Fan Club Friday: Doorpost Collections

Doorpost Collections nativity advent calendar

Okay, yes, I am writing about my own business today.  

Maybe I'm not supposed to do that, but I figure that since this is my blog, I get to decide what I post.  And to be honest, I've been excited for a long time about the day when I could finally announce Doorpost Collections.

Before I tell you about the Advent Collection I've created, let me first tell you about my awesome husband.  I never thought that I could own a business with Andrew.  We are so different.  But it is precisely because we are so different that I now cannot imagine owning a business without him.  

I can make crafts, and I can write.  Oh, and I know how to be nice to people.  Those are the extent of my business skills.

I created an advent calendar and script for our own family when my oldest was an infant, and it was at Christmastime last year when the teenager living with us suggested, "MR, you could totally sell these.  I bet people would use them."  

This had truly never crossed my mind, but then I thought, "Sure, why not try?  'If you build it, they will come.  Right?'"

nativity advent calendar

Wrong.  

My dear husband is a business analyst, and he gently explained to his naive wife that this is not the way entrepreneurship works.

Have you thought about marketing?

Where to sell?

Shipping?

Packaging?

Sourcing?

Pricing?

No, no, no, no, and ... no.

So, all that stuff on Etsy and basically everything that is not the actual calendar, storage box, or script itself?  That is all my guy.  I had a dream, and he made my vision a reality.  

It also helps that I'm trying to sell a craft, and Andrew works at the ultimate craft store, Hobby Lobby.  

Anyway, enough bragging about him.  I could go on and on about how opening a business has changed our marriage for the better and made me see things in him that I never noticed before, but I should probably talk about my products.

Currently, Doorpost Collection only includes items for the Advent season, but I plan to expand the shop to include an Easter/Lent collection as well.

nativity advent calendar

The standard advent calendar includes a 16x16 inch burlap board in its natural wood color, but there is also a whitewash option.  The board comes with 25 miniature nativity objects to be placed on it from December 1-25.  These items have been sourced from a variety of retailers, and a few are handmade.  Each miniature was carefully selected to tangibly represent a part of the story of Jesus' birth in the Bible.  

Inspired by Scripture and Noel Piper's Treasuring God in Our TraditionsI created a script to be read individually or as a family during the month of December.  The script tells the story of Jesus, but it also includes other verses of Old Testament prophesies and New Testament promises.  Each day, the beginning paragraph of the script is repeated, but a new portion is also added which corresponds to the miniature being placed on the board on that specific day.

nativity advent calendar

A handpainted and numbered 25-drawer storage box for the miniatures can be purchased separately or in addition to the nativity advent calendar.  If you're a DIY kind of person, I've included the script as an option to purchase separately, as well.

If this product sounds simplistic, it is.  That's what I wanted it to be.  The Christmas season is often so full of chaos that the true Reason for our festivities is lost.  Selling these advent calendars isn't about money for me; it's about bringing Jesus back into people's homes.  It's about giving parents a tool for teaching their kids to adore the Savior.  It's about redeeming a holiday that has been distorted.  

nativity advent calendar

I'll leave you with this letter I've written.  You'll find it in your box if you order from my collection.  

You can check out Doorpost Collections on my website, InstagramFacebook or Etsy.  

 

***

Dear Friend,

I grew up in a home that did not acknowledge Christmas.  Classmates constantly questioned my religious background, wondering if I was Jewish or Jehovah’s Witness.  My response was and still is, “No, my parents are devout Christians.”  For reasons I couldn’t understand at the time, my parents chose to entirely forgo this holiday that the world has a tendency to misrepresent.

My husband, on the other hand, was raised in a family where Christmas has always been the year’s biggest celebration.  Yet, even with all of the festivities, the true meaning of advent was lost on him, as well.

Adopting our oldest child caused us to consider, for the first time, what we desired holidays to be for our own family unit.  I devoured Noel Piper’s Treasuring God in Our Traditions book in only a few days and then attempted to implement some of her wisdom into our home.  Unfortunately, the advent calendars and script which she sold when she wrote the book were no longer available.  So, I decided to make my own.

