Category Archives: Small Business

5 Battle Scars Won Through 5 Years of Entrepreneurship

“I can’t believe it’s been 5 years!” a friend messaged me this morning.

Five years – already?! While it’s hard to believe, at the same time, it feels like it has been dog years since Mike and I formed illuvint llc, our boutique digital marketing company. I continue to manage illuvint as I develop iAmplify, my nonprofit initiative to help religious organizations.

“You will feel everything directly. All the joys, all the challenges, and the failures – they will impact you. There is no longer a buffer.” That was the wisdom that a seasoned entrepreneur and friend imparted at the onset of this journey.

Still, I was not prepared for what would be required of me. If you really know me, then as much of planner as I am, you also know that my ambition was not to be an Entrepreneur and Nonprofit Founder; however, these unplanned endeavors have shaped who I’ve become and my life would look radically different today had I not given my fiat five years ago.

5 Battle Scars Won Through 5 Years of Entrepreneurship

“Negative occurrences in our lives affect us more deeply than positive ones, and can serve as ‘windows of opportunity for growth’.” That was a theme I wrote about here many moons ago.

My failures, challenges, and life lessons have imparted some battle scars along this journey. If you’re going to be the woman or “man in the arena”, be ready for battle scars.

While these scars are invisible to the naked eye, they have power – the power to transform. There’s so much I’ve learned, but the insights I’ve gained from these 5 battle scars over 5 years of Entrepreneurship are quintessential.

1) Detachment.

No one will care about this work as much as you, not even your supporters. I define Entrepreneurial detachment as separating emotionally from the need to control, particularly where it concerns outcomes.

Sometimes, ok a lot of times, you will take things too personally. Detachment is not one and done; but rather it is a necessary, continual process amidst forging your initiative in response to your passion, purpose, and gifts.

Unless you’ve lived this, it may be hard to fully grasp the attachment and temptation towards that end which Entrepreneurs feel. The work we do requires pouring ourselves out, over hours, days, months, and years. And while it is our passion, it results in a lot of sacrificing, especially time with family, friends, having downtime or vacations, etc. Our brains and our “to-do lists” may keep us restless until we work it, re-work it, then stir and repeat. Refine it, and become refined by it. Again. And again.

A healthy level of attachment is required, though. If we weren’t connected to the work – we wouldn’t care. Not caring yields a lack of motivation, which is the wasteland of entrepreneurial dreams. A healthy level is the key here.

2) Consider the source.

There’s no shortage of opinions and advice that others will share – particularly from unsolicited “advisors”. The age of technology also feeds us a steady stream of multi-media that is full of Entrepreneurial “musts.” If you want to be successful, you must do these 20 things well (derived from this exclusive 14-week program for just $1,599.99 today, by the way).

First, always consider the source. Listen to the feedback of others, and later reflect on it. When you reflect on it, also reflect on the person who provided the feedback. Who are they? What is their experience and expertise in this particular realm? What motivation might they have for providing this feedback? What may God be trying to teach me through this encounter?

“But the things which proceed out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and they defile the man.” Mt 15:18.

Listen to what comes forth from their heart and ponder what is intended for you. Do you need to be disciplined? To refocus? Or do you need to shake this one off? Consider the source, and seek The Source of all good as you do.

Most importantly, do not allow the nay-sayers voices to get into your head and feed self-doubt. It takes great courage to put yourself out there in this way, so remember your why, and hold fast.

3) The state of imperfection

“Hi, I’m Lisa, and I’m a recovering perfectionist.”

I’ve learned the hard way time and again that perfection is not something achievable this side of heaven. But excellence, on the other hand, that is something worth pursuing. My mind has confused seeking excellence as the need for perfection, but that’s a trap. Oh, and people pleasing, that’s a dead end.

Friend, avoid the snare of perfectionism – it’s not self-fulfilling, it’s self-defeating – and leaves one always feeling less than while chasing unicorns. Perfectionism is not something I chose, but something I learned, falsely ascribing my self-worth to the desire to be perfect. My wounds longed to be filled with my achievements, or to let “things” define me, instead of finding worth in who I was.

