The store smells strong of paint and wood. Adele plays from a speaker in the back and I have a compulsion to touch everything I see. Story is thicker than the paint in the air.


The shop owners greet me when I turn the corner. She waves from behind the desk, steps around to offer a hug. He smiles and holds up his paintbrush as hello. They are easy and comfortable, married as long as I’ve been alive.

The room overflows with furniture, pattern, wood and decorative windowpanes. This is what they do – they keep this shop and sell these goods and remake things already made.

The man, Steve, is a long-time family friend. You’ll find his name in the acknowledgements section of every book I’ve written because his influence weaves through our story so tightly that I’m sure the fabric would be different if he wasn’t in it.

He listens like an artist and laughs like Jesus.

Years ago, before the store was a store, she had  a dream to create a place where they take the old, beautiful things – the wooden chairs and side tables and other broken pieces people tend to throw away – and give them new life. They wanted a place to do what they always did: make the used into art. 

He was up for the adventure and she went to bed dreaming of a name for their shop. Chartreuse comes to her mind, a word that hugs both art and reuse, though she won’t realize that until later.

She kept the name to herself, fell asleep dreaming.

They woke the next morning and he told her he thought of a name in the night. “What is it?” she asked, curious.

You know where this is going.

“Chartreuse.” He said. The same word, the same night, two different people. But not really.

And so it was.


They had a dream and they weren’t afraid to make it come true. But the dream wasn’t let’s have a shop. The shop is simply evidence of a couple brave enough to move toward what makes them come alive. The shop is one piece of proof that these two are becoming more fully themselves.

If the shop fails? It would be sad and difficult. But the art lives on because the shop is not the art. Steve and Paula dreaming together, moving toward one another, making plans for their future – this is the true art. The shop is just the souvenir.

31 daysToday is day 22 in our series on Living Art. Click here to see all the posts in the series.

If you would like to have each new post delivered into your inbox for free, simply enter your email address here and click blog posts.

If you’re following along with us in the book club, today we discuss Chapter 2. You can watch the video here and listen to some of my own thought processes as I struggle through writing the book.

Can’t get enough of the art talk? Today my dear friend Ann Voskamp flings wide the farm doors and invites us all in as I write at for you at her place: What if You Really Lived Like Your Life is Your Art? I hope you’ll join us there, too.