Monday, January 25, 2010

Opening Doors

There are times that I, walking slowly down the path of life, wish the Lord would give me guidance and direction – open a door or move a mountain or anything to help me know where I should go and what I should do. I'm like a 6-year-old with too much energy to stay in one spot, waiting for a door to open so I can just run through it. Eventually, the Lord gives me everything I've asked for and more than I expected. This week I watched as doors opened, mountains moved, and miracles happened everywhere around me. It's going to be a long run.

This week was crazy at work. We are going in a dozen directions with a dozen different projects... and I don't attend most of the meetings yet I'm involved in every single one. My one coworker is quitting in a few weeks and won't be replaced, which means that I may need to shoulder a somewhat larger load, and we have massive projects that could easily drain all of my time. But the amazing things had very little to do with my work at the MTC – it was my work outside the MTC where miracles happened.

I registered the web address on Monday. It was a great deal and came with an Internet hosting package that looked like it would be easy to put together. But after hours of trying to build a shopping cart from one piece after another, I became somewhat discouraged. I realized that I lacked the skills to create exactly what I envisioned, I was constantly encountering problems, and reading online tutorials didn't seem to help the problem. I still had nothing to show for it – the site redirects to an “Under Construction” page. I was almost resigned to creating a website that didn't fit my ideal or having to learn a massive new skill set. So I prayed for help and put it temporarily on hold.

The next day, my brother, who was facing the same issues with another site, found a company that he thought might be able to solve our problem. Long story short, the owner of the web design company was originally not interested in the terms he offered. But after hearing about our business plan and vision (to offer high-quality, affordable natural healing products), he became very willing to help. The owner has very strong feelings on the subject – he is part of a national natural products board – and commented that his staff could easily create a site with all the functionality we need. Mountain moved. We have a meeting with him Thursday morning; we should be able to see if it will make financial sense to have his company create our site.

That same day, I got my hair cut by a student at a nearby hair academy. When the instructor came to check my hair, she casually asked me what I did. I ran down the list, stopping when she inquired about Nature's Fusions. She was suddenly very interested, related her own experiences with essential oils, asked for a catalog, and promised to be my customer. When she left I asked the student for an explanation; she simply told me that the instructor was very nice and that she was the owner of the academy. Door opened. That experience alerted me to the need to have something to give to people who were already placing orders. Enter the skill of desktop publishing – learned at home making fliers and refined at the MTC printing curriculum. 5 hours later, I had created a logo and the first draft of an order form. Major blessing.

Wednesday night I tackled the issue of formulating a few fusions to be both therapeutic and appealing. I chose the most difficult (in retrospect, I wonder why) - a fusion called “Chocolate” designed to ease women's pains. I had two goals. Make the fusion effective, and make it smell like chocolate. It seemed pretty simple at first – just put in all the therapeutic ingredients and then add some cacao and vanilla oils at the end. But the cacao oil smelled like cocoa powder, not chocolate, and the therapeutic oils were overwhelmingly floral – so much so that they drowned out every other smell. I realized that I had the knowledge to meet my first goal (efficacy), but I would have to become a perfumer to achieve the second.

Some research on Thursday revealed that cocoa butter could be the source of the smell we needed. More specifically, the smell comes from the antioxidants naturally present in cocoa butter. I probably could have asked my uncle who owns a chocolate factory, but I found the answer nonetheless. We purchased some cocoa butter and the search was over – it was our missing ingredient. Just one problem – cocoa butter is rock solid at room temperature. And if you add it to essential oils, the entire mixture eventually becomes rock solid and almost impossible to use. Formulating a natural mixture that smells like chocolate, has therapeutic value, and is easy to apply will require some research on my part in cosmetics manufacturing. I really don't have time to learn how to make cosmetics right now, as enthralling as that may be. It might be easier to make real chocolate and put the oils inside. In the interim, we'll change the name to Floral Bouquet or something similar, then maybe eventually have a set called Flowers and Chocolate. Problem solved.

Thursday and Friday I spent doing more research, then attended my great-aunt's funeral on Saturday. It was a beautiful service & I'm glad that she has moved on to the next stage of life. At the funeral I saw bunches of family members and realized that I could find ways to help people using my new business. With a bit of hesitation, I started making contacts. Lots of doors opened.

An aunt once told me that I should become a doctor. “You should do it,” she said, “so you can help find a cure for CF (cystic fibrosis).” I think I was 8 years old, and her comment ushered in a slew of conflicting feelings. At the time, I didn't know what I wanted to be, but I didn't want to be a doctor. I didn't feel like I should be a doctor. But I had multiple cousins who suffered from CF. I knew that without training in the medical field, I wouldn't discover something to help CF... and I felt that with medical training, I probably could. Years passed. Then a turn of events, a few opened doors, and suddenly I find myself deep in natural medicine. And I'm hopeful that I can find something that could help people – not only those with CF and other chronic illnesses, but everyone – to live healthier, more fulfilling lives.

I don't know exactly what the Lord has in store for me, or exactly what He wants me to accomplish while I'm here on this earth. Sometimes I think that I'm going to change the world of education. Sometimes I have no clue. And then sometimes I see His hand guiding me down unfamiliar paths that will change my life forever. The one thing I do know is that He is with me, guiding me, and that whatever He asks me to do, it is for a purpose. When I follow Him, doors will open and I will have the ability to bless the lives of others. At Institute recently, there was a quote on a handout by President Hinckley that said that when we actively strive to bless the lives of others, the Lord will open doors and cause us to prosper so that we can help them even more.

I know that God is an active part of our lives. Sometimes He encourages us to make our own decisions. And sometimes He intervenes, takes us by the hand, and allows us to run alongside Him in His work. I only hope that I will have the faith to keep up... or at least to ask for the strength to do so. As we strive to bless the lives of others, we can be sure that God will bless us for our efforts. So my invitation to you: look at your life and the things you do for others. Ask the Lord to bless you so that you can be a better servant. And ask what else you can do – what other blessings and opportunities He has in store that will bless you and the people you love. Then go out and share – go out and be missionaries!

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