As we celebrate 10 years, Kristen suggested sharing some of my favorite moments from the last 10 years. Confession. I had to ask my family and a few friends to help me remember because 10 years is a long time! 😂
I mentioned a few weeks ago in my blog post Goals for my 39th year, that my 29th year, which was 10 years ago, held so many changes! A few weeks after I turned 29, I shared the prayer journals and was blown away by the response and got to start doing work that really fulfilled me. A few weeks after that, we welcomed Vivi into the world and I became a mom. That following summer, we bought our first home, down the street from my parents, and found a wonderful community of neighbors. It’s strange to think how my work, motherhood, and home all started around the same time and created this clear bookend that we’re now celebrating.
I actually recorded a video sharing my top 10 moments if you’d rather watch! I shared a few more details there!
September 2012 – Hurricane VMP party
Fun fact. Val Marie Paper started off a year earlier as a wedding invitation company. And I celebrated by throwing a launch party at a local restaurant, French Press. Only we planned it all out to be August 30, and of course, a hurricane interrupted. Hurricane Isaac actually hit on my birthday, the 28th, but we obviously needed to postpone at least a few days. I just remember sitting in our 600 sq ft apartment eating Buffalo Wild Wings takeout for my birthday bummed at the soggy start to Val Marie Paper. The party did happen, a little smaller but still so fun! Proof here. Such a reminder, God’s plans are not our plans. I was set to grow a business around wedding invitations and God had something else in mind.
September 2013 – Photoshoot almost 39 weeks pregnant
In August of 2013, I shared some quick snaps of the prayer journal I had made for myself but needed to sell some to print my own. Even for something I wasn’t trying to make a business, I wanted quality pictures. So I hired one of my favorite wedding photographer friends, Catherine Guidry to shoot the journals.
I have one grainy picture of that day of me and my big pregnant belly in the South Louisiana heat. We didn’t last too long but it was just what was needed to share our first journals. I still giggle when I see the photo. It represents this early enthusiasm for prayer that had me diving into work when I should have been resting and preparing for a baby. To top it off, it was Tyler and I’s 3rd wedding anniversary the day we shot it! The Lord has stoked that flame over the last 10 years and I’m even more passionate about prayer.
August 2016 – Debuting spiral journals
This was the first time we went beyond our initial moleskine-style journal. It was exciting to raise our game with gold foil and linen fabric and to offer something to those wanting to take their prayer life to the next level. Two sweet friends were super enthusiastic when I first mentioned the idea and helped fuel me to actually make it a reality. This was also really cool because our mission grew from simply wanting to help people remember requests to a bigger mission of a deeper prayer life.
March 2018 – Our first market at Magnolia
Each spring and fall, Magnolia hosts an event where vendors line the streets around the Silos. 50,000 people come through in a matter of days. It’s a super intense experience setting up, and spending 8+ hours a day talking with people. It’s both exhausting and completely energizing! It’s also a crazy thing to get to meet so many people who had been using our journals already and getting to introduce them to people who had no idea what a prayer journal like ours was. We also had a prayer wall for people to share requests and this turned our booth into a house of prayer.
August 2018 – $25K by lunch
If you watched the video, I totally botched this one up and got my years confused. Here’s the accurate story! It was the first day of our annual pre-orders and I had told my team that I didn’t want to look at the sales till launch. It had been easy in the past to get super focused on them and overanalyze how or what we should be doing OR if they were really good, it was easy to obsess over it.
This year, Kara, our marketing manager at the time came in to experience launch day in person with me and our shipping manager Ashley. We of course went to Chuy’s because Kara and I had bonded over our love of it early on and Ashley thankfully tolerated it! 😉We opened our Shopify app very ceremoniously and I about fell off my chair. $25K in just 3 hours. It took me a bit to believe it was real but it was and very humbling to see so many people jump on board!
Fall 2018 – Created a catalog…then a newspaper
I graduated in journalism and in college, I dreamed of ending up in New York City working for a fancy magazine. I even did an internship at a style magazine in Philadelphia…which helped me realize I wanted more than to talk about parties and fit of jeans. Getting to create a catalog from scratch with intentional content was a full-circle moment and one I’ll never forget. The following year, we did a newspaper because we thought it fit our brand a little better. But we hope to bring this back one day!
April 2019 – Becoming a traditionally published author
When Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday came out at this time, it was a dream come true! Since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a writer. The funny thing is, I wanted to be a poet, songwriter, columnist and even Poet Laureate of the US but never an author of books. That was just too many words on one topic!! My husband helped me see this from a different perspective and I wrote The Finishing School and self-published it.
From that book, I got to meet a publisher, Kara, at Tyndale and she asked if I had another book I wanted to write and Grumpy Mom was born! Within this experience, we got to go to Chicago to meet my publishers and surprise Kara in person! If you know me, I am horrible at keeping surprises so this was a big deal that I pulled it off! 😉
December 2019 – Getting to donate to the Bridge
We decided to do a fundraiser for one of the charities that we supported at the time. It was a school that offered a Christian education, very similar to the ones my girls attended, for underprivileged kids. I had volunteered with them during a program the summer I was pregnant with Vivi so besides donating money each month, I thought it would be fun to do something for these kids I was familiar with for Christmas.
I shared online an Amazon gift list of some items that could be good for each class and y’all were so quick to give! We knocked out the list and had enough donations to give a present for each student to unwrap themselves. See the video here. This was one of the most joyful seasons I can remember and a big reminder that serving others, especially in a way that connects with your passions, brings incredible joy to our lives.
February 2021 – Getting off Instagram
This was one that I could never have done on my own. Truly this was God placing this desire on my heart and shifting my priorities. One of the clearest things I’ve ever felt the Lord prompt me to do. Between the time I decided to get off and when I announced, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer and I was super grateful to get to put more attention to my local life. (BTW they caught it early and she’s doing great now!) More on my Instagram journey here and here.
July 2021 – Reading audiobook for Pray Confidently and Consistently
You guys didn’t like the Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday narrator 😂 so I pushed pretty hard to read this Pray Confidently and Consistently. I had booked a trip to Nashville to record and ended up having surgery 2 weeks before to remove some ovarian cysts. The procedure was simple but my recovery was not as good as expected so the audio team made it work for me to record at Dockside Studios.
I had to schedule our annual photoshoots on back-to-back days before my 3 days of recording. Not smart! On the 10-minute drive to the studio from my house, what had started as a mildly irritated sciatica from sitting cross-legged styling photos for 8 hours the day before turned into an excruciating pain I could barely talk through. Within an hour, after some heat and meds, it was gone and I could read!!
February 2023 – Moving into the warehouse
You might notice quite a gap from some of our banner years and moments. My health took a big toll on what I could offer VMP. It’s honestly still not perfect but this year the Lord put on my heart to go for it and not rest on past successes. So we moved our office from shipping at my house, to Ashley’s house. From there to the storage unit, to my friend’s shop, and now to our very own warehouse and office. This was a big step of faith. It’s honestly bigger than what our current needs were but it will be full come this October!! I cannot wait for this year’s shipping parties. It’s my favorite 2 weeks to get to ship alongside friends, eat fun lunches, and ship out thousands and thousands of pre-orders!!
Want more? Watch this video where I share more details on YouTube.
Or remember something I forgot?? I want to hear it!! Comment below.