Dream Catcher by Kelly Welk
I never thought about owning my own business. Honestly I don’t know that I believed I could, what would I do? What would I sell? Whenever I thought about going back to work once our 3 kids were in school I imagined I’d work for someone else. And then one day I was brave enough to use what I loved to do as a way to raise funds to fight human trafficking. I had sat in a gathering listening to the reality of the sex trade and my heart said no more we have to do something. I could not stop thinking about what if it was me? What if it was our girls? On my way home that evening I had this really small, simple idea that felt crazy. I was going to invite friends over for dinner and ask them to pay. That one brave step started me on the journey to owning my own business. Being an entrepreneur is no joke, it’s exciting and heavy, thrilling and defeating. I feel pretty blessed that Jesus made a way for me to step into the business world doing the exact thing I love to do - create community.
My husband and I own Ciderpress Lane, a business centered on creating community and fighting human trafficking. We host community run #FreedomDinners, local hands on floral workshops, Women’s Gatherings and an online fairtrade shop giving our communities a way to support artisans locally and globally. After hosting the Freedom Dinners for about a year I released my first book called Dinner Changes Everything that tells the story of our community, menus and recipes to help you host your own dinners, and a glimpse of the impact that comes from us leveraging the things we love in a way that helps others. Since hosting that first dinner, along with donating 10% of all business proceeds, Ciderpress Lane has donated over $35,000 to Rescue:Freedom Int. And it all started in our backyard orchard.
When I sent the invitation out for the first dinner I honestly wondered if anyone would come. Would people feel compelled like I was to do whatever we could to help fight human trafficking? 7 friends came to the first dinner and then more friends said I’ll come to the next one! That’s when I realized that these dinners were about so much more than just my own desire to help women and children around the world, these dinners were meeting a huge need right here in our own community. The dinners have grown and expanded. What used to be me cooking up a big feast for any friends who could come is now the most powerful community effort with every piece of the dinner being donated and covered by individuals in our community from flower farms to bakeries, hand letterers and high schoolers, wood workers building tables and seamstresses sewing napkins these dinners have swung open the door for our community to find their place. What I thought was a selfish desire to use what I love to raise funds to fight injustice was truly me opening the door to make space for other women and businesses in our community to use their talents and tools and resources to unite together. Washing dishes and baking desserts, setting tables and hanging lights, arranging flowers and creating place cards have never had such a profound or powerful impact as when we do them connected to a community with such deep intentions.
As the Freedom Dinners have continued to grow and our business along side it I was getting invited to speak at so many women’s events. My heart so badly wanted to help each of these women connect to what they loved to do. In sharing my story I knew it would only be powerful if they could see their own. I realized I could never say in one session all that my heart wanted to encourage these women with. I couldn’t wrap up in 20 minutes what it means to find your dream in your everyday. So last year I wrote it all down in my newest book Dream Catcher. It's in a journal form so you can walk through it as you walk through your every day. Giving yourself space to explore and discover the things in your life just waiting for you to dream over them. This book is continuing to give women permission to live the life they are dreaming of. Let’s erase from our minds what everyone else is doing and listen to our hearts so we can truly take steps to use what we love to do to create a life full of deep meaning and purpose. This is NOT about starting a business. Businesses do not validate our hearts or what we love - they simply give us work to keep our hands busy. We don’t all need or desire that kind of work! Instead my deepest prayer is that as each woman reads Dream Catcher they would hear Jesus whispering to their hearts the dreams He wove into them, the things they are naturally drawn to, the ways He created them to love this world deeply. Those are the nooks and crannies of our lives that I’m inviting you to dream over. Jesus is a masterful creator giving you tools to live a life that connects you to your community in all of the ways you love living.
Give yourself permission to be really great at the things that come naturally to you! For years I brushed aside the fact that I love hosting. I love creating inviting atmospheres to welcome people in. I love creating community. I knew this but it came so naturally to me that I had discounted it so completely that I never thought it held any value outside inviting a few friends over or cooking for my family. You my friend have the same areas in your life. Those things you do so effortlessly that you gloss over them with disinterest. Guess what, I bet you were created to do that exact thing - just because it’s easy DOES NOT mean it isn’t a powerful part of your life. Turn your attention to it, allow yourself to lean in and do it even better. This is where sustainability comes from, you DOING the things your heart is deeply tethered to. So when the days do get rough, when the frustrations do come, this is the thing you fall back on - your deep love of creating in whatever way Jesus wove into your heart.