As an Entrepreneur, what I can do for people through my business may gain accolades and recognition. Conversely, what I fail to do for people may afford objections and complaints. And it can swing from one experience to the other within the time it takes to receive a text, email, or phone call.

If you can receive both in the same spirit of humility, then I believe that’s the mark of excellence in progress. And yes, it’s progress, not perfection as they say.

4) Have a plan. Then adjust to what really happens.

Business plans, marketing strategies, mind-mapping, strategic alliances, big data – it’s all good and important. There’s value also in gut-reactions, instincts, intuition, and failure. In fact, “fail fast” is one of my favorite lessons from “Creativity Inc”. And then there’s prayer, which is more than part of my daily routine or a task to check off the list, it’s what feeds my soul and directs my path.

Creating a plan is what leaders do, but good leaders either know or learn how to roll with the other factors that crop up beyond the plan. Leaders who thrive on being agile while executing a plan are particularly fascinating, as they see challenges as opportunities.

Don’t be surprised when things don’t go according to plan. And consider that it even might be better that way.

5) Wait, and be patient in the not yet.

Taking risks and being action-oriented are often among the most celebrated qualities of Entrepreneurs. But what about the patience, and retooling, and waiting, and working, and realigning, and rebooting? What about timing? And then trying, failing, trying again, and again and again. Or crafting and honing a concept, service, or product over months and years?

There is the vision. And then there is today. What we are doing now is (or should be) in order to achieve some aspect of that vision – which has not yet been fully realized. But it is the vision that keeps us reaching, working, hustling, focusing, failing, and journeying.

Entrepreneurs generally seem to be “movers and shakers”, so patience may sometimes be counted among our lesser virtues. When we take that step out and respond to a higher calling, we may feel on some level – “ok, it’s all going to come together now.” And sometimes it does. But more often, the journey is more along the lines of Thomas Edison and his invention of the light bulb.

When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.

There’s been a lot of steps made in the past five years – sometimes backward, sideways, and even hairpin turns. There have been extreme highs and lows on this journey — the demands and the gains, the victories and the setbacks, the supporters and the nay-sayers. I’ve felt it all, without a buffer – which would’ve been a real comfort sometimes. But I’ve learned, and grown, and hopefully helped a few people along the way.

God only knows all that the next five years will bring. But I do know that I’ll have a few more insights gained from the next round of battle scars; “so that [my] place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” –Theodore Roosevelt

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Blogging, Traveling, Working & 14er Climbing

If things have been a bit quiet here at Closed Doors Open Windows, it’s because I’ve been too LOUD everywhere else. Check out the latest and greatest that has been keeping me typing up a storm elsewhere!

 

1) Road Trip Adventures

I’ve been blogging a series, our Colorado Road Trip and climbing Pikes Peak, over at CatholicTourist.com.

Hiking_Pikes_Peak

Here are the first 6 posts in that series where I share an inspirational journey. We joined our friends on a trip that spurred a total-life-transformation to conquer the hike of a lifetime – Summiting the 14,110 ft Pikes Peak:

Training for this hike: Pikes Peak Trip and Training for a 14er

What gear to take: Gearing up: Camping and Climber a 14er

Road Trip kick off, Day 1: The Road to Colorado

Arriving in Colorado, scoping out Pikes Peak: Pikes Peak or Bust

Acclimating to the elevation in the highest US city: 2-mile High Adventures

Climbing Pikes Peak, the 1st day: Climbing a 14er: Pikes Peak Part One

 

2) Digital Marketing Madness

Okay, I don’t know if I’d call it madness so much as deepening of knowledge, but madness just seemed much edgier. At any rate, the cool work blogging, on relevant digital marketing and WordPress website stuff has been over at our work blog: illuvint.com

Mobile_Apps_for_Designers

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Awesomeness, Bucket List Achievement & Prayers Needed

Life has been, well, let’s just say quite active lately. I’ll leave it at that for now, as I’ve got two awesome updates and 1 big prayer request to share with you, friends. Drumroll please…

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT #1:

illuvint-logofinalr1-small

The small business, illuvint llc — that my husband and I own and operate — finally launched our company website!!! [ENTER: A blast of giddy fanfare]

As a writer and marketer, I could pontificate on the backstory on the delay of developing our company website. But I respect you, so I’ll be real with you.

