Cherishing my family and friends
A decade ago, we opened the doors of our small greenhouse to the public.
But first, we invited our family and friends to a “soft opening” where they could see what we had to offer as well as offer their own observations and support for our fledgling business.
They did not disappoint.
From the friends and family members who helped put up our greenhouse, to the ones that worked with us the days and nights prior to opening, the first visitors were those special people who continue to support Penny’s Plants & Pots today.
That weekend, a beloved friend from high school surprised me with a visit. I was blown away by the love and strength I received from her and all my other people when I started in 2012 – a year fraught with hardship at work and at home.
In the years that followed, I continue to receive the blessings of those friends and family members, who often go well out of their way to visit my greenhouse – not only on what has become Friends & Family Weekend, but other days of the year.
I have cousins and close friends who have made the trip from Upper and Lower Michigan, Wisconsin, California, Kansas and Illinois. Sometimes I know they are coming, and we turn it into another event.
Sometimes, they just show up.
Both happened this past weekend. Two maternal cousins from Illinois drove up for the weekend to visit with us and other acquaintances in Marinette and Menominee, and on Sunday, some very close friends who live more than two hours away, walked through the door.
It gives me goosebumps to remember the feeling in my heart and soul when I turn to the door and see those faces over the years. I don’t cry much, but I get tears just thinking about the effort they have all made to come to my little corner of the world, where I hope they feel the same happiness and warmth I bathe in daily.
I think they do. It is not an overstatement to say that our greenhouse is a special place. It’s not just a business, it’s a destination. There are chairs and benches, inside and out, for people to sit as long as they want to. It is warm and filled with color and life and music and laughter and love.
I have often said that all the work (and there was lots of work) to put up and start this business kept me focused and grounded during a difficult time in my life and others and gave us all a beautiful place to gather. The year we opened, a close friend of mine at work died. My father-in-law died. My mother-in-law almost died. Our son was deployed to Iraq. My best friend was forcibly “retired” from her position at the newspaper and my heart broke to see her struggle. And even though I didn’t want her job, I had to apply for it. I knew I was more than capable of trying to fill her shoes, but I wasn’t hired.
Thank God for my greenhouse.
I do believe there is a God, and I felt his presence in my life that year. He led me to my greenhouse (which my daughter found in an ad), and he opened my eyes to fulfilling a lifelong dream.
But I never saw in my dreams how important the greenhouse would become in my life and the lives of those close to me.
It was truly God’s hands that allowed me to “grow” this plastic and metal building into a small haven for us all. Now, when it is filled with so many plants that you can’t move without turning sideways, filled with so many people you can’t walk without bumping into someone, and filled with so much conversation and laughter that you can’t hear, I smile from the inside out.
Thank you, everyone, for your love and support – not only for my business, but for me and my family.
And thank you to the man above for leading us along the path to a place to enjoy the beauty of nature and the joy of each other’s company.