I remember the moment back in 2003 when it happened. I was 280lbs, wore glasses, had gray hair that I hadn’t bothered to color and was in a conflicted relationship with a woman. I also had the weight loss surgery scheduled within the next few weeks. My next door neighbor invited me over to have a facial with her make up lady. To be honest, I wasn’t very good friends with my neighbor however I didn’t like disappointing people so I said that I would come. After the presentation, and feeling about as pretty as I had ever felt, I called my girlfriend to get her permission to spend the money to buy the skin care and makeup that I tried. I just knew, with that, and the weight loss surgery, things were going to be different. I was going to be different. Life was going to be different. I honestly had no clue as to how true those thoughts would turn out to be. Before spending all the money on the makeup, the young lady who helped me pick out my colors invited me to hear about the business opportunity. She was married with children, in my eyes, she was practically perfect, and did the make-up thing full time. I remember asking her during our time together, how she did it. Her response was “I took God as my business partner.” This intrigued me. Here was this beautiful woman who struck me as having everything I ever wanted. She was gorgeous, exuded peace, positivity and grace, had the body I wanted and also earned a living for her family. I knew I wanted to be around more of that. So I said yes to at least listen to the opportunity she described, but as she was leaving, fear struck me. Who was I to think I could have what she had? I mean, if this was a God centered company, would she even accept me on her team considering the relationship I was in and the things I had done in secret, behind closed doors? Did this woman have a clue as to who I was? And if she did, certainly she would change her mind about asking me to be a part of her group. I ran after her as she went to her car. Trembling with the fear of rejection, I was barely able to get the words out, explaining to her that I understood this to be a God centered company and that I wanted to be honest and tell her about my relationship and that if she needed to take back her offer, I understood. I remember the look on her face as she smiled and gently touched my arm, speaking the words that I firmly believe was the beginning of life change for me, as she told me that God loved me no matter who I was in a relationship with and she would love to have me on her team.
This began a journey that I never would have dreamed of happening. I dove in head first. I was not a sales person but hearing how this opportunity was more about helping women recognize their inner worth really touched me. I had always wanted to make people feel special and this seemed like the perfect way to do it. In order to do that, I had to put myself in front of other woman. This was challenging to me as I had such low self-worth of myself. I could barely look someone in the eye, let alone talk to them but Tamiko would always encourage me step by step. First just smile at 10 people a day, then give my business card out to at least 5 people a day. I would strive to achieve the goals as it always came with recognition or a small bauble of jewelry as well as the promise of quality time with her and THAT was worth more than anything to me. Spending time with her allowed me to share with her my struggles of doing the business and parts of my life outside the business. She was always so supportive and encouraging, feeding me wisdom, offering suggestions on how to get to know God better. I’ll never forget the day I went into her home and saw all the bible verses taped up beside her bathroom mirror, just like she had mentioned for me to try. I attended retreats and seminars with her. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone in order to make her proud of me. I was slimming down due to the weight loss surgery and feeling the smallest bit more confident in working the business. It was bringing in a little bit of extra income which was needed as the relationship I was in, ended and left me struggling financially. But Tamiko and the group of women I met with for the meeting were always there to offer a shoulder to cry on and helped pick me back up each time I fell. I found myself changing from the inside out. I was coming out of my shy, withdrawn shell. I was even able to somewhat carry on a conversation with someone in the grocery store without almost passing out. I was being built up from the outside as every event I would attend, there would always be someone there offering me a pep talk, always telling me that one day I would be up on that stage, telling my story of rags to riches.
One time in particular, at an event, one of the very successful speakers came right off the podium and looked me straight in the eye and said “One day, you will be up here telling your story” I clung to the dream of the make up business for that reason. I wanted to work my business badly, I wanted to make a difference in someone else’s life as well as provide for me and my daughter. Though I was trying hard, my personal life was out of control. I had been dealing with an internet addiction for years but I was doing my best to take care of my daughter as a single mom. In this time, I came down with a severe bout of Diverticulitis and ended up in the hospital. All of my business friends gathered around me during that time. Tamiko even helped my daughter move me from an upstairs apartment to a downstairs apartment as I wasn’t able to walk up the stairs. Those ladies loved me unconditionally during that time, brought me dinners and took care of me.
After I healed I decided to quit my job to take the business full time, wanting so badly to make something of myself with it. I had everything in place, classes lined up, money had been borrowed to buy the product and my 401K had been wiped out to pay my bills for 3 months while I made it all happen. Within the first two days, my car broke down and I lost all of my classes. I tried to do what I could but in the end, I ran out of money and had to rely on food banks and family members to help me as I desperately looked for a job. During those 6 months, I started attending the church that Tamiko had invited me to every Christmas and Easter. Prior to this, I was only going to a recovery program held at the church.
The women in the business helped me see I needed to be surrounded by a church family so me and my daughter joined Christ’s Church in 2008. Due to my circumstance, I felt like I had nothing. Through the recovery program I had come to understand that my life was a mess and that only God could help me through it. I promised myself I would commit to God to say yes to whatever He wanted me to do. I grew so much in those 6 months. I drew closer to Him and came to know Him as a good Father. Soon after, I was able to get another job and another car. God was providing for me and my little girl. I was so grateful. I continued my journey with the business, learning and growing. Becoming more confident as I faced my fears of driving to new places and talking to strangers. I remember the day it hit me that I was changing. I was volunteering at a church event and I was given the task of greeting people to make them feel welcome. I remember seeing a woman sitting by herself and as I began walking over to her with the intent of talking to her and thanking her for coming, I stopped in my tracks and started crying because I realized that I was moving past the horrific fear that had held me captive for so long. I don’t think words can truly describe the internal darkness I lived in for so long but it was such a hopeful moment as I saw that things were becoming different, slowly but surely.
Fast forward to now, years later. I am SO FAR removed from the person I used to be. I have NO problem talking to anyone. My daughter laughs because she remembers how I was and now she just smiles indulgently when we are at church or anywhere else because she knows that I’ll be stopping and chatting with whoever comes near. When I tell this story to others, they tell me they cannot imagine that being the way I was. I assure them it is true. God has done such a work in my life. The beauty business is still a part of my life, more so for my personal products and the people but I am in awe every single day at how God used that as a vehicle to change my life. Being friends with Tamiko and watching her walk her talk while living in our pink bubble for many years taught me about claiming God’s promises and being a woman of character and integrity. Practicing the business took me from being shy and insecure to recognizing my worth in God’s eyes and walking in confidence. And the best part of all, He is now showing me that He did all of that so that I wouldn’t be afraid to share Him and my story with people. That’s the whole purpose of this website is to share my gift, which I believe whole heartedly is the gift of encouragement through my personal journey and the Gospel, which is the truth that I stand on daily in effort to shine His Glory and to offer other people hope. To encourage them to believe that things don’t always have to be as they are. That through God’s love, transformation can happen from the inside out and that life is full of possibilities.
I remember the words the woman spoke to me at the event “One day, you will be up here telling your story”… and now I am. I share my story out in the real world, here on my webpage and through Celebrate Recovery. I am reminded that from the beginning, God had this plan for my life and since then He has been molding me and shaping me to do exactly what He wants me to do. What I love most about this is, He is not done. This is only the beginning and I look forward to where He is leading me next.