Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Giving of Ourselves Interview: Zoë

Do you all know Zoë yet?  Well, you should.  Zoë has a wonderful blog full of amazing recipes called Whole Eats &Whole Treats.  I've gotten to know Zoë over the past couple years through blogging and when I heard about some changes she was making in how she runs her delicious Etsy shop, Zoëdawn, I knew I wanted to interview her for this series.

Thank you, Zoë, for answering my questions.  You are a dear and I am honored to know you. 

Please tell us your story (a little about yourself, your family, and how you spend your time).
Boy, this interview started out tough. I really dislike telling people about myself. Feels like I'm writing an ad...trying to sell myself, you know? But I'm not. I want to stay right here in my big old house with my two kids and my handsome husband. So here I go: I'm your average mom and wife. There is nothing special about me. Anything I do, you can do too. I cook and I'm messy when I do it. I have a garden with an abundance of weeds. I sew (my latest project got thrown in the trash it was that bad). I clean (sometimes). I grind wheat and flour flies to the ceiling. I laugh with my kids (but I get angry with them, too). I wash dishes (and break dishes). I have house plants, which I forget to water. In a word, I'm normal.

My husband, he works on the farm with his brother and dad. We have cows. Lots of them. Brad manages our employees, does field work, breeds the cows, fixes things, and in general, works very hard for our family. I'm grateful for him every single day. I think I need to tell him that more often.

The children? Well, right now they are fighting over a toy. It's getting awfully noisy over in the corner. But I'm going to ignore them and keep talking to you guys. So, the oldest is three. She loves to color as well as boss her little brother around. He's 1. They both like to help in the kitchen, which makes for even more messes. They like to take toys from each other and scream. But at the end of the day, they wave goodnight to each other. Adorable.

How and why did you initially open an Etsy shop and what do you sell?
You know, I'm not sure how I heard about Etsy in the first place, but a little over a year ago I decided I ought to open up a shop and try to sell some of the extra sets of hot pads and cloth bags I had whipped up in the sewing room. They didn't really sell. So I started creating whole grain baking mixes. They went much better.

I guess I opened up my shop because I liked the idea of having some extra cash around. And it made me feel like I was helping Brad, contributing to our finances in that way. Because really, what stay-at-home mom doesn't sometimes feel like her life is pointless? I'm not saying I don't know the benefits of parenting, but for some reason, making money made me feel useful in a quick way. Raising children is tough, often intangible work. All the disciplining, wiping dirty mouths, and changing diapers really does wear on you. Selling things on Etsy gave me more immediate results. I could post something and someone would buy it. That's money in my bank account. Woohoo. But...

What made you decide to donate all of the proceeds from your sales to MCC and what is MCC? is where I realized I was wrong. My children are my job (and it's difficult but rewarding!) and we really don't need extra cash. We have PLENTY. More than enough. But I still enjoy sewing and cooking so I didn't want to give up my Etsy shop. Inspired by two blog posts I read (MamasMinutia and ThyHandHathProvided), I decided to donate all of the proceeds from the sales of my Etsy items to Mennonite Central Committee. MCC is, well, here, I'll let them explain:

"Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches, shares God's love and compassion for all in the name of Christ by responding to basic human needs and working for peace and justice. MCC envisions communities worldwide in right relationship with God, one another and creation."

You can read more about them by clicking the link above. I think they are a wonderful organization. As Thy Hand put it in one of her blog posts (I can't remember which one), it's important not only to give money, time, and objects, but to give those things along with the love of Jesus Christ. Things are momentary but Christ's love is forever. And MCC does just that. So in my little stay-at-home mom way, I'm going to help them. I can't be volunteering for hours at thrift stores (1-year-olds don't have an appreciation for that sort of thing) and the cows keep our family stuck on the farm, which means I can't serve as a missionary in Timbuktu, so giving of money is a good way for me to help at this point in my life. Was that a run-on sentence? Sorry.  (Keep in mind, I'm not saying all mission work has to be done abroad...there are plenty of local people who need to hear of Christ's love and would greatly appreciate a full stomach. MCC just happens to be the venue I'm sending my money to and they do a lot of their work in other countries.)

What role did your faith play in your decision to give away your profits?
I believe Christ came to love everyone. So it's my duty, as a Christian, to help show that love to as many people as I can with the resources I have. I have the ability to sew and cook. I need to use those abilities to help others. Since hot pads and baking mixes don't really help much in eradicating hunger and telling of God's love all over the world, selling them is a way I can get the resources that DO help those people, and that's money. I can give money. Money that will feed and clothe people. Money that will tell the love of Jesus Christ through all the work that MCC does.

How has this decision affected you?
Hmm, I don't know. I had that warm fuzzy feeling when I wrote on all my Etsy posts that I'll be donating the proceeds to MCC. Does that count? And I know that God wants me to do this. Even though I haven't actually sold anything since making this decision, I am so excited to see how much I can contribute to MCC. Who wants to be the first to help me do that?!?

What would you like to say to someone who is considering doing something similar?
Pray about it. Do it! Really, you can't go wrong. God will bless you.

All photographs courtesy of Zoëdawn.
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  1. An excellent post, Zoe. I enjoy your writing.

    P.S. She's my cousin, ya'll! Ain't she nifty?!

  2. This post warmed my heart.

    #1 For some reason I thought Zoe lived in an apartment... in the city...

    #2 Zoe... you sound so grounded... and NORMAL... after reading what you wrote I felt like I was sitting in the living room with you drinking tea and eating FREE cookies... weird.

    #3 Best line of the entire post... "I need to use those abilities to help others."

    #4 Last week I noticed you posted the coconut date bar mix on etsy (thanks to thyhands etsy pictures on the right side of the screen)... and wanted to buy it... and now I will... I can't wait to make it... 1. Because you made it... and 2. Because you are "paying it forward" with the proceeds... How could I say No to that? :)

  3. Wonderful wonderful wonderful...I loved reading about you...and how nice to know you are normal like many of us! (I just broke a glass yesterday...I get it) Thank you for sharing with us...and for listening to the voice of God.

    And thank you TH for hosting these incredible interviews...there are so many great people in this crazy world of ours...

  4. One word comes to mind after reading this . . . selflessness.

    And now I want to eat some whole grain coconut date bars!

  5. Awww, you guys are too nice. You give me that warm, fuzzy feeling all over again :)

  6. *blush* I'm still drooling over those ... what did you call it? Blueberry Buckle? I missed every bit of the post after that. Let me go back and read it again.

    ... blueberries ...


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