This is Our Life

On the eve of our town’s fair, “Our World’s Fair,” as it's affectionately known, my daughter, Charlotte, and three of her friends peered through the fence eyeing the livestock show. Positioned with their heads peeking over the fence, their toes stretching, they had a front row seat to all that is good, simple, and beautiful.

At the same time I had a front row seat viewing the fair through my daughter’s eyes.
The awe.
The sounds.
The friends.
The anticipation.
The excitement.
The life.
The vibrancy.

This image, captured in a photo, portrays a snapshot of our home.
And filled me with the fleeting and powerful thought:

This is our life.

A few days earlier, my husband, Stephen, and I were preparing our photos for the photography exhibit. We cut the matte board, picked just the right pictures, and measured it all for a perfect fit. The pictures represented snapshots of how we live. What we love. How we spend our days. I thought again:

This is our life.

We submitted produce, flowers, and canned goods, too. The things of our days, the daily work and joy, the simple and the extraordinary. If I question for just a second why we go through all the work and why we went through the trouble of organizing and collecting for the fair’s displays, the answer comes immediately:

This is our life.

The pictures, produce, and plants all come from this plot of land we inhabit. Our piece of heaven. Our home. Our life. Beautiful and simple.

This is our fourth fair but our first time submitting entries. Last year we walked through the fair and thought, “We could do this! We already have these items in our garden. This is our life, too!”

During the weeks preceding the fair we talked and took stock of what we could enter. We browsed through our year’s pictures and gave thanks for the moments captured. From travels to the day-to-day living.

The smile of our daughter in the pool.
A breathtaking hike.
A skyline at sunset.
The church ablaze with luminaries on Christmas Eve.

Glimpses into God’s abundant grace in our lives. Doorways to all that matters to us.

We peered into our garden and saw all the bounty. Giving thanks for water and sun. We looked in our pantry and saw the result of hours of hot, meticulous work canning our bounty. I remembered the days in the kitchen with my mom chopping and boiling. The quick one minute phone calls clarifying directions.

We carefully read the fairbook, took note of exact quantities of produce, and mounting info for pictures. We labeled. We picked the freshest produce. We were ready to enter the fair.

This is our life.

Produce, canned goods, flowers and photos aren’t glamorous necessarily. The majority is simply the food that will sustain us this winter. Food that will connect us to our summer growth and abundance. Food that will nourish us. All of our entries were ordinary items with extraordinary stories. A reminder of how we spend our days and where our hearts reside.

In good food, in hard work, in family, in simplicity, in feeding.
In Cole Camp, Missouri.

In remembering where we’ve been and how we got here.
In giving thanks for those who helped us along the way.
In gratitude.
In hospitality. For our earth, for ourselves, and for our neighbors.
In grace for when things don't go as expected.
In showing up over and over again to this one life we’ve been given.
To my life. To the life God gave me.

A front row seat to all that is good.