Meet our first guest blogger!!!

If you've been to my blog lately, you've probably noticed the "share your story" box in the upper right corner of the page!  I am anxiously waiting for someone to send my theirs...hint, hint, wink, wink ;-)
And today, I'm giving you the perfect opportunity!

Many of the friends I talked about in my previous post have started their businesses from scratch.  For most of us, there have been ups and downs along the way, yes...and we keep pushing forward because we are not only passionate about what we do, but because we enjoy making our pieces especially for you; to inspire you, to help you tell your story, as a reminder to laugh in some of life's most memorable moments, or to say it's okay to cry during the most challenging ones.

So...go grab a cup of coffee, put on your slippers, and cozy up under your blanket to read this post from our first guest blogger, Sarah Kruer: Owner/Artisan at Imy's Joy who is sharing her 'story' with us today.<3

What Imy's Joy means to me...

If I was a blogger, or had a blog, or even understood really how to do either of those....I believe this might be my first entry. Who knows--maybe I will one day...if I ever figure out how to do it ;)......
I’ve gotten some major JOY handed to me these past few weeks. Some subtle. Some loud. And I’m feeling overly thankful for what I get to do lately. So, for those of you who are new’s a little about me and why I do what I do. In the spring of 2012, I found myself itching to do something. I love staying at home with my 3 boys. But I’d been home for nearly 8 years at that point and was ready for an outlet of some sorts. A creative outlet. I often had the conversation “What do I want to do when I grow up?!” with my husband. A lot. (I’m pretty sure he grew really tired of said conversation.) He would tell me all the time that he’d support me in whatever I wanted to do. Did I want to go back to teaching? I always loved being with those sweet, little preschoolers. Did I want to open up a bakery? I always loved to bake. Did I want to open a children’s bookshop? I LOVE books and had all sorts of ideas for a fun children’s bookshop. I just wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. But knew I wanted something I enjoyed, was flexible, and could see myself doing for a long time.
I had always loved art. I loved painting and still did it randomly. But then started making a couple things for around our house. And then had a few friends who wanted me to make similar ones for them. And then all of a sudden, I knew. I wanted to do THIS. As in, for a “job”. Was that even possible, I’d wondered?? Then, I started gradually making more signs and canvases and frequenting yard sales and auctions and finding old frames, salvaged wood, whatever that jumped out to me. My husband had told my in-law’s early on about me wanting to possibly start something. It was hard to explain to a lot of people what I wanted to do. But somehow, they just got it. And so did the rest of my family, for that matter. And then one day that spring, my family and I were at my in-law’s farm. They have several barns on their property, and my father-in-law walked us up to the old, dusty second floor of this particular barn. And my eyes widened at the sight. Beautiful, old--OLD--wood, old windows, old wood siding, rusty wire baskets that he and his brothers & sisters used to pick cucumbers for pickling, when they were younger; and so much more. They chuckled at me because I think I looked like a kid in a candy shop--I was talking a mile a minute at what I could do--wanted to do--with the gorgeous, old pieces I was seeing. These weren’t just pieces of wood. These held a story. Had a HISTORY. Someone used this wood to build a barn that kept their livestock, tractors, hay--whatever it was used for--it held their livelihood. And my father-in-law told me, smiling, that I could take whatever I could use, that it would just sit up here. And, so I did! With a grateful heart, indeed. And my love for this all began.
Soon after, my husband and I were trying to come up with a name for this entity I was pouring my heart and time into. I knew I wanted it to mean something. (I’m super-sentimental like that--sometimes to a fault (!).  And I kept coming back to my Grandma. Her name was Imogene. But most people close to her called her Imy. She was the most joyful, loving person I’ve ever known. And one of the most crafty & creative! She was always making & sewing ornaments & stuffed animals, etc. for her sorority fundraisers. She made costumes for my cousin, Tara, & I to dress up and play in. Princesses, Little House on the Prairie characters, ballet dancers and outfits for our dolls & Barbies--you name it, she could sew it! And her heart--it was the most precious thing about her. She was the kind of person who you wanted to talk to when you were having a bad day. She always knew what to say to make you smile or laugh about it. And her smile was the best--and her hugs!  And she always had a way of making you feel like you were the most special person in the whole world when she was talking with you. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s a few years before she passed away. And even though her memory was dwindling quicker than we’d ever imagined, her infectious smile was always there when I’d see her. And so,after talking and talking about it, Drew (my husband) finally said, “Imy’s Joy. That’s it. That’s what you have to call it.” And I know she’d be proud.
And it’s not just my Grandma (Imy) Bundy who I credit my love of creating/crafting, but several people in my family. My dad, my brothers, my mom, all of my grandparents, my aunts, my cousins...really, everyone in my family has a love of art, theater, music, cooking---anything you can get creative with. I’m more thankful for this now than ever.  
So, where was I?? I’m a little long-winded tonight--it’s nearly midnight--so, like I said, I’ve been given all sorts of moments that have popped up lately telling me, almost as if to reaffirm me & my decision to have started Imy’s Joy. I love that I get to create something that is going to be special to you or a loved one of yours. And I love hearing the stories that you all have shared with me. Whether it be a love note from a groom to his wife, put on canvas, for their wedding day; or a favorite saying that reminds a daughter of her mom that was taken too soon by cancer; or a painted map of places that a couple has traveled (or will travel) in their lifetime together;  or lyrics to a song a grandmother used to sing that makes her grandson smile; or a favorite scripture that reminds a woman that she doesn’t have to it all on her own, but can lean on God, to give her the strength and the hope she needs to get through the day; or even the little boy who wants nothing more than an Indiana sign in his room ‘because he’s going to play for them one day’ :)   I love it. All of it. And I thank you for letting me do what I get to do. And it’s not just that. That’s not even the best part of it all. The best part is when I hear from people that they’ve been bitten by the ‘artsy bug’ and that they’re going to try their hand at something they’ve been eyeing on Pinterest, or a project they’ve been wanting to do for a long time. THAT is the best part. That somehow a teeny, tiny part of Imy’s Joy or something you’ve read, whether it be a quote or scripture or whatever---has helped to inspire you to try it. To do something that might be a little scary or out of your comfort zone. Or in your opinion, not something you think you can do. The funny thing is that’s how I can often feel--a lot, actually. But what’s amazing about Imy’s Joy and what it means to me now, is that I can just picture my Grandma’s smile, her reassuring pat on the hand and warmest of hugs. I can hear her saying, “You can do it.” And guess what? I do. Not to say, that I don't fail--happens all the time! But the fact of the matter is, it never hurts to try, to put yourself out there and wait & see what life has in store for you, and to keep trying new things. Because life is much too short to sit and wonder, "What if?" So, after all this--when I’m sharing these stories with my husband, he smiles & winks, and says, “Imy’s joy. That’s what it’s all about.” I love that he gets me and what this whole journey is about. So, that, my friends--old and new--is what I do, and why I do it.
Thank you, again, to all of you that inspire me, new friendships, and….for taking the time to read this ;)  

Happy Thanksgiving Friends!

Never Alone...