I was once a furniture maker.
I’d like to say I was a pretty decent one. I have 15 years of good memories, great customers, mistakes to learn from, constant finish perfecting, busy months and desperate times. I found myself on my knees in 2015 with $213 in the bank praying for what to do next. .
I’ve never been one to worry or get hung up on making money. But, this wasn’t the first time I couldn’t pay the bills. I had been there before many times and I wasn’t a quitter. In 2007 I was in a car accident hit by a drunk driver and then had an appendix removal within months of each other. I was 115 lbs. and on my knees then too! All I had the strength to do was make crosses. So I made some new designs and they went in drawers until I had the strength to make furniture again. “I was a 7th generation furniture maker dog gone it!”
I have made crosses as long as I have made furniture, but only a handful every year. I even had them in Southern Lady magazine once, but nothing really came of that..Everything was pulling me towards making them again in 2012. I can remember saying “Are you crazy Lord?!” Make a living selling crosses? Well, I tried :) and tried again. I found an awesome web guy to help me build a new website in 2013. We tried and tried some more! Hashtagging, posting for 20 fans to see on FB. Posting more and trying again. I went to galleries, art studios, and every place that once accepted and liked my furniture and art. But, what I heard this time was, “This isn’t the place or venue for any crosses..” I was being cut off and I was giving up. “A cross maker Lord?” “This is stupid!” That’s not me.. But, for 3 years I pushed to make them in between a table or two. I remember saying to Brandi that the crosses were getting to be more of a distraction. I truly believe the furniture and my wanting self recognition was the distraction now ;)
Fast forward to 2015. I was done with it all! We started cleaning out the old shop one Hot June day. We were going to put the whole place in storage. It was over.. I was beat down and defeated… Brandi was there with me sweating on that hot summer day in June and I remember calling out to her from the back room and saying “I’m just gonna give them away!” I pulled out a Tree of Life Cross made of cypress. It sat in a drawer for as long as I could remember. Probably 10 years! I held it in the air and took a really bad photo. I was upset about giving up. “Here Lord!” I remember saying. I was just going to give it away. I knew It had a purpose. A place to go. It had Someone to give hope too!
I asked folks to share because I just knew that at least it would be shared to someone past the 23 fans we now had. Someone needed this cross. I think every one of our fans had one already too.
Well, overnight it seemed that photo reached about 70,000 people! What??
Suddenly orders for Tree of Life crosses poured in. I had about 50-80 to make within 21 days of taking that picture. I had made only 9 crosses the year before and it wasn’t one of them. I wasn’t prepared for this! “Lord, what is going on?” “What am I to do?” The answer came pouring from Him. I asked Him what to do everyday. I asked him to remind me how to make it, where to get the wood from quickly. It wasn’t easy! I was suddenly working 16 hour days to keep up. I had never made more than maybe 3 of those and they were all different. I had to draw and carve this tree on this cross the same or close each time! I remember pausing one day and saying “I’m a cross maker, huh?
That’s not where the story ended. I think it’s where it began. :)
We started with 10-12 cross designs on the website in 2015 and we are at well over 80 on the website now. My wife and I built a barn in the backyard to keep me from driving 1:45 each day. Yes, just me and her somehow in between making crosses, built a Barn! Lol! I don’t know how we did it but we did :)
It built our marriage up to working so close together. We were building it to make crosses in and nothing else. We’d get cross orders use the money to buy more material to keep building it. It’s still not really finished and leaks sometimes haha. We sold mine and my kids childhood house and shop this past February. I thought that would’ve been devastating to me to leave the shop I watched my Father work in, but it wasn’t. Bittersweet, yes. Well, this past year 2017 we moved everything here to the barn to make crosses. 35 trips got it all or most of it here.
Sure, I still get asked to make furniture and it’s sooo tempting sometimes. It’s hard to tell my past customers no, but I do.. Its because “I am a cross maker” said the Lord from inside me. And now Brandi and the boys are making them with me! Everyday I wake up and the story begins again with new orders. It’s a new day the Lord gave us to make crosses. I can’t wait to see what He wants us to make next! I am steadfast to work for the Lord and make crosses and nothing else.
I was a furniture maker once. :)
Thank you Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.