Snow comes when you least expect it. Like on the dawn of November, just when you’re thigh-high into autumn decorations and pumpkins and gourds. When you’ve finally acclimated to the summer being gone and the cool weather beginning.
And then, snow shows its face.
And while we may mourn the loss of autumn and the early entrance of winter, if we take the time to slow down, we can see the beauty of the seasons colliding. The brightness of the leaves against the backdrop of the snowy ground is breathtaking.
If you take the time to notice its beauty.
2014 hasn’t gone at all like I expected, either.
It started off with a bang. We were told in January that we would have a house by April. We had high hopes of our very own brand-new house on our beautiful property we had purchased a year before. And then the plan bottomed out. It was a little devastating for us. Okay, a lot devastating. In May, God gave us a new idea, very different from the one we pictured in our minds. We were so appreciative of what God had done. We just couldn’t figure out why we had gone through the process we did.
But in hindsight, I would have turned into an ugly person building a house. Making thousands of decisions and knowing they are practically permanent stressed me to no end. I was a nutcase just discussing all the options. I have come to the conclusion that building a house is only fun if you have fun-ds. (Unlimited, preferably.) Building a house made my two strengths– saving money and making the most of opportunities– butt heads. I knew that practically speaking, saving money was smartest. But also practically speaking, I only got one shot at building a house. And this was it. No pressure, right?
Autumn and winter didn’t mix. And neither do two antithesis strengths.
Or so I thought.
I’m glad God spared me from becoming a miserable person. (My friends and family should thank Him.) (Big time.)
Also in the past year, I’ve been offered two major career changes. I desperately wanted to do both. I wanted to do something BIG. These careers were both something I was passionate about, although neither were my degree. Both were fairly lucrative, in comparison to what I make now, and both offered new horizons and the potential to spend more time at home.
I have never really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. But the older I get, the more I love being home. It could be because I’m almost never here, but this Saturday morning, I am “trapped” inside, with snow all around, typing while my husband sits next to me watching tv. And I’m so glad I can be here with him. It’s a guilty treat for me, taking time off from work to. do. absolutely. nothing. This is what I want my family to look like when we add mini Tranthams to it.
I have spent a lot of time over the last year wondering if these job offers were the voice of God, telling me I was created for something more. Something different than what I was doing. Was He trying to move me out of my comfort zone? Or maybe He was trying to see just how content I was where I was.
Contentment has always been an issue for me. This seems to be a fairly frequent human problem. I am grateful that I am not alone, and grateful for the real-ness of my friends who admit that this is a struggle for them, too (#thestruggleisreal). So, it was very possible that this was the lesson He was trying to teach me.
Between house dreams crumbling and careers coming and going, most of this year has felt like I’ve been in “time-out.” Like I had made some bad moves, and I lost my decision-making privileges. I felt like everything I wanted to do was being dangled in front of me, but I was told not to touch it. And with that negative attitude clouding my view, I felt like my ministry was at best useless, or at worst non-existent. I told someone that I felt like I had to wait until I was 33 (like Jesus), before I was able to actually have a ministry.
But in hindsight, these job offers made me think beyond right now…about what I would do when I had children. He has been dealing with me about being a stay-at-home mom, and I have fought Him on it (just like I have almost my whole life about everything.) (I do not say this with pride.)
When we bought our rental house in August, I wore a few more hats to help pay for our increased house payment. I got into cleaning houses, also. I nannied a few more days than usual in addition to working full-time at the bookstore. I had been selling Thirty-one very part-time, but had gotten burnt out with the stack of bags I had accumulated.
I wanted to sell something that was a consumable product. I wanted to sell something that would help people boost their self-confidence, not just boost their closet capacity. I wanted to offer people a solution to a problem they hadn’t previously been able to fix. I didn’t want to jump on a fad- bandwagon and hope I could ride on the waves of new-ness. I wanted to be with an established company with a great reputation and something to offer people of all ages.
But most of all, I wanted to give hope to women who had no hope, and that meant getting out of my circle of Christian friends (whom I dearly love) and get in front of people I didn’t know. I had become comfortable in my Christian existence doing everything with my “few five” and keeping things cozy.
This series of events this year have put me on a new mission. Not only a mission of meeting new people and increasing my circle of influence, but also a mission of either significantly decreasing the mortgage we just secured or of giving me the sanity to give up my full-time benefits that I enjoy right now so that I am able to stay at home in the future. This time, my practical side and my fun side have met.
Autumn and winter can mix.
And when the Lord collides them, it provides a beautiful backdrop to show off His strength in my weakness.
Every day, I wake up and I promise you….I’m scared to death. I have many doubts, “Am I doing the right thing? Will I still be doing this in a year? Do I have what it takes to make this business work? Will I fail?” And I hear Jesus say, “Perfect love casts out fear.” And I ask forgiveness, because I know I haven’t loved Him perfectly. If I did, it would make everything seem less scary and I would trust more.
My greatest fears doing a direct-selling business? That people will think I’m using them instead of getting to know them for who they are. (People usually come to me for favors, not the other way around.) And then, I think about the opportunities I’m offering people. A changed life with a product that finally works. A way to “work the system” to get free products instead of dishing out hard-earned money. A dream of working preferred hours and being ones own boss.
This is what I want you to hear: Don’t be alarmed. I won’t blow up your feeds with products specials or group messages or the ever-annoying Facebook event invites. My blog entries aren’t going to turn into a sales pitch. I’m not going to spend our limited time together over coffee convincing you that you need nail wraps or cookware or wrinkle cream, but I will tell you how much you need Jesus. Because we need Him more than the air we bI will hopefully make deeper and more meaningful relationships with people because of this pursuit, but I won’t transform our existing friendship into a business. This has reminded me anew how much I need the Lord and need to pray my way through this. I pray for my events and my guests and my hosts. I pray for a fun atmosphere. And I do pray for success.
But not as much as I pray for new opportunities to minister. I hope that years down the road, no matter where I’m at in a career, that I will not be identified by a particular company or job or title. I pray that I will be identified because I’m a Jesus-lover. And that I will still be fast friends with the women I have met through this business. I am praying for some Timothys (that I can minister to) and some Pauls (that can teach me a few things).
I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Do you need to hear it again, too?
The death of a dream always brings life to one you didn’t know you had.
What have you experienced this year that has wrecked you? What has left you jaded and disappointed and afraid?
Maybe you’ve lost someone vital to your life. And you don’t know how you’ll go on.
Maybe you’ve been so hurt by a boss or a close friend or a spouse, and you don’t know if you’ll ever heal. Maybe you’re up to your eyeballs in debt or facing discontentment on every side.
Maybe you feel like you, too, are in time-out.
Maybe you don’t have a clue what’s next, but the possibility of an unknown future scares you more than the mess you’re in the middle of right now.
Maybe you brace yourself every time the phone rings because you know it will be bad news. Are you counting the days until the end of this year because you’re convinced it’s cursed?
Have you had your identity pulled out from under you? Have you been so linked to a person or a career or a title that you feel empty with it gone?
Let me answer your questions with a question: Do you trust that our God redeems?
If we say that we believe in Him, we must also believe that His promises are true. That He works ALL THINGS together for good… for those who love God.
Do you really love Him? Do you really believe Him?
Do you trust Him with your life and with the lives of those you love?
Do you trust His plan?
Do you trust Him to use your ashes to make something beautiful?