We’re Open and Now We’re Closed

It all started with a few successful craft shows. A couple of hundred dollars here, a couple of hundred dollars there all added up to being able to donate a few thousand dollars to area organizations that encourage, serve and nourish those in need. Friends, family and customers really liked the things I was making. So many times I was asked where my items could be bought and do I have an Etsy shop. “It’s easy”, they said. “If you have an Etsy shop, then the whole WORLD will be able to buy your stuff!” Well, needless to say I got all puffed up and feeling pretty good about myself. So I bought a few books, read oh-so many blogs, listened to small business podcasts and “pinned” a whole bunch a “how to’s” and “Top 10 Things One Must Do To Be Successful On Etsy” from Pinterest. I was determined to do this right. So, in August of last year, I took my phone (camera) and a load of craft items outside to take pictures. I wrote about My Fear here. My friend Angie came over to help with the technical stuff. I took many pictures of each item…front view, back view, inside, close up details, with props, without props. I edited each photo and then put it in the right folder in order to find it later (which, let me tell you was quite frustrating for me. I’m not the fastest computer gal, if you know what I mean.) I cataloged each item, wrote cute descriptions, weighed the items, plugged all the information in and then posted online. I’m a cutting, sewing, crocheting, glueing, painting kind of gal, not a png., folder, and all of that computer stuff kind of gal. But I was determined to figure it out.A darling, smart and super talented young lady contacted me. Eileen was Mary Claire’s best friend when they were growing up. Eileen had graduated with a degree in Creative Marketing and wanted to donate her services to me. She admired what Merry Mary Studios was all about and wanted to create a logo for me. How awesome is that?!? After sharing ideas, she came up with several logos and banners that I could use for my business. Here was the banner for the Etsy shop, I had a logo for a stamp and stickers. I had a business license and thinking I was pretty profesh…professional. I was full on baby!

I even sold my first bag online to a gal in the United Kingdom! People. I was ready to take on the handmade market. I was ready to bring this all to you, sharing the site with everyone, but then life happened. Thomas went off to college. Superman and I went on seven states high point trip. I had to make things for the Christmas Market. I had to make a quilt for Tyler for Christmas. We found out we were going to be grandparents. Then there was the madness getting ready for a spring craft show. Add in there beekeeping, filling crochet orders, cooking, cleaning….just every day life.

I neglected my Etsy shop. I neglected my blog. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.

People do this all the time. They have successful craft businesses. They create, write blogs and build a thriving business. But I just couldn’t do it. I was feeling like a loser. If only I was more organized, more efficient, then this would all go just like those gals in the blog world.

One day while I was preparing for my bible study “No Other Gods”, by Kelly Minter, it hit me. I was trying to force something that wasn’t God driven. It was “world” driven. I wanted to be like all of those other crafters out there making it look so easy. I made the hard decision to shut it down. And can I tell you? It felt so good!

Almost immediately, I mean like within hours, notifications started pinging in telling me of new followers to this blog. People from around the world, that somehow linked up to this crazy little place where I chit chat about life. Ok, let’s get real. I have like a couple hundred or so followers. So then all of a sudden, on the day I close the shop, I have 10-15 new followers to my blog! (For someone like me, that’s a LOT) Why? Why are people all of a sudden interested in my thoughts? Each day I get more and more followers. Why?!?

Honestly? I think it’s God’s way of telling me to stick with Him. Go where He leads me. Should I keep on making, selling and giving away? Absolutely! But do I need to have an Etsy shop to do that? Nope. In fact, I’ve got more orders than I can keep up with. What if I were to show you a few things here that I’m making? I hope you wouldn’t mind.

Friends, God has a plan for all of us. We can choose to do it our own way, following the crowd and trying to please the world, but I promise you, that in the end, there won’t be joy. By giving up the reigns of control, handing them over to God in prayer, we can live a life full of joy and contentment. I still have to do the hard work. I will come up to many obstacles. But the fruit of my labor will not be in vain.

I so appreciate you choosing to read this little blog of mine. It isn’t going to change the world, but I pray it can bring a bit of joy into a moment of your day.

A Few Good Things from this Past Week

Nothing amazing or earth shattering has happened, but this past week or so has been filled with so much goodness. My life is quite ordinary and I find such joy living in it. So here are a few of the high points.img_0584On their way from moving from Pittsburgh to Atlanta this sweet family asked if they could make a pit stop at our house for the night. They had been driving for I know, seemed like forever and around 8:45 that evening, I heard a little knock knock at my front door. I looked up and saw the happiest little boy waving at me! Hudson, Easton,  Bella and their mommy and daddy, Sara and Aaron blessed our home with so much joy. Unfortunately, it was a too quick of a visit. Early the next morning they piled back into the car and continued on their way. I’m so happy they decided to move closer to family.img_0585Two days later, I drove to Seabrook Island to refresh my weary soul. I am so blessed with such loving friends, like Angie and her husband Jack, who invited me to the beach. We rode bikes, snuggled with horses, walked the beach and found so many sand dollars! Luckily Charleston is on the way to Seabrook, so I made a quick stop to see my girl and her husband. Sometimes a momma just needs to hug her kid. My momma always said that ocean water is the perfect treatment for what ails you. I believe it…sunshine, salty air, waves lapping, toes in the sand and precious friends make the perfect medicine.img_5999On the way home from the beach, I decided to make a stop in Columbia overnight. Here I am with sisters Laura, Annie and Jane at my sister Jane’s house for lunch. That evening our brother David came by my mom’s for dinner, joining us girls. We were only missing sister, Susan. She was enjoying her grandsons Hudson and Easton! img_0586I could only stay in Columbia overnight because Superman, Adam, Elizabeth and I were going to our first hockey game! Watching the minor league, Swamp Rabbits, was so much fun! We have no idea how the players know when to hop on and off the ice, what the numbers mean that the announcer calls out when someone gets put in time out or what is this power play thing? It reminded us a lot like soccer in many ways. The adorable 4 year old little boys, who sat behind us, knew more than we will ever know. I guess we’ll just have to go to more games!

