The Blue Stool

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The Blue Stool at Grandma’s House

My grandmother was a sweet and simple woman who lived in a teeny tiny rural farming town in Kansas. Her kitchen table had mismatched chairs and a single wooden blue stool that was always pulled up under the folded-out leaf. Every time we visited, I would sit on that blue stool and chat with her while eating popcorn (she was a popcorn person and loved to eat it for dinner on Sundays) and drinking root beer (a special treat). As I recall, she wasn’t particularly gifted at conversation, but she would ask about school and sports and what I liked to do.

She eventually started to develop dementia, so her conversation skills certainly did not get better. But still, as an adult, I would sit on that blue stool at her kitchen table and she’d demand in her sweet voice, “tell me about you.” I’d tell her about my husband, the teacher, and that I was in graduate school. I’d tell her about my babies and what I was learning from parenting. Then she’d tell me about growing up in a big family or raising a big family, and how God always provided, even when they weren’t sure where the next meal would come from.

The Blue Stool at My House

My grandparents raised 11 kids and had a zillion grand kids, and when they passed away, each of those zillion grand kids had opportunities to take something(s) from their home that they found meaningful. That blue stool is now in my kitchen, under a “daily bread” needlepoint my beloved aunt made. It’s a little beat up and probably needs a fresh coat of blue paint. Yet the imperfections are part of the charm, so I can’t bring myself to alter it in any way.

The blue stool now resides in my kitchen.

This stool is what my daughters reach for when they need to reach the counter so they can “help” me bake, clean the fish bowl in the sink, or get to the not-so-secret stash of paper I keep on the top shelf for coloring. It’s the seat my girls pull-up to sit on as they tell me about the latest school news or ask me their most recent theological questions. It’s where my oldest sits as she buries her nose in a book while I cook dinner.

That blue stool has virtually no monetary value, nor is it particularly pretty. I love it because it represents consistency to me, which is a quality that I admired in my grandparents and want to model for those around me, especially my children. Consistency isn’t glamorous, but it’s perhaps the most important factor that develops secure and confident children. That stool represents the availability of a listening ear, food, safety, and a peaceful home. It represents God’s provision for me and reminds me to seek opportunities to be an instrument of provision for others.

The Value of Consistency

I love to fix up a house and make it a home; home improvement/décor projects are among my most favorite things. The best pieces to make a house a home are those that mean something to us. We need special items that remind us of the past and encourage us to serve others. That blue stool is a picture of a consistent, faithful, available woman who opened her kitchen table to me and so many others.

My blue stool is an ordinary piece of furniture representing something increasingly rare—a steady and faithful presence over many decades. My grandparents lived in the same town, in the same house, went to the same church, and regularly saw the same people for more years than I can even count. It’s made me think about the value of consistency and the impact we can have by showing up and staying put. While there are certainly good reasons to move on (to a new city, house, job, or church) I think we tend to underestimate the impact we can have on others by consistently showing up.

We just moved, so that piece of my life isn’t consistent at all. Yet, I hope one day when I’m old and gray, there will be little pieces of my life that mean something to someone else. The blue stool, after all, is a sign of a life well lived.

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Mallory grew up in Oklahoma, met her husband Dave in college there, and they have lived in Maryland, Michigan, and now Alabama since getting married in 2008. She graduated from Michigan State University with a PhD in exercise physiology in 2014, and her family then moved to Birmingham so she could start a job as a college professor. She is mom to five great kids ages nine and under, and considers it a tremendous joy to get to invest in the lives of both her kids and her students. In her free time, Mallory enjoys family walks around the neighborhood, reading to her kids, bargain hunting, home improvement projects, and being involved in the children’s and missions ministries at her church.