Monday, February 12, 2018

Not Looking For Mr. Darcy

What is with this fascination with Mr. Darcy, ladies?

Really, seriously… I need to have this explained to me, in detail. WHY are ladies so fascinated by him?

It’s got to be because he’s rich, because otherwise… he’s just ‘ewwwwww’. He’s snotty, snobby, tosses insults around like the flower petals fangirls throw in his path… Not to mention the whole lack of emotions thing? Not attractive. Not attractive in the least.

So can someone explain why girls are so wild to go looking for someone like him? Why there are a thousand and one quotes about trying to find 'my Mr Darcy' or how you should be a Lizzie and catch a Darcy on Pinterest? I could understand (almost) any other Jane Austen hero*. Mr. Knightly, Mr. Tilney, even Colonel Brandon… but Darcy? Good grief.

Maybe I’m the odd one out but I’m not interested in finding a guy who insult my family, treats me like dirt in social settings and seems to think that helping a sister out of a situation he could have prevented will gain his fair lady’s affections. If Darcy’s total lack of manners isn’t enough, the fact that he has no problem meddling in the affairs of his friend should be sufficient to scratch him off the list of ideal literary husband material.

So, let’s think about this from the perspective of a Christian young woman who is keeping an eye out for the right guy (I refrain from saying looking/searching for a husband because that is no woman’s job- he pursues you, not the other way around, ladies)

1. Darcy was prideful
Yeah, this is in the title, I know. But think about that, won’t you? Darcy’s of the world would go totally against the Bible, especially the fruit of the Spirit. Your modern day Darcy would be a poor choice for a husband, since he’s going to lack the traits a Godly man would have and exhibit all the ones he shouldn't have. Plus, I don’t know about you but I’d rather not have a guy who is the subject of Proverbs 11:2, 16:5, 29:23, 16:18, and 8:13- also James 4:6, and 1 John 2:16. Just saying. Think wisely about whether that is acting with a Christ like attitude before you praise it.

2. Darcy was mean
Face facts, he was pure mean in that first proposal. Insulting Elizabeth’s family? Totally not necessary to the proposal. Any man comes along insulting my family before proposing, I’d say the last part of Matthew 12:34 comes into play (You know, ‘for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh) and he’s probably been dying to say something cruel about my family from the start. No thanks. Moving on. Plus does he just really think he can skip the whole ‘be ye kind one to another’ part of Ephesians 4:32? Wow, what a great modern day husband he would be. Probably would tell me just how fat I look in the dress, beyond a loving ‘maybe that’s not the dress for you, dear’. Perfect, isn’t he?

3. Darcy meddled
Obviously the best way to show your friends you care is to break apart their potential relationships. Translated to modern day times: Darcy would text your sister’s boyfriend and let him know she seems to be a flirt, he’s wasting his time, and the boyfriend should probably just block her on all social media. Let’s not forget, if your other sister gets into trouble due to his not speaking up about a guy he knew was no good- oh, but you can totally forget that because when he tries to fix the problem after the fact you’ll be so in love, it won’t matter. Yes, definitely, modern day Darcy, you are so the right man for every Christian girl to admire! Way to create problems to solve so you look like the good guy once everyone is reunited/saved from ruin!

4. Darcy was rich
No, being rich doesn’t inherently make him evil. But ladies, there are a lot of good guys out there who don’t own their own Pemberley. And just because a guy is rich- or sort of rich, or maybe just a little on the more wealthy side of the spectrum- doesn’t mean he’s a nice guy. Money doesn’t buy everything, or else Darcy could have bought himself a better personality and attitude.

5. Darcy didn’t defend Lizzy
Think about it. He had more than ample opportunity many times to speak up to his aunt in her defense. He could have done a lot more for Lizzy personally than he did. Did he? No, he was too busy whining about how she wasn’t worth his time or worth dancing with. Modern day translation: Get ready for a guy who will let anyone say anything about you and not speak up in your defense. Gossip floating around about you? Don’t expect him to be the hero. Friends insulting you? Don’t hope he will stand up and put a stop to it.

6. Darcy was Fictional
There it is. Reason number 1 (okay, six on my list but first and foremost in my heart) why I don’t want, nor am I looking for a Mr. Darcy. Look, everyone can seem better on paper- that’s because it’s a fictional story. The movies? Also fiction. Just in case you didn’t know, no one should be a real life Mr. Darcy walking around. We’re not in the 1800’s, pride is not attractive, nor do lack of emotions and Christ-like attitudes make a good husband. Face facts! A fictional character that was just about the worst example of a suitor in literary history is not the kind of man any girl should dream of.

Seriously, ladies! Which would you rather have: a kind, living and breathing guy who works an honest job and isn’t rich (did I mention Darcy didn’t seem to have any job other than making himself happy? Might have forgot that), will be kind, loving and honest, and treat you with respect OR a coldhearted, rude snob who would gladly ruin not only your life but the lives of those you hold dear for his own pleasure?

