Tag Archives: life experiences

Being a greeting card designer …

was never  in my plans; it wasn’t even in the back of my mind.  A thought not yet thought, a dream not yet dreampt.  It never really occurred to me that I could design greeting cards until one day, four years ago, when I was looking for a place to make a birthday card for my friend Len.  I wanted to use a photograph of our Great Pyrenees dogs to upload to a card in order to wish a happy birthday to my dog-loving friend.  I had looked up such sites before, but could find none that would allow me to upload my own photographs onto the card.  And then, out of the blue (always a sure sign that a blessing is in the midst), I found Greeting Card Universe.  It was exactly what I had been looking for and the site said that I could upload my photographs and make cards out of them and actually make money off of them.   I had an overwhelming urge to do just that, caring about the photography and not really expecting to make any money from what came out my heart and head.  The site said that it could take several months to sell a card and it could be years before any revenue was made.

My husband, who was still living at the time, encouraged me to make more.  To put the words in my heart with the photographs that I had been given.  I had to come up with a name for the store and because I give God all the glory for what I see through the lens of my camera, Through the Eyes of the Spirit just popped into my mind.  Jim was one of my biggest fans and a sounding board for new ideas and thoughts.  He was brutally honest and I appreciated that, as honesty is very important to me.  I began to put words to the photographs I had taken and created cards that I could scarcely imagine that anyone would want. I was at a crossroads.  A place where I had two choices; share what I had been given or cowardly hide it away because I couldn’t fathom that anyone would want anything that I had created.

So I did it. I took the leap of faith and uploaded a card with my own photograph and my own verse and prepared to wait for months or even years for anyone to take an interest.  Eleven days later, I sold my first greeting card.  The feeling was one of jubilation, honor,  humbleness and, quite honestly, disbelief.  I simply could not believe that there were people who had an interest in the words I had to say, words that were given to me, those not my own, but placed in my heart by a faithful God.

I immediately considered the first sale a fluke and then more came.  And more after that.  It seemed that I had a knack for coming up with the words that people wanted to say, but didn’t quite know how.  I made card after card, the verses rolling off my tongue as though they were native to me.  What inspiration and joy I had from each one and every time I had a sale, I was thankful and gave thanks to the Lord who had given such a wonderful thing to me.  It became a ministry.  One of encouragement to the downtrodden and suffering.  It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  Many times I cried over the verses for they were born of life experiences and hardships that I would never have dreamed could ever be anything more than a burden.

It has been four years since I joined the world of greeting card design and more than 20,000 cards have sold.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Twenty thousand.  I am stunned.  I continue to be stunned.  And with each sale, whether it be for one card or 500 cards, I feel the same as I did when the very first one sold.  The thrill and exhilaration has not faded.  Each time I get a notification, I first thank God, for it is all for His glory.  My name will fade from the mind only moments after hearing it, but His name will still be on the lips of His people until the end of time.  I am  honored that He has chosen me to be a part of His ministry through something that I love as much as my life itself.

In my heart of hearts, I am a photographer.  I see things differently and that, in itself, is a blessing.  I would love to be able to thank every single person, from all fifty states and thirty different countries for their support.  It isn’t possible.  I  don’t know who buys my cards.  All I am privy to is the location from which the card was purchased, but that doesn’t impede my desire to pray when I sell a card for “loss of mother” or “college graduate” or “thank you from bride to father”.  I am grateful for each one and feel a sense of gratitude and humbleness that out of  hundreds of thousand of cards, someone picked mine.

I don’t take this blessing lightly as it has had a profound influence on my life.  And I am, as I said, very grateful.  I am blessed beyond what I have the words to say and at times when I am feeling low, He lifts me by using the talents and gifts He gave to me to bring joy that would otherwise be absent.  I am in love with Jesus and take great pleasure in knowing that He loves me more than I can ever love Him.  Although life has a way of kicking me down from time to time, it cannot compete with what lives inside of me.  Life will go on whether I am a part of it or not, but how wonderful to know, that through the gifts given to me, that I am able to bring joy and encouragement to others.  That, without doubt or reservation, makes my life worth living and for that, I am grateful beyond words that I can say.

