Thursday, March 12th, 2009

A while ago, a few years back, I belonged to an elite little community called MOMYS.  MOMYS stands for Moms of Many Young Siblings and while anyone could be a member, in order to post you had to have four children within seven years.  This was a rule for many reasons, but mostly in that what works for a family of 1, 2, and 3 is not at all the same as a household of six children in less than nine years.  The dynamics and the juggling is very different.

I was reading Jenn’s comment on my last post and I was thinking of how to explain my thinking on closing True Vine.

Well, on this MOMYS digest, there have been a few moderators over the years and to my knowledge (there might be a new one now) but the most recent is Tina.  Now I respect Tina for a multitude of reasons, but the one thing she had a habit of drilling into the MOMYS was this one thing – the idea of Good, Better, and Best.

It was the concept of not just saying to oneself, “Is this thing I am doing a good thing?”  But instead evaluating the decisions in our lives as, “Is this the BEST thing I’m capable of doing?” 

There are times in each WAHMama’s life that the answer to this is going to be different.  Many WAHMamas have a financial obligation to their families.  In my instance this is not the case.  As a matter of fact we vowed to keep dumping all profits from True Vine back into True Vine in an effort to improve marketing, advertising, et cetera.  In each family “best” is going to be entirely different.  Some in the Christian communities assume that their personal conviction should be a mass conviction… whether it be private schooling, homeschooling, dress wearing, quiverful….  The truth is I am so busy keeping my own family I can’t possibly be someone else’s Holy Spirit.  Being mama and wife to my own little family is certainly a full time job on its’ own merit! 🙂 

My best was not getting done.  If I were to ask myself, “Is True Vine a good thing? This ministry created out of need for families with littles that have sensitive skin or can’t find QUALITY products that use safe preservatives or safe ingredients?”  It was definitely created out of our own personal need and I know through the years of searching myself, that the need exists.  For me it was a ministry of sorts.  So, I can easily answer that this creation was a very good thing!  But when I ask myself a slightly different thing  – “Is True Vine what is BEST for my family at this moment?”  The answer is most definitely no.  I cannot serve two masters no matter how valiantly I struggle.  And because of responsibility I had taken onto myself, I was trying to serve two – and only doing a partial job at both. 

I think that while this scenario applies to myself, I look forward to others asking themselves this same question.

When the children are watching Sesame Street, is it a bad thing?  Well, no.  But is it the BEST thing they could be doing or would there be a benefit in helping Mama prepare breakfast?  Is a child playing a GameBoy inherently evil?  Well, no.  But it isn’t the BEST use of that time.  Is Mama reading on the computer a bad thing?  No, if it’s not idly passing time.  If it’s serving the family (and it certainly CAN be that.)  But if she should be preparing a meal, reading to a little one, helping an older learn a new skill, or teaching a lesson, then it is NOT the best use of her time. 

Good, Better, Best… When we learn to differentiate from what is good and not evil to what is best, we’ll have attained a true gift.  “Not bad”  isn’t really a definition of Good.  

So I hope that I inspire you today to go beyond good.  To seek what is truly the best you can do.  Seek, actively, something wonderful to do for your spouse.  This can be a backrub to aching muscles, making a favorite meal, or just sitting and really, truly listening to his day tonight.  This can be reading a favorite book to a little one or singing a silly song.  It can be simply not complaining about something that went awry.  Or being cheerful when you just don’t feel like it.  But ask yourself today not to simply settle for good, but to strive for best and to be content with that which has been given to you. 

Contentedness with what we have, a thankful heart for that which we’ve been given, and a longing to give our best to others is most certainly the best we have in us from our Creator.

This week has been a long one…  I feel I need to very much clarify a statement I made.  I said that I have parasites in my life – things that feed off the time, the energy, the creativity that God has given me.  And when I said this I also said that True Vine is one of those parasites.  A sweet friend pointed out to me that her business and customers are a blessing.  I think that she is right and that she must have balance in her life.  My customers are a huge blessing to me.  True Vine is/was a huge blessing to me.  A blessing can become a burden when you allow it to consume more than it needs or more than it should have.

I fully admit I have very little self control. 🙂  I have a hard time keeping myself organized, or moving on to the next thing, like a schedule.  I like to do things to completion.  An example is that if I want to clean my living room – everything must be done.  The cushions get vaccumed under, the books get reorganized, the furniture gets rearranged, we vaccum under all of it.   If I make cookies, I never make the kind you refrigerate!  Because if I stop what I’m doing and move onto something else, I’ve lost interest.   I essentially am an adult with ADHD and I don’t say it lightly.  I know how to arrange my life in such a manner that I can get things accomplished, but I have a tendency to hyperfocus on individual things.

True Vine is my area that I hyperfocus.  Understand that when I am actively creating, packaging, listing, doing photography, et cetera that True Vine takes about 60 hours a week.   Supper time is moved, schedules get off, and my patience can be ‘nil if I’m working on a particularly challenging formulation that I want just right.

There are those who believe that the actual sin is impatience or lack of self control.  That is absolutely true.  But when you know the source of sin, do you continue to do what you’re doing, or do you cut it off.  If your eye causes you to sin are you not better off plucking it out?  I have ran True Vine for about three years now.  I’ve learned SO much.

Those of you who know me well, know I worried about it taking over even at it’s inception.  True Vine comes from the Book of John, Chapter 15.  And it is to remind us that life outside of the True Vine isn’t real.  To have life we must stay plugged into God.  True Vine was named just what it was named because I needed that reminder to stay plugged into God  and the life that He had called me to. Unfortunately I tried for three years to maintain that and failed more often than succeeded.  Ultimately I can see I derived much pleasure from True Vine.  The greatest addiction, of course, was the pats on the back.  I enjoyed creating and being praised for my creations.  Motherhood is not a thankless task.  I am thanked in a multitude of ways each and every day as I watch my children grow.  But it is true that the vast majority of public certainly underappreciate it.  Here, though, this creation, my business did get recognition.  It was a way to show family, friends, aquaintances that I was living, thinking, being…  Very capable of other things – marketing, packaging, formulating, but CHOOSING to be a wife and mother. 

So is True Vine a blessing?  Absolutely.  But, it was also a source for me to choose a wrong way.  For me, I had a hard time balancing it.  The hours spent creating were minimal.  All told, if I mixed up a batch of soap… Even one layered, swirled, and as complicated as I could make it…. You are talking no more than two hours all told.  But, the cutting, the packaging, the printing of labels, listing, photographing, advertising to sell that soap added up to another 2-3 hours.  And this was true with every item.  The amount of time to make any package was generally multiplied by 2 or 3 by the time it was sold.  My herbs do not take nearly so much time, but the competition in Bath & Body is very steep and to market a product, it must be packaged just so. 

And so we came to a very difficult, but relieving decision, to sell True Vine’s formulations to another natural bath and body maker.  I’ll be making that announcement in the coming weeks when she is ready for it. 

We retain the name and the herbal part of True Vine.  But ALL of the bath and body formulations are hers and she will continue to make our products under her name so that our customers can continue with the items they need.  I feel sadness and relief and joy all at the same time.  It’s a little frightening to let go of something that took up so much time, but at the same time it is very freeing for me.