And before you go and say 'Well, no one is perfect, everyone has flaws'.... umm this is a lot worse than no one is perfect or having flaws, okay. This is like 'I couldn't care less if he's perfect as long as he proposes and I can say I'm married, the kind of man he is doesn't matter.' Just think about that for a moment.

I think it’s safe to say, girls who want a good, Godly husband shouldn’t be looking for a Mr. Darcy. They should be looking for the kind of man from Psalm 37:23  (The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.) or the many other examples in the Bible of what a truly good husband would be. Darcy types could hardly be classified as that type of man.

So, can you explain to me now what the fascination with Darcy of Pemberley is?

*Honestly though, since they're all fictional, I wouldn't really understand any of them being someone's ideal for a husband*

Thursday, February 1, 2018

So it wasn't God's Will, it was only yours...

Before I start this post, let me say this: I do not mean this post in a offensive or cruel way. I write with a heart to help my readers, and a desire to see them walking with the Lord. So if you start to get a bit hurt by, I admit, my rather strong words in this post, I am sorry and don't mean to offend, but I won't sugarcoat or water down what I want to say because it's intended to help you.

Another plan of yours has failed. I don't know what it was. Maybe it was a relationship with someone you hoped to see bloom past friendship and into courtship? Maybe it was a job that you had based your whole life on that was suddenly ended? Whatever it was, it didn't happen. 

Maybe the problem with this was, you didn't stop to even consider that what you had convinced yourself was God's will was simply your own desires, your own will and coincidence combining to distract you from what God actually had planned for your life.

I know, it would have been a good thing, you thought. But remember, God sees the past, present and future, so He knows better than we do what is best for us. It could have been the greatest opportunity in your life for happiness that you could see, but the Lord knew it wouldn't be lasting happiness, or happiness found in Him.

Friend, did you even stop to think that you had been building your life on something that God hadn't intended for you? That person that you just knew was God's will for you, did you stop to consider that just because you liked them- maybe even loved (or thought you loved) them- wasn't who God intended for you to marry? That job that you worked so hard to get despite obstacles and opposition, maybe that was God trying to stop you from following your own will rather than His? 

It's so easy for us to fall into the habit of convincing ourselves that because we want or desire something, it is God's will. This simply isn't true. 

Just because you desire it, doesn't make it God's Will for you.

Have you forgotten we battle this flesh, that we daily have to have the Lord's help to follow Him over the flesh? The desires we have, they won't always be Christ honoring ones. Just because we desire it, doesn't make it God's will, and doesn't mean it is best for us. 

I had someone tell me once that Psalm 37:4 promised that they would have their desire for marriage answered, that it meant God promised that if they desired marriage, a spouse would be given them. They didn't believe they were 'called' to singleness, so they were insistent God was going to give them a spouse. They argued that verse meant they were guaranteed God was going to give them the spouse they wanted, regardless of if they were following His will for their life or selfishly serving their own desires.

No. No, it doesn't. 

This person is going to go through a lot of heartache, because they don't want to face the fact that God does not promise to give us every desire we have. They will go through life desperate for the relationship they would have with a spouse, rather than focusing on their relationship with Christ. They drive the wedge of discontent and unhappiness deeper and deeper between them and the Lord by allowing the love of an human being to be more important to them than their love for Christ.

I've seen a lot of Christians plan their futures on things or people that weren't God's Will, and then faced devastation and heartache when those plans came crashing down. The spouse they were just sure they had to have and would find, never came. 'The one' married someone else. 'The perfect job' was nothing but trouble. It's so sad, because all that pain could have been avoided if that person would have only surrendered to God and let Him lead, rather than running ahead of Him to pursue what wasn't His will!

In these situations, the simple solution is obvious: they should have followed God rather than their own will. Easy, right?

But we do this so often. We get this mindset that just because we want something, or 'everything falls into place, everything is perfect' for something to happen, we automatically chalk it up to being God's will for our life. That's not how it is.

That's why it's so important that we earnestly seek God in prayer, 

And then wait.

That's right, wait. Wait on God. Wait on Him to move, to give us a clear answer to our prayer. There is never, never, any time wasted in waiting. I don't care if you have to wait for years, do it. It's worth it. I've yet to hear of a single situation where waiting on God has brought devastation or heartache. 

Desperation drives us to act immediately. Trust in God teaches us to be patient and wait on Him. Ask your Heavenly Father for patience, and He will give it to you and help you in the waiting season. 

