Thursday, January 18, 2018

Keeping God in my Business

Being a small business owner brings a lot of joy and triumph. But also a fair amount for stress and discouragement.  Trust me, I know all about it! I started my business because I heard God call me to it. He called me to use my talents when I struggled to put food on the table.

The joy that came with this small venture brought so much balance to my life. I was rewarded by both a paid grocery bill every month as well as being creative and challenged in creativity.  As I began to dream big and imagine quitting my day job and just doing this full time and how amazing that would be. I outlined what my brick and mortar store would look like and what kind of store space I would have to show off all of the amazing work I was doing.  I imagined having a huge Instagram following of devoted fans who couldn't wait for the next release event. I imagined being featured on the front page of Etsy, or in a makers magazine.

For 7 years I pushed myself into late nights and long weekends to grow my business so that I could reach a little bit closer and closer to that dream. As crazy as it gets during the high season, I love every minute of it. But the slow season brings uncertainty and doubt. In those moments I would push harder, read more books, listen to more podcasts and desperately look for my customers.

At the beginning of my 7th year a friend of mine asked how my business was doing, and I said "It's doing okay, but…..  I know God called me to this, but I'm struggling to find the traction I need to step it up to the next level."  It was true. I just kept telling myself that if God called me to it, He will bring me through it. But truthfully, my inner thought kept saying "what on Earth could this business be doing to glorify him in any way.  Really, what are these late nights doing for Him, what is the long weekends working  doing for Him anyway?"

I brought this though to the ladies in my Sabbath School class. While they all had lovely responses to my talent and my grit and how people just love my product, that might just need to be enough. One person suggested that I get a little bit more literal with how I am sharing God through my business.  We brainstormed those ideas. Someone had suggested using Glow Tracts (literature on specific biblical topics that are small enough to fit into a wallet).  I ordered 100 glow tracts.

That little bundle of literature came to my studio, and I just looked at it. For a brief thought I had that fear that many of Christians have when it comes to mixing Faith and Business. What if my customers are offended by this? What if they open the box to find the gift they ordered from me, and hate the fact that I put God in that box too?  What if I lose prospective return customers over this? Who is going to read these anyway? They are all going to get thrown away. This is such waste of time!

We all think that from time to time. Us Christians. We think, why should I subject myself to dislike from the very people I need to purchase my product so I can feed my family?

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you where ever you go."   Joshua 1:9

That doubt, that is the voice of the evil one. That is the voice of the one who hates God to win!  WHY on Earth should I be ashamed of the very business that God set me to start? 
Instead of walking away I took that little bundle of literature in my hands and I prayed
"Lord, send these to those who have asked for a sign. Send these to someone who is searching but not seeking. Put these tracts in the hands of those who need it."

If I send out 100 pieces of literature, and 99 of them get thrown into the trash but 1 brings someone to the Lord…how can I NOT send them out? The nature of my business allows me to send boxes all over the world. I have sent the Word of God all around the world without ever leaving my home town.  THAT is amazing. I will probably never know if any of those Glow Tracts have changed a life in any way, but I trust that the Lord is sending them those who need it.

It's been 12 months since I sent out the first one.  Since that time,  I have joined a very profitable Saturday market, I was accepted as a vendor in an Art in the Park festival, my sales increased by 60%, and I have connected with several customers on a personal level that benefit us both greatly.  I finally feel like I am gaining that traction I need to push my business to the next level.

God called me to this path. I got sidetracked a bit with my own dreams and ambitions. I forgot that He called me to this for a reason, and that reason is not so that I can become rich and famous.  I still don't really know how He wants me to bring the word to the world with my little home business.  But He DID call me, and I MUST answer.

God calls us to be happy. He calls us to be delighted in his blessings.

