About a year and a half ago, I woke up with a sinking feeling of professional un-fulfillment. The feeling left me asking God questions. How could I feel unfulfilled? I just wrapped up my most profitable Christmas season since opening my stationery business and after a 10-year career in pharmaceutical sales, I was finally using my gifts and doing what I loved. And, that’s when it hit me. My gifts aren’t mine for my personal fulfillment. My gifts are to be used to fulfill others. And above all, I was called to use my gifts to bring God glory! Peter reminds us that, “each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in it’s various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10) By God’s grace alone, I have the gifts I do and it was on that day that I wanted to use those gifts to bring Him glory.
So I asked God, How do I use a custom stationery business to bring you glory? The Bible promises that if you “Draw near to God, He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) So I closed my Etsy shop for the month of January (2015). I prayed more, was in the Word more, fasted from things that were important to me and most importantly sat still long enough to listen. Over the course of the month, I ended up writing over a 100 short devotions. God gave me words and I didn’t know why . . .. until He started really stirring my heart for the spiritually starved woman. I knew from my own experience that it was much too easy to get wrapped up in my own life and to-do list than give God my time. And, as women we tend to focus more on the needs of others, than our own needs. I wanted to create a tool that gave women a place to set their priorities and focus on making God their number one priority. And that’s when He laid the big idea of the Devotional Planner on my heart. A tool to keep women organized and also anchored in God’s Word.
So the next question to God was – Ok, God, great idea, but how on earth do I even bring something like this to market? And, at this time, it was already March 2015, so how could I launch my planner in time to start selling for 2016?
At the same time, there was a conference that I was following on Instagram that kept peaking my interest. It was really intimate and specifically focused on creative entrepreneurs, but it was quite pricey. I really felt God wanted me there. So Greg and I were having a lunch date one day and I told him about it (along with the hefty price tag) and he did not hesitate for one second. He said, “You should go!” I almost choked on my pita bread. You must know that I am married to one of the most financially conservative men on the face of the planet (which is a total blessing since he’s married to one of the most financially frazzled women on the planet). So for him to have pushed me to go, meant God was guiding his heart too.
As I flew to Nashville, Tennessee to attend the Inspired Retreat, I had this gut feeling that God was not going to let me miss out on this calling He placed on my heart. Before I get into what He did, I have to plug this conference to any of you who feel God calling you to start a new business? That hefty price tag I spoke of earlier? It was worth . . . every. single. penny. It is, to date, the best investment into my business (except my graphic designer J). The conference is small. Only 30ish attendees, and about the same amount of speakers. The speakers eat with you, fireside chat with you, hike with you, etc., for the entire four days. So not only do you gain their breadth of knowledge in the sessions they teach, but they selflessly and genuinely want to help you live out your potential and impart all of their wisdom on you. I HIGHLY recommend it. So, back to how God moved. The first night we sat around a fire and one of the speakers (Ashlee Proffitt…love her, go follow her!) asked us to share our fears. When my turn came, I said my fear is that I don’t sell all of the planners and I waste our savings on a failed business. You know what she said to me? “So what.” Friends, I went all the way to Tennessee from California to have God tell me, “So what.” No joke! It was in that moment that I heard God say through Ashlee’s words, if you follow me and my call on your life, the outcome doesn’t matter (good or bad). He reminded me that my obedience to Him meant total surrender to Him. Surrendering not only to the calling at the moment, but also to the outcome of that calling. I had to let go of the outcome and just trust Him with ALL of it. He also reminded me that the money that we have been fortunate enough to save did not belong to us. It was ALL His! So I handed it over to God that night, filled up an entire notebook of business advice and sketched out the layout of the planner on my flight home.
A few nights later we had small group. I shared all about God showing up so tangibly at my conference and how I felt God telling me I needed help to pull this off. I am a self-taught graphic designer and knew that my beginner skills could not pull off this huge project of 365 days of content and design. I was reading about Solomon building his temple and how God brought him Huram-Abi, a skilled master worker at just the right time. Well, that night God opened the door to my very own Huram-Abi. As I was explaining this to our small group one of the husbands said, “We know the perfect person! And, she is trying to make extra money right now because she and her entire family are heading to Rwanda this summer (which, by the way, we were going to Rwanda that summer, too! God loves details!). I met sweet and oh so talented Jorden two days later, hired her on the spot and she and I, with God at the helm, pulled off bringing the 2016 Anchored Press Devotional Planner to you from start to finish in 5 months!