As I worked on this project, my heart changed toward Christmas and Jesus.  I had originally created the calendar to teach the story of Christ’s birth to our children through a digestible story and tangible objects, but I really ended up teaching the story to myself.  Writing the script that we would read in our home required extensive Bible research on my part, and seeing Old Testament promises fulfilled through the Messiah brought renewed joy to my spirit.  I found myself eagerly anticipating each evening during the advent season, when we would gather as a family and add another piece to the burlap board.  Seeing the wonder of the Savior through the eyes of my children sparked my own wonder, too.  For the first time in my life, Christmas had meaning.

The name, Doorpost Collections, was chosen with intention.  We, like the Israelites, are a forgetful people.  We need objects and routines which stir our affections for Christ.  My prayer is that, as you display and use Doorpost Collections in your home, you will be enabled to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).

                                                                                 All glory to Jesus,
                                                                        Mary Rachel

15% of Doorpost Collections’ proceeds go directly to Peru Mission.  For more information, visit www.perumission.org.

Fan Club Friday: The Kinney Team

Anyone who has ever bought or sold a home knows that such an important transaction has potential for being a huge headache.  

We've lived in our current home for about 2.5 years, and it could not be more perfect for our little family.  Our previous house was a great "starter home", but my husband and I began to feel claustrophobic in its 1,000 square feet when we unexpectedly found out that I was pregnant.  (First world problems, I know.)  We already had a toddler at the time, so our plans to move into a more spacious home "at some point down the road" quickly escalated.

Kacie Kinney Realtor

I casually mentioned our growing family's needs to my realtor friend, Kacie, who encouraged us to pull the trigger and put our house on the market.  Thanks to her wise suggestion, we finalized our entire buying and selling process in a month.  The Kinney Team sold our house for over our asking pricing in four days, and we were able to find our current home just hours later.  I was sixteen weeks pregnant and horribly sick on our closing/moving day, so Kacie arranged for meals to be catered to our home as soon as we moved in and for a professional cleaning service to make our old home presentable.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd repeat our homebuying experience in a heartbeat.  The reason?  We had an amazing realtor.

I went to college at THE University of Oklahoma with Kacie, and I remember her being a go-getter, even at 18.  She knew what she wanted and always worked hard to pursue her dreams.  Unfortunately, these qualities can translate into realtors being pushy, self-centered salespeople.  Kacie is different.  She cares about the people buying and selling homes.  Instead of simply trying to complete a transaction, Kacie envisions the family members who will be sitting around the kitchen table or playing fetch with the dog in the backyard in a given home.  Her desire is to help others, and real estate is the tool that she uses to do that.

Kacie's assertiveness, knowledge, and passion have put The Kinney Team in the top 1% of real estate teams in the OKC metro area.  I enjoyed working with Kacie because I often felt that she better understood what we needed and wanted in a home than we did.  In addition, she was able to represent us politely but firmly with the other real estate agents involved.  A Yukon native, Kacie's knowledge of and love for homes across the metro is superior.  If you're looking to purchase a home for the first time (or the 51st!), you need this girl on your side!    

Closing Day, February 2015

Closing Day, February 2015

Before we bought our home, we prayed for a place where we could raise our family and keep our doors open to people from all walks of life.  We believe that our house is a gift, and we want to be good stewards of it by inviting others into our life in Norman.  In less than three years, we have not only brought a second child home to this address, but we have hosted several AirBnB guests from across the country and rented out a room to a recent high school graduate.  In weeks ahead, we have the privilege of welcoming in children through foster care.  Our prayers have been answered beyond what we ever could have imagined. 

This home isn't just the place where we live; it is where we write our story.  Thanks, Kacie, for your part in storytelling.  

Check out The Kinney Team on their website, Facebook, or Instagram, and let Kacie help you take the first step toward fulfilling your real estate dreams.

If you or a local business you know would like to be featured on a Fan Club Friday, please fill out the form here.

