Area woman finds divine calling in an unexpected place
Aimee Andrews believes in being present. These days, a big part of that is being available to brides and grooms who rent her wedding venue for their big days. But before this venue existed in its current state, being present in another sense was what brought it about.
That is, Andrews had the mental presence to notice a pattern that kept creeping into her life. On the 160-acre farm where she and her husband raise cattle, for example, the tags for this year's calves were all marked with the number 222. She noticed when gas was priced at $2.22, and when she received $2.22 in change. Maybe most telling was when she realized the birthday of a dear friend - one instrumental in the turn her life was about to take - was Feb. 22.
Finally, she decided to look up the meaning behind the number and found that 222 means "divine purpose" - which is exactly what she's found in the property in Gower, Missouri, she named Backwoods Venue 222.
"Instead of 'Show me the money,' it's 'Show me the signs,"' says Andrews, who also resides in Gower. "I just have a strong faith and know God set me up for this in my life."
Andrews and her husband, Kelly, bought the property on April 15, after the death of the previous owner (the friend with the Feb. 22 birthday). Because he hadn't had family nearby,
they'd been caretakers for him in the last years of his life, when he'd lived in an apartment in the basement of the property's vintage barn.
The site was built as an antique museum in 1968 but went through several owners over the years and hadn't been open to the public in any capacity since 2000. The 7 acres surrounding it grew unkempt in that time, and in all the months she made trips there as a caretaker, Andrews never envisioned what the place would become.
Once her friend passed, though, and his family offered to sell her the property, it suddenly seemed an answer to a long-held desire to do something more than her current occupations allowed. In addition to raising cattle, she and her husband also own a number of rental properties she manages and cleans between tenants - and it was that latter task, combined with another death of someone close to her, that reinforced her sense of the brevity of life and her conviction that she was meant to do more with hers than clean up filth.
It was just months later that the opportunity to purchase Backwoods Venue 222 came about. She incorporated 222 into the name to reflect the divine purpose she believes it will serve and already has, for the 10 weddings it hosted in its first five months.
As for the "Backwoods" portion of the name: It came from a lyric in the song "Dixieland Delight" by Alabama, which Andrews found on a cassette tape in the barn and believes was the last song her friend played there.
In addition to weddings, Backwoods Venue 222 is available for events such as corporate retreats, holiday parties, baby showers and family reunions. More information is available at www.backwoodsvenue222.com or by calling Andrews at 816-248-3868.
Andrews notes that while the barn itself was in good shape, cleaning up the land around it was a huge undertaking for her family, which also includes her sons, 13-year-old Wesley and 11-year-old Zakary. It's been challenging, too, to balance family life with this new venture as well as their two other businesses. But through it all, she's remained sure of her calling. "God's prepared me for this new life," she says. "Everything I've done prior to this moment has prepared me for this."
This prior experience began with her years growing up on a sheep farm in Plattsburg, Missouri, where she learned entrepreneurship and a spirit of service from her father. (Her husband was the boy next door, although they didn't marry until she was 31.) As an adult, her work history came to include a job with a catering company as well as 15 years with Mary Kay, which she credits with providing customer service experience, insight into how
people tick and networking opportunities that come in handy today.
What may be most helpful, however, is the ability she gained through the variety
in her jobs to be chameleon-like - going from a day of farm work, for example, to a Mary Kay event requiring an entirely different appearance and persona. In her new business, being able to make adjustments like this allows her to meet whatever needs might come her way, whether that's assisting couples with the final touches for their wedding or offering a listening ear to one of their guests who's grieving a loss that can feel especially poignant on this kind of occasion.
Deanna Mathews, a close friend of Andrews, notes that her compassion and love for people makes her ideal for the business she's in.
"She feels what they're feeling, and she wants to make their special days perfect," Mathews adds. "I don't think there's any more perfect of a person to be doing what she's doing than her."
And if Andrews has her way, she'll be doing what she's doing for a long time to come.
"This is my new beginning for the rest of my life," she says.
- ERIN WISDOM I Josephine magazine