Is Grace your middle name? Is 1972 the year you were born?
Ever since the unveiling of the name of my farmhouse chic shop within my husband’s family bakery (Mehl’s Bakery in Fargo), everyone wants to know the story behind the name of it: Grace 1972. (See my previous post Welcome to ~ grace 1972 ~ for the full story about how this whole store thing happened in the first place and some of the first pictures of it when we opened just a few short weeks go.)
The naming of the shop was definitely a process. I had quite the brainstorming list going. I’d run numerous ideas past my husband, daughters, mom and best friend.
The Spoiled Cottage? Prairie Sky? Signature something. What about using the word “signature” in it somewhere? Why signature? I have no idea.
You’d think someone creative enough to start a blog about home design and brave enough to actually open a decor shop would have enough creativity to think of a name.
Nope. I had nothin’.
I’d throw out my ideas for a shop name out to my support system daily. I’d get some nose wrinkles. Some hesitant enthusiasm and definitely from my teens – “Oh gross, mom. No. You can’t name the store that. I won’t claim you. Lame.” (Nothing like teenage candor to humble the soul.)
One night after settling on a couple contenders but not really feeling either one of them my husband looked at me and said gently, “Find something real. It has to be something that means something to you. It has to be you.”
I’m almost 45 years old. Does anyone ever really know who they are? I’m still on the journey here, man. I can’t even name a business. Now I have to layer on an identity crisis?
I did mull his words over. Meaningful. To me. Ok, what’s meaningful to me?
I examined the past year and a half of my life, which had been an eventful one to say the least. My husband and I almost divorced in 2015 (refer to my honest and vulnerable post Rebuilding Us). And to say that that experience strengthened my faith was an understatement. One of my most pivotal spiritual awakenings occurred during a visit with my priest while my husband and I were separated. He shared with me a definition of grace that changed the trajectory of my thought processes (and life) permanently.
I had never thought of grace that way before, as undeserved kindness. It was profound and resonated deeply. Obviously, when my husband and I reconciled we both did a lot of hard work and self examination. On my part, I decided I would try much harder to demonstrate grace. My entire life, whenever I felt wronged I was always extremely vocal about the injustice. Clearly, the other person is the sole contributor to the situation and I was always justified in airing my grievances and pointing out the other person’s flaws. That thinking didn’t work so well. And so I shifted my approach to dealing with disappointments differently: I would start responding to all adverse situations by being . . . kind. Especially to those people in my life who clearly deserved to be told off. I would instead do the opposite.
It was not easy.
Not only did I make an effort to do that in my marriage (which obviously helped tremendously ) I also started doing it everywhere, because let’s be honest – we still encounter people who do not deserve kindness. They’re jerks. They let us down. Why be kind to them?
Well, because what would the world be like if we were kind not only to the people who deserved it, but to the people who didn’t?
Oh trust me, I have not perfected grace. People still let me down, hurt my feelings, and make me incredibly angry. But I try very very hard to remember that having grace means being kind to the undeserving. And so instead of saying anything retaliatory, or giving an ice cold shoulder, I put a big smile on my face and respond with as much genuine kindness as I can muster. And yes, I still fail sometimes. I am human. But just thinking of grace as undeserved kindness helps me to shift my approach to others in a way that makes their hurtful words or actions less painful.
And so that is why I decided that the word grace would be a part of the name for the shop. It is a massive life lesson that has been a tremendous blessing for me, a blessing that I wish to share with others.
Which brings me to the 1972 part. And the story of my mom, Pam.
The year is 1971 and my mom is 19 years old. This picture was taken at her bridal shower. As you can see, she is pretty excited about her new teal frying pan. She is a beautiful town girl about to marry the bad boy farm kid from the next town over. Clearly, she has lost her mind. But isn’t that pretty much the very definition of falling in love?
One short year later, you guessed it, it is 1972. She and her farmer husband have a little baby (me) and they are living in a trailer house in the middle of a field. Oh yes, we could call it a farm but it was pretty much a field. Don’t kid yourself. And not a meadow or a grassland kind of field. A field of dirt. And rocks. And weeds.
My mom says she woke up one morning and sat on the rickety wooden front step of that pale yellow trailer house with baby me and watched the sun come up over the old barn. And thought to herself, “What the hell am I doing here?”
Her circumstances weren’t great. Oh sure, she still loved my dad but she was living in a trailer house. With a baby. In a field of dirt. This didn’t look very much like the happily ever after the woman in the short skirt with the long tan legs deliriously happy about a teal frying pan had envisioned.
So what happened? Well, that town girl stayed in that field with her bad boy farmer husband and had another baby in that trailer house. And she planted some trees. And some flowers. She milked some cows in that old barn to make ends meet, helped her husband in the field by driving a dusty grain truck, grew a garden, saw to it that an old home was moved onto a new foundation in that field and said goodbye to that trailer house for good. She had a third baby, fixed up that old house, decorated it and kept it neat and tidy. Her children played outside in the prairie sun and she woke up every day and put one foot in front of another.
In other words, my mother built a life for herself in that field. One that has lasted 45 years next to that bad boy farm kid. The field behind this picture of my little sister and I shows the shelter belt my mother plotted out and my dad had planted. Tiny little shrubs that now shade and shelter the beautiful farm that my mother, the mastermind behind it all, created.
These are those trees today. And this is that field where once there was nothing but dirt and two kids in a trailer house with a baby in 1972.
So yes, 1972 is the year I was born. But it is not a nod to me. It is a nod to my mom. For understanding that circumstances are temporary, “This too shall pass,” and that if you just don’t give up you can create any life you want to have with a whole lot of faith and the promise of time.
And so that is the story of how I named my farmhouse chic shop Grace 1972. It is a little message that tells all who stop in to remember that the world is better when we are kind to the undeserving, and that if life gets a little tough sometimes to never forget “This too shall pass.”
My mom is retiring in a few short weeks. She has spent the past 20 years working in the social services field helping the less fortunate and is looking very forward to her first summer of retirement on her beautiful farm with her husband of 45 years. She has a little craft shed where she plans to make pillows and garlands for Grace 1972 on rainy days.
So if you stop into Grace 1972, you can take home a piece of her story and think of Pam when you see some of the items she created. And if you take one of her creations home with you? Treasure it and remember that that same faith and fortitude lives in you as well.
Thank you for stopping by my blog and letting me share the story of Grace 1972! Hope to see you there soon.
Peace, Joy and Blessings,
“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever. So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
2 Corinthians 4: 17 – 18