The inconvenient life.

There’s something somewhat magical about small towns.

Their slow pace, the quirks they shamelessly own, and the inconvenient lifestyle they so willingly live… and love.

Inconvenience to most seems to ruin a whole day…. inconvenience to the small town is just another opportunity to “visit” and see that friend of yours you haven’t checked on in a while.

It may look like taking care of cows or that old tractor that they thought might make it a few more weeks.

It may look like only a few crops coming in and waiting on the rest to produce something spectacular.

It may look like canning your own vegetables.

The ones that you grew.

That you canned.

That you eat.

I find myself mesmerized by the kindness and simplicity of it all.

I tend to fill up with pride that this lifestyle is a part of my roots, that I get to come and visit and taste it when the air in my hometown seems too thick and I need to sit and visit and enjoy that inconvenient way of living and learning.

It’s a place where I can piddle.

Where I can ask a question and someone takes a minute to answer, because inconvenience is a way of life.

It’s where Mrs. Betty lives just up the road from my grandmother’s house and was more than happy to share her afternoon with me.

Betty Larue.

Kind, smart, the most hard working woman I may have ever encountered, and a canning PRO.

A few months back she gave my Daddy a few jars of her homemade pickles and vegetable soup.

The pickles took less than 24 hours to disappear.

We devoured them.

Just typing about them makes my mouth water.

They were the BEST pickles I’ve ever eaten… and I have eaten a lot of pickles in my life.

My mama heated up that vegetable soup a few nights later.

I put a spoonful of it in my mouth and said “It tastes like Joppa.”

I wasn’t kidding.

My Daddy smiled and said “It’s because its fresh veggies from a garden. It is the real deal.”

and it was.

I just had to know how she did it.

So I gave Mrs. Betty a call to her home phone (a shaded pink phone with a spiraled chord and gray plastic punch numbers, just a step above a dial up), and scheduled a date to come visit, a date to learn. 

I just HAD to know her recipes and tricks, but I NEVER imagined what I would learn.

 My car door slammed and I heard the screen door of Mrs. Betty’s house (one protected by angels) squeak open and the sound of her voice hollering out my name.

She smiled and waved me towards the front gate of her front porch, a porch that seemed to stretch on and on.

We sat, she tutored me in pickle making and took me to her hiding spot filled with packets of her favorite recipe for pickles.

This little venture to her hiding spot took us through her home.

A home covered in pictures, framed and hanging, of posed family photos.

Smiling faces,1980’s hair cuts, and blue jeans.

I stopped and stared at faces that seemed to mirror hers, giving hints that these collages of pictures were of people that were probably her kin and the hanging of them showed her pride in the people that were captured in them.

I pointed and asked, and for an entire hour we traveled, picture by picture through her home as she told me moments, conversations, people, and stories of every single one of them.

Stories of her late husband, who spent his years driving 18 wheeler trucks for Wal Mart.

The man she loved all her years.

I am not sure I have ever someone so proud of their spouse and the work the did. Never ever ever.

It was moving.

She collected red birds in honor of him, as a symbol of the life he lived and the life she has because of him.

There are red birds strategically placed on her mantle and in the flower bed in front of her porch.

She took me out to her garden, the place where she truly comes alive.

A green garden full of tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, squash, zucchini, the list goes on.

She smiled as I stood in awe of what comes so naturally to her and invited me to her shed.

We walked through tall grass, still damp from a week of Alabama showers, and she opened the door to a shed, filled from floor to ceiling with mason jars.

Jars of preserves, vegetables, pickles.

Enough to feed Mrs. Betty …and the community.

Jars that she shared with my family weeks after a tragic loss.

Jars that she shares with my parents when they come up to work every weekend. 

Jars that she sees with pride and utters constantly to me that she always has “job security” with.

She filled up boxes FULL of veggies and preserves for me to take with me… but way to heavy for a “little bitty ole thing like you to carry.”

Heavy boxes that she wouldn’t let me lift a finger to carry.

We went inside for some cold water and sat at her round kitchen table while she gave me all of her canning tips.

She slid a pink legal pad across the table to  me to write down my husband and brothers in laws birthdays… so she could send them cards.

Because every year, Mrs. Betty sends me a birthday card.

Every. Single. Year.

Years and years of birthday cards, stamped with an american flag stamp and “God Bless You” written just like that on the back.