Now, for those of you who will go off on me for saying we need to be patient... I've heard preachers- and even friends- say that we shouldn't pray for patience, because that's asking God to give us pain and problems, and will ultimately bring us hurt and heartache.  Excuse me, I must have misread the Bible. Cross out Romans 5:3-5. Definitely can ignore James 1:4. What was I thinking for believing God's Word! (In case you didn't catch on I'm being extremely sarcastic there)

YES, God gives us trials and tests to grow our patience, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't pray for Him to give us patience!!! Romans 15:5 calls our God the God of patience and consolation. If He is the God of patience and consolation, wouldn't that mean that waiting on Him is never without reward? Waiting for the reward is ALWAYS worth it. Which brings us back to where I was going with this...

I guess this post could be summed up by asking you to choose between desperation and devastation or patience and trust in God. Are you going to follow your own desires, or follow your Lord? Are you going to live your life hurrying to satisfy the flesh, or waiting on God to work? 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Reader Suggested Posts: Building Businesses!

Happy New Year!

So since it's a new year, I'm starting a new series of blog posts. These posts will come directly from suggestions or requests from you, my readers, and I'll try to get one done a month.

The first request comes from Abigail, who wanted me to share a few suggestions for people starting little businesses like mine.

I'll be honest, I'm not exactly business savvy. I know what I do, and I make a good attempt at running my little hobby business, but I'm no expert. I'm sure you can find a thousand and one true experts who can give much better advice than I can, but I'll tell you what I've done so far.

Let's see, where to start? I guess from step one: What kind of business is it you are wanting to start? What will you be selling?

So, my first point...

1. Be sure of the legal and financial side of things.

There are all kinds of legal things that you need to consider, especially if you want to sell merchandise that is licensed (say, Disney or Batman) and you'll need to tread carefully if you're dabbling in that. Anything trademarked needs to be taken through proper channels, so don't just jump out there selling Olaf or Wonder Woman and think you can get away without a license for doing so. 

Also, Make sure you save every receipt, every sales slip, everything because you'll need it for taxes. Don't think, well that won't matter. SAVE IT. Get yourself a binder or folder and put everything financial that has to do with your business in it. Save every receipt from everything you buy, and everything you sell. If you aren't using a website that lets you print receipts, get a receipt book at the store and keep copies. Better to be safe than sorry when it comes time to file taxes.

Also, make sure you set aside some of what you earn. Whether you use it for taxes, or if you use it the next year to buy better supplies, just don't spend everything you've earned. I learned that the hard way!

Don't cheat yourself on your prices. Don't underprice. You'll never get ahead and you'll never be able to afford it if you do. Basic equation for this is take your supplies, double them and make sure you add in the cost of fees, packing materials, and your time. Trust me, I struggle with this. I know how much I would want to pay and how much I see would be too much, so I have a hard time finding a fair price. Don't cheat your customers, but don't cheat yourself either. 

2. Be ready for things to go v...e...r...y slowly at first

It's not going to spring up overnight. It takes time to build a business, even a home or hobby business. You're going to struggle at first to get orders and build an audience. Don't jump in thinking you'll take off right away, but don't lose hope either. Once your customers start coming in, they will gradually build.

3. Advertise. Advertise. Advertise.

Yes, this means some diligence on your part. But it's not really that hard. For my little shop, I have a Instagram account and a Facebook page. I recruit family and friends to help promote it on social media, and I've learned how to save my listings on Etsy to my Pinterest to help get my products out even farther. Make up business cards and leave them around town (where you are allowed, that is). I've found my local Joann's Fabric has a board just for business cards like mine!

Use your own social media accounts, too. I used my Facebook cover picture to show off my shop's banner. My personal Instagram account (which I don't leave public) has a link for people to follow my shop. Pretty much anywhere you look, you have opportunity to advertise. And 99% of it is free!

4. Lure customers in!

Now I know, that sounds like we're dangling a worm in front of a fish tank, but it's the same concept. Find what you're good at making, and what your customers want to buy. Don't try to push yourself on them, make them want to come to you.

Use things like good pricing, promotions, and attractive advertising to catch their eye and keep them shopping with you. Sometimes, you won't get repeat customers, depending on what they're buying (wedding garters and bouquet wraps, for instance) but they might come back for something else you offer (like baby blankets or kitchen potholders).

Something that has worked for me is offering custom orders. I know it's not practical for everyone, and not everyone can do this. But over half my business is custom orders. It's my little niche and I prefer it. It also allows me a little flexibility, as I'm not limited to a certain list of items I sell and nothing more.

Having a wide variety of items for purchase also helps. My shop is still small, since everything is handmade or homemade, but I try to keep about 20 regular listings on my shop, with a few seasonal or special listings up every now and then. They might not all sell, but they'll draw in customers better than if you list next to nothing.

