There is something to be said for handmade, and my Great Grandma Anne encompassed everything, “handmade”. Growing up, each Wednesday, we would go to her house before piano lessons to visit and eat cereal cookies. The cookies amazed me as they always tasted delicious but never quite the same as last week. Come to find out she always used just “whatever was in the cupboard” to make them. This was my great-grandma, a loving woman with an uncanny ability to just pull bits and pieces together into something wonderful.
Some of my most cherished possessions are items that were handmade by her. She made my nigh-nigh (baby blanket) from scraps of my mom’s wedding dress - which she also helped sew. She gave me a beautiful gold necklace with the serenity prayer etched on the back for my confirmation, which I am certain was handed down as she rarely bought anything new. But it served its purpose so well, I wore it on my wedding day, long after she had passed. She also lovingly crocheted a blanket as a gift for both me and my sisters’ wedding days, several years before those days ever came about. Just thinking of the planning and love that went into those blankets still gives me goosebumps, as you see she passed away when I was a sophomore in high school, well before I was ready to get married.
Many years before I received that last blanket at my wedding, my sister and I received a quilt from Grandma Anne as a present. We were in elementary school and gave each other “the look” when we opened it. It was a typical patchwork quilt, with scraps of this and that, and neither of us were sure we wanted it on our bed. The material didn’t match and the seams were all over the place; but it was comfy and it got used anyway. Somehow it ended up at college with me and then my first apartment. I was wrapped up in it many nights while my husband was deployed and curled up with it often when nursing my babies. For years it was the go-to blanket for story time, blanket forts and when someone felt under the weather. Even though today there are rips and holes to go with the mismatched fabric and uneven seams, it is still wanted, needed and loved, because it is handmade.
Tucked into my bookcases at home, in between family photos, books and trinkets are more handmade creations. A wooden angel painted by much littler Aleigha, handprint art our family did together, pottery the kids brought home from school, a painting Angie did at my kitchen table, and even an old block of wood with the words “I love you and you love me too.” printed in black crayon by six-year-old Charley, have added to my collection over the years. Sprinkled in are the creations of artisans I have met over the years who have inspired me by their passion and grit and given me encouragement to keep going in my own art.
I want to walk into my house and see the memories made over a lifetime, not a perfectly staged room like a page from a magazine. For me this means piecing together the décor of my house, one memory at a time, always changing and always evolving to tell our family’s story.
Here at The Norway Center Store we value the handmade. We see the people behind the products. Behind each uneven seam or accidental fingerprint in the finish, we see the creator. We know the bravery it takes to release handmade products into the world. We see the hours upon hours it took to get to the place where the maker felt maybe good enough to try to sell these pieces. We see the artisans creating early in the morning and late at night, making time for their passion in between all of their to-dos. We see these people – our vendors – pouring their heart into each piece, one by one, just like my great grandma did, just like my kids do, and just like we do.
Each month we carefully curate our store, considering all the pieces our vendors have created and our theme of the month to bring you a new shopping experience each time you come in. We get excited when our vendors share their new creations with us, explaining how they finally mastered a new technique. We cheer with them when their pieces find their forever home during a show. And we are proud of them, when we can see the fruits of their labor pay off in providing more income for their family.
Each piece created by our vendors tells a story, sometimes it is about the history of a repurposed item or about the maker, sometimes it is about the nostalgia the piece sparks for the customer who takes it home, or the memory it will become when it is given as a gift. We are honored to share these meaningful creations with you to help you curate your home to tell your own story.
"And someday you will find that the Golden Thread was weaved in all along, lining your path with the pulse of His promises."
Artwork and quote by Jessy Paulson, Certified Painted Prayers Instructor
If you have been around here for more than a minute, you have heard us talk about God Things. You know ---- the people, places and events put directly on your path, pointing you towards God when you least expect it.
These God Things have been around forever, but our family had never given them a name until mom coined “God Things” during my sister, Angie’s fight with cancer. Every time Angie or our family needed something, God provided – but the provision didn’t look the way we expected. The fear and pain and heartbreak weren’t swept away like we hoped. Instead, He gave us the people to lean on and the nudges of reminders that he was there holding us tight -- everything from the songs on the radio, to the people we ran into at the store, to the Coke imprinted with Angie’s name from the vending machine.