Starting a business from the ground up is one of the most exhilarating, all-consuming, insane, fulfilling, occasionally gut-wrenching, transformative experiences I have ever been through.

I know that just sounds like a long list of adjectives, but each of those words truly would contain a long blog post, or hour of coffee talk, in and of themselves. I’m sure I could come up with more, but it’s 5 am and I’m not a morning person.

So we’ll leave the long-windedness for another time, as there are important announcements to, uh, announce.

At any rate, creating our own website took the back burner amidst the hustle of life and business in the Dallas Metroplex. For the curious folks, the Cliff Notes version of hustle includes:

  • Forming a company out of a bit of dirt and spittle
  • Working on client’s websites, web hosting, graphic design, digital marketing, social media, etc….
  • While growing our team of industry leaders to serve our small business, Entrepreneur, start-up, and Non-profit clients.

WHEW, what an adventure it’s been, and how grateful we are to be on it!

Speaking of grateful…let me not forget to note our beloved Summer Intern. We searched and finally found the gift of a wonderful Digital Marketing Intern, Maddie, for the summer months! She was a tremendous help with the development of the site, and the day-to-day blitzing in the home office.

Please, go on over to illuvint.com, and view it in all it’s splendor. Then come on back and leave a comment to let me know what you think!

 

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT #2:

Catholic_Tourist

My bucket list has long included the dream job of “Travel Writer”. Well, I’m going to cross this puppy off the list shortly!

I could not be more thrilled to share that I will be a featured blogger on CatholicTourist.com, to share the rustic and inspirational tale of our upcoming Outdoors Adventure – a Colorado Road Trip and group Pikes Peak Climb!

The Catholic Tourist travel site was founded by the amazing Lisa Hendey (you may know her as wife-Mom-author-speaker-traveler-founder of CatholicMom.com, Patheos blogger extraordinaire, etc) out of a desire to share new places that she discovers, to offer tips for destinations and simplifying the journey, to meet fellow pilgrims and most especially to share her faith. Since around this time last year, I’ve followed Lisa’s website launch, Social Media (follow on Facebook and Twitter), Rwanda Journal, and adventures  – so I feel incredibly blessed to be a contributor.

Stay tuned for more details here, and get the full scoop at CatholicTourist.com.  This will be our very first 14er with a group on a special mission! I can’t wait to share this story and the amazing images that will come from this adventure.

 

BIG PRAYER REQUEST:

Amidst all of the exciting news, I must admit that my heart is heavy as well. A friend, who is Dad/Husband/Business Owner/Musician and much more, has been battling Cancer and is now on Hospice. I am going this afternoon to serve his wife in the little way that God has provided for me.

If you have spent any amount of time on my blog, you know the story of my Mom’s battle with Cancer and the gift that Hospice was to her and our family. This hits me very close to home. I can only imagine what my friends are facing moment by moment.

Please join me in prayers for this beautiful family. Out of respect for their privacy (I’m not sure what they are sharing with who right now), I’m refraining from posting their names at this point. But don’t worry, God knows who they are. Speaking from experience, the graces that any and all prayers afford are so needed and never more appreciated.

 

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Christmas Card & 2013 Year in Review

Taking this 5th day of Christmas, and the Feast of the Holy Family, to share our Christmas letter and card from our family to yours…

2013 Christmas Card

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

If we could only use three words to describe this past year, explore, dream, and discover would be a pretty reliable synopsis. There are times in life where everything lines up to take you in a new direction: Passion to pursue a dream, ripe circumstances, formation through experience, a window of opportunity, solid discernment, a supportive spouse, a willing spirit seeking God’s will, and just enough faith to leap into the great unknown. After this alignment occurred at the end of 2012, in January, Lisa plunged into our entrepreneurial endeavor full-time. Ever since, our noses have been to the grindstone, busy in the process of laying the groundwork for illuvint (e-LOO-vint), our small business.