Fan Club Friday: The Eye Gallery

I have been wearing glasses or contact lenses for as long as I can remember.  I can still picture my very first pair of glasses, a set of big red frames with pink paint flecked around the edges.  They screamed 1993, the year that I entered kindergarten.  By fifth grade, those glasses were nerdy old news, and I was ready to try hard contacts.  Disaster.  I distinctly recall more than one occasion during which my mom aimed the brightest flashlight we owned into my eye in a futile effort to retrieve the contact lens that had either pasted itself to my eyeball or rolled behind my eyelid and was swimming around in my head.  In my mind, though, this was a small price to pay for vanity, as opposed to the Coke bottle lenses that my glasses had become.

Needless to say, I've been seeing an optometrist for a looong time, though apparently not as long as I should've been.  My poor mom, bless her heart, had no idea that I couldn't see anything in kindergarten until the health screening people came around and made that determination for both of us.

Though I have visited many an eye doctor in my quarter century of ocular issues, Dr. Cliff Hughes from The Eye Gallery stands out above the rest.

{Okay, yes, I wrote about his wife, Nichole, for my last Fan Club Friday post.  I promise that I'm not obsessively stalking their family.  They just run great businesses!}

I knew Dr. Hughes as a friend from church before I knew him as my optometrist.  His kindness, wisdom, humility, integrity, and generosity are trademarks of his personality that he carries into his work.  Since The Eye Gallery was established over six years ago, it has set itself apart with a commitment to the pursuit of excellence and cultivation of a service-oriented environment.  Along with many other satisfied patients, I would say that my annual eye exam is always thorough, and all staff members demonstrate great attention to detail.

Like myself, Dr. Hughes has spent most of his life wearing corrective lenses.  His experience in the eye doctor's chair as a young boy paved the way for his interest in the profession.  (Interestingly, his two sons seem to be following in his footsteps; Knox and Hudson have been wearing glasses since they were babies!)  After completing his undergraduate program at the University of Central Arkansas and then graduating from Southern College of Optometry, Dr. Hughes chose to do a year-long optional residency training with an emphasis in ocular disease.  Basically, he's an overachiever, which is what you want when you're choosing a doctor.

Since I made the decision to go into dental hygiene last year, I have been shocked to discover the amount of people who know next to nothing about the importance of oral health.  Many men and women believe the lie that if their teeth are white and aren't hurting, they have no need to see a dentist.  A similar phenomenon seems to be true with ocular health.  20/20 vision alone does not constitute healthy eyes!  How our eyes work together as a team, how they focus light, how our brain processes visual information ... all of these components play a role in the visual system.  An optometrist is really a "vision" doctor, and good vision begins with healthy eyes.

Dr. Hughes likes to begin seeing patients at six months of age because he rightly believes that prevention is the best medicine.  One of the best ways to ensure our children's academic success is by having them tested to determine whether or not their visual systems are adequate for the demands that school places on them.  

Being the amazing mother that I am, I took my girls to The Eye Gallery for the first time when they were one and three, respectively.  {Better late than never, right?}  Thankfully, Piper's eyes are perfect.  She's adopted, so she didn't inherit my horrible astigmatism or near-sightedness.  Caroline has not been so fortunate.  Dr. Hughes usually examines his patients at six months, one year, three years, five years, and then yearly thereafter, but Sweet Girl is due back to see him next month at age two for a follow-up.  I'm kind of not-so-secretly hoping that she's one of those toddlers with the plastic glasses because, adorbs.

Speaking of glasses, The Eye Gallery has a wealth of fashion-forward brands to peruse!  From Michael Kors to Tom Ford, Ray Ban, and Maui Jim, every patient is bound to find a great pair of frames.  My favorite part of my annual eye exam is trying on some of these frames, even though, as we've discussed, my horrible vision requires Coke bottle lenses.

