It was when I was happiest that I longed most. The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing to find the place where all the beauty came from.
Searching for beauty was woven into the fiber of my being from my earliest memories. The year following my unfulfilled Christmas wish, I spent many Saturdays at an aggregate with my dad (who was employed there), searching for treasure. It was a place containing huge mounds of rocks and materials used in roads and structural foundations. Hours on end were consumed by climbing the massive mounds of rock, looking for agates in the midst of the ordinary stones. My father worked in his office overlooking the grounds while I searched and gathered alone, filling a small pail that I'd bring home to add to a collection of shiny stones stored in a large galvanized bucket. My father’s words of encouragement, voiced about the success of a day's picking, blessed me.
Looking back, I suppose at the heart of my childhood longing for an Easy-Bake Oven was a desire for beauty. I wanted to create beautiful cakes for sweet parties with my friends. I’ve heard it said that many of the things that we are drawn to as children are often pointing us towards our gifts and talents and showing us the way to go in our adult lives.
I was in junior high (our modern-day middle school) when I started “interior decorating.” I was a do-it-yourself wonder girl – painting walls and furniture, sewing curtains, and even doing some sign making. When I was in high school, I found an after-school job in a furniture refinishing shop, stripping paint and old stains covered in lackluster varnish off of furnishings from days gone by. I could see the pieces just needed a little love to be restored to beauty once again. I spent countless hours soaking, scraping and sanding these treasures to reveal the true beauty hidden under layers of old pigments.
My love for beautiful cakes, sweet parties and decorating ended up moving me into a career working with women in their homes. Favorite “tried and true” recipes were baked in their big-girl ovens and shared around dining room tables and in living rooms for gatherings of friends.
It was a joy to be the first and only one there to assist the hostess as she wrapped up the finishing touches of preparing her home for a special evening. Soon her friends would arrive for a time of sharing life, some great food and shopping.
I made many wonderful friends over the dozen years I spent helping women with parties in their homes. There was a great hostess incentive program that kept the circle of gatherings continuing. One of those incentives took me to the home of a woman named Kathy. We had gotten to know each other a little bit through the gatherings of other mutual friends and acquaintances over the previous year or two. I was so happy that she said “yes” and invited me to her house for a party.
Everyone who spent the evening at Kathy’s lovely home that night had a delightful time. Little did I know that when I left her house that evening, we would one day discover that our paths had crossed much earlier in life.
In addition to gathering for those home shopping parties, we got together for lunches, cookie exchanges, shopping trips to the city, and even bus trips across the country to share the wonderful craft that had brought us together. These bonds of friendship were strengthened as the years went by, and we walked out the days of life together sharing our joys and sorrows, laughter and tears.
Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
1 Thessalonians 2:20 (NIV)