It’s humbling to see how the trust walk of 2013 has remarkably unfolded. There was no colossal launch filled with fanfare, as it just was not what our CEO (GOD) wanted – but rather a lean and deliberate process of showing up and speaking with the right people at the right times, and taking each of the steps laid out bit-by-bit before us.  We are convinced that if you never want to be bored or complacent again, start your own small business – especially one focused on serving the needs of other start-ups, small businesses, and ministries – those often faced with the challenges of limited resources. At the same time, what an honor to collaborate with some of the most passionate, creative, inventive, and scrappy go-getters we’ve come to know!

Eager to collaborate with other entrepreneurs, we were thrilled when our Lafayette, LA friends, Ann and Julie, came to visit in early February. It was a weekend devoted to brainstorm, share about dreams and small business endeavors, and seek growth and healing. Reunited the following weekend, but in Lafayette this time, Lisa and Julie, co-hosted one helluva Mardi Gras themed Bridal Shower for dear friend, Kelli, as her “Matrii”, or Matron and Maid of Honor.

The end of February brought an exciting business trip: We both went to Anaheim, CA, for the Los Angeles Religious Educators Congress (40,000+ attendees) to manage Social Media, and capture photos/videos of the event for our friend, Curtis Stephan, the singer/songwriter commissioned to write the conference theme-song.  What an incredible event and time to reconnect with, as well as meet, many amazing people involved in various ministries. We even enjoyed a little side trip to beautiful Santa Barbara before we returned home (upper right 2 photos above were taken on the Pier there).

After the Congress, in March, with the help of some trusted, incredibly generous friends, our professional team really started to take shape: A 1st-Class team of web designers/web developers, graphic designers, English + Bi-lingual marketers, copywriters, speaker/blogger folks began assembling. It was phenomenal to begin to discover our network and collaborations, which we are continually seeking more of, but it all began falling into place with very little effort!

At the end of March, Mike got away for a guys weekend and some fishing on the Lake when he hosted a Bachelor Party for Marcelo. A month later, we got to stand up in our 1st wedding together for Kelli & Marcelo, during the lively Festival International weekend in Lafayette. After returning home, Lisa went to Florida to be with her Dad during his Heart procedure. Dad fared well, and is doing better, and Lisa enjoyed a bit of time to also visit with her brother, Jeff, too.

At the end of May, we took a trip down to South Texas to visit Mike’s family.  Mike was honored that our nephew, Dustin, asked him to be his Confirmation Sponsor.  We also took some time to celebrate our 2nd Anniversary a bit early, as well as Rose’s (Mike’s sister) birthday, by renting a condo near the beach on South Padre Island, not far from where our Wedding reception was. There’s nothing like the beach to unwind a bit.

We ventured over to Austin in mid-July. A nice visit with cousins, Thomas & Claudia, we attended the Tech Symposium that Thomas moderated, and saw old college friends, Aaron & Kate.  A long-time dream of Mike’s to live in Austin, we spent time talking with locals, scouting neighborhoods, partaking in the sights, sounds, and flavors, as well as praying about where we’re supposed to be. We’ll see what happens!

At the end of August, Mike went to Costa Mesa, CA on business. When the trip got extended, Lisa joined him, continuing to enjoy the mobile, flexibility of running our own business!

We heard some sweet music and enjoyed the company of a couple of dear old friends in September. Lisa was front and center at the Audrey Assad concert (one of her favorite female artists), debuting her new album.  Fr. Joe O’Connor, our long-time friend + the Priest who married us, visited, and on a whim, shone the light of Christ on us by replacing our burned out fluorescent kitchen lighting with fancy track lighting.  The next day, we saw Mike’s favorite musician, Josh Rouse, in concert. To ice the cake, our Best Man, Tim, drove in and pulled off a killer surprise on Mike when he sat down at our table right before the show. Well played.

