Moving on with gratitude

Having just posted in every social media venue I can find, my Etsy shop online, and chatted with my Aunt Patty recently, the decision is final:  I am letting go of my hobby business, Trinity Jewelry by Design.

Sometimes when we are drawn forward to an exciting new opportunity, we simply cannot hold onto the things of the past.  I discovered this past week that the creative and entrepreneurial energy needed to make my new company, Two Step Solutions (TSS), a success will require my full attention.  Lord willing I will participate in one final public event (my fifth) this coming weekend:  a Fiber Arts Fest at a local farm and educational center.  How perfect.  Hemp, leather, and especially the friendship jewelry made from the Threads of Hope ministry will fit in nicely.  Perhaps I will find my niche at last?  So sweet.  Me and the farm animals, with Border Collies chasing the sheep around too.  Since it’s an outdoor venue, I should be fine with the adrenaline rush that usually comes with participating in an event.  I am looking forward to it actually!

fiber arts, fiber festival, Salomon Farm, Salomon Farm Park, Spring Craft Show, Farm Animals, Border Collies, sheep herding, sheep shearing, art in the barn

So humor me if you will with some pictures and a little reminiscing that captures the creative journey of these past 3 years.  I began making jewelry to have a low-cost, portable hobby I could pursue in our home office.  The first product was an adjustable 3-beaded macramé bracelet designed to represent the Holy Trinity.  These were born out of an activity I introduced to a missionary family who was visiting our home for dinner with their three daughters.  The bracelets were very basic yet also rekindled my experience with macramé over 30 years prior as a new graduate from occupational therapy school.  A macrame lamp shade and a couple of plant hangers were my own “occupational therapy” after moving away from home for my first job out of State.  Funny how things come back into vogue, eh?

macrame bracelets, adjustable bracelets, simple macrame, slider knot, 3-beaded bracelet, learn to macrame, Trinity Jewelry by Design
My first display in a professional office!

Eventually in my TJ by D journey, I discovered the world of YouTube videos.  Amazing!  You can learn just about everything including better knotting techniques, the value of better materials, how to take better pictures, branding, and so more right from your home computer.  Etsy furthered my training with it’s excellent resources, support teams, and a relatively user-friendly ecommerce site to get you online before the world.  But none of it would have ever happened if my Aunt Patty wasn’t already on Etsy with her own shop, Patches and Pockets.  Her initial instruction gave me the courage to start a steep learning curve that would de-mystify much of what I did not know about the internet.  I am so grateful for her willingness to show me the way!

double macrame, macrame bracelets, Trinity Jewelry by Design, toggle clasp, hemp, hemp bracelet, natural hemp, handmade jewelry
One of my first favorite designs as I transitioned to better materials.

And so there I was in the middle of the night when I felt the best and was most productive, making hemp jewelry.  I tried selling the precious stone jewelry of an acquaintance but it turned out that my shop wasn’t right venue for either of us.  My own skills got better; I learned to take better pictures which is critical to success online.  It would be two years before I started experimenting with leather lacing then leather wrist bands.  As time went on I sensed that I needed more of a niche product or at least one that would have more utility in daily life than jewelry.  I wondered if I might expand into leather tooling or perhaps making leather holsters for women?  Etsy had allowed commercial manufacturers into their marketplace and the competition from cheaper overseas companies diluted the quality of work in my media and vastly increased competition.  Handmade items made in America seemed to be valued less just as I was developing my own style, my own branding.  I joined “handmade” sales teams and implemented the strategies that they suggested but it didn’t seem to make much of an impact on my business.  Then my sleeping patterns changed and I lost my creative groove.  My personal health situation had become more complicated as well.

macrame bracelets, wrap bracelet, handmade bracelet, hemp, macrame, triple wrap bracelet, Trinity Jewelry by Design
Mixing all my favorite knotting techniques became my niche for a time.
chevron weave, macrame bracelet, charm bracelet, simple macrame, learning to simplify the design, Trinity Jewelry by Desing
Learning to simplify a design is harder than it looks!