As far as promotions go... there's a number of ways to do this. Giveaways work wonders when used with social media. My Instagram account saw it's followers jump within a few weeks due to a giveaway I hosted. My Facebook? Not so much. I had a goal of 100 followers to reach on both, and Instagram beat Facebook by 20 followers. But, no matter what, it got my shop out there and advertised. Types of giveaways you might consider are:
  • Goal oriented: Set a number of followers you want to attain, announce it and advertise that once you reach that number, you'll give away a free gift. 
  • Seasonal: Pick a holiday and do a giveaway with that theme. Make good use of hashtags!
  • Like and Share: While I'm not really a fan of this personally, it does work well for a lot of businesses. Have your followers/customers like and share a post on social media, and draw a winner.
  • Tag a Friend: See who can tag the most friends on your shop's page or account, and pick a winner. This works great for getting your name out there, but might annoy people if they keep getting tagged too often, so don't do it more than once every few months I'd suggest. 
I'd also recommend having rules with your giveaways. I don't ship out of the USA, all entries must be 18 or older, and if I'm using the tagging giveaway, I don't allow people to tag people they aren't friends with (like say someone you don't know comes along after you've tagged your friends and tags no- that's rude and I won't allow it!)

5. Know Your limits

Make sure you set limitations for where you're willing to ship to. I won't ship outside the US because I don't want the hassle of customs and paying extra shipping fees. 

Set ground rules on your shop as to how you will accept payment and everything that goes along with it. I make sure I'm paid before I ship my items (as you ought to be) and if it's a custom order, I usually wait until I'm paid before starting it so I'm not stuck with something custom that no one else will want to buy. 

Make sure you give yourself time to finish custom orders if you take them. Don't promise delivery in 3 days if it'll take you 10 to make it. 

Use common sense. This goes for all of life, but your business as well.

If you can't afford it, admit it. There's no shame. Maybe wait a few years until you've got the money to keep up a shop and try again. I had reached this point a few times, but God always sent an order just when I thought I'd have to give up.

6. Keep your inventory stocked

This might not work with custom orders, but for things you sell that are basic inventory, you don't want to be caught by surprise with a low inventory. Make sure you spend enough time replenishing your inventory!

Also make sure you keep shipping supplies on hand. Tissue paper, boxes, envelopes, labels... you don't want to be caught without!

7. Learn what works best for you and do it!

My hobby business is crocheting and sewing. That's what I'm best at, and I make it work for me. I wouldn't jump out there with woodworking products or paintings, because I know no one would want to by a poorly carved spoon or some horrid watercolor paintings. Just stick to what you know, and if one day down the road, you can expand, do it! Just take your time and do what you know best.

Same with shipping, figure out what works best for you. I ship in my local post office because it's usually cheaper than online, and I prefer to handle this in person with someone I trust rather than a faceless computer screen. I found large manila envelopes work for 95% of my orders, which is cheaper than shipping a large box.

8. Consider Your Safety

This kind of falls under common sense. Don't give out personal information to customers. Don't meet up with customers- if you deliver in person- in unsafe places, always meet at very public spaces like fast food places or even a police station parking lot, if you can. Take someone with you if possible, it'll help you feel more comfortable, as well as possibly your customer (if they're not an evil villain!)

Make sure you never, never allow anyone to use your shop to get to you. If a customer seems to be getting out of line (let's say you're a young lady and they're a man, and they start flirting or addressing you inappropriately) FEEL FREE TO TELL THEM YOU DO NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE WORKING WITH THEM. You are under no obligation. Issue a refund if they are harassing you, cancel the order and, personally, block them from contacting you again if you can. I've had to do this a few times on my shop's social media accounts, and it's very uncomfortable. I can't stress how rude it is for customers to try using a person's business to flirt with them, and in such cases, I've let it be known I'm not interested because the interaction between the customer and I is 100% business and I don't desire it to go past that. Friend, don't let anyone make you feel uncomfortable. The money isn't worth it.

You're eventually going to get a message on your shop that makes little to no sense. Something will just seem 'off' about it. Go with your gut, and don't make any promises or orders if things seem 'iffy'. It's okay to turn down an order (if you're selling on a website, make sure with their rules first) if you think things aren't on the up and up. 

9. Keep yourself professional.

Yes, this follows closely with the previous point. Be friendly but make sure when it's time to do business, you're completely in business mode. This can be hard, especially when you have friends shopping from you, but it's important. View every customer as equal with the others. Be professional but friendly, be polite but be firm. 

10. Have fun.

Make what you love to make. Sell what you know people love to buy. Enjoy the process! You're going to have ups and downs, it'll be a struggle at times and a joy at others. Take your time, nothing that's worth having is built overnight!

I hope these help. I know it's probably not the best of advice, but it's what has worked for me. If you have any questions- please! ask in the comments! I'll be glad to offer whatever advice or help I can!

And, if you should so happen to think of it... go check out my shop at the link below 😉