Mike was back in California for work in October, which was extended out to 3-weeks. Ouch. Lisa was really grateful for a girls night/sleepover at Kelli’s house when Julie came back to visit during that time!

Omar, our nephew arrived, in mid-November. Never really having traveled outside of Texas, we surprised him with a Thanksgiving Road-trip to Florida! In 8-days, we spanned over 3,000 miles, from New Orleans, to Dad’s in the Villages, to Jeff’s in Hollywood, to the Summer Estates of Henry Ford/Thomas Edison in Ft. Myers, back to Dad’s, stopping in Jackson, MS, and home again on Dec 1st. Whew – what a great whirlwind!

Currently, we are down in South Texas – the Rio Grand Valley – enjoying the holidays with Mike’s family. Undergoing surgery on December 18th (all went well, thank God), it’s been good for Lisa to heal and recover while taking a couple of weeks of downtime all at once.

2013 sure was packed, and we’re so grateful for all the opportunities to explore, dream, and discover! We’re especially thankful for all our family and friends – this of course includes our clients and illuvint team members.  Our lives are blessed and better because of your love, support, prayer, and belief in us!!

Our goal is to have our company website up for January 1st, www.illuvint.com. All visitors, feedback, and sharing is appreciated!

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Designing Twitter and Facebook Pages

There’s been a blank Facebook canvas on our company page, awaiting the proper time and inspiration to not only design it, but actively maintain it. Last week, we finally took the plunge. BOOM.

Consistent branding across Social Media is important. So we started with the phenomenal original design that my Husband did for our Twitter page. Here’s a bit of the artistic process that went into creating the Twitter page.

This project started with a picture of a lighthouse.  The lighthouse is not only part of our company logo, but it bears great symbolic meaning to me. Lighthouses reflect and radiate light, and lead people in the way that they should go.

illuvint-logofinalr1-small

Perusing our images, I found a picture I snapped during a trip we had taken over 2 years ago down to South Padre Island while we were wedding planning. This is the lighthouse you see as you pass through Port Isabel to get to South Padre, where we celebrated our marriage. Awwwwwww

IMG_3083

This is proof that even an iPhone picture can provide what you need to get started. This photo does have a filter applied in iPhoto, I believe it is Antique.  I then further edited the photo in Photoshop – applying different colorization techniques.  Here’s what I sent over to my Hubs, Mike, and he loved it. This is the focal point that the whole design revolved around.

IMG_3083Stylized

Mike then deconstructed the photo in Photoshop, where he removed a lot of the trees and surrounding buildings using the Cloning tool. He isolated the Lighthouse and the land mass it stands on.

The rays were from a Vector illustrator file, and the sun was constructed by Mike. Here’s an early mockup.

myBackground

I liked the idea of a little Biplane flying over with a banner of our logo. Another early mockup:

twitter-background

Then comes the layers of waves and the starry night in half of the picture, which was inspired by religious art illustrator.

myBackground-01

Mike found another Biplane that he preferred, so switched that out, polished it all up, and here’s where it ended up. To get the full effect, incorporating our cover and our Twitter feed icon, head over to our Twitter page, and why not follow us @illuvint while you are there!

twitter-background-final

Our Facebook page was much easier, as all of the elements were already completed. I mainly had to rearrange them to fit and create a balance composition within the 851 x 315 pixel cover. Also I had to navigate around the space where the profile picture overlays it (hence why it cuts off so suddenly). Facebook has a sizing guide here with the specifics. The waves were redone as only one tone, the plane moved central, and our tagline added.

background

Our profile picture was trickier, if you can believe it due to the sizing. Facebook says it is 180×180 pixels, but it kept appearing either too large or off-center, and just not right. So Mike the pro stepped in and got it just right.

