True North

True North

4th Nov 2019

Change. I cringe a little bit when something new, unexpected comes into play. We all do, actually. It leaves us feeling like our changeless life is so much more comfortable. I admit, I wrote this weeks ago, preparing this for all of you who know us and have been on our ever-changing journey for the past seven years.

I was surprised when our pastor, Marc reached out and asked us to share how God is working in our lives. To be honest, I was stumped, not because I don’t 100% know that God is at work, but rather, how do you put that into a 4-5 min testimony?

Sigh.

I was headed to the office supply store and I had a 20-minute drive ahead of me. I had some deep-thought moments and I came to the clear and distinct conclusion that “it’s really hard to see it (God working) when it’s happening before your eyes.” It’s like peeling back an onion. But it’s remarkably clear as we reflect in hindsight. I am amazed to see how the path that has been paved for us is the perfect plan despite trials, tribulations, rejection and disappointment.

People may pause and roll their eyes right now with the crazy assumption that our life is somehow ten times greater than theirs, void of challenges or disappointment, and is just a walk in the park. It’s hard, scruffy and we can rest you assured, we have endured similar hardships with and without our business, The Marshmallow Monkey. In fact this weekend a friend and customer said to Brandon “Geez, how does a person afford living like this?” We cringe and dig deep, to try to respond quickly that this is afforded because of our obedience to God; and sometimes in ways and directions we don’t really want to take. It’s not easy and change is hard.

We have big changes ahead, and that’s not anything new to our friends, family and customers. Often, our news tends to take a hard turn right or left and today we are choosing to head north. Not literally, but figuratively.

We all come with different loads of baggage at different times in our lives. That baggage sometimes is a gift or a curse. Sometimes it’s a curse before it becomes a gift. Take for example, my life. For much of my childhood, I was faced with rejection, disappointment, insecurity and fear of never being enough. At the time, I was far too young to cope, much less be able to rationalize why I wasn’t good enough. But that comes as a gift to me more than 35 years later in the form of courage, tenacity and inspiring other people through my love of being creative. If you asked the little girl years ago how this life was going to pan out, it wasn’t envisioned as the reality of today. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t come with significant blows along the journey and it’s easy for people to peer in from the outside and think life is perfect and void of challenge. But it’s not.

A few hard right turns with major changes in college, meeting Brandon, and learning all the business know-how from a boss who took me under his wing and told me I was enough is all it took to pave this path with Brandon. This also means authentically accepting the predetermined plan God had in the vault for us at all the times we didn’t want to turn to or with God.

As time would tell, there were many jobs and people along the way that led us where we are today. Roles would switch and Brandon would be faced with rejection in his career path later in life than mine, by people who were seemingly our friends. We became immersed in a community where we felt a calling to make a mark, but were often left on a lone island.

Through the last seven years, we would face obstacles and blessings almost simultaneously. As scary as a cancer (mis)diagnosis is, we thought death was waiting right around the corner long enough to reset our appreciation for how precious life is to us . We would be dealt an autism diagnosis with our son, but with the perfect know-how to help Blaise from the challenges of our own childhood experiences. Being diagnosed with autoimmune disorders that raised our awareness to food and taking care of our bodies. We faced harsh rejection of customers that taught us who really matters in our life to the hardest challenge of all; answering God’s call a year ago to sell everything and move. That’s a lot. And for most people more than most can comprehend or bear.

In the past six years, for me personally, my identity became our business. I was accepted; I was loved by lots of people. The bondage and baggage that had a hold on me for a lifetime was gone through the personification of our business. And then one day, God tells us its time to sell our building, change our business as we knew it and move to a farm? I wanted to shout, “Excuse me, not today. Not now God?”

A year before we actually did it, the nudge was placed upon our hearts. It didn’t make sense; we were trying to force our ways against that calling. And I got sick. Really sick. That was after Brandon was told he had cancer. He was sick, deathly sick. We sold our dream fixer up home, everything inside and moved above the store. We were told Brandon was going to likely die, we just didn’t know when. That was God’s first step (two years before now) in letting us down easy. It was hard. We were cooking out of crockpots because the kitchen wasn’t even finished in the apartment above the store and Brandon was so sick, he couldn’t muster enough energy to install the stove. Everyone loved us, wanted to be us, and called us Chip and Joanna Gaines. We were puzzled because our life was not looking or feeling like the perfect life of HGTV. 

