Last week I was hired to help paint my friend Heidi's house in my old hometown.
Every day from Tuesday to Friday I found myself traveling up the highway at 7 A.M. to put in a 9 hour day sanding, priming, and painting ceilings, trim and walls with my friend.
It was a week of hard work, physically and emotionally; by the end of the week I felt almost physical aching for my kids and I certainly have a deeper respect for those moms who must go to work everyday to make ends meet or those who must feel so torn between a career they love and the kids they are so in love with.
All day Saturday and Sunday, you couldn't pry them out of my arms.
But along with all that painting I got to really talk well with my friend whom I had previously only gotten to know in little snippets and stolen cups of tea when she'd come to drop off or pick up her son Ian when he was in my home for childcare. Heidi herself is a substitute teacher.
Heidi is also approximately 15 years further down her life journey of being a mother, wife and follower of Jesus than I am and it was a really precious chunk of time to sit on the floor with her painting and dapping baseboards or standing with our necks craned upwards painting the ceiling with telescope rollers, chatting about husbands, children, in-laws and our role in the center of so many lives circling around us, tied to us and made our precious responsibility.
I came away with so much more than a generous paycheck from that week. I got a glimpse a few years into the future of what diligent work for my family could look like. I learned about what trials and tribulations I go through in my here and now will fade with time and what struggles are likely to be a lifelong thorn in the flesh.
We found that even with our differences, even with our discrepancies in age or the specifics of our families, we could encourage each other and learn something from each other.
I was struck as I often am even here in the blog world of how women simply sharing their lives with each other are such an empowering force. We were never meant to live alone. And within the walls of that house being transformed by something as simple as paint, I felt myself being changed in small ways even by something as simple and profound as friendship and the community two people can build.