160x160-instream-glow120x120-instream

This was actually different than our original Twitter feed icon (bottom), so I made him change it there too. Consistent branding, right?  See how all the elements blend together on our Facebook page and be sure to LIKE us while there.

Has this been helpful? Any questions or suggestions? Hit the comment box with feedback. Thanks!

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2012 Year in Review: Annual Christmas Letter

“If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.”

-St. John of the Cross

PROLOGUE

If I don’t send this–our Annual Christmas Letter update–folded up in our Christmas cards every year, then I usually send a note with the card directing folks here for the proverbial dirt on our comings & goings, highlights of the year, and photo fun. Well, if you happen to be a close-knit friend/family member that’s on our card list, if you hadn’t noticed that a card has not arrived from us, you for sure know now. If you sent us a card, know that we are grateful and truly loved it; and this update is written from our heart to yours. We don’t talk, see each other, message each other, etc., nearly enough–so this is my feeble attempt to connect. Pardon the public format, please.

(Violins play in the background of this part of the prologue). Since we moved up our departure date to Florida 1-week earlier, amidst everything else, it may tip you off to the extreme time crunch we’ve been operating under, especially this season, and the great need to re-prioritize our ever elusive friend and foe, TIME. I easily could have been Martha – determined to still send out Christmas cards come what may; but, I’m thankful that Mary took over, choosing the better part. I’ve been spending some desperately needed downtime in a sunny spot, surrounded by a subset of the circle of loving and large family we are blessed with.

Paul Jacob by Waterside

If you’re friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you’ve likely been seeing a surge of posts and pics from me, i.e. playing with our Godson, visiting with my Brother at my Father’s home–during the short days that our trips overlapped in Florida–baking Mom’s beloved Christmas treats, taking time to blog again, photos, making 1st Turkey dinner, working on our business ventures (more to come on that), etc…

If you are a new blog follower, or just-popped-on-your-blog-cause-I-searched-something guest, well then, WELCOME! Glad you are here, and hope you stay awhile, as well as come back for more visits in the future!

This time for me to “retreat and recharge” has mainly been provided by Mike’s kindness and unwavering support, as well as the flexibility provided by his boss to telecommute into work. And my Dad’s kindness in always opening up his home to us. For all these things and more, I am grateful. Without further ado, here’s the 2012 update!

2012: THE ONE-PAGE BULLETED VERSION, in PROSE

(perfect for speed readers, skimmers, SEO optimizers, you know who you are, etc and such)

Some 2012 Great Moments, in random order:

  • Celebrating our 1st Wedding Anniversary on June 24th. Yep, still Newlyweds and loving it!
  • Being asked to be Padrinos, or Godparents, for the first time together for our youngest nephew, Jacob, also on June 24th
  • Seeing our Texas family, and being back where we got married-South Padre Island-before our 1st wedding anniversary
  • Dad coming to visit us in Texas during the summer
  • Finally seeing my 1st Ordination – congrats to our friends in Dallas who have made fine, young Priests
  • Visiting with friends and family coming to or passing through Dallas – always a blast!
  • Having one of our dearest friends, Kelli, get engaged to Marcelo and ask both of us to be in their wedding. This will be my first time as Matron of Honor 🙂 Incidentally, she was our Maid of Honor.
  • Making the 1st part of “Our Big Announcement”. The 2nd part at the end, folks, so hang in there.

Travel-related 2012 Highlights:

  • Began the New Year traveling back from our Christmas trips to be with both sides of the family in South Texas and in Central Florida
  • South Florida in May for Alyssa’s (niece) Quincinera, a great celebration!
  • San Benito in June, a brief visit with Mike’s family, swinging by South Padre beach where we celebrated our marriage the previous year
  • Louisiana in October for Jeff & Erika’s (friends) wedding – we stayed in a lil’ Cabin on the Bayou. Mike got a Gumbo-making lesson, and we enjoyed a short time to see friends and be back in the country
  • Michigan in November. We took a health scare from my Grandma as an opportunity to visit her and stay with my bro & SIL, Chris & Jen, visiting a couple of other friends and family members in between
  • South Texas in late November – we spent Thanksgiving with Mike’s family in San Benito (we made a mighty fine Turkey, I might add), and then to San Antonio with SIL & BIL, Rose & Jesse. Mike & I were honored to be chosen as Padrinos of the Rings for our newlywed cousins, Thomas & Claudia! We also got to have a yummy brunch with our other cousin, Robert
  • Full circle to Central Florida for Christmas