Hmmm….do you think they’d let me drive the zamboni?img_0587Guess what? Two days later Superman and I are driving to the Tennessee/North Carolina border to drop him off for his 6 day 75 mile solo backpacking trip. He packed and repacked his backpack for days. Measuring and counting each bag of Fig Newtons, freeze dried dinners and tea bags. It was forecasted to be cold and raining or snowing the entire time. Sounds fun right? This is the text he sent to the fam the first day: “8.5 miles today…almost all uphill with rain most of the day. Got to the shelter at 2:00 and chilled. It’s getting cold and it starting to snow–temp drops to 17 tonight. For dinner–2 cups hot tea + honey; Mexican rice with beans; cookies; almond joy bar; sipping on some merlot wine right now! Wine in first night only–have to rough it from now on. The shelter is full of young folks–an odd collection of weirdos who are out to do the 2000 mile AT in 4 to 6 months. It’s below freezing–one dude has no long pants so he is wearing a down parka with shorts. One gal is playing some sort of Indian flute–I’m waiting to bust out the “someone’s a crying me lord” song. All in all, we h she young folks don’t have a care in that the world–no job, no mortgage, no long term plan–I’m thinking about pontificating about Donald Trump is the greatest of all time and Obama’s a communist–I’m pretty sure I would be booted from the shelter so I’ll keep my mouth shut. All in all I’m as happy as a pig in mud right now. Everyone is talking about all the bears they have seen–I’m 👀 ING forward to seeing my share. I love all of you–a few of you should be here with me…” He is loves this stuff! Like Superman says “This ain’t no big deal”. img_0588This was his view the next morning. Beautiful.img_0589After dropping Superman off at the trailhead, I decided to stop off at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway. As soon as I stepped through the doors, this lady was demonstrating weaving. Not only does she weave her own cloth, she sews it into gorgeous jackets and tops. I can’t imagine putting scissors into the cloth that just took me hours to weave! There were many artisans demonstrating their craft while answering questions and explaining the tools and process. I was mesmerized. As I walked up the ramp to the exhibition hall, I was taking pictures of everything. When I reached the top, I almost ran into a semi frantic woman looking for the person who was taking pictures! Who me?!? Not me, but some other unsuspecting soul. I get it. The artists don’t want their artwork copied. I respect that. So I put my camera down. Just remember No Pictures Allowed! img_0594I guess I’m so drawn to this type of artwork because it represents the common folk. According to Wikipedia: Folk art encompasses art produced from an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople. In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic. Take for example Grandma Donaldson in the photo above. She didn’t go to a fancy art school or travel the world to be inspired. She used the materials she had around her and made something beautiful. Whether it was the farmer who used his knife and a piece of wood or a stick to whittle a toy or the mother who took the outgrown clothes and repurposed them into a beautiful warm quilt. I LOVE IT! img_0596When I finally got home that day it was raining, so it was the perfect time to finish up some stuffed animals that people have ordered. Luckily for me, Joann’s had a big clearance sale on yarn among other things, so I stocked up for other orders of rabbits, elephants, monkeys and unicorns. I’ve got lots of work to do!img_0595This weekend, I have two more boxes of bees arriving! I need to get their supers and frames ready. Here are 40 frames that need the wax panel put in each. This requires I chisel carefully out a thin piece of wood, slide in the wax sheet then hammer the wood piece back on to hold everything tightly in.img_6043I went to the local hardware store to buy some very small nails and a small hammer. When I found this beauty, the young man assisting me kinda sorta rolled his eyes when I squealed with delight. He just doesn’t understand how things like this can really make me happy. I got 20 of the 40 frames done. Tomorrow is a new day. I was feeling a bit pooped.img_6049Are you feeling as tired as I felt? I had the house alone. It was quiet, just me, Sam and Lilly. I poured myself a cup of hot tea, snuggled down in my favorite chair and started reading my favorite book/magazine. Quiltfolk is a bi-monthly, beautiful magazine of 180 soft pages of no advertising, wonderful stories about the people behind the quilts and what inspires them to stitch. Each issue takes you to a different state or area and tells you their stories in the quilt world. The issue above takes us to Arizona. It quiets my soul and feeds my heart with inspiration.

Its been a long week or so. Thanks for stopping by!

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