Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Pressure For a Good Picture

Phew! We got everyone dressed and out into the greenbelt behind my folks' house inbetween rain showers on Sunday and got ONE decent family photo for this year.


{Andrew is now 6 and Ethan is 2.5}

And it all started when I found those adorable argyle ties at a craft show.

COMING SOON....our 2011 family newsletter!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Turns Out, the Grass IS Greener

We've been in our new place in the southeast Phoenix valley for over four months now and are finally (mostly) settled in.

I'd wanted to live closer to my folks for a long time, probably ever since our first son was born six years ago. We'd lived 50 miles away, which meant a lot of long drives home late at night, often with a baby on board.

I had done a lot of fantasizing about what it would be like to live closer together. {cue dream sequence music} I imagined dropping by for a cup of coffee in the morning or to smoke a cigar with my dad on the back porch at night. I figured we'd shop at Costco and split our purchases. I'd be able to leave the boys for a couple of hours so I could go shopping. My mom and I could consult each other on our makeup and wardrobe for special events and borrow nail polish and jewelry from each other. My dad and I could talk business over lunch. We could go on impromptu outings and celebrate holidays without spending the hour-and-a-half on the road. I thought it would be marvelous.

Beyond that, we hoped that our move would mean more career and ministry opportunities for us, an excellent school for our son to attend kindergarten, neighbors we could build relationships with, more fun things to do as a family and so much more.

But you know how it is: reality often does not live up to the fantasy. The grass is rarely greener on the other side.

But, in the four months since we started this new adventure, as my husband often points out: we ARE "living the dream." Our life here is amazing and we are thrilled with our home, our neighborhood and my son's school. I have found a wonderful church home where I can do what I love: write. Being closer to my parents is an absolute blessing, even better than I'd anticipated. It is everything we had hoped and prayed for--and more! God is so good. As my mom posted on our fridge when we first moved in: "He has done all things well."

Our new home has grass in the front and back yards. It's partly why I was so drawn to this house when we were shopping around.

I haven't had grass in the yard since we lived in Florida in 1998. Just being barefoot on the grass makes me feel like I am truly home.

I imagined how much fun the boys would have on it, running through the sprinkler, playing football and wrestling. They have done all of that.

My father-in-law recently brought his dog for a visit and seeing the boys play with the dog on our lawn made my heart so happy.

I love sitting on my swing and looking out over the grass, watching the birds in the trees and gazing at the Arizona-blue sky. It just feels right. Like I'm exactly where I'm meant to be.

Turns out, the grass IS greener here. I had always known it would be.

Friday, December 2, 2011

When Direct Sales Calls {part 2}

{To read part 1 of how direct sales called my name, click HERE}

....About a month ago, I realized that I HAD to find a job. I didn't have the luxury of treating another business like a hobby. I knew that whatever I did next HAD to be "it!" Even if it wasn't really "it," I was going to MAKE it "IT!" So I started soul searching and praying and trying to figure out my next move. Even as I started to pursue launching a brand new business idea of my own, I could still hear it....direct sales was calling.

So I started looking for a job. Not just any job....but a job where I was the boss and could write my own ticket, as they say. I wanted it to utilize my talents and abilities and make good use of my past experiences. For days, all I did was brainstorm ideas. What am I good at, what do people tell me I should do, what gets me excited, what would really make money?

Around that time, I attended a Christian Women in Business conference at a local church. My parents own a home painting business and I went representing them as their "color picker" but had an open mind as to other doors that God might be opening. In one of the break-out sessions, I was struck by the man who introduced the speaker. He was a long-time Arizona native and one of his many jobs was as a "business developer." I had a strong feeling that I needed to talk to him so I contacted his secretary and set up an appointment. Beforehand, I talked to my husband about my "dream job" and when I met with this gentleman, Jim, I told him about it. I told him that I love supporting women with their own businesses, I love planning and hosting events and I love networking. I also told him that I was ready to narrow my focus to ONE thing and really make a go of it.

Jim came up with a brilliant idea that involved me creating and launching my own business--something no one else was doing. I started telling people about it, making phone calls to set up my first event and pitched the idea to my family. I followed Jim's advice and read the books he recommended and purchased the domain name, too. {I hope, by the way, that someone would like to run with my idea someday because I'd be thrilled to give it away.} Ultimately, creating a business from scratch was terrible intimidating and when I told people about it, they were confused by my idea. I realized that I was even confused about what I was doing! So, I put it on the back burner and decided to wait a while before putting any more money into it.

In the meantime, I was still praying for God to open doors for me. At that Christian Women in Business conference, my mom and I shared a table with a realtor who belonged to a local networking group and she invited us to attend the next meeting. I wasn't able to go but my mom did. Besides having a great time, she met a lady who was also attending for the first time. This woman, Sherrian, happened to be THE Mary Kay lady of the retirement community only five miles away from our neighborhood.

My mom met with Sherrian soon after that for a Mary Kay skin care session and reported to me that I would love her when I met her. When she described Sherrian (a national trainer for Mary Kay who gave back to the community, had a beautiful home and happened to have her OWN networking group), I instantly thought, "She is who I want to be."

Mom and I attended Sherrian's networking group that next week. When they introduced me to the other 40-plus women in the room (all with a variety of businesses they owned), I told them about my business idea (the idea Jim had given me). Afterward, I met and chatted with Sherrian. She wished me luck with the business idea and said, "I can see you having your own networking group," and I told her that I actually wanted her life and that she was doing what I wanted to do! I told her about my passion for women and how I'd always dreamed of being a leader. I told her that I was going to pursue my other business idea...but that I definitely needed to make money in the meantime. She said, "Well, you need to do Mary Kay," and handed me their promotional flier for the business opportunity. She would later tell me that she just 'had a feeling' that she needed to share the business opportunity with me that night. Interesting.

So I mulled over the Mary Kay idea and when I went home and told my husband about what Sherrian said, he laughed. He'd heard that story before. I'd been tempted by the Mary Kay opportunity many, many times over the years, partly because I love their products and the company philosophies and partly because of the 50% profit. But I knew my husband was thinking, "Here she goes, launching yet another 'it' business," so I didn't pursue it any further. It almost seemed too obvious to do Mary Kay.

After that, my back-burner business idea still didn't take off. I was still searching. I attended a makeover event at Sherrian's house (which she used to help train the women on her team) and, once again, left thinking, "I could've done that better" and that I had an edge over all the consultants in the room. I knew direct sales, I knew skin care and makeup, I knew women and I even knew a lot about Mary Kay. My mom and grandmother also attended, and echoed my thoughts. "You could SO do that," my mom said.

Then I started thinking more and more about Mary Kay. I mentioned it again to my husband. I journaled and prayed. I studied the catalog. Was this really IT?!? Maybe just because it was obvious didn't mean it wasn't right.

{continue with part 3, coming soon!}