This is a story that I call my “Professional Testimony.” It will help you understand our journey, as well as where God has brought our hearts in this process. My desire is that it is encouraging, convicting and if you are in a similar circumstance then hopeful. Also, at the end is a special announcement that we are so excited to finally make public.
In the fall of 2012, while I was in my last semester of college at UT Arlington,
I worked on a group project developing and designing a fictional company.
We decided we wanted to create a humanitarian apparel brand that focused on serving our community by partnering with local non-profit organizations and raising money through the sales of art, apparel and design. After much deliberation we finally agreed on a name and called it Educatingthewheelers. We developed the logo, all the branding, a fake website, packaging, a few shirts and even a small in-store display. We all got a good grade, got our project into the UTA art gallery, graduated, and that was it.
Once I got my degree, I figured I would try to get hired at a cool branding agency and do what I loved all day: logo design. That didn’t exactly go as planned but I did manage a five month unpaid internship at a really small branding agency (I was their first employee) as well as a part-time design position at the United States Bowling Congress. The former at least led to a one month full-time contract, but my career still wasn’t stable. In the fall of 2013, provision came calling through a LinkedIn message. It was a completely unexpected invitation from a high-end fashion corporation for a full-time web design position. This certainly checked off the stability box but I couldn’t help feeling like I was taking a step away from what I really enjoyed doing at a company that I actually liked. Logically, it was a no-brainer to accept the job, but it actually ended up being a difficult decision for me to make. Eventually I accepted, and it turned out to be providential since the design agency I was working at went through some financial/legal issues and had to close its doors for a few years.
Through this new job, the Lord provided financial stability for me and, eventually, my family, and allowed us the ability to quickly pay off all of our student and car loans. We are incredibly grateful for all that God has given to us, however, I continually struggled with being joyful at work. I would come home drained, exhausted, physically and emotionally. I tried applying for numerous other jobs but the opportunities never worked out. They were answered prayers but sometimes the door slammed in my face. Something wasn’t right.
The same fall (2013) that I went from the agency to the full-time position, I also attended a young adults fall retreat with Fielder Church. It was at this time that God also began working in my heart by revealing to me what it meant to be called and slowly (one step at a time) showing me His plan. The speaker that weekend was preaching from Genesis, going through the time when Moses is called by God. There were two points from that sermon that really impacted me. In Exodus chapter three when Moses is giving excuses and says, “I am nobody,” God replies and says, “I will be with you.” It really doesn’t matter who you are or what you know or don’t know. I realized that my lack of ability means that all the glory goes to God when He accomplishes His will through me. This had to be my foundation when God calls me to do something that feels scary or out of the norm. It’s not about who we are, it is all about who He is. The second thing that impacted me was in Exodus chapter four when God calls Moses to “Lay down his staff.” At face value this might not seem like a big deal, but it’s important to note that at this time Moses is a shepherd and so a staff is his tool. His livelihood, his means of providing for his family, and his identity are all bound up and represented by this staff. And God asks him to lay it down. It’s a call to submission and obedience to give all that Moses is to God.
My takeaway questions from this were the following: what does it mean for me to “lay down my staff,” and how does God want to use me and the skills or abilities he has given me? As I prayed over this, the thought that kept coming to me was Educatingthewheelers.
At first, I dismissed the thought because I didn’t know anything about or even personally cared about apparel. But God slowly worked in me and began to unleash creativity in my heart and mind towards this idea. I spent the next few years toying with the thought, sketching whatever came to mind and even building a trial-version website on Shopify and read as many business books as I could. But I still wasn’t convinced. Enter the most encouraging and supportive person I know, the woman I would marry, who also believes I can accomplish anything, especially a calling from the Lord. She gave me a push whenever I needed it. This led to us officially getting the legal rights and ownership in August 2016 to our own business, Educatingthewheelers, LLC.
We didn’t know what the future would hold and we figured it would just be a side gig for a while, and agreed that success would be defined as obedience to God. If we were obeying what we felt God calling us to do, then the business was successful. This time we set up a real website, designed and ordered real product, real packaging and we’re doing our best to professionally present ourselves.
The plan was to slowly build the company until we felt the time was right to make a nice and easy step over from corporate stability to running Educatingthewheelers. Once again, God had different plans, and after much prayer and wise counsel we feel him calling us to take another step into further obedience. All of this to say, we are incredibly excited to announce that I will be leaving my job on January 16th, 2018, in order to dedicate myself full time to Educatingthewheelers. There has been a lot of confusion, heart-ache, twist and turns along the way but I feel a weight lifted from my shoulders with this decision and we are excited to be obedient to God, our Provider.