NOTE: Since we’ve gotten several tempting offers, the list of places-we-WANT-to-travel/friends-& family-that-we-want-to-see is always MUCH longer then what we’ve accomplished. Despite working fulltime and laying the groundwork of 2 businesses, we still were able to squeeze out several trips, as you can see, mostly visiting family since we are both Dallas transplants. Looking forward to more adventures in 2013 – and please continue to be patient with us if you’ve been on the “to visit” list! We’ve not forgotten you – it’s all about the right timing though. Praying for us to have an increase of time and money may move you up on that list though, LOL!!

Several of the Cool New Things I’ve Learned to Make/Do in 2012:

  • Crochet
  • Movie promotionFor Greater Glory, an inspiring and historic film that premiered in the US in June
  • Decoupage
  • Twitter, @LSanMartini at your service. OK, so…I held out until 2012 to dip my toe into that Social Media pool. I’ve got a whopping 20 followers as of this 3rd day of Christmas, to sporatically try and entertain in 140 characters or less. A challenge for the verbose, truly. Trust me, I’ve got Facebook and Pinterest down pat; but I basically feel like I’m wandering round the Twitter Kiddie Pool with a life jacket, and am just now learning how to use the big girl potty instead of the ol’ catch and release method. Did that just get weird? Sorry.
  • Foodie Progress: Homemade Packzi’s (for Fat Tuesday), Brined Turkey, healthy & hearty meals, (click the recipes tab for a few more – but many haven’t been posted unfortunately!)
  • Graphic design – dabbling in logos, icons, new and old programs
  • WordPress-based website development & design– a blog redo, involved with development new websites from scratch – including working on mine (not live yet)
  • With the help of a great new Doc, learning what and how to fight back my Chronic Neck Pain/Migraine Headaches that’s gone on for far too long
  • Photography – we recently scored our first DSLR during Wolf/Ritz Camera’s Going-out-of-Business Sale, and it’s been a blessing. Have loved learning, getting blu-ray interview of my Grandma, and even doing our first engagement photo shoot! This is a good segue way into a a very brief year-end photo tour, courtesy of the Sony a77 and my Hubby & I.

Jacob & Pilar

Gloria in Excelsis Jacob Santa Letter

Jeff & Erica Wedding

Lisa Molly dancing

Mike

Midday on Bayou

brined thanksgiving turkey

Josie at Thanksgiving

Mia

Dustin

BW Lisa & Jacob

Kelli and Marcelo

St Mary's Austin BETTER

Karla

MJ bunny hat

Birthday Family

Jacob in Suitcase

Paul pushing stroller

OL Guadalupe

2012: The Heart of the Matter

2012 has been quite a teacher, as the virtue I was given to work on was perseverance—aka endurance. Through the highlights, as well as personal and professional trials in a downward-facing dog economy, I’ve learned, adjusted, and grown.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. -Romans 5:3-5

The Big Announcement Part II, is something we’ve been building over the years, months, and more so then ever in the past weeks. Honestly, it’s something we feel strongly that God’s been preparing me for, especially through all of the work experiences and skills that I’ve gained over the past 20+ years. Looking back on the doors that have closed and the windows that have opened, it all makes sense. I am moving into being a full-time small business owner , serving as Co-owner/COO of Illuvint as well as Owner of Little With Great Love, Online Boutique.