Sometimes we feel like God’s timing sucks. (I know, I tell my kids not to say “sucks”)

I can’t explain how many times His plan has been enough, just enough, the perfect amount. Brandon and I were in the car the other day talking about how excited and scared we are of this next chapter; me going back to work full time, and him working Monday through Friday instead of 24 hour shifts. What’s to be worried about? He has worked for 25 years and been rejected for numerous promotions. He has been told he’s not good enough. But in reality and looking back, this was the perfect plan.

And I finally said out loud “Duh, God told me years ago, during the trials and tribulations of your (Brandon’s) journey something good would be coming. I told you!” It certainly didn’t come in our timing. It was even better and almost 10 years later.

Exodus 14;14

The lord will fight for you, you only need to be still

As I drafted this, I couldn’t help but actually see in hindsight that over and over and over again, God showed that rejection and disappointment isn’t the definition of who we are or what we are becoming. It sometimes feels like you circle a mountain, over and over and over again, but aren’t getting anywhere. Rest assured. You are.

Deuteronomy 2-3

You have circled this mountain long enough; now turn north.

So in our recent chat with God, we realized that things weren’t falling apart as they sometimes feel, but rather falling into place. God already knew what our hearts and family needed and has been preparing us for the next chapter. Brandon is taking on a new role with the fire department and I have been offered an opportunity of a lifetime working full time away from the Marshmallow Monkey. What this means for us (selfishly) is, for the first time in 25 years, we will actually have every night at home together, every weekend together and every holiday together, but without owning a brick and mortar store. There. I said it. For the past seven years in owning and operating The Marshmallow Monkey, we have given up our days and hours off for sporadic family time. But now that we have moved to the farm, we are enjoying the time we have with our kiddos and each other. The first time we have enjoyed this in years and since we have owned the business. God knew. He knew this is where we needed to be. Why? Um, we don’t know yet.

But this is where you come in. During our chats with God, each of you came to mind reminding us of this amazing journey you have been on with us. Naturally, fear and uncertainty instantly crept in, as we worried that we would face rejection as we prepared to transition our brick and mortar store to exclusively online in 2020. We will be open every Saturday from now through December 7th. December 7th will be the last day we will have a retail storefront.

God has been at work in our life preparing us to bring you along with us on our journey and be part of our ongoing story. We are ready to launch our podcast and begin curating our products in a more engaging way to help everyone focus on home, health and happiness. We cannot deny this is what’s most important to us and we want to share the intimate details of our journey with each and every one of you who made this dream and journey one of our favorite chapters in our story.

We know with absolute faith that God is at work. We can’t exactly tell you how. But we can’t wait to share our story as we head north.

Here’s how we can all stay connected:

  • Make sure you head over and request to join. There are limited spots, but this will be a forum where we will talk intimately about all things home, health, happiness and share among ourselves the journey we are each individually on.
  • Our podcast will be linked on all of our pages as soon as we get the first six episodes on iTunes.
  • I’m a lot more comfortable in smaller crowd with this whole video thing, and we will share our how-to videos and fun DIY things we love.
  • Our traditional Facebook Page and Instagram page will stay live and showcase our curated items for sale online
  • We will still continue to do fresh flower orders as usual. You can reach us via messenger on Facebook or Instagram and via phone.
  • We will continue to provide interior design services by appointment.
  • Our blog will likely be updated more frequently sharing all the things we love and showcase our very own farmhouse as the backdrop of our story. 
  • Your favorite staple items (candles, Franklin swag, etc) will remain on the website and we will continue to ship or deliver. 

The closed group will ensure you never miss a post from us. Tune in, share and head north with us.

Brandon, Nicole, Blaise and Olivia

Jeremiah 29;11

For I know the plans I have for you declares the lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you see me with all your heart.