I was given a vision of a storm cloud coming my way and here’s what happened next.
FEAR OF FAILURE:
One of the fears I have dealt with throughout the years is my fear of failure. I know I look brave and I am. But what is being brave? It’s doing things scared right? That is exactly how I have gone forward whenever I went after a dream or a goal that I knew was way over my ability level.
Even so, I want to tell you about the first time I did something terrified. I’m the 4th model in the photo to the left. Do I look terrified? Well, I was and here’s the back story of how I got there.
I was the fourth born in a family of twelve children. We had all we needed but not all that we wanted. We all grew up to be independent, self-sufficient kids because anyone who has grown up in a large family knows that if you wanted something you had to get it for yourself. As a teenager, I would listen to my friends plan to go to college and dream about their futures. Envious of their dreams, I wondered what my future could possibly look like. I didn’t feel very smart or special in any way and I didn’t have their resources or know how to get them to pursue my “dream job”. My low self-esteem and poverty mind set was keeping me from dreaming too big.
Around the age of 16, I started to get some attention from boys and started to think that maybe I wasn’t as ugly as I felt. Around the age of 19, I was with my boyfriend when we happened upon a local fashion show and stopped to watch it. He looked at me and asked, “why can’t you do that?” watching the girls walk the runway, I had been thinking the same thing. His question was all I needed to encourage me to dream that maybe I could be a model.
Researching it, I found some expensive but affordable modeling classes and I signed up. There was a beautiful older women who taught their classes and she took a special interest in me. She thought I had something! When the classes came to an end, she advised me to go to another modeling agency in Cleveland where she believed I could find work. I approached this agency and they accepted me but wanted more money to take photos of me. I paid the money and had the photos taken.
When the class was finished, the agency gave me a list of local photographers to call. I was to show them my portfolio to see if they would hire me to work for them. I knew these photographers could make or break my dream and I didn’t want to face that reality. I also knew that if I didn’t go, I would be the one who killed my dream. It took all the courage I had to walk into those photographers’ studios, but I decided to go for it.
Was I shocked when one of them called my agency to book me. Then my shock turned into panic. I had little to no self confidence in my abilities but knew instinctively that this booking could be my first and maybe my last chance to realize my dreams of becoming a model.
The day of the booking arrived, and I was so relieved that there were three other models besides myself that would all be in the same photo. I would not have to be the center of everyone’s attention. I also knew that if I looked the way I felt inside (terrified) that they would never call me back so I had a decision to make and I made it. I decided that I was going to go for it. I was going to look confident and excited. It paid off because that week they called my agency back and booked me for a bridal campaign and soon enough I was in the paper 2 to 3 times a week for the next two years.
Since then, I have been faced with many decisions to leave my comfort zone to try something new and each time, I make the decision to go for it. Not because I am overly confident but because I don’t want to live life afraid.
One of the first scriptures the Lord gave me was Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” God has always made a way for me when there was no way. He has always helped me do something I thought was beyond my abilities wanting me to trust in His ability instead. He wants me to go for it. He wants my dreams to be big to reflect how big He is. When raising my children, I always asked them this question. “How big is your God? That is how big your dreams should be.” I asked them this question not knowing I was going to have to show them I believe this for myself. It would have been so easy to have just cheered them on, but God wanted me to show them that I believed this for my own life. When we go for it, we make our Papa God proud.
The women’s T-shirt in this photo is one of the first fashions I created from using men’s 100% cotton t-shirts I purchased from Walmart for 2.00 each. The Lord has always asked me to go forward from a position of weakness and to trust Him to make a way for me when I could not see a way. This story is taken from my book Divorced Yet Not Forsaken. It hasn’t been easy, but the Lord has been faithful to help me every step of the way and He will help you to do whatever it is He is asking you to do.
Two years after my divorce, the Lord spoke to me about my dream of creating a women’s fashion line of clothing for charity, and I couldn’t have been poorer at that time.I had tried to start this dream 26 years earlier when my children were still toddlers. I could see then that this dream was going to require more time and money than I had to give if I was going to be the mom I needed to be. So, after praying about it, the Lord impressed upon me to put my dream on hold and that it would happen later in life. It seemed that time had arrived. I had a lot of time on my hands, and I needed a cause to live for now that my children were grown and on their own.