"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart" Psalm 37:4

I am delighted in my gifts. Being creative every day is what wakes me soul and makes it sing. I am excited in my journey, still 8 years later. Still during those busy seasons with long and nights and during the slow seasons when I have time for family movie night. I am energized and delighted at all times because I know that God has the plan. I just have to keep making.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Intentional : Part 2

Hello again - its that 12:30 lunch hour. I just have a few short minutes before I go back to that day job.  But I've been thinking about the intentional gratitude that I talked about yesterday, and I want to add to it.

Being grateful for things and expressing gratefulness are two different things. I am grateful that my husband has a job, he doesn't love it, but his paycheck every other week pays the bills that allow us to live in this home.  Yes, I expect him to get up every morning and go to work. He expects himself to get up every morning and get the job done so he can get that paycheck.  He is grateful to have the paycheck, even if he doesn't love the job.

At the end of the work day, we each come home, the kids are home from school. We prepare dinner, Ayden sets the table. We sit at the dinner table with no electronics - phones are not allowed at dinner in our house. Before anyone touches the food we join hands and have blessing. In our house we each take turns with blessing (so every third night is my turn).  As a family, we give thanks for the small things. "Thank you that You brought us all home tonight, we are thankful to have this home, to have our jobs and to have food on the table" .  This practice of saying blessing every night reminds each of us that we ARE thankful for day jobs, even if we are working toward something more.

We are INTENTIONALLY setting a time each evening that we, as a family, express gratitude.

Thinking about this all morning has inspired me to pick up a blank journal. I want my family to step it up a bit and not only record what we are grateful for, but practice praying for others during this time.

Same time tomorrow?  I want to talk about this some more.

Have a great day!
"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" Joshua 24:15

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Word of the Year: Intentional : part 1

The entire small business world is using the word "intentional" in everything from blogs to podcasts. "Intentional goal setting" "Intentional habit forming""Be intentional with your business"

What does that mean?!  Over the last few months our family has decided to make some real changes. We bought the house, we set an "intentional budget plan" to pay of some debt and build up the savings account. We started a new company (Three Dog Soap). We really looked at what it would take our two businesses to make so that I can work from home full time. We decided that the time to have a baby is soon. So we made an "intentional work schedule" and time line to make this happen.

I can keep throwing around this word, but what can make it stick.  Come have lunch with me. While I sip this green smoothie shake (because I am intentionally losing 30 pounds) and I'll share with you how this word got started in my life.

I have the privilege to be married to a man who practices intentional gratitude. This is something that we have adopted in our home since we got married in 2016.
For years I was the head of the house. During my first marriage I did everything to run the home. Just like most homes, I just did it because I had to. There was no really thanks in just needed to get done. I started my home business in 2010 our of necessity of losing my full time job, and I worked hard late evenings and long weekends to keep this work going and bringing in money to put food on the table. I didn't do it for thanks, I did it so we could eat.

After Ross and I got married I still worked hard every night, long weekends and every minute I could spare - because we have big dreams.

One night, when I drug myself to bed late he gave me a hug and said "Thank you for working so hard for this family". I didn't even know what to say. I seriously just hugged him back and didn't say a word.  That seemed so weird to me. Nobody has ever thanked me for doing what I just needed to be done. Throughout the first few months of our marriage I noticed that he would always sincerely thank me for dinners made, shopping done and work finished. Not just a quick "thanks" but a time out, sincere "thank you for what you do for us".

It made me realize that he had a respect for me as his partner. And it feels good to have other people be grateful for the hard work I put in. I've adopted this practice in return, not just to him but to our son Ayden as well. Sure I don't give him the option to help with dishes - but when he does I give hime a hug and say "thank you for helping, I appreciate it". When he does his homework on his own without nagging all night I say "thank you for getting your work done, lets play a game". Even tho these are things he should be doing anyway, letting him know that it is appreciated when he just gets it done helps him to make the decision to just get it done every time.

My lunch hour is up, it's back to the day job for me. If you would like, we can have lunch again in a few days?  I would love to share with you how we have made other "intentional" plans in our home!

Have a great day!

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15


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