It was March 2016. The picture below is the setup of my first table at Hub City Farmers market.
Do not despise these small beginnings…
Maybe not, although I think I “despised” it on my first market day, as that huge space seemed to swallow my small number of product offerings. Compared to everyone around me, it seemed I was way out of my league. But, I gather there is some truth to the saying. We started very small, with not even enough material to fill my first booth at the farmer’s market, to where we literally have to pick and choose what we carry to events, because our product line has grown, and continues to grow. The table below is my setup at one of the later markets.
The year marks seven years of doing business as The CoffeeLady31.
There’s an old negro spiritual that says “ My soul looks back and wonders how I got over.” The lyrics once far removed as a child speak volumes within my soul and spirit at the tender age of 58, as I literally look back and wonder, how did we get here.
I’m not sure of the actual date of turning seven, like a birthdate, death date or date of marriage. There were many hurdles jumped in 2016. The decision to apply to be a vendor at the local farmer’s market was in January, the actual acceptance was in March. The first product sold was in March. I got the EIN and retail license in September 2016. But the year 2016, clearly marks a year of firsts and small beginnings.
My soul looks back and wonders how I got over.
I have used the seventh month of this seventh year as a sabbatical month. Preacher and I spent a few days at the first of the month on individual local retreats, meeting up for dinner. I spent those days at a gem of a bed and breakfast tucked in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Clevedale Inn. We also took our normal joint retreat to St. Augustine, making quick stops in Charleston and St. Helena(a new favorite place). Peace and Plenty Inn in St. Augustine is definitely my sweet home away from home. It’s the only place, other than home, that I hate to leave.
Lots of emotions have mulled around during this month of repose. Wonder, amazement, joy and sorrow. The time has been one of refreshing, renewal, reviving and re-emergence; but the attitude that dominates is that of gratitude.
Don’t Ever Forget
As I reflect in gratitude, I’m reminded of the words given to me at the start of this journey, ”don’t ever forget.” It was probably in the middle of one of the many events at which we were vendors, maybe a day when the sales were very good, or maybe not. I heard these words after reading the story of the Hebrews in the eight chapter of Deuteronomy when they were about to be delivered from their wildness place. YHWH reminded me, don’t ever forget, how I got over.
The moments of uncertainty, fear and just the wonder if this little business would survive the test of times were/are great. Mind you, at the back of my thoughts was the first failed attempt at entrepreneurship, at which I had vowed to never do again. Anxieties were/are very much alive and well.
However, gratitude swarms the heart during this sabbatical season, for by the Grace of God, somehow this dream and vision are still alive and vibrant. And not without its share of challenges. We’ve overcome a lot. Preacher’s year long battle with complications after HS surgery; getting fired from my job for no reason; a snowstorm on the weekend of our shop’s grand opening, marital woes, loss of friendships, a new grand baby and now grandbabies, a pandemic; the list seems endless and is too much and too messy to expose every detail. But, somehow, we're still here. My soul looks back and wonders, how I got over.
I’ve often heard that the journey is more important than the actual destination. No one likes to hear that, and I especially did not want to hear it, as I took this leap of faith into entrepreneurship again. Earth Girl could never quite grasp that concept, until Earth Girl grasped the concept and began to enjoy the journey. Miraculously, the steady walk became easier and easier, even amidst tears and trials, beauty and blessings. Along the way, I was given words of affirmation, words to live by, mantras that continue to be pivotal in the journey of this vision, and in my life personally.
YHWH and me
“Write the Vision, make it plain.” they say…well the Bible also says. And we did. And oh the excitement at writing the vision. Writing the vision is the easy part. But, what is often not said or quoted is that the vision has to be a vision for an appointed time. The Vision becomes reality when the set time for it being a vision has expired. So, in the meantime, we sit with this huge vision in our laps, while all hell breaks loose around us.
They also don’t tell you that you are typically the only one who sees the vision. So, even when The Spirit is speaking these great things to you, in most cases no one sees it but you. This was the case for me and preacher. Yes, even your spouse may not see the entirety of the vision. It was hard for preacher to grasp all that I was seeing of The Vision, as hard as I tried to explain it. I tell you, it makes for shaky ground in a marriage. He did not or could not see what I had been shown. The Vision typically only speaks to the one who is having it. Couple that with a very caustic work environment, and can I say, the struggle for Earth Girl was real.
But, The Spirit gave me the mantra, YHWH and me. Jehovah-Jireh. There’s a story in the Bible where Abraham was tested with his son Isaac, and just in the knick of a time of decision, a ram was provided in the bush to sacrifice, instead of his son. Jehovah-Jireh he named the place, The Lord Will Provide. And the phrase has stuck with me throughout the course of this journey, Jehovah-Jireh. And He has provided, for every time I looked into the bush, there was a ram of provision.
There have been other times of enlightenment and inspiration, most developing into part of my daily mantra. Many stories from the Bible that have encouraged and inspired me, many remaining part of my daily mantra to date. One story that sticks out is the one of Elijah and the widow at Zarephath. There was a famine, and Elijah stopped by her house and asked for food. She had just enough oil and flour in her barrels for she and her son to eat their last meal.
It was necessary for me to understand, as I begin to walk out this vision, that provision had already been made for it. I didn't need to make it happen, I just needed to allow it to happen. Somehow, miraculously, things would always work out. There would always be a ram in the bush. There would always be enough flour and oil in the barrel. Provision always came, often in ways that I least expected.
Two Roads...or More
I love this poem by Robert Frost. It just seems to always mimic my life. I seem to always find myself at forks in the road. Sometimes the road look less traveled, and sometimes not. Sometimes there were two roads, sometimes twenty-two. Sometimes it would seem one decision to lead to one fork, and yet another fork, and yet another fork. I would often look back, and ask, 'how did I get here?" But in every situation, the ultimate decision would always be whether or not I would continue the journey. And somehow, once the decision was made to continue, I would always hear a word behind me saying, go this way or that.
Go Where the Ripples Flow
I will end this blog with this mantra of mine that continues to set my current pace. My journey has taken turns that I never dreamed; some good and some not so good. Most days, I’m not sure where I’m going, but I know who I am following and the purpose. I liken it to this, which is also a mantra of mine. I place my foot into the river and go wherever the ripple takes me. Each step brings forth a new set of ripples, new directions, new goals, new adventures. I start this eighth year, the year of new beginnings, with these same feet stepping into a different place in the river, following yet a new set of ripples.
With a sense of settling seeming to take place, after a very tumultuous spring and early summer, the vision, once again, becoming clearer. The days are getting shorter and hotter, a sure sign that fall will surely come. They’ve already started with the fall decor in department stores. Even Halloween!
I step from this sabbatical with this new mantra:
Slow down, Take Your Time, Enjoy the Journey…and Breathe