This is our story… it’s a story about how Joel and I had the audacity to think jewelry could actually change lives.
Up until 2015 I had dedicated my life to chronic illness ministry. See, I am getting close to three decades of living with rheumatoid arthritis and every day has been a physical challenge since that diagnoses in 1993.
But I tend to need something constructive to do.I get bored sitting around thinking about those challenges, so I always need a project (or my husband would say 10 projects!)
I loved every day of what I did all those years--building a faith-based community for the chronically ill, speaking at conferences and exhibiting to create awareness, writing books, and even starting one of the first online virtual events. We were on the internet in groups back when we would post announcements on MySpace.
So, I loved it. I breathed it. I worked on it at 2AM when I couldn’t sleep.
But life shifts… and I did what I swore I’d never do… I started homeschooling our son.
Long story… but we felt we could better meet his needs at home.
So he and I were getting into a groove… and then… Joel’s job was eliminated.
After 20 years he got the we-need-to-see-you-in-the-office message.
Life… Can we yell “PLOT TWIST!?”
We looked closely at our experiences and skills and passions, but didn’t see anything that could pay the bills, especially the ever-increasing health insurance bills that keep me walking.
So as he looked for a job he also began a local college class on computer programming. And he loved it. But how many years would it take to have a job that could support our family?
Ever since the days when we had dated we would sit at a coffee house and have the “wouldn’t it be fun to start a business” conversation. Was now the time?
Except… we had no idea what our business would be! We talked about writing books, or doing something within the ministry like speaking and writing as a team. But I couldn’t see the income we needed being there and we had just made a conscious choice to homeschool our son.
During the middle of this, I had been playing around with making some jewelry for volunteer gifts (trying for days to figure out how to avoid air bubbles…)
The day Joel came home with the contents of his office in a few boxes I had the kitchen table covered with my crafts.
So, on a whim, I suggested we put my jewelry online to sell and see what happened. Maybe we could pay a bill or two.
The cost of COBRA’s health insurance that I needed was astronomical and I hoped I could contribute.
Within a few weeks, we saw the potential...
I read over ten books on how to launch handmade businesses. I was up all night studying why certain businesses thrived while others failed.
Late at night I would rattle off statistics and say “We can DO this…” I have to say that Joel never doubted me.
It was actually a crazy idea... and some people didn’t hesitate to tell us that. ☺️
But we believe in a God who thrives in revealing His hand in the craziest of ideas.
And honestly, it was therapeutic to design and glue glass pieces all day that said things like “The Lord will fight for you…” and “Don’t stop when you’re tired. Stop when you’re done.”
I started to think that if this 30mm piece of glass was encouraging me, maybe it could encourage someone else too.
And encouraging people? That is just part of my DNA. I couldn’t not have a business that wasn’t grounded in making someone feel a little bit better.
We all need a little something to hold onto during tough times, right? Why can’t that something be… JEWELRY?
All the circumstances should have discouraged us...
I mean, there isn’t a shortage of jewelry businesses, right? And Joel’s dream job wasn’t exactly making jewelry. The unemployment rate in our neighborhood is relatively low because people have to move. You can’t survive here long without an income. Plus, we were trying to homeschool our son.
And on top of all of that, I never knew what my body would do on any given day.If I could walk or be stuck in a chair with an ice bag. If my hands would cooperate with my plans. Or if even my jaw would swell shut for a few days (another example of God’s sense of humor!)
And it was around this time I started becoming tired-- tired like I’d never experienced before.
But there were plenty of reasons for the stress to make me sleep less, which resulted in a bigger flare, which made one tired.
So I kept praying and kept gluing. I had Joel build a lightbox and I started trying to learn how to photograph the jewelry.
But I was just… so… tired… I could barely hold a coffee cup up to my lips.
One night I looked down at my hands and they were translucent. So I went to find Joel and our son in the other room… “I think you better take me to the hospital…”
> read Part 2
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