When I first began coming to Dr. Hughes, my astigmatism was already at the highest step.  Because of this, contact lenses were difficult to find, and the ones that I had worn in the past were uncomfortable.  Dr. Hughes worked with me, as he has with many other patients, to find a set of lenses that fit comfortably and corrected my atrocious vision.  His assistant, Dawn, has always gone above and beyond in helping with glasses fittings and contact orders.  Even my kids are happy to go to The Eye Gallery because the employees are so patient with them, and they have their own place to play while I get my eyes examined.

Located in an under-served area of south Oklahoma City, The Eye Gallery is convenient for patients from Norman and Edmond alike.  And if you're like me and have funky or nonexistent vision insurance, Dr. Hughes and his staff are great about working with you because they all believe in the importance of eye health.

The Eye Gallery is accepting new patients now, so it's not too late to schedule an exam before school starts.  Check them out on their website, Facebook page, or Instagram, and take a step toward healthy vision today! 

If you or a business you know would like to be featured for Fan Club Friday, contact me here.   

Fan Club Friday: Social Butterfly OKC

Social Butterfly Logo

When I began blogging professionally several months ago, I knew that part of the gig would include social media engagement.  

You guys.  Those words kind of make me cringe.  I want to write content and be done.  I don't want to promote my latest post on my Insta account because a) that's awkward, b) I'm old school, and c) I have no clue what I'm doing.  But did you know that the average person spends two hours a day scrolling through feeds?  Managed correctly, that's a ton of publicity and engagement!

When my friend, Nichole Hughes, told me about the social media management business that she started with her sister, Laynie Snider, I was immediately intrigued.  Companies need to be promoted via social media in order to draw more clients and keep their current ones satisfied.  (You can thank millennials like me for that one.)  However, updating Facebook is often too much for an eye doctor, for example, whose full-time job is to take care of eyes.  Laynie and Nichole actually enjoy scheduling posts and moderating comments, which frees entrepreneurs and established businesspeople alike to focus on their careers.  It's a win-win situation because both parties get to pursue their talents and passions.

social butterfly coffee

Why work with these two coffee lovers?  Several years ago, Laynie opened Blo, OKC’s first blo-out-bar, in Classen Curve.  As the former owner of Blo, Laynie used social media exclusively for marketing, which quickly grew a large following in the community.  Braids, big hair, brides, blush, and beauty products (alliteration intentional!) filled Blo’s Instagram feed.  Blo’s exposure and profits through social media drove them to become a leader in the OKC beauty industry.  Laynie saw an opportunity and had the desire to partner with other local businesses to recreate the success she had initiated at Blo.  She knew that she would need help, and it made sense to ask the best friend who grew up with her in south OKC: Nichole, her identical twin sister (born four years earlier).  

Though I don't know Laynie personally, Nichole has been a sweet friend for years.  I can only imagine that since Laynie is so much like her sister, she's a tough and hilarious go-getter with wisdom beyond her years and a genuine love for people.  These extroverted girl bosses have six small children between the two of them, but they still manage to work hard for their clients, care well for their families, and look perfect while doing it all.  (I mean seriously, have you seen two more attractive brunettes?)  The fun, yet professional personalities of these ladies makes them a joy to have as friends and a dream to employ.  And let's be honest, they don't need me showcasing them on my blog because we've already discussed who knows what they're doing in this situation, but hey ... I like writing about gifted people.

At this point, you may be asking, "Who is Social Butterfly for?"  Everyone!  It doesn't matter if your company has one employee or 700, Social Butterfly can help grow your business.  Services they offer include:

Photos by:  Kate Bernard

Photos by: Kate Bernard

  • Daily Posting: Seize the day every day because they post for you!
  • Social Media Strategizing: They help you decide what your pages will look like and how the layout and theme will best reflect the values that your business has.
  • Brand Engagement: Grow real followers, not robots!
  • Community Management: Social Butterfly responds to the comments and questions of your audience.  Check that off your to-do list!
  • Content Calendar Creation: "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."  Nichole and Laynie do content creation and planning for you so that failure is not an option.  All of the next month's posts will be submitted for your review and approval 10-12 days in advance.
  • Media Management Flexibility: Since Laynie and Nichole have been business owners themselves at one point or another, they know that needs vary depending upon the size and stage of the company.  So, they're willing to work with you and devise a plan that pleases everyone!

