I Have a Broke-In Heart

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It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m admittedly one of those hopeless romantics that loves all the fuss surrounding what some refer to as a “Hallmark Holiday.”  I’ve always wished we were ALL more intentional about telling each other we care on more than just the one day where the heart on the calendar tells us we should.

I’ve been with my husband, my Valentine, for 18 years now, and it was fairly early on in our time together that I “hinted” around about the kind of jewelry that was in my taste….but, more importantly, that which was NOT!  I kindly tried to tell him back then that I do not care for any type of jewelry that is heart shaped, intertwined hearts, dangling hearts, hearts with flowers, etc., etc.  If I had to guess, it was the equivalent of when a man tries to request the he NOT receive a tie as a gift….EVER!!  It’s not that I didn’t like the shape of a heart, I just didn’t care to wear it as jewelry.  Poor guy….thinking about it now, heart shaped jewelry is an “ace-in-the-hole” gift to find for a special someone on the day devoted to love.  Not realizing it at the time, but I had just made an already not-so-fun shopping experience for a guy of 20 years old, into an event that probably felt like nailing Jell-O to a wall!!

It’s a funny thing to look back on now, because I am definitely not the type of girl who wishes for the perfect diamond tennis bracelet, a box of chocolates, or a big bouquet of flowers for ANY holiday, much less Valentine’s Day.  Fast forward 18 years…now, if he happens to fold an extra few baskets of laundry, decides to clean the bathrooms, or happily eats yet another corn dog dinner, there just aren’t more romantic gestures in modern married life, are there?!

That same rad guy I met all those years ago still puts up with me.  Over all these years, I’ve managed to convince him that the hoarding of craft supplies, broken pieces of barn wood, and umpteen rolls of ribbon is serving a bigger purpose.  It has taken some time, (and some knock-down, drag-out “discussions” about this issue), but he has finally mastered the art of eye-rolling without actually having to roll his eyes.  And, he still graciously allows me 98.7% of the garage space to house my “treasures.”  As such, I have a good stash of things that I save for many of the projects I do, thanks to his selfless support and relinquished square footage!  Now, that is what I call true love!!

There’s something about finding things that would normally be destined for the trash that have the potential to turn into the most meaningful representations of our lives.  Living out West, the vernacular of saying something is “broke-in” is a term that carries a lot of meaning for those who use it.  The best pair of jeans are the ones that have holes, and are nice and “broke-in.”  The most comfortable kind of saddle to ride is one that has seen many miles and is painstakingly “broke-in.”  And, don’t even think about wearing a new pair of boots all day….the ones with scuffs, dirt, and stains are by far the best thing to wear, because they are…..“broke-in.”  And so it goes, I keep collecting that old barn wood.  Old leather belts.  Scraps of fabric.  Torn pieces of lace.  The more “broke-in,” the better.

As Valentine’s Day rolls around, for the past few years I have dug through that stash of barn wood and pulled out some of those old scraps.  It’s this time of year when I like to use many of those pieces for making….you’ll never guess….hearts!  Ironic as it seems, I may not love heart-shaped jewelry, but I LOVE turning those old things into these heart-shaped creations.  There’s something about taking those weathered, cracked old pieces of wood and cutting and piecing them back together.  Each scrap of wood is from another time, another place, and tells a different story.  Some get painted, and some I leave as-is.  I don’t have a plan as I make them, I simply find a scrap or two that seem to just “fit,” and then find a way to join them.  Piece by piece, the hearts take shape, and some I save at three-quarters complete, waiting to someday find another scrap that will fill the empty spot.  They are different shapes, sizes, and at varying stages of “wear.”  They are the leftovers, the parts that have been cut off, or the ones with holes and knots that didn’t fit another space.  But, in their sometimes small, discarded appearances comes their most unique character.  They are so beautifully, timelessly “broke-in.”

I’m not the first to say this, but it turns out that it really IS the “little things” that make the grandest impact.  Tiny paper notes with “I love you, mom” scribbled across them, a warm cup of coffee poured by your spouse, a dog that faithfully lays at your feet, among the other 1,000 things that weave their way into our every-days.  It’s the leftovers, the scraps, the in-betweens, that stick with us.  Don’t get me wrong…the BIG, the GRAND, the MOMENTOUS things are wonderful too, but there’s something about those scraps that I always come back to.

So, today, on this day devoted to love, I ask you to go dig through your own box of discarded things, and piece together something beautiful.  We all have these scraps, and when put in the right places, can build a more complete heart.  Make a point of piecing the small, seemingly unimportant moments together, not just today, but whenever a chance presents itself.  Add to it gradually, and be darned sure to show the holes, the stains, and the weathered edges.  In doing so, you will create something even more valuable in the end.  So, on this day devoted to all things romantic, it seems only right to once again be in my garage digging through my scrap wood box making more of those hearts.  I will continue to do so in the days and years to come as I collect more scraps to replace the ones that are gone.  So finally, I want to wish you ALL a very happy Valentine’s Day, and hope that you, like me, have a beautifully “broke-in” heart to share with all those whom you love most.

And, to my 3 Valentines, Levi, Owen and Evan….you are my most favorite scraps of all.

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