What is Illuvint? The formal version:

Illuvint LLC, a family-owned and operated company, specializes in custom solutions for small business owners. From online presence to ecommerce, PR to sales, operations to advertising, IT to logos, consulting to implementation, we desire to be involved in what makes you successful! Our diverse, collective expertise provides creative and powerful approaches – from our entrepreneurial experience to yours.

The informal version:

A marriage of the skills, experience, knowledge, talent, resources, outsourcing contacts…that we’ve doubled through our own marriage.

SPECIAL THANKS: I’m very grateful for the diverse and nationwide group of people that have been involved in the preparation of this journeying out into the world in this new way. You are far too many to name, but I pray that you know who you are and how you’ve made a great impact on us. Your support of the work Mike and/or I have already done, mentorship, encouragement, prayers, love, help, yadda yadda yadda, have made us better versions of ourselves. I’m excited to be a full-time Entrepreneur!

Stay tuned for more to come on Illuvint! We will need your continued prayers, encouragement, support, and referrals as this start-up is about to get a kickstart into 2013.

We pray for you, and for us, that 2013 will bring abundance. Abundance of grace, blessings, love, joy, peace, health, wealth, and wisdom!

Love and prayers,

Lisa + Mike

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Our Big Announcement!!

No, we’re not pregnant…yet… But admit it, that’s kinda what you were thinking, right?  Trust me, you’ll know when that’s happening .  You will be literally be able to hear certain people shouting it from the rooftops, ha ha ha!

Moving right along, this announcement is about somethings else we’ve been working on behind the scenes.  Talking about things since last year, consulting with folks, planning, preparing, wishing, dreaming, slowly crossing tasks off the growing list, working on after our “day jobs”…

And guess what — we’re getting close!

This is the special preview of just one of the things we’ve been working on…

Little With Great Love Logo

This is the logo (I’m also now dabbling in Graphic Design–not bad for my first logo, huh?!) for what will be my own little online boutique, called Little With Great Love.

The name was inspired by my two favorite Theresas, St. Therese the Little Flower and Mother Teresa, that “we cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”  This little online boutique will feature beautiful handmade goods. The driving force behind this is my Mother-in-law, Josie, who is a crocheting machine.  I’m telling you, this woman can crank out a hat or a scarf before your visit is over!!

I learned a little about crochet from my Grandma when I was young, but it had been years since I even thought of doing it again.  Last year when Josie visited us in Dallas and we took her to get supplies, I asked her to show me how to crochet once again.  Although I’m definitely much slower with a crochet hook, and still need to consult YouTube “how to videos” (shout out to all the crochet videographers – you’ve saved my project more then once! Learning to read crochet patterns is like learning a new language), I’m coming along little by little.  But they are all made with great love, I assure you!

Our website will be littlewithgreatlove.com.  It’s just the logo there right now – but a shop will take its place once we are able to finish building it!  Since I just got the second shipment of more Little With Great Love goodies from Josie, and we now have a real digital camera to take pics with, I wanted to share a quick special sneak peak preview here!

Crochet Hats

Little with Great Love hats of many colors!

More Hats - Little With Great Love

More hats, headbands, in lots of styles and colors

Scarves - Little With Great Love

Close up so you can see the quality craftsmanship of these handmade scarves

Little With Great Love - Lisa's Crochet

A couple things I’ve learned to make – Pumpkin Hat for infants, adult hat with matching neck warmer, and accent flowers

We are excited to get the shop up and running, and hopefully just in time for cooler weather and sweet Christmas gifts too. Our handmade gifts can be customized too – with your choice of colors, sizes, styles (if you have seen something on Pinterest that you must have, we can search for the pattern to make it).

Crochet will not be the only thing we feature, but it is what we will be putting up in the shop first – since obviously we have it in stock!

I’ll keep you posted about the kickoff of Little With Great Love.  Your support would mean so much to us as we work to get things off the ground, so I’d love to hear your comments about things you’d like to see in the shop as we build.  Helping us spread the word would be just lovely too.

P.S. If you see something you like, or want something before the shop is online, please let me know! We’d be happy to oblige.

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