Don't waste any more precious time attempting to grow your business alone.  Check out Social Butterfly OKC on their Facebook page and Instagram, or email them directly at socialbutterflyokc@gmail.com.

Fan Club Friday: Wahoo! Running

Guys.  I know I get excited about every Fan Club Friday because I seriously have so many talented friends, but this one ... {Insert heart eyes emoji here.} 

Meet my friends and fellow runners, Christie and Carlee.

I've known Christie for years, and she has walked (or should I say, run) with me through some of the hardest and happiest moments of my life, imparting wisdom all along the way.  Though Carlee and I only met within the last year, our similar status as runner moms of two little girls has allowed us to strike a fast friendship.

A couple of years ago, Christie single-handedly spearheaded a kids' running club in which children of all ages trained with her and then ran a 5k as the culmination of twelve weeks of practice.

wahoo kids running club

Since that first season, Wahoo! Running has become far more than a kids' running organization, though it is still that, too.  While kids run with Christie, Carlee coaches their parents to accomplish a variety of running goals from simply getting up off of the couch to completing a first marathon or half marathon.

With literally hundreds of combined races between them, Christie and Carlee have a wealth of knowledge to offer to both newbies and seasoned runners.  So, they have started creating customizable training plans to share their insight with others!

wahoo training plan

Because I wanted to get the full Wahoo Running experience, I decided to order my own training plan from my coaching friends.  I am aiming to "crush all of my goals" (a Christie Thomas-ism) at the Prairie Fire half marathon in Wichita, Kansas, in October.  

I have used a couple of other training strategies in the past, but none of them were specifically tailored to my body or running goals.  Wahoo goes above and beyond to do just that.  Prior to constructing my plan, Wahoo sent me an Athlete Questionnaire.  In addition to basic demographic information, Christie and Carlee asked me about my height, weight, previous running experience, best times, goal times, average times, how often I workout,  other types of exercise I enjoy, and why I run.  (That sounds like a lot of information, but I completed the whole thing in under 10 minutes.)  Now, Christie and Carlee are using my answers to customize a twelve-week calendar that tells me precisely what I need to do each day.  Since I'm the most Type A person you may ever meet, I need an exact schedule which includes rest and stretching as an integral part of my program.  

Along with my training plan, I'm expecting my Wahoo! Winning Kit to arrive on my doorstep day!  My box will include a lacrosse ball, resistance band, and other goodies to motivate me and keep my muscles healthy for race day.  Dare I say that I'm pumped about running again?!

I get to train with Christie and Carlee because I am fortunate enough to live locally, and we do more than run together.  In our group of girls, we laugh, we cry, we laugh until we cry, we poop on the side of the road (I personally haven't done this one yet, but don't put it past me), and we run the literal and figurative hills and valleys of life together.  If you don't have a running community where you live, I know that the faces behind Wahoo would encourage you to start one.

Wahoo Runners

I'm a big fan of winning, but that isn't why I run.  Christie and Carlee get this.  In a matter of months since they have launched their business, these coaches have guided multiple runners to set new PRs and win age categories in the races they enter.  However, Christie and Carlee's main goals are for runners to stay healthy and to have fun.  Their desire is for people to "experience running the way it's meant to be."  In other words, they want runners to never outrun their love of running.  

If you've lost your purpose for running or are looking to find a purpose for the first time, Christie and Carlee can create the perfect plan to get you on track within a week.  After that, they will follow up with you to see how things are going, not because they're trying to build a business but because they genuinely care about you as a runner and as a whole person.

Check out Wahoo! Running on their website, Instagram, or Facebook page.  You can also email the coaches directly at christie@wahoorunning.com or carlee@wahoorunning.com.  

WAHOO!

Photo credits: Christie Thomas and Teena Moore Photography.