Mrs. Betty doesn’t buy cans from the local walmart to eat.

She doesn’t shoot a quick text to tell you happy birthday.

She doesn’t just share a small snippet about a picture, but rather the stories that make them so special.

It’s inconvenient living.

Birthday cards, growing her own vegetables, canning them all, and sharing with the community.

Maybe it’s the small town that makes them all live in slower pace, but tasting a few hours of inconvenience left me filled up with a lot more than a jar of dill pickles.

The kind of slow paced life that taught me a lot more than just pickle making.

A life I’m sure a slew of us could all glean from.

How to slow down.

How to remember.

How to tell a story.

How to share a moment.

How to share your life…

not to be seen,

but to give someone else the opportunity to feel seen by you. 

 

Wishful Doing: To be continued

I’d love to say that all 31 days of May I blogged about all that was happening.

But I didn’t.

But I think what I loved about the month of May was ALL that I did DO and accomplish.

I loved that I tried new things, left my job for a new one, practiced the art of contentment, learned other peoples stories, practiced patience, closed on new property, painted that property….ALOT, spent time with family, and witnessed friends be the most sacrificial and kind souls.

May, indeed was so good.

I lay in my bed reminiscing on the days of this month, how they slipped through my fingers the way sand slips through every crevice it finds. 

I watched.

I paid attention.

I dedicated my heart to noticing what I was doing. 

I made an effort to do things I have never done before.

I watched the people in my life be the most radically kind and life giving people I have ever known.

I made decisions to focus on the nature of my heart and the things that needed shift and stability. 

I asked the Lord for answers and He spoke truth in ways I have never noticed before. 

30 days of wishful doing.

30 days of trying, messing up, and trying again.

30 days of noticing the little things people have done for me.

30 days of harvesting the best fruit and watching my life move in a way that I love.

In 30 days of wishful doing I hope you experienced life and joy.

I hope you challenged your heart to sync with the heartbeat of Heaven.

I hope you took a risk.

I hope you conquered that fear you never wanted to face.

I hope you met Jesus in a new way.

I hope you made a new friend or reminded an old friend how much you love them.

And on day 31 …. I hope it continues.

For me,

Well, I am still learning from some friends about new businesses they are venturing in, things they are writing and creating.

I am re learning the heart of a newly wed by witnessing one of my closest friends marry her best friend. 

I always wanted to learn how to can vegetables and garden…. and this weekend, I’m learning… i hope it continues. 

Our duplex isn’t finished yet, but my husband is spending this week wrapping up big projects there.

I smiled yesterday when I faced a opportunity to compare my life, and I rejected the thought… I hope that continues.

I hope it all continues.

Because in reality is challenges are short.

They make us feel brave.

They don’t feel like forever when it’s hard.

They help us power through.

But why spend a month wishfully doing all that you hoped and dreamed for

when you can spend your life living out the abundant calling the Lord has for you to do and learn. 

Don’t stop.

Wishfully do, experience good, learn more.

Day 31:

To Be Continued… 

Day 25: I’ve Been Paintin’…

“I haven’t seen any Ivory Bell posts in a few days”

Words from my Dad Tuesday night as I barely kept my eyes open watching the news with him.

“I’ve been paintin'” I said.

Smears of Pale Oak by Benjamin Moore caked to my finger nails and smudged down my arms.

“Well… that’s what you’ve been “DOING”” he finished.

It is.

It is ALL that I have been doing for the last few days.

I am not one of those people who likes paint because I see a finished product… I hate it because it seems to never end.

Once you finish a wall, you have to paint the trim.

Once you finish that room, you have to paint the kitchen.

The list goes on.

But I still love it.

The things that I hate most, I still love knowing it is one step closer to making this bad boy a HOME.

It is small.

But is a so cute!

Yesterday Cody Bell finally knocked down that load bearing wall, inserted the header with the help of our sweet brother, Brighton, and it has made the place look even bigger! 

It’s amazing what happens when we move a wall.

The place is a mess.

SERIOUSLY can’t wait to clean it all up.

But for now, you see the real deal mess.

The water bottles strewn.

Cabinets in the painting process airing out to dry.

Plastic drop cloths and remnants of plaster that just beg you to spend hours cleaning. 

I am sad that I have missed a few days of telling you about wishful doing… 

But I’ve been paintin’. 

What have you been doing?