I remember the first time I met her. I don’t remember what she bought. I don’t remember what she paid for it. But I definitely remember her. Messy bun, tank top, jeans shorts and…. work boots. That’s what she was wearing when I opened the door for the first time and I immediately thought to myself, “Yep. This girl is family.”
She liked the same “junk” I liked. That’s what she told me and, well, she was right. I would spend the next year and a half convincing myself not to buy everything she was selling while she, of course, was often doing the same. And, in the process, I had the pleasure of watching her passionately commit herself to a dream – The Barn.
At times I saw her excited - as plans started to unfold and the vision became a reality. At times I saw her frustrated - as permits were delayed and weather chose not to be her friend. But never did I see her arrogant. Or mean. Or judgmental. Or uncaring. Never did I wonder if she lost site of what it was all about in the first place. God had a plan for her and her mom and, like Paul, she was determined to finish the race.
My favorite thing about The Barn is Tami.
December 10 was the last business day for 2017 and it was, by far, my absolute favorite. It was cold. Super cold. And I was tired – knowing that 8 months of work was finding its way into a period of rest.
But then, at 3:30, The Barn erupted into what I can only describe as spontaneous gift giving. Cookies and scented pinecones and Christmas ornaments and tie-dyed hand-towels were being passed out as if these gifts were planned all along although, I believe, that wasn’t the case at all. You see, we had become family and, in that moment, with 90 minutes left before a 4-month break, we knew we were saying good-bye. To people who had covered our booths while we ran to the bathroom. To people who had given us suggestions when we were staging our treasures. Or offered us encouragement when it seemed we’d missed the mark. Or celebrated our success when we sold that thing we thought would never sell.
There’s something special about being part of a business’s inaugural year – no one knows what they’re doing. So, we trudged through it together. And, in the process, we became friends.
And that’s my second favorite thing about The Barn – the vendors.
Have you ever walked in to a place and “it” just felt good? It. You know. The atmosphere. The aura. The…. well….. the “it.” I felt it the first time I walked into The Barn. It was a bit of a mess. A dirty, undecorated, unkempt mess.
There was stuff everywhere. Dozens of projects to finish. Boards to hang. Wires to connect. Most of The Barn was still in Tami’s mind and, if you’re like me, it was a little hard to imagine what I couldn’t actually see. But it felt good. The place just felt good. And as we turned the corner on the bottom floor of the building that would one day hold vendors and customers and treasures, I saw what I knew was to be my space. A cow stall. Yep. That was it. I knew it immediately. I remember standing in the middle of the stall, on the dirt that was not yet even covered with rock, and saying, “This is it. This is the one I want.”
In the cement nearby were footprints – obviously put there when the cement still needed time to dry. I spent the whole season making up stories about those prints. I laughed with the other vendors, imagining what would be important enough to make him walk across that newly laid cement. I directed people to “watch their step” and smiled as little kids put their tiny feet inside the print of a man who was well loved and who, without even knowing it, had left something for his future generations to grow.
So, my third favorite thing about The Barn is it.
I could go on. I love that place. I truly do. I love those moments when, out of nowhere, I hear Tami’s laugh and realize that she isn’t even nearby – her laugh is just so her. I love running to the bathroom when it’s cold just so I can have a second by the portable heater. I love spending 8 hours trying to convince myself not to buy another cookie, or another brownie, or another cup of hot chocolate. I love that there is a Bible verse on the steps as you head to the second floor and I love that this family loves the Lord and, in this place, it’s ok if you do too.
I love it and I hope to be a part of it for as long as they will let me. Not just to make money – although that’s always a bonus. But because, in this world that is full of hate and judgment, pain and suffering, disappointment and regret, it’s nice, if for only a weekend, to find rest in a place that feels like home.
Written by: Jennifer Testa at Made 2 Thrive
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