Last January, on the encouragement of my mother-in-law and others, I started the process of turning my little Christmas-season fundraiser into a legal business. It was a daunting task and I experienced a lot of self doubt. But I got it all taken care of and turned my attention to lining up places to sell.
In March I made some samples, printed out pictures, and nervously went to craft fair jurying at a local Catholic school. This school holds a three-day fair every winter. This is the big one. If you're a vendor, this is the one you want to be invited to. They invite back the top 75% of vendors every year, leaving only about 25 available spots to be fought over.
I felt under-qualified and very anxious. In the car on the drive home, I prayed to Heavenly Father and basically put it into His hands. "If this is what you want me to do and it would be a positive experience for my family, please make it so." Two months later, I didn't receive an acceptance letter in the mail as I hoped. Bummer. Oh well, I guess it wasn't meant to be.
Then in late September I got a surprise phone call from the school. They had a spot open up and wanted me to fill it! It was so exciting and validating! But then two days later I realized that in order to be a vendor, you're required to commit to selling on all three days of the fair, including Sunday, which is my Sabbath. Why didn't I notice that when I first applied? I felt so stupid for not knowing beforehand and wasting my time and theirs by going through the jurying process.
I called the school immediately and bowed out. Our family Christmas budget depends on the success of my sales each year. And now with all the expenses I incurred with license fees and insurance, it was extremely important that I move more product. I was so sad that I would miss this incredible opportunity, but keeping the Sabbath day holy is non-negotiable for me. And for me, that means not working on my business on that day.
I prayed hard. I knew Heavenly Father knew what was going on and I exercised faith that all would work out.
The fall and winter went on, I was able to sell at 4 different fairs (one ended up being on the same Saturday as the "Big One"), I got a ton of custom orders, and it seemed to be going well. And yet, as I recorded my expenses and sales as I went along, I began to doubt myself and worry. It appeared that I wasn't going to turn a very large profit this year, if any at all. I was putting too much work into this to have such a sad balance sheet! I cursed the state of California and it's oppressive small business regulations.
I counseled with Hubby and he assured me that even if I didn't turn a huge profit this year, that it was ok and nothing to fret over. Yes, our financial situation sucks and a successful small business would be a huge blessing (not just for Christmas), but we've always managed somehow before. If nothing else, this was a valuable year of learning!
True to form, I stressed out while Hubby was calm and faithful. I worried about how to provide a nice Christmas for the kids while he told me to chill out and reminded me that things always work out one way or another.
Then we started to experience blessings and miracles.
With the assistance of wonderful friends, we were able to find a few nice presents for the kids at great discount or free. I was content.
And then just a few days before Christmas, after all my fairs were done and orders delivered, I sat down again to evaluate my balance sheet. I discovered a huge accounting error!
I don't know how it happened, but somewhere along the line I must have recorded something wrong. It turned out that I had made a profit much larger than I thought. It felt like one of those "tithing testimonies" that I have heard so many times. The ones where people say, "I was faithful and paid my tithing even though it looked like I wouldn't have enough room in the budget for it. And then at the end of the month I miraculously had enough for everything. The math didn't add up but everything was provided for."
As I sat in Sacrament meeting this Sunday, the talk was about blessings of keeping the Sabbath day holy. I felt the clear impression that this unexpected profit was to teach me that I was right in trusting in God and turning down that big fair. I was blessed for not hesitating to stay true to my convictions.
Heavenly Father knows the end from the beginning. I didn't need that three-day fair. Heavenly Father knew that my family would be just fine without it. And furthermore, I believe His hand helped guide and inspire the friends who told me about three of my four successful fairs. I was having no luck in doing my own research, but these ladies each knew about opportunities and thoughtfully passed the info along to me.
Having faith means to believe something even though you can't see it. That includes acting according to your beliefs, even though you don't know what the outcome will be. Sometimes our faith and trust in the Lord is rewarded with immediate blessings. And sometimes we have to wait a little while (or a long while.) God loves us and He knows perfectly our situation, personality, struggles, what we need to learn, and how and when we need to learn it.