Like Tara and Jorjanne, I grew up in this small Georgia town called Ocilla. The main difference in our stories is that I don’t have generations of family that lived here before me. I have mentioned before that my mother is from Virginia, and my father is from Colorado. They met at college in Tennessee and moved here in the 70’s. Lack of family ties can really make one feel like an outsider from time to time, but it can also show you the power of good friendships!
Ocilla was a fabulous place to be a kid, but as I grew, I became more and more restless here and ready to take on the world and be with some new folks. I was blessed to travel a lot around the country with my family, so I knew there was a great big world out there waiting on me! When I left for college, I could not imagine a life that would bring me back to this little place. I was on to bigger and better things!
My dad and his business partner decided to sell the building and business after the first year. They ended up selling to Matt, who is now my husband! Sweet deal for him right? Suddenly I found myself in charge of a very large business and in love with an import! We’ve had 11 years of leaks, termites, empty bank accounts, back-breaking work and persecution from folks that were less than thrilled about our ideas for change in this small community. Oh, and we’ve lived through a year-long deployment to Iraq, nine days after we got married.
I have learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of over the course of my years here and I have also learned some very important lessons regarding love, community and faith.
After being dropped in a business world that I knew nothing about, I chose not to sink but to swim! The school of hard knocks has a steep learning curve, but I think I am coming out on the other side a better businesswoman and leader than I ever imagined I could be. As it turns out, I love retail (and development and marketing and all of the things I never thought about at all in college)!
Though I never pursued a career in art, I am presented daily with ways to use my talents. My shop provides an endless creative outlet! Window and product displays, menu designs, marketing tools, packaging…. the list of creative projects is endless! I am so blessed to be able to share these creative projects with my Dad, who is the most creative person I know. If I dream it up, he can figure out a way to make it happen!
Years of stress and hardships have helped shaped who I have become, but through all that my faith in God, my all-knowing and always-in-control Father, has grown by leaps and bounds! We are all refined by fire as we journey through life. Allowing God to be in control and being open to how He can use your trials to make you a better person is a very scary thing, but so worth it! Because of all that I have been through and because of my growing faith, I no longer live in a state of fear and worry but in a state of excitement to see where the journey takes me next. I am certainly not saying that I will never worry again, but I can honestly tell you that I am resting right now in the idea that my God has got it covered. I definitely don’t always understand the hows and whys but I know I am never alone. That lesson has been well worth the hardships.