I believe it was the Lord who inspired me to start Two Step Solutions.  I was praying for direction with my jewelry business, consulting close friends, and checked in with my Aunt Patty over those few months too.  My Aunt had already let her Etsy business expire as she pursued other volunteer opportunities with her local gardening group and hospital auxillary.  Hmmm.  Maybe it was time for me to pursue a venue that would look more like my former profession of occupational therapy yet incorporate all of the skills that I had learned over these past 3 years?  Indeed.  As it turns out, the vision that the Lord gave me for TSS will bank on most everything I have ever done including enduring a serious illness.  Wow Lord!

Threads of Hope, ministry jewelry, jewelry fundraiser, Trinity Jewelry by Design, Phillippines
Threads of Hope Friendship Bracelets get a T J by D touch.

A couple of weeks ago I had an unusual conversation with a jewelry customer who claimed that the bracelet that she had purchased from me had broken in two places.  By the time I received it in a plain business envelope in the mail, it was completely destroyed.  I was so hurt that I almost gave up TJ by D that week.  I had already launched the TSS website and begun working on my Business Plan, eBook, and Trademark.  I knew in my heart that I would be leaving the jewelry business yet I wasn’t sure how to go about it.  After several unusual “Conversations” as they call it on Etsy with my customer, I decided to act decisively and resolve the situation with confidence instead of acquiescence.  I refunded her money in full.  Then I saw a sign in front of a local venue called Salomon Farm Park for their Fiber Arts Fest.  Very quickly an “exit strategy” came into view.  I even had a few creative nights around this time simply enjoying my craft again.  I would participate in one final event, network the heck out of it, and letter go.  What a great way to wrap things up!

leather wrap bracelet, chevron amethyst, leather beading, leather lacing, purple leather lacing, purple leather bracelet, Trinity Jewelry by Design
My most popular bracelet on Etsy was sadly put to rest after it could not be repaired.

Some of the details of this transition are a bit vague yet so I’ll just put Trinity Jewelry by Design up for sale and see what happens.  Lord willing I am hoping that about $225 will come in this weekend to pay for my filing fee at the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office for TSS.  I found a Law School who is ready to file the application via their free clinic.  Alright.  I know what that means.  Better get hustling Just Julie!  It’s time to sell some jewelry and get my studio in order.  Sometime soon I may be moving on with gratitude and perhaps a few colorful sparklies will linger to adorn my own wrist, my own neckline too.

beachy necklace, beach necklace, summer necklace, handmade necklace, Threads of Hope, adjustable necklace, Trinity Jewelry by Design
Another fav purchased by a friend that combined a Threads of Hope Friendship Bracelet with pink hemp cord.

Of course I’ll be keeping a few of my favorite creations just for me you know.  I love this stuff!  JJ

Time for a new tune

Hey Gentle Readers:

For those of you who might just be fans of my fabulous online shop, Trinity Jewelry by Design, I have an announcement to make:

You may now enjoy 40% off during my shop redesign sale going on now until December 10th with coupon code REDESIGN. Note that all items purchased will be shipped no sooner than December 12th. Friendship bracelets are temporarily unavailable until December 12th. Please order by December 10th to guarantee receipt by Christmas in the United States. International orders will generally require 2-3 weeks AFTER December 12th for receipt.

Be sure to “Like” us on Facebook or bookmark this page to checkout the exciting new look coming mid-December and new product lines that will be trickling in thereafter.  2015 is going to be fun . . . I can feel it already!

Take care,  JJ

20141019_120806 best

Homemade Happiness for Christmas

handmade forum flyer 2014

Access these tremendous handmade treasures by clicking on this link then the GREEN TYPEFACE.  You will be taken to a guide with direct links and discount coupons for all of the shops listed above.

http://s000.tinyupload.com/index.php?file_id=08725855950995209737

Thank you for your support of Trinity Jewelry by Design!  Just Julie

I get it Jonah!

