Friday, December 31, 2010

Farewell 2010

I thought I would wrap up the last two hours of 2010 by writing an update.  I hope two hours is long enough to write this post and get it posted before it becomes January 1, 2011.  :-)

It’s very hard to believe two months have gone by since I last wrote for this blog.  Actually, it feels like a lot longer than two months because so much has happened.

November and December have been a complete whirlwind for me.  I completely submerged myself in my candle making business.  I began making soy wax candles a couple of years ago in 2008.  For most of the last two years, it has been a hobby I would dabble in here and there, and occasionally, I would even sell a candle to someone I knew.  This past fall, the hobby turned into a full blown business.  God graciously gave me something to keep me very busy and to keep my mind off of other things that were troubling me and making me awfully sad.  

In early October, my husband, Michael, and I went to a couple of craft fairs.  As I was walking through these fairs, I felt a great inspiration to take my little candle-making hobby and turn it into something more.  Within a few days, I suddenly found myself making a large investment in jars, lids, wicks, wax, and fragrances and calling many people to see if I could get a booth space to sell the candles at some of the nearby craft shows.  I came up with a business name, purchased a web domain, and started a blog and a Facebook page for the business.  I obtained sales tax licenses for the state and city and registered a trade name for the business.  We created a logo, purchased business cards, and designed tags for the candles.  Looking back now, I can’t believe we accomplished as much as we did in such a short time.  It was like God had lit this fire under my butt to do this, and we were riding on a run-away train with Him as the conductor.  I say “we” because Michael jumped on board the train with me and was an amazing helper throughout everything that needed to be accomplished.  For that, I am so thankful!  I could not have done it without him.

At first, I was only able to gain entrance into a couple of craft shows.  But as the weeks passed, more opportunities came along, and I found myself double booking shows.  Michael would be “candle man” at one show while I did another on the same day.  We met many people along the way and sold many candles.  And there was much learned by trial and error in many areas of the business including pricing the candles and keeping up with our inventory. 

There were so many blessings along the way.  God granted so many graces!  I knew He was orchestrating everything.  There were also many feelings of being completely overwhelmed at the same time.  There was much more to do than I was capable of doing.  Many times I asked myself, “Why the heck are you doing this?”  “You are barely making any money and you are spending more than you are making, plus spending so much time that you didn’t already have.”  “Why are you doing this?” 

I could not answer the questions.  And I could not stop what I was doing.  I knew I was meant to go forward boldly.  So boldly I continued to put one foot in front of the other.  It was as if I had been wound up tight and set into motion and there was no stopping the train.  As questions or doubts went through my mind, God would bring to my mind verses from Ecclesiastes.  Random things from Ecclesiastes would pop into my mind and seemed fitting for all my labor.  Things like:

“There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink and cause his soul to see good from his toil?  This too I see that it is from the hand of Elohim.  For who can eat, and who can have pleasure outside of Him?”  (Ecc. 2:24-25)

“For everything there is a stated time, and a season for every event under the heavens…”  (Ecc. 3:1)

“What advantage does the worker have in what he is toiling?  I see the experience that Elohim gives to the sons of humanity to humble them by it.  He has made everything fitting in its season; However, He has put obscurity in their heart so that the man may not find out His work, that which the One, Elohim, does from the beginning to the terminus.  I know that there is no good for them but to rejoice and to achieve good in one’s life; and moreover, anyone of humanity, that he should eat and drink and see good from all his toil, it is a gift of Elohim.”  (Ecc. 3:9-13)

In all the toil and hours of labor I put into the candle business, I was humbled.  I was humbled by knowing that I could work and work til I dropped dead, but the results were completely up to God.  I was reminded it is always God who supplies for all my needs.  As I thought about that, I also wondered, “Then why do this?  Why work so hard?”  “Why am I not just resting and ‘being’ and allowing God to provide for our needs?”  “I am spending more money than I am making!  That is not what I wanted to accomplish.” 

But the candle business was not about making money.  Far from it.  It was about so much more than that.  The candle business was about God giving me something to do to distract me from other things that were hurting my heart and troubling my mind.  I was not running away from them.  He was giving me something to do where I could find joy, satisfaction, and accomplishment and be able to turn my mind away from over focusing in areas of my life where I felt like I was failing or had failed. 

My last post from early October explained some of what I was going through.  Troubled thoughts and a hurting heart about some things within our family relationships or with my children’s behaviors that I wished would be different—that I wished would be better.  And things within my own self I wished were also different or better.  I wanted some things that it was not time to have.

I take relational things deeply to heart, I cannot help it.  I cannot change it.  God gave me this tender heart and that is what I live with.  Relationships affect me profoundly.  With the candle business and busyness, God gave me an outlet, a change of scenery.  I am so thankful.  I could take my focus off of what I had been dwelling on and thrust my mind into different place.

So, in a very quick summary, there have been the last two months of my life.  It’s “funny” and ironic now, writing about it.  I had been thinking that my spirituality and relationship with God had flat lined over the past couple of months in all my doing and laboring.  However, now I see that is not true.  God has been near as He has always been near.  My place with Him has not fluctuated—only my perception of the reality.  I was thinking that because I had not been able to read the Scriptures very much or journal or spend dedicated time in prayer, that somehow I had neglected my relationship with God and drawn away.  But throughout all of this labor, my relationship with Him has continued.  It has just been in a different way, in a different season of life, on a different path.  The past two months have been full of spiritual realities and growth which I am just now beginning to see and understand.  The past two months were a salvation from myself.

I continue to thank Him for all He has done, is doing, and will be faithful to complete in His perfect ways.  I am more than grateful for all He is teaching me, even though sometimes I’m throwing a big tantrum along the way.  No, I cannot always understand why things have to be one way or another. Frankly, there are times I’m downright angry about it and desperately want to change the circumstances.  However, I have come to solid ground believing that God will do what God will do—not what Mary Ann wants Him to do.  I’ve also learned that hindsight reveals so much that could not be seen by present sight.  His ways and His plans are perfect.  Mine are quite imperfect.  By faith, I continue to believe in Him, in His work, in His power, and in His indisputable sovereignty.

It’s just about time to welcome 2011, so I will end this writing with one of my favorite verses of this past year.  It is one of my favorites because it speaks volumes of God’s sovereignty over all of His creation:

“The God Who makes the world and all that is in it, He, the Lord inherent of heaven and earth, is not dwelling in temples made by hands, neither is He attended by human hands, as if requiring anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all...for in Him we are living and moving and are...” (Acts 17:24-28)

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