This is Why

Why do we do this? 

Now, this could be viewed as some big existential question, but in this instance, I literally mean, “Why are Erin and I doing what we do?” We’re asked this question all the time. Our answer has always been something along the lines of shining a positive light on our town and our state. When our social media manager, Lindsay, reached out to me about writing for the premiere of Home Town, I said, “OF COURSE!” I knew I wanted to write about the show and Laurel and why we do all of this. Five days ago, I got a better answer to this question.

I’ve never worked as hard as I did in the months we filmed the ten episodes for season 2 of Home Town. When we found out about Helen, our 6 month filming schedule got crammed into 4.5 months. We had to finish all the houses before our daughter’s arrival! Between meetings for Laurel Mercantile, Scotsman Co. furniture design meetings, ongoing projects in the woodshop, filming a TV show, designing and renovating ten houses, renovating our own home, renovating my parents’ home, feeding and walking our dogs, keeping our old cars running, participating in Laurel’s community events, and caring for a tired, pregnant wife, sleep was hard and fast. I found that in that time, I had to follow a routine or else nothing would get done. Every minute of my day was planned before my 4:00 am alarm clock ever went off. Our project manager, Jonathan Walters, was working from 5:00 am to 1:00 am sometimes and still managing to get a mile or two run in. 

It was all in preparation for the launch of season two. I burned every end of every candle I had for half of a year getting ready for tonight, January 8th. Last night, one of our producers was texting Erin and I asking if we were “set for pictures” for today. I thought to myself, “surely we don’t have a photo shoot tomorrow?” Erin responded to her that we were “all good.” So, I didn’t pay it any mind. About mid-morning today, I saw Mallorie had posted on her Instagram:

TONIGHT! Two things you don’t want to miss: 1.) a fun shopping excursion to the oldest business in downtown Laurel@lottfurniturecompany and 2.) an awesome DIY moment on#hgtvhometown 8pm central on HGTV. If you’re planning to watch the game, be sure to set your DVR



I had forgotten about the premiere. 


You see, on January 3rd, I didn’t need an alarm at 6:00 am. Every minute of my entire day was already planned out by someone greater than myself. Helen, the wonderful little surprise that she is, had surprised us again by coming two weeks early. As I sat there, drinking a cup of coffee next to my daughter who sat in her swing, it occurred to me. We hadn’t spent the last few months working tirelessly in preparation for the premiere of Home Town’s second season. It was for her. 



“A Father’s First Spring” by the Avett Brothers captures this sentiment perfectly.


Sweetest surrender of winter
She put up her flag, it is waving
The thunder of summer is rumbling in


And I haven't seen you in days
And my, how that feeling has changed
Oh, I have been homesick for you since we met
I have been homesick for you


I've got to take to the sky
And I'll tell you what that means for you and I
If I die it's for you
If I die it's for you


I never lived 'til I lived in your light
And my heart never beat like it does at the sight
Of you baby blue, God blessed your life
I do not live 'less I live in your light
I do not live 'less I live in your light


The realest thing I ever felt
Was the blood on the floor and the love in your yell
I was a child before
The day that I met Eleanor


Kiss of the wind in the hills
The clearness of morning, the late evening thrill
Blurry and gray like the roar
The wheels on the highway, above them I soar
When I'm in the sweet daughter's eyes
My heart is now ruined for the rest of all time
There's no part of it left to give
There's no part of it left to give


I never lived 'til I lived in your light
And my heart never beat like it does at the sight
Of you baby blue, God blessed your life
I do not live 'less I live in your light
I do not live 'less I live in your light
I do not live


Unless you’re a selfish person, you’re doing what you do in life for someone else. It’s either for your children or your grandchildren or your spouse or your community or your friends or for God. All of these are the right reasons to do anything good, anything hard, anything worthwhile. I’ve found that when I do things for myself, I feel empty and worthless afterwards. That’s not to say that I don’t still do things for myself, after-all, I’m a flawed, broken person just like everyone else. It just doesn’t have the power behind it like doing something for my family or friends or even a stranger. 

Now, “why do we do this?” Why do we allow cameras into our town, our place of business, our relationships? Why do we build furniture and products to sell online? Why do we own a store selling American-made goods in downtown Laurel? Why do we encourage people to shop local and support small businesses? Well, why do you what you do? It’s for our family, friends, and neighbors. Erin and I really do want to shine a positive light on our town and our state. They are both beautiful places to call home. We are passionate about American manufacturing because we see the important far-reaching impact it has on small-town America. They need each other to survive. 


In interviews, we used to cap this off with, “and of course we want a place we can be proud to raise our future children in.” Some day, for Erin and I, is today. We hope you visit Mississippi, and our hometown, Laurel, but we also hope you’ll visit and support the towns in your own state. We hope you shop and support those local makers, builders, and business owners. Without them, small-town America will cease to exist. We hope that by working tirelessly on Home Town, we can preserve this place that our daughter will call home. We also hope that it will help preserve all of your hometowns. The revival in downtown Laurel was happening long before a TV network noticed it and came to visit. Laurel has been a manufacturing town for our great state for over a century. Our parks have been beautiful forever, and hopefully will continue to be. 


So, if you were to ask me today, I would tell you, we do this for Helen.