Jonah was an Old Testament prophet called by God to warn the people of Nineveh to repent.  God’s judgment was eminent unless they changed their evil ways.  Jonah burned with anger because he did not like the people of Nineveh and thought they should not be the concern of the almighty God.  So instead of going to Nineveh, he headed off on a ship to Tarshish instead.  A mighty storm rose up, threatening the ship and crew.  In time they found out that it was because of Jonah that their lives were at stake.  At Jonah’s suggestion, they tossed him into the sea and the storm ended.  Jonah was taken up by a mighty fish and spent about 3 days inside before repentance  of his own disobedience towards God.  Eventually Jonah went to Nineveh, he warned the people, they repented, and their lives were spared.  Jonah still wasn’t happy . . .

******************

I was making some new necklace designs the other day, very late at night.  Things were not coming together well as I had to re-do a simple slider knot at least five times before I got it right.  Then I made the same mistake again on another piece!  Do you have a “little tiny voice” that sometimes nudges you in the direction you should go?  Yeah, it was yapping at me to save a particular scrap of hemp cord in case I would need it for another part of the new collection.  Fooey, I thought.  I have other colors and I really wanted to make some gift ties with the white cord not save it for something else that was not in front of me.  So I didn’t save the cord.  It was the last piece of that color and it got used as part of a gift box packaging that was sent out the next day.  I did not think about it anymore.  Or rather I did not think about it any more until I had to repair a mistake in one of the new necklaces six days later.

I lost an hour of my life trying to correct my mistake with anything but the white cord remaining in another gift tie.  I could not believe how many goofy mistakes I was making trying to avoid getting out the bag of gift ties, untying a braided strand, and using a proper length of cord to make the repair.  Finally I laid down my will.  It wasn’t working.  Repairing the wrap knot and saving the jewelry piece required me to dig out the supply that had been within arm’s reach all along.  Sigh.  Alright then.  Hunker down and take care of it already!  Moments later I was done.  But what had happened to me?  It’s just a piece of jewelry for crying out loud!  Yes, and I might as well have been a stubborn 2 year old for how I was acting.  I’ll never get that hour of my life back again.  The only person to blame is me, not some illness brain fog thang.

Has this ever happened to you, Gentle Reader?  Hopefully the stakes were not as high as a nation threatening to be destroyed because of the selfishness of a wayward prophet.  There probably were consequences of some kind though:  consequences that were unpleasant or harmful, wasteful.  Sure, we need to be gentle with ourselves when we make mistakes, live for a time in denial, procrastinate, and the like.  And yet when we are outright defiant to that which we know we should do we are hurting ourselves and maybe others too.  It’s a sign of immaturity, a lack of self discipline.  While we sometimes may need to delay making the right choice in a situation for a variety of reasons, let’s hope we get to task when there is a leading is from the Holy Spirit:  my tiny voice inside of me.  He has my best interests at heart even for the small events of life.  He cares for all of the details of my life just as He cares for the nations of the world.  That’s just how mighty our God is:  the great I AM.

Dear Heavenly Father, I am weak this night.  I am still capable of heeding the counsel of the Holy Spirit that ministers to my every need.  Thank you for the incredible gift of your indwelling Spirit.  I lay down my will this night in awe of Your love for me and majesty.  Strengthen me for both the mundane and more important tasks in the days ahead.  Grow my trust in you.  And if it is Your will, heal me of my infirmity so that I may be used for greater things.  Thank you for Your Word to teach us, guide us each day.  I love you Lord.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Adjustable Friendship  Necklaces from Threads of Hope and Trinity Jewelry by Design
Adjustable Friendship Necklaces from Threads of Hope and Trinity Jewelry by Design

The Exchange Rate

Acts 5 New International Version (NIV)

Ananias and Sapphira

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

Now that’s a serious consequence for lying!  A death sentence!  In the early Christian church, believers were giving freely of their wares and wealth for the cause of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I love our pastor’s commentary on this story (Paul Mowery).  He explains that the point of the story is not that everyone had to sell everything they had to live as followers of Jesus Christ.  The point is that Ananias and Sapphira were hypocritical in their outward gesture of donating the money from the sale of their land then holding back a portion for themselves.  They were “lying by omission,” or making an appearance of generosity that was not completely true.  They paid for their masquerade with their lives as the Lord was purging sin from the early church.  To have a pure message of honesty and transparency was critical in the beginning of a movement that would change the world forever.

