Have you ever read something so helpful and profound that you found yourself becoming obnoxious to share it with others? Is that just a book nerd thing?
Well, it happened to me. Somehow I ran across a book that has been so perfect for my current circumstances. Well, not somehow- God directs these things. I want so desperately to share… so I am doing something about it.
I’m changing my church Bible Study to a book club for a few months. Because of people still social distancing for health reasons, I wanted to make this available to everyone who is interested.
“So what is this great book?” Glad you asked. Suffering is Never for Nothing by Elisabeth Elliot. It is a six chapter book. Her style is easy to read, yet so much of what she writes/speaks just digs to the heart of the matter. She doesn’t dodge the hard questions.
Right now, I do not know of a single person in my acquaintance that is not in the middle of a trial right now. For me, since March, many of the sure things in my life are faltering. It is unnerving, but I know that God is accomplishing something in the midst of hard things.
So join me. Our first in-person study will be August 1. I will be posting the same study on my blog and YouTube channel on the 4th. As we go through the book, you will get the lesson three days after it happens in real life. Links will be forthcoming.
Ligonier Ministries has Elisabeth Elliot’s original video series along with a study guide for free here. I don’t blame you if you’d rather hear it from her directly. I know I am enjoying it immensely.
The hard truths we learn from the school of suffering are so beneficial. It doesn’t mean life should be a continual drag, or that we ought to be begging for trials. It doesn’t mean we will ever know the purpose for our pain on this side of Heaven. We can, though, learn to see them as a tool in the hands of a loving God.
It was summer in the early 90’s. My dad did not want us sitting around, frittering our summer away watching mindless tv while waiting for our friends to come out and play. So he sat us down and presented us with an opportunity.
“I want you two to start a business. I will give you start-up money and it can be whatever you want.”
Now, there is a motto my dad had for us kids that you need to know: “You are free to make your own choices, but if you make the wrong choice, I will make it for you.” It was our safety net growing up. I see that now. At the time, we saw it as cruel mockery.
In other words, if Dad said to start a business, we were starting a business whether we wanted to or not.
My sister and I did not want to start a business.
Nevertheless, we dragged our feet and hemmed and hawed over what to do. Our “Shark” investor, aka Dad (Who will be known for the rest of this story as “Daddy Shark”. Just kidding.) pressed us until we finally committed to starting up a business making the most 90’s accessory out there- scrunchies.
Mom took us material shopping and got out the ol’ Kenmore sewing machine. Dad made scrunchie holders to present our wares. We even had a deal with our hair stylist to sell our product… it was a venture primed for success.
We were only missing a name. This was still extremely unexciting to us, but we had to come up with something. Anything. We both liked the hymn “Face to Face.” There is a line in the song that says, “Far beyond the starry skies…” Or was it because of the famous artwork of the notorious Vincent Van Gogh? I don’t exactly recall, but Starry Sky Scrunchies would forever be emblazoned in our memories.
So our days went like this: Wake up. Eat. Cut out and sew scrunchies while watching Matlock or Andy Griffith or Beverly Hillbillies. Eat lunch. Play with friends. Repeat.
The part of the day called “cut out and sew scrunchies” was not relished. Cutting material and elastic. Sewing and figuring out how to close the end. It was something we did because we had to- we had an investor and distributor to think of, after all. But we did it with the gusto of a toothless man trying to eat corn nuts.
I think I can safely say we hated it. We were so unenthusiastic about it that our production rate was maybe, MAYBE, 5 scrunchies a day. With my expanded knowledge of sewing, I know now we could have easily pumped out 4 to 5 times that amount in a morning.
Lack of motivation is all it takes to make a successful business model a complete failure. Our hearts weren’t in it. I don’t know how long that hairstylist left our scrunchies in her shop, but we didn’t sell many. They were really ugly.
Eventually my Dad let up on us. We should have been embarrassed or disappointed in ourselves, but we were only relieved. We were not entrepreneurs.
So let’s fast forward about 7ish years. My dad decided to start his own business- a sign company. We learned how to look at signs from an early age and were glad to help him get started.
We drove around picking up neon, looking for broken signage in need of repairs, mastering fear of heights in a bucket truck. I was once handed a book bigger than any college textbook I ever had, and told me to learn graphic design. Ha. Ha.
But I watched and learned as he worked so hard to provide for us and build this dream with God’s leading. He made it work when it looked like failure because he wanted it to succeed. He cared.
My sister would eventually get married and move away, but I stayed. I remember telling my Dad before I got married, “I am done working for the family business.” I am no entrepreneur, remember? I’m pretty sure I even brought up Starry Sky Scrunchies.
But my husband caught the bug. He had the drive. He had the willingness to learn. So my Dad took a chance on a bike mechanic with a college degree in Health and Fitness.
This will be their 17th year together. It has had its ups and downs, but God has been so unbelievably good to us. And yes, I still play a part in this 20 year old venture, albeit small.
Those epic fails as a kid helped me for this life I live now. I now know if motivation wanes, business will fail. I now know that putting all of yourself into a project is a rewarding experience. I now know when an opportunity is handed to you, you owe it to the giver and yourself to give it your all.
This is just one lesson of many Dad has taught me over the years. Some lessons I had to learn over and over and some took right away. And right now, I am watching my Dad- our business partner, the Scrunchie Shark- fight for his life as cancer is trying incorporate his body. I am still learning from him.
While I am still no entrepreneur, I am willing to take what he has given to our family and give it my all. I may not be able to weld, or wire, or even operate a crane, but I can cheer and motivate and send invoices.
Who knows? Maybe I will start making scrunchies again… I hear they are back on trend.