The earthquake in Haiti had happened around this time, and I remember wanting to give towards helping the victims in Haiti, but I had little money to give. While thinking about the little I did have to give, I was given a vision of a woman from Haiti asking me why I hadn’t cared enough about her to help her. When she asked me that question, I defensively thought about my own financial difficulties. Countering that defense, another thought came to my mind that made my defense seem wrong. The fact is that I lived in America where the possibilities of creating wealth were mine if I chose to go for it. The woman in my vision didn’t have that option. Feelings of shame overcame me for thinking only of my own needs and for not wanting to complicate my life with difficulties just so I could help her. In my heart, I knew I had to follow my dream, and I decided to go forward, trusting God to help me in this cause.
I have a background in fashion, as a print model in my early twenties, and later, as a fashion photographer. But it had been years since I had even looked at a fashion magazine, so I felt clueless as to what the current fashion trends were. I did know how to sew, but I had no formal training in clothing design. With the knowledge I did possess, I knew I would have to find fabric resources, learn how to make patterns, buy machines, connect with women to help me sew the clothing, and then find ways to sell it. The enormity of it all seemed overwhelming. Even so, all things are possible with God, and I went forward by faith, believing that each of these concerns would somehow be resolved
.Do Not Despise the Day of Small Beginnings
I started where I was. I needed to find affordable fabric to practice on, so I began by buying existing tees and redesigning them. Because I was unable to find the tees I wanted, I went to Walmart and bought men’s 100 percent cotton tees, re-cut them, and turned them into really cute women’s tees. I listed them on Etsy and they sold. Even though I was experiencing some success, I also experienced a host of other emotions, as I tried to figure out how to go forward without the needed experience that brings knowledge. It wasn’t long before I realized how hard it would be to birth this dream of mine. When I would get discouraged, the Lord would ask me, “Is there not a cause worth fighting for?”
If I had to describe these beginning years, it was like I had been put into a dark room, and to avoid being hurt, I had my hands reaching out in front of me searching for the light switch. I decided to go on a fast to seek God for wisdom, and afterward, the Lord shed some light upon my path. He told me that my fashions would be involved with the city of Chicago, and to keep my eyes open for such an opportunity.
Two weeks after this fast, I heard about a contest the city of Chicago was hosting and I entered it. I quickly designed a line of clothes that would be judged by a blind jury. I was chosen, along with twenty-six other designers, to participate in an education program, along with the opportunity to sell my fashions at a pop-up shop close to Magnificent Mile during the Christmas season. It was through this competition that I was able to make more needed connections in the fashion world. I talked to working designers and was able to find out how they found their customers, where they bought their fabrics, and many other questions I had were answered through these new connections. Soon I was spending thousands of dollars each year to produce my clothing line, hoping and praying that I would make my money back. Each year, with God’s help, I did just that.
33Carla Deel Gavilanez, Laura Bonner Wurst and 31 others30 CommentsLikeCommentShare
Throughout my years, I have suffered from a mild form of depression. Not the kind that paralyzes you, but the kind that robs you of your joy. It’s the kind that kills any motivation to plan for a better future. God has blessed me with many blessings, and I can honestly say, that all is well. Then for various reasons, all is not well. My children knew when I was feeling depressed because I would go to buy my favorite comfort food, Kentucky Fried Chicken. Eating it would help for that moment. Sometimes I feel like I am living out the lyrics to the song for the Rolling Stones, (I can’t get no) Satisfaction!
Mostly I feel this mild form of depression during the winter months when I cant seem to find many fun things to do. It certainly happened to me when the Pandemic hit and everything I had worked on came to an uncertain halt. Stores canceled their orders and all the art shows shut down leaving only online sales which were a fifth of what I usually sold. The comfort of relationships became distant as we tried to control the virus through social distancing. And although I have not personally experienced many deaths due to COVID-19, I know people who have and that makes it real and sad too.
It certainly happened to me when I was divorced. I had to go forward, but it seemed like the air had been punched out of me and I didn’t know how to go forward or how to be happy again.
God gave me a scripture to cling to during those years. Psalms 27: 13-14, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”
This scripture promise has kept me going forward no matter what has come my way. I know my God loves me and is working all things out for my good. So when I have bad days, and I still do, I remember all that He has already done for me and I am truly grateful.
We had three children when I began to desire to buy a house but our finances were just enough to live on with nothing left over to save for a down payment. After praying about it, the Lord told me what to do and a few years later we were in our home.