To die for one’s actions or beliefs is the highest exchange rate for one’s actions that can possibly be paid.  What could be greater in this life?  That is why the Lord gave His own life at the cross in exchange and atonement for our sins.  He gave the greatest gift He could possibly sacrifice so that we may be forgiven of our transgressions and live in fellowship with Him forever in heaven.  Gratefully we often get a second chance to make things right, seek forgiveness, and so on when we fail in our Christian walk.  We don’t usually die for our sins, per se.  Should I face death for my actions someday I do hope that it will be for my faith in Jesus Christ and not as a consequence of my mistakes.  Or as a hypocrite.  Gentle Reader:  have you thought about such things?

Hmmmm.  The ultimate exchange rate is death.  Today I can relate to a lesser one too.  Let me explain.

Yesterday I was given an opportunity to participate in an outdoor show of Master Gardener artisans and their handiwork.  Gratefully I was among five vendors on display in the Woodland Garden of the Allen County Extension Office (Indiana) as part of our annual Garden Walk.  I enjoyed putting together a new display of the best creations from Trinity Jewelry by Design, visiting with my fellow Master Gardeners, and meeting many avid gardeners/shoppers who came by.  A few went home with some of my jewelry to the delight of my heart!  The weather was mild and the cost was only a small donation and a few bug bites!  The morning was lovely indeed.

T J by D in the Woodland Garden, Allen County Extension Office, Garden Walk July 19, 2014
T J by D in the Woodland Garden, Allen County Extension Office, Garden Walk July 19, 2014

However I knew I was over my activity limit as we were cleaning up afterwards:  I could hardly hold my face together to smile.  By the time I got into my truck to drive home I wasn’t sure just how I would make it home.  If I relaxed even a tiny bit it felt like my body would erupt into seizure attacks.  If I rallied enough energy to drive home with the utmost intensity of focus I would probably make it the 25 minutes o.k. but face more intense seizure attacks later on.  I opted for plan B.

The next 21 hours after I got home were hell on earth.  Sure I was unable to unpack my truck and take care of the dog before crashing onto our bed.  Then I came unglued with a long episode of seizure attacks yet gratefully not the worst of late.  The exhaustion from 3 hours of sleep the night before somehow reduced their intensity.  Well, o.k.  Thank you Jesus for the 4 more hours of uninterrupted sleep that followed!  Unfortunately, things did not go so well as I was waking up.  When a feeling of “tazoring” greets the disorientation of a deep sleep, all is not well with the world.  I lain in bed with tic attacks on and off until midnight.  When I got up to finish a light meal thereafter I’d wished I was back in bed!  Convulsions are dangerous sitting at the kitchen table and it certainly worried the pup quite a bit too.  Oh yeah, Steve was standing by as my daily night in shining armor, just in case he needed to carry me back to bed.  Nope.  Made it on my own this time.

The middle of the evening was quite interesting as well.  Steve and I now agree that his paddling on the murky waters of the St. Mary River in Fort Wayne this morning provided an insidious, noxious exposure for me.  He had taken numerous precautions after returning home from his victorious kayak race.  As it turns out, one shower and change of clothing was not enough.  This dear man took a second shower with a second clean towel and change of clothing for me despite exhaustion from racing and mowing the lawn while I was sleeping!  Yes, Steve is a saint!  Figuring all of this out was very intense for us with both a heated exchange of words and extremely violent convulsions.  The three episodes of the latter included screaming in torment at the top of my lungs!  I could not help it.  My brain was on fire and the vocalizations just came out.  Those of you who do not believe that hell is a real place have never experienced a glimpse of it here on earth.  The Bible talks about weeping, gnashing of teeth, eternal fire, and eternal torment.  I say get right with Jesus NOW!  You don’t want this forever if you don’t!

