my contacts in. It was that crazy!
Love shows up in the midst of our crazy though, doesn’t it?
With loving grace, the same voice that said, “How long are you planning to keep this up?” was the exact same voice that said, “You’re smart, you’re creative, you’ve been preparing for this for months. If anyone can pull this off, I have no doubt whatsoever it’s you.”
Of course, that made me cry harder.
When I finally gathered myself, I was sitting in the driver’s seat of my car. “You can do this, ok? Just remember to manage your expectations.”
And with that, I set off for the two-and-a-half-hour journey.
I was flipping through the radio when one of my favorite songs came on. Don’t you guys love it when that happens? Anyway, at the end of the song another listener called in to give advice about a call I must have missed. “I run my own business but I’m also a wife and a mother. I try to help out at church,” she continued, “and find time for my friends and family. Most days, I feel like I am stretched so thin I don’t know if I’m being effective at all.” Her voice started to shake a bit and then she said, “On those days, I boldly pray these words – Lord, increase my efforts – and then I let all the angst and the worry go.”
I can’t even tell you what a true comfort those words were to me. By the time I arrived at my destination, hope had completely replaced self-doubt.
I don’t think anyone on Team Crowned Goat got any sleep the night before the install because we were all up and ready to go before the alarm even went off. As we drove out to The Horse Farm Project, we boldly prayed those same words I had heard on the radio and I gently reminded myself to manage my expectations.
As we turned down the entrance of the horse farm, we were greeted by a family of five white-tail deer and I knew love had shown up again.
I’m excited to say the rest of the project went pretty flawlessly. My mom worked tirelessly to help style everything from multiple bookcases to dressers and desk vignettes to dressing the beds and creating greenery arrangements for an entire week.
My dad drove in from out of town to help move furniture, hang the gallery wall, mirrors and other pieces of art. He changed out a chandelier and installed can lights in multiple rooms. He even helped me paint which is true love because he hates to paint!
My bestie S ran the website, created content in my absence and watched my sweet Jelly Bean.
Love showed up as extra sets of hands to help at the last minute, with unexpected breakfasts, lunches, with picky eater approved snacks and big glasses of sweet tea. It showed up to help clean, paint, strip, sand, mop, vacuum, dust and organize all the items we needed to style this beautiful home. It showed up in gorgeous photography, deer sheds, a last-minute fabric find, grace at the grand opening of IKEA, through flowers at the local nursery and a treasured set of rusty railroad nails.
Love showed up to give us exactly what we needed when we needed it because love is action.
My mom and I were completing one last walk through with the homeowner when I noticed things were oddly quiet. “I just can’t get over it,” the homeowner said as she took it all in, misty-eyed. “It’s like this was the way the house was always meant to be. I don’t know how you guys did it but you’ve managed to give me the most beautiful gift. This is a treasure I will never forget.”
Those words hung in the air for a minute when I felt tears welling up in my eyes too. Truly, I felt I was the one that had been given the gift. This project had been amazing.
There is something extra special about helping someone create a home they love. A place to make memories, to laugh and cry, to dance and sing, to give comfort and serve others. It’s even more meaningful when someone can still see the potential in you… even when you’re in the midst of your darkest grief…even when you secretly don’t feel creative…and even when you’re scared you might not ever feel like yourself again.
But I’ve come to realize that’s precisely the moment love shows up.
And this time, it found me at the horse farm.
Happy Valentine’s Day, sweet friends! I hope love shows up for you in a big way today. I hope you have the best day celebrating and I can’t wait to see you back here tomorrow. Until next time, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.
With love and appreciation for each of you,