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.

Happy One Year!

I can’t believe I have been writing my crazy ideas on a blog for a whole year! Not only that, but more than my mom and best friend are reading it! A year ago, I took a risk. I told myself to give it a year and to not give up. I’m sure the million dollar question everyone wants to know is WHY? Why start another blog when there are only about 8 bajillion ones already out there? Well, you see, God told me to.

20140207-094205.jpgI was in this bible study with some sweet, caring and encouraging women learning how to hear from God. Pricilla Shirer laid out six steps to discern his voice

A simple RELATIONSHIP-unfettered by sin or pride.
A single-minded WORSHIP-focused on God and His glory.
A set-apart HOLINESS-determined to live a life that honors Him.
A still ATTENTIVENESS-willing to be silent before Him.
A sold-out HUNGER-passionately pursuing God’s presence.
A servant SPIRIT-submitted to God’s call.

20140207-094258.jpgAt the same time, on my own, I was reading this book byHolly Gerth. According to Holley, a God-sized dream is not about what you think or want to do, but what God knows you can do. He made each of us with special gifts and talents, some which we don’t even realize we have. What if we lived our lives according to the purpose God designed for us to do? WOW!

20140207-095400.jpgpic via holleygerth.com.
Hang in there with me…I think my story may encourage you to take a risk too.
I admit that I like Facebook. I know many who completely despise it, others who log on secretly through their husband’s account, and others who live on it. Depending on who wants to judge, I think I am in the middle….I post things that are of the upmost importance, like my love-hate relationship with my computer, ie: the printer deciding to print the photos a day later after I have already picked them up from Walgreens. I like sharing my family’s adventures and other humorous events in my life. I’ve found it to be priceless for keeping up with friends and family who live far away. Friends and totally random people would make comments on my FB posts, saying how the posts made them smile. For some friends, on the rare occasion that they would log on to FB, they said they would intentionally go to my page knowing they would get a laugh. Hmmmm…thought I. I’ve always loved telling a story. I’m a full body storyteller with my hands waving and sometimes, if the need arises, a little play acting. (Can you say spastic?) I love to tell stories through scrap booking. (This is a little bit calmer, just paper, glue and scissors.)

So as I quiet my mind to listen for God’s voice, I hear the ideas going through my head of what I would do if I had a blog…names, topics, layouts. When the doubter in me raises the facts that I knew nothing about computers, had not a clue where to even begin, and no one would ever read it, I would agreeably laugh and put the idea aside. Then I would read the next chapter of Holley’s book and she said that this will be where you have to trust. I had to have faith that God knows what I am capable of.
So I sheepishly told my secret to my bible study girls. They were overwhelmingly enthusiastic for me! I couldn’t turn back now! So, I bought some books on how to start a blog. I’m sure it took me longer than the normal human being to figure out how to do it, but I did it!

20140207-101659.jpgIn the beginning I would often question my reasoning for doing it. Then God would remind me that the world needs more happy. When you write a blog, anyone, and I mean anyone can read and follow your blog. My host server, WordPress.com, let’s me know when someone has “liked” a post. Having someone like your thoughts is kind neat, so I’d go check out their blog, if they had one. Oh My Stars! In the early days of doubting my reason for blogging, God would have the strangest people liking my post. One time I linked back to this guy’s blog to see a naked guy sitting on Santa’s lap and the blogger was lamenting how he wished he could be on that lap. REALLY?!? No offense, but that gave me the creeps. Another day of doubt brought me to another blogger, who liked my post, who’s mission was to share with the world the power of some mysterious force field, spells and little pink elephants that danced in her living room. Again, seriously?!? What does this all mean? I believe that God was trying to show me that I am needed. The Internet world is filled with all sorts of cynical, depressing, bad, degrading junk. It is very easy to just stubble upon this dark stuff. What if people, like naked-on-Santa’s-lap guy and crazy-pink-elephant girl, just so happened to stumble upon a crazy, Jesus loving, happy blog? What if?

I’m not an expert in anything, but I know that God has given me the gift of being an encourager. I have a happy spirit. I guess, you could call me a “Joy-Spreader“. If I could, I give you a cupcake.

20140207-112004.jpgI write about all sorts of things, faith, family, friends, crafts, adventures. But I pray I can keep on the course laid out for me…to continue to share the joy in this every day, ordinary life.

Seriously…Thank you so much! Thank you for encouraging me to continue by reading, “liking”, sharing and commenting.