Was it a walk in the park? No. Did we make mistakes? Definitely yes! Did my family see less of me? Yes. Did I make a ton of money? Definitely no! BUT, I grew closer to God through all of it! Every single detail brought me closer to Him. It was one of the most beautiful times in my walk with God. And, do you know why? Because I was so dependent on Him. I honestly thought I would reach out to 100 influential Christian women and they would all post about it on their social media outlets and I would sell out by January 1st. Ha! That did not happen. I had a handful of incredibly selfless influential Christian women who put the word out for me, but nowhere near what I needed to “sellout.” Looking back, I realize nothing could have stopped me. I had this crazy steadfast faith. I knew I was right where God wanted me and knew that He would put every single planner into the hands of exactly who needed them. And, He did.
So fast-forward to a couple weeks before Christmas. That steadfast faith I had for almost an entire year? It was suddenly being attacked. I couldn’t sleep. I doubted. That fear I spoke of earlier, came back, yet full throttle. I would pray over and over again, “Lord, please just let us pay back our savings…that’s all I ask.” And, then after a week of sleepless, doubting, fearful nights, I was doing my “Esther” Bible study homework when Beth Moore was explaining a tough time in her life. She said, "As much as my flesh wanted relief, I knew that when all was said and done, I'd sit on that side of glory, having much rather fulfilled my calling than served myself all the way to meaninglessness. I had to accept that I was not called to an easy life. I was called to a purposeful life." I started to weep! Like a big ugly weep. I thought back to where I was a year ago, running my busy stationery business. And, yes, it was easier and more comfortable and certainly less stressful than launching a product with a four month sales window. BUT, was I bringing God glory? Was I bringing others into communion with God? Was I as close to my Heavenly Father as I am today? No, to all of those questions. In that moment I heard God so clearly say to me, “Even if you bring one person closer to me, that is enough.” In that moment I realized that just as much as the call on my life is His, so is the outcome and He is in control.
And, in typical God fashion, the very next day He proved to me that He is in control. I got a very special surprise. It was a little after 7am and I was doing my quiet time. When I get a sale my phone let’s off a cha-ching sound. All of a sudden my phone started going crazy with cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching . . . one after another and wouldn’t stop. I excitingly thought, someone must have talked about it! I hopped on Instagram and was about to put in #anchoredpress when I saw one of my followers post, “Kathy Lee and Hoda just featured your planner on The Today Show!” So naturally I … SCREAMED! And Greg came running in. The first thing I said to him was, “Oh, no!” (thinking how are we going to get all of these shipped before Christmas?…that was in 3 days!) and then I fell to my knees and wept-thanking God for this gift that was no doubt straight from Him. Proving to me once again that He is in control of every single detail. And, can you believe we did get all of the planners shipped that day? We had our loving community pull together and help us package and ship hundreds of planners. Seeing everyone come to together and help us pray over every planner was more precious to me than any number of sales we received that day.
So when I started this business, like most businesses, my measure of success was selling out all of the planners. But, the funny thing is my success story was not dependent on a sell out, but rather on how dependent I was on God. By being dependent on Him I was able to experience a lavish love from Him and witness His faithfulness in a way I never would have, had I sold out by Christmas. You see my husband and I kept going back and forth on two quantities to print. We were in the middle of a series at church called, Daring Faith, so we felt the smaller number just wasn’t daring enough and we went for the bigger number! We knew, regardless the outcome, if I was being obedient to God’s call on my life, He would be in the center of it. And we were right! Had we gone for the smaller number we would have sold out very quickly. And, remember when I told you I prayed over and over again, “Lord, please just let us pay back our savings…that’s all I ask.” Well, that’s all I asked for and that’s exactly what we got (and not a penny more . . . LOL!). We truly consider our first year a success story because it’s God’s story. And, the story goes on and there are so many more details I want to share but I’m sort of thinking very few of you are still hanging onto this CRAZY LONG blog post so I’ll save those details for later! My prayer is that what you take away from my story is that when God puts a call on your heart, trust Him, surrender your fear to Him and know that whatever the outcome you would rather “sit on that side of glory, having much rather fulfilled your calling than served yourself all the way to meaninglessness.”
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Ephesians 3:20
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I love your story! Just found you through Rachel Cruze’s Instagram. God stories are my absolute favorite: how He shows up in amazing ways knocks my socks off sometimes! Many blessings to you! I’m looking forward to trying out your planner!
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I love this and I love you more! Your story is my story! I am honored and humbled to get to play a tiny tiny part in you next chapter! Hope we meet in person someday:) xoxo