A few years back, I was gravely ill and had to return home to Ocala to be cared for by my mother and my community. Before making that decision, I tried to get well independently, but there was no place like home.
I stayed in bed and in the bathroom most of the first couple of years back. Not only was I extremely weak, but I was also chronically in pain. But regardless of either situation, there was one thing I did religiously–I read my Bible and faith-based books on healing.
Outside of the occasional comedy movies, reading was all I could do to stay motivated to live. My reading turned into an insatiable desire to study God’s Word. Through those personal bible studies, I began to collect a diary of scriptures that I transferred onto sticky notes. I would place them everywhere. My mother would come home from work to a fresh supply of stickies on the bathroom mirrors, walls, and near my bed. It was a trip for her, I’m sure.
I did not stop there, either. For a season, I created magnet strips based on my Bible readings. Again, my mother would come home from work to find the refrigerator and the metal filing cabinets covered with the names of God. I remember sending them as gifts to family members. I am sure my family thought this girl has lost it for sure. But I was actually coming alive. The truth (of God’s Word) set me free.
God’s Word increased my faith in the impossible, so much so that at the beginning of this year, 2021, I placed a picture of an idea God gave me four years prior on my vision board.
Four years ago, my Uncle William Carter shocked me when he asked if I would help him with one of his business ventures. What was he thinking? My uncle, a successful chemist, photographer, and businessman, did not need me to help him do anything, but he made me feel like I could be an asset to his team. I realize now that God used him to restore my sense of worth, something you lose when your health fails. But here he was, giving me little jobs (which felt like huge responsibilities) organizing his photographs. Those moments ignited all sorts of ideas, and we began collaborating on possible projects.
Before long, I asked my mother to take me to places where I could snap images, and a downtown shop owner and a friend helped me with pricing. But that was as far as it went. Physically, it was too demanding.
A Gathering Place
Time went on, and I continued to read the Word and draw closer to God and get stronger. In 2019, during a pandemic, I had been writing about my family’s story and sharing it with other writers when an opportunity to write a magazine editorial on Black Health landed in my lap. How does a (limited) person with my diagnosis receive this type of offer without God? They don’t. At about the same time, a new café was opening, and a member of my small group encouraged my family to get out and go.
The trip to The Gathering Cafe proved to be worth the journey. The environment was unique, and once I met Sarah, a tenacious young entrepreneur, I knew I was in the right place and that I needed to write her story. That story was the first I had ever pitched to Magnolia Media, and the editor said yes, immediately. From that moment forward, I felt connected to the location, for the coffee, food, and the company. Since my first visit, my caregiver’s small group has used the big table several times to do lunch and fulfill service projects (Operation Christmas Card). Everyone I know who goes there feels that it has been time well spent.
Fast forward to this year, and I am in bed at home, completing my vision board, and, in my heart, I sense God reminding me of this artistic idea with my uncle. I found an online picture that represents the idea, and I put it on my board. Months later, I am at The Gathering Café with my family again. As usual, Sarah and I start chatting about the great things God is doing for and through her coffee shop, and I casually mention a dream in my heart–of these coasters I started designing years ago.
To my surprise, she tells me to make them and invites me to sell them at The Gathering Place. I’m sure my eyes bugged out of my head. But it was that simple. No laundry list of “do this, do that, dot this, cross that, and then we will see.” No, she said, “make them.” #WomenHelpingWomen
Within minutes she’d emailed her logo and the lettering she thought would do well in the café. Since we have similar tastes, it was “nothing but a thing,” as they used to say. I was raring to go!
When I called my uncle, he was also ready and willing to help. And now, perhaps three months from that encounter, a vision written down on January 1, 2021, is being fulfilled.
This week was the first week my coasters went on sale at The Gathering Café, and we sold our first four-pack that first day. My uncle says he figured that design would sell well. It includes an original slogan for coffee lovers.
One of the first coasters.
We also do custom orders per request: Potential clients can send a Direct Message on social media or drop a comment below.
For my unique family situation, this has been a blessing that I will always thank God for providing. And I am fortunate to share it with others for three reasons:
- Vision-boarding works. I encourage everyone to be obedient when they hear that still, small voice and write down whatever message they receive. Then visualize whatever God has whispered in your spirit. I’m a witness that any success I have is not by my might or power but by the Spirit of the Lord.
- ReallyLeah Coasters work. They are durable, absorbent, and fade-resistant and will save your beautiful tables from ugly, messy rings. Plus, they are an essential tool for writers. Who writes, types, or works without coffee or tea? And what goes better with a coffee cup than a coaster? I’m just sayin’. So buy a coaster or two or four. Bless yourself or a friend. They are great for personal gifts and business branding.
- Words matter. I encourage everyone to decorate their space with words that will uplift them. As the designer, I assure you that each coaster is crafted with love and is covered with prayers for your success. Many people use them not as coasters but as life-giving pieces of art.
Thank you in advance for supporting a family-owned business and a woman who now lives to show and share what God can do. XO. Really,