So again I say, to everyone who has ever purchased a card from Through the Eyes of the Spirit, I hope you got even a tenth of the joy from receiving the card as I got from creating it.

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Isiah 41:10 ~ So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

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Life …

is a continuously unfolding journey.  For twenty five years, I have been working as a nurse.  It feels odd to say that as I don’t really feel old enough to have done anything for twenty-five years.  In the beginning, back in the day when nurses still wore hats, I already had a truckload of baggage to carry.  Painful and distressing things that, at times, threatened to destroy the very life I was trying to make for myself.  I had so little to offer the people that I came into contact with for I was so broken and so very vulnerable.  Vulnerability is a handicap.  I know that  it has its place in the perpetual turning of pages, but it makes it no less difficult.  As I sat and listened to the fears and sorrows of patients I came into contact with, I wanted to help them.  I wanted to reach out to them, to comfort them with gentleness and compassion; to tell them everything would be right with the world again.  My problem was that I didn’t believe it and when people have hit the bottom of the world as they know it, they can spot a fraud a mile away.  I wanted to believe it, but so did they and because of that, I could not help them.  I could not comfort them, I could not share any part of myself because I simply didn’t believe that, through my brokenness, I could make a difference in their lives.

As years passed and God continued to refine my life with experiences that were so full of beauty and sorrow and disappointment and pain, something inside me began to change.  A new vision began to emerge.  With each life-changing moment that I encountered, I found that, once I came out the other side, there was both less and more of me.  I was still vulnerable, still insecure, but somewhere along the way, strength began to build inside me.  I began to relate to people on a more personal level, to be able to look them in the eye and try to comfort them with what was born in my heart from my own experiences and know, even as I was saying it, that I could trust it; that the patterns of my life had shifted yet again and an understanding that I simply couldn’t share before began to take shape.  I found that I no longer looked past their pain so I wouldn’t have to share mine, but faced it head on.  I held the hand of a woman who had lost her husband and two sons in a car crash and we cried together.  I hugged tightly the man who just found out his wife of thirty years was dying and he shared his sorrow with me.  I touched the face of a young man who had tried to take his own life and I felt as though I knew his thoughts, for in my own head, the same thoughts had circulated.   I’ve taken so many of them home with me.  I hear their sobbing, see the disillusionment on their face, feel their sorrow in my heart; I pray for them.

This time of year is difficult for so many people.  Those who dread the long days and empty nights, the thoughts and imaginings that seem to come unbidden even as they watch the celebrations going on around them.  They plant a smile on their face, a smile that never reaches their eyes, and try to be part of what is going on because the other choice is just too painful.  Sometimes it is easier to deny that we have pain in our heart than to share it with others.  It’s everywhere.  The worry, fear and anxiety that comes when the rest of the world is coming together in fellowship and joy, celebrating life and happiness.  It is so easy, at this time, to forget to be true to ourselves.  To let the memories flow, the sorrows burst through, the pain shatter again, even if only for a moment.  Without the purging there can never be healing.  And well, for those of us who are vulnerable and so easily hurt by words and actions, it is a bit more difficult.  But nothing lasts forever.  Not sorrow.  Not happiness.  Not youth.  Not life.

When all is said and done, this is the only life I have to live and while it may be imperfect in so many ways, there are moments that are so beautiful that they take my breath away.  It is these moments that I cling to when I feel that there is no one who understands me.  I remember the people I have cried with, the ones who have shared their burdens with me and it brings me comfort to know that even though I am vulnerable, I am not alone.  The world is full of us and sometimes, just having someone to listen and know, that as they listen, they understand, is as close to a miracle as we can get.  Let what you’ve done and what you’ve experienced help to define you in some way, but don’t let it consume you.  There are people who need to know that you have been there and that you can relate to them.  Our lives decorate the lives of those around us even as they decorate ours.  This year, during the “season of giving”, give what only you can; a little piece of yourself.