I woke up about 6 times with the tazoring thing.  The last episode was shortly after I awakened Sunday morning around 11:00 a.m.  Steve had already gone off to church so I lain there alone.  Sometimes I just can’t sort out what is more terrifying:  the symptoms themselves or experiencing them when home alone?  Both are wretched.  By the grace of God I managed not to panic as I have been through this torture hundreds of times before.  Yes, that’s hundreds with thousands of individual incidences!  The number is just enough to know that based upon my experiences, they will not kill me and at some point I will be able to function at some level.  That level came shortly thereafter as I made my way to the bathroom then finally to the kitchen to satisfy my ravenous appetite.  At least these episodes burn a few calories!  Sish.  Very weakly , today began.

So four hours of near normalcy (just one tic attack during the Garden Walk)  was an exchange for 21 hours of hell plus some sleep.  Not a very good trade-off I’m sure we would agree!  And this is simply how life goes for me.  I set in motion a will to participate in the event on Saturday knowing that for it to be possible would be a miracle.  For at least 5 days prior to yesterday’s event, I had 1-2 hour seizure/tazor episodes from 8-10 in the morning in addition to nightly episodes.  Falling asleep Friday night was typical:  exceedingly awful as usual.  Most every day this past week, morning activities had to be cancelled in response to either the episodes or the recovery time needed thereafter.  Today I am exceedingly grateful for having the opportunity to participate in two activities that I love (i.e. gardening and jewelry-making) with sadness about missing Steve’s kayaking race.

Ah yes, the canoe and kayak race hosted by my husband.  This is the last of the races to be held in our town for the United States Canoe Association Indiana points races and I had already missed the other one by a couple of hours.  The reality is that I simply could not risk standing by the side of the murky St. Mary River with a biotoxin illness near other racers accessing the river.  The noxious aerosols and risk of exposure were too great.  I do try to avoid seizure attacks in public you know!  I had checked out the riverbank earlier in the week on Tuesday before discussing it with Steve and making a final decision.  Given my response to Steve after he came home, I knew that I had made the right, albeit difficult choice.  Life is like that sometimes.

Further, while my own experiences often shared on this blog are particularly wretched, they are NOTHING in comparison to the sacrifices denoted above or in the Biblical record.  I have not lost my life in my own rites, my own rates of exchange of one activity for another.  I chose to participate in the Garden Walk out of an attempt to cope with illness, not to separate my self from the fellowship of the Holy God.  My actions resulted in consequences.  The result of my actions were not based upon sin but upon living in a fallen world because of mankind’s sin.  Disease and strife exist because of the sin of two people in the Garden of Eden at the beginning of time.  They were redeemed by God as we are redeemed by believing in God through His son, Jesus Christ.  He makes all things new, bringing ourselves in eternal fellowship with Him when we humble ourselves and confess our transgressions, believing in what He did for us at His throne of grace.  We also know that when He comes again in glory for His own that He will wipe out disease and strife forever.  Knowing all of this gives me confidence that in the things that matter the most and that I have made the best decisions for my circumstances, for my life.  Most importantly I have chosen to follow Jesus, Lord and Savior of my life.  Someday I will be free from all of this suffering and there no longer will be an “exchange rate” of sorts.  All there will be is JOY.  Yes, joy!

You know, Gentle Reader, I’m hoping that these things that I write about are somehow of benefit to you.  Please don’t spend more than a moment empathizing about me when you can spend the rest of your days experiencing joy with me for all of eternity.  Look beyond this blog to the One who introduced me to you.  I am so grateful that we have come together this day.  May the Lord bless you!  As He does I hope that you will choose to come closer to the One who paid it all for both of us.  I want to meet you someday and in the family of Christ it will happen no matter how far apart we are in this moment.  Then we shall walk together in fellowship with our King in the most exquisite of gardens for a millennia of days . . .

And that my friend is my “Hope Beyond” for this blog.  Love to you,  Just Julie

walk-in-the-light 2 in garden