I’ve shared about my business before and how it all began, but I haven’t shared the entire story.
…and it’s time that I do.
So, let’s go back to 2008. I was a youth pastor’s wife/stay-at-home mom of a 2 month old and 17 month old. The story of my life was diapers and bottles. And for someone who isn’t a “baby person”, it was really hard at times. On top of the strain that comes with little sleep and being “needed” all day long, our finances were tighter than they had ever been before.
It wasn’t just that we didn’t have “fun money” or couldn’t go out to eat or take a vacation. We didn’t have cable TV or internet. I used to spend all day in the dark, lights turned out and everything unplugged that wasn’t in use. I would angst at the grocery store, calculator in hand, figuring out what we could do without. The thought of an unexpected expense, like a speeding ticket or medical bill made me crumple on the floor.
This was all true, but the thing that was so sweet about this time was that all of our needs were always met. Always. We could pay every bill. We never went hungry. People were so generous to give us clothes, gift cards, diapers, groceries, toys for the boys, furniture, etc. I got to experience God’s provision, that often defied explanation, first hand. I had to walk in faith in a more literal way than ever before. It felt precarious and scary, but we were always blessed beyond measure.
As we tip-toed the tightrope of living on little, we finally started to lose our balance. We had a student loan that had been looming for years and the monthly payments finally came due. It was $256/month that wasn’t in the already bare-bones budget. I don’t think I’ve ever wished more that money would just fall from the sky. How were we going to make it?
I kicked around the idea of working in retail at the outlet mall, but we didn’t think it would be worth the time away from home. I had fleeting thoughts of starting a business, but the idea of insurance and taxes and all of the business side of things crushed that idea before it even got up off the ground. I’m not an entrepreneur.
Then, provision came from an unexpected place. Our church was looking for someone to clean for the preschool that meets there. It paid just enough to cover our student loan payment. I had some flexibility, but I would have to work the job with my boys in tow. This wasn’t a time to be choosy, though, and turn my nose up at a way to earn much-needed income. I accepted.
I started off strong. I am someone who actually enjoys cleaning, so I figured this would be easy for me. The reality was a bit different, though. Trying to keep my eye on the 20 month old as he played with toys in the preschool and wearing my youngest in a baby carrier as I worked eventually started to wear on me. Cleaning toilets and mopping floors with a baby strapped to my chest showed me a lot about who I was. I knew I was looking a blessing in the face and complaining about it; having a little pity party for myself. I saw a lot of pride in a corner of my heart that I didn’t know was there. It was eye opening and humbling in a variety of ways.
These were the events that led to “the breakdown” I have shared about, just not in such detail. I was talking to my mom on the phone one morning and it just all spilled out. I was drained. I was struggling as a mom. I felt like I was a failure in so many areas. Life was swallowing me whole. I sobbed and felt sorry for myself.
I thought my mom would coddle me, but instead, she spoke firmly to me and told me to stop crying and do something about it. She confronted me on the fact that I had been talking about starting a business, but kept making excuses. She believed in me and pushed me to action. “Do it. Do it and we’ll help.”
As I mentioned before, I had a dream of starting my own business. I don’t know if it was even a dream, to be truthful. I had mentioned it the way you mention something that sounds good to do someday, but you doubt you’ll ever really do it. The idea started with a mural that I worked on with one of my friends. We painted a “Guess How Much I Love You” mural together in my son’s nursery (that eventually became my office.)
I never considered myself an artist, but someone who dabbled in decorative painting. The mural gave me confidence…I felt like I could do this for other people.
So, when my mom prompted me, the notion of starting a decorative painting and mural business went from a seemingly unrealistic idea to something I couldn’t afford to not do. I needed to do it. And my mom took away all of the excuses I had. My parents would provide what I needed to get started…a computer, a ladder, some paint, an accountant, accounting software, a first quarter of liability insurance and business cards.
As soon as I hung up the phone, I felt a new energy surge through me. Could I really do this?
I spoke to Jeff about it and we prayed about it and we decided to go for it. Now, when I say “go for it”, the plan was that I would offer decorative painting and mural services for clients and create some hand painted items to sell at craft fairs. It was a small “go for it”, but it was something.
Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I had to think about goals and a plan of action. I had a list of tasks to accomplish and I was able to cross them off and celebrate productivity. I had no clue what I was doing, but that didn’t seem to matter. I felt hopeful and, in that hope, I felt more capable in the everyday tasks that only days before were so overwhelming to me.
I still don’t think I can fully articulate the change that happened within me, but starting my business was just the step of faith I needed at that time in my life. Hence the name of my business.
The “Mustard Seed” in my name is a reference to a Bible verse, in case you didn’t know.
“I tell you the truth, if you have faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move and nothing will be impossible for you.”
Nothing will be impossible. That’s what I needed – possibility…