This weekend we had the incredible, rare opportunity for a girls trip to a place we had never been before – Nevada. It was a total God Thing. You see, just over two years ago, we were planning our last family vacation with Angie. We had considered a variety of places and one that Ang threw out was Lake Tahoe. She had always wanted to visit, but as the cancer progressed, there were just too many variables to go that far away. She decided we would go elsewhere, but Tahoe has been in the back of our mind ever since.
This weekend we made it there. We got the amazing opportunity to visit a cousin that lives nearby --- the same cousin that works her tail off to create the amazing Faith Over Fear jewelry we carry at the store. The entire weekend was weaved with the golden thread throughout. We shared amazing dreamer’s sessions, brainstorming ways to spread the Faith Over Fear message, and we found inspiration in the most unlikely places. We cleared our heads while our feet splashed in the crystal-clear water of the lake. We met new people and were once again reminded just how small this great big world is. Every time we turned around there was another God Thing, a reminder that His provision is still leading us one step at a time.
Sometimes it looks like a coincidence. Some people call it fate or chance. But for us, we choose to call it a God Thing. You never know when God has placed you in a moment as provision for you, or for the person in front of you. Maybe He is working through you in ways you did not ever consider.
When my son was 4, he accidently kicked his leg through a pane of glass on a French door in our living room. Deep lacerations resulted in 14 stitches on his little preschooler leg. It has since healed well, but two strong scars remain.
Occasionally, he will comment on the scars being itchy or sensitive. He will ponder about what his leg looked like before or tell me the scars remind him to be more careful. His little boy mind does not even realize that he is stating the most perfect analogy of the scar of loss I have on my own heart.
Initially, when there is a loss, just like an injury, it jars us so completely that we do not feel the pain right away – we just feel shock. Our body and mind are just trying to grasp what occurred. Adrenaline kicks in. We are working to absorb what happened, while supporting those around us. We check off the items on the list to make arrangements and just generally are doing whatever it takes to get through the moment.
Once the shock and adrenaline subside, the searing pain swoops in. The extent of our injury, or loss, is realized and we feel pain, not just in the area hurt, but throughout the entire body. We do not understand how to put everything back together again. We do not foresee anything being normal ever again. The pain is fierce and overpowering.
Slowly the wound begins to heal. A scab starts to form over the injury, bruising occurs. From the outside, it appears it is getting worse instead of better, turning horrid colors of purples, greens and yellows, a constant ugly reminder of what occurred. For a long time, it seems that progress is slow and maybe even non-existent, for we do not realize the rebuilding and healing work that is being done on the inside. We are easily reinjured by unintentional bumps or secondary infections. It seems as though we will never regain our life and we will be stuck in this ugly pain forever.
Eventually, the bruises lighten and then fade away. The scabs crust over and we are left with a scar. We are slowly able to start doing the things we used to do. It appears we are healed. From the outside, it looks like all the work has been done. But while we are functioning once again, there is still this scar, a constant reminder of what we went through.
There are times we wear our scars proudly, proof of our strength and a reminder of what used to be.
There are times where the scar is too much to bear and we cover it; hoping if it is out of sight, it will be out of mind – at least for a moment.
There are times where we are embarrassed by our scars, expecting they should have faded away faster or that they should not be able to be reinjured.
There are times when we are annoyed by our scars as they get irritated and itchy. Something rubs it the wrong way and the pain and discomfort arise all over again.
There are times when our scars need extra protection, so they are not reinjured. We guard our scars to save ourselves from going through the pain all over again.
Over time, the scar of loss may lighten up and fade, but if you look closely, it is still present. The scar forever remains a part of us, a reminder of what was and how far we have come.
Hi! I'm Jessy, one of the co-owners of Purpose + Grit and co-authors of the book Faith Over Fear: Walking Angie Home. My husband Kyle and I live in an old general store, converted to residence, with our three kids, Ally, Charley and Rad and our German Shephard, Roxy. You will usually find me